Jersey

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

JERSEY

Date: 7th May 2013

JERSEY

Had a short sojourn on the Channel Island of Jersey. I can only recall visiting it decades ago when I was presenting my own show ‘Women Only’ for HTV in Bristol and we went there to make a short documentary on the Cabbage Stalk Walking Stick Industry.

The weather was dreadful – cold, sunless and with incredibly strong cold winds. So, not the best for exploring the island and certainly not the kind of weather for cliff top walks. However, because of the inclemency of the weather we were able to ‘do’ most of the Attractions of the Island.

So what were the highlights.

I loved Orgueil Castle and, though I did understand all the ‘features’ installed probably for the interest of the younger generation, I’d have preferred my Castle to have been a little less gimmicky. That said, it was a great thrill to wander around and conjure up the past.

The Occupation Tapestry was stunning – comprising panels made by people in the different parishes of the island. That was an absolute ‘must see’ and it is a shame that it never travels to the mainland for exhibition.

The Jersey Museum was very well laid out and had the most charming gentleman greeting visitors on arrival. Me being me and still with the enquiring mind of an interviewer, I always want to know that little bit more. Alan wasn’t very busy and we had a long conversation with him, discovering in the process that he is distantly related to the Jersey Lily – the actress Lily Langtry who had a much publicised romance with the Prince of Wales later to become Edward VII. And much more interesting for me was the fact that she was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton. Richard le Breton was one of the four knights who murdered Thomas Becket – somewhere along the line they are probably related.
There’s a display cabinet with an amazing travelling case – a sort of beauty box of her day – but it is massive and totally crammed with brushes, mirrors, perfume bottles etc all made in silver and decorated with turquoise. I’d not brought my camera with me assuming that one cannot take photos in a museum but the kindly Alan said I could return the next day and he’d let me in to photograph the display. It was not an easy exhibit to capture – the lighting was very subdued and had a yellowish tinge to it but I’ll display it below and all other photos will have to go into the gallery.

The other stunning exhibit – which we were very fortunate to see because it is only on loan until July – was the massive painting ‘The Battle for Jersey’. A whole room has been devoted to the exhibition and the story of the Battle and the painting is told from the perspective of the Artist and a member of the public coming to view the painting who challenges the Artist as to the historic accuracy. In fact, it is historically very inaccurate but it is a stunning painting and it was great to sit and hear the story of the Battle and why the artist did what he did to it. I think it ought to be on permanent loan to Jersey but then I suppose many folk would be deprived of the opportunity to view it.

The Jersey Experience – the story of the island of Jersey from the Norman Conquest was imaginatively portrayed as if one were in the ruined Manor House of Brecquette, at St. Ouens Bay,which was engulfed by the sea in 1356. (Apparently on very very low tides, you can still see bits and pieces of the ruin. Can you imagine a tide coming in which completely submerged a large house – a bit like a mini tsunami I suppose).

I absolutely adore Orchids - so the Orchid Farm was a big must.  It was all very interesting but they deal mainly with Hybrids and, personally, I don't like some of the more modern varieties with spots all over them looking as though someone has flicked paint.  I was also very disappointed that there were no orchids for sale as I'd hoped to bring one or two back to join my collection.  (Considering that I don't have a greenhouse and all my orchids are grown in various locations around the flat - according to their needs i.e.  light and airy, needing partial shade etc - I've not done badly and have half a dozen which have reflowered.  My Cymbidium is 'under sentence of death'.  I've had it two years and though it looks healthy enough and has put out several new shoots over that time, there's not been a single flower stem.  It takes up a lot of room so ..........)

We had some very enjoyable meals – Longueville Manor was a delight – wonderful old Manor house with fascinating paneling and though it had many rooms and dozens of covers, one never felt as if one were in a large ‘restaurant’. The Menu was interesting without being pretentious. Loved it. (How often these days do you see two lines of description which has you salivating and when the meal arrives it never seems to live up to the sales pitch)  Outside there were two huge creations of a horse and a deer - I've not idea what you would call the art - it looked as though the animals were made from driftwood but, if so, incredibly well put together.

Round the corner from the hotel in St. Helier, was a delightful Italian restaurant – Casa Mia. We ran in there to get out of the wind and were very pleased with the result. Although not cooked at the table, they did a special for me. I don’t eat much meat but I do love a Steak Diane and it was absolutely delicious.

Being on an island I was very much hoping to have some lobster at a ‘not ridiculously inflated price’. Lobster seemed to be in short supply – maybe because of the gale force winds and choppy seas. However I was persuaded to try Chancre Crab in the Old Court House (setting for many of the Bergerac programmes). It was excellent and frankly there was so much meat on it, it was more substantial than lobster.

St. Matthew’s - The Lalique Church. Although I don’t have any Lalique it is something I would collect if I were in that price bracket. So visiting the Glass Church was a must.
The attraction of St Matthew's lies in its glass but it is the moulded white glass, or verre blanc moulé-pressée, formulated by Lalique and used by him to make much of the furniture of the church normally associated with wood and stone. The font, windows, screens, communion tables and cross are all Lalique's work as are the Lady Chapel, and The Vestibule.
Lalique began the work in 1932, commissioned by Florence Boot, Lady Trent, the widow of Jesse Boot, Baron Trent, the founder of Boot's the Chemist. Lady Trent had a residence in the South of France situated next door to that of René Lalique. Lady Trent encouraged her friend and artist/craftsman neighbour to design and create new fixtures and fittings for the interior of St Matthew's as a dedication to her late husband. The magnificent works were completed in 1934.

Unfortunately the lighting in one of the panels behind the altar was not functioning but I took a photo anyway.

Elizabeth Castle is in many ways far less interesting and attractive than Mt. Orgueil Castle but what made it a great visit were the two ‘Actors’ – one in costume demonstrating how to load and fire a musket and another who related how the soldiers were enveigled into the Army and told us about their living conditions. He really was a character and then he ‘told’ all the men they had to join up. So the male tourists fell into line and then were drilled and ‘abused’ by said Sergeant Major – all highly amusing especially for we women who didn’t have to participate.


A chap in a garage confirmed that the wonderful summers of the past were long since gone, the weather had changed and along with it the tourism industry which is now a shadow of it’s former glory.

The first part of the return journey from Jersey to Guernsey was horrendous for me – I am not a good sailor and the seas were dreadful. I was very concerned at how I’d cope for the next 3 hours but once out of Guernsey and re-seated facing the direction of travel, I felt relatively OK.

 


 

JERSEY

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