Jersey Girl Part II

Filed under: @ 11:32 am

30 May, Tuesday (I think. I’m not entirely sure and I find that an enchanting state)

Day started out poorly. Andrew has come down with some sort of throat virus so we spent late last night and very early this morning with him swallowing, on average, about twelve times a minute. Neither of us slept very well and this room, while quiet, tends to get very warm if the window is shut which, I hadn’t realized until I got up this morning, it was.

We managed to find a doctor just around the corner who very kindly took a look at Andrew and reassured me that he wasn’t coming down with Strep. Okay, reassured us both, but really it would seriously suck if one of us came down with a bad case of the creeping crud while we’re traveling and Melanie did promise to cancel all out of country vacation permission if I came back to work sick, so this is of moderate importance. I think she was joking, but whether or not she was really joking, I suppose depends on whether or not I come back sick and how busy the summer is. I’ve got a lot of doctors depending on me here.

Once we got the official blessing of the British Medical Association we wandered off through the business district of St. Helier trying to avoid getting to the bus station by walking through the transit tunnel from Hell like we did yesterday.

We did manage to find an alternative route to the bus station and had a very nice stroll getting to our circle island tour bus. Nice chat with the dude selling tickets and we were off.

The streets are narrow and walled in either by real walls or by trees in most areas so there are blind spots from the Black Lagoon. There are many one lane two direction sections of the roadway. And every single driver we’ve run across drives, as I’ve mentioned before, like they were in the last stages of hallucinatory syphilis.

The island, however is GORGEOUS. Lots and lots and lots of potato and onion fields, lots of Jersey cows, I just can’t say enough. The architecture is stunning, the newest building I saw was dated 1914, and they all seem to be built out of these cool orange/red pumice type stones. The coastline is easily the equivalent of Hawaii (highest praise I can come up with for stunning coastline), however the wind is something else entirely. Beautiful day, blue sky, bright sunshine and a wind off the back end of some glacier around about the Arctic Circle.

We made our first stop at the Jersey War Tunnels, a tunnel complex built by slave labor during the German occupation. Originally designed as a munitions dump it was transformed into a German critical care hospital near the end of the war, but was never used. It was a really depressing sort of exhibit really. Basically takes you through from the moment that the British Navy browbeat Churchill into giving up the idea of defending the Channel Islands (“In case of an invasion the Channel Islands will not, repeat not, be defended!”) all the way through the war until about a month past VE day when the German soldiers were finally taken as prisoners of war. It’s pretty much no more depressing than any other WWII exhibit and certainly no more moving than, say, Pearl Harbor, but it’s so sad to see the timeline of how this wonderful and slightly dotty island was made into a German fortification. Also the opening of the exhibit consists of a series of pictures and bits of movies alternatively showing beautiful pastoral scenes of 1940’s Jersey and German propaganda films with a lot of swastikas, marching soldiers, and “Seig Heil!” which is specifically designed, I’m quite sure, to be very unsettling.

Took us about two hours to get through the exhibition by which time we were quite ready to be above ground in the sunshine, and somewhere where we weren’t still occasionally getting echoes of “Seig Heil!” (which is, honestly, a very unsettling phrase to have echoing down the hallways at you when you’re buried 50 meters underground).

We hopped back on the circle island bus and proceeded at a madcap pace through some of the more hideous tourist traps on Jersey. Granted there was also some wonderful scenery, but the “Jersey Living Legends Village” where you can take a ride on “Jersey Karts” (don’t ask) and the “a-MAIZE-in Maze” were a little distressing. We got off for lunch at St. Brelade’s Bay which amused the snot out of me. Standard tourist trap beach town, absolutely stunning half circle white sand harbor and blue, really blue water. Remember the wind off the back end of that glacier? Yeah, well it hadn’t calmed down any. And so the sight, at this veddy British beach resort darling, of people in coats, scarves, and mittens side by side with people in Speedos and nothing else. Now why the people in Speedos and the kids splashing in the water and the damp little girl playing Cricket in her bathing suit weren’t as blue as the water was beyond me. Andrew and I were walking a good clip and I was pretty darned uncomfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.

We had lunch, got some great photographs and then hiked it back to the bus. While we were waiting we struck up a conversation with an older Scottish couple and I was distressed to discover that while they were speaking English, I was completely unable to determine what it was that they were saying. No joke, I was only able to understand about two words in five. I thought the advice I got from one of my contacts on the Veterinary Information Network was exaggeration. I was told that I should get used to nodding my head and smiling a lot when I was in Scotland, and I’m afraid he (my VIN buddy that is) was correct. Andrew seemed to understand them pretty well, so I may have some hope.

Bus trip from St. Brelade back to St. Helier. The bus didn’t stop at the lavender farm which was disappointing, but just means that I’ll have to come back again. Rush hour traffic in St. Ouen means that you sit in traffic just long enough to be able to have a good look at the fields of what turned out to be lettuce along the side of the highway before the traffic starts moving again. Stopped at the pizzeria in St. Helier for takeout calzones so we could come back to our room early and get all set up to leave tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up, get breakfast and then wing back to London so we can catch the train to Inverness. Tomorrow’s installment from The White Lodge Guest House in Inverness.

Observations for the day 5/30/06

Yet another comment on public lavatories. I stopped at the WC just across from the beach park in St. Brelade bay this afternoon. While the toilets had seats that were bolted to the bowl, this least upscale lavatory that I’ve encountered so far had no graffiti, no garbage, and intact windows. I’ll try to stop commenting on The Restrooms Of Great Britain, but truly I’m amazed.

At breakfast this morning I most thoroughly freaked Andrew and the waitress out by commenting that the King Charles Spaniel that was following the waitress around probably had an ear infection because I could smell it. Apparently this is a weird thing for me to be able to do, but I was right. After her eyes stopped going a little buggy the waitress confirmed that yes, the spaniel did have an ear infection and that they had taken her to the veterinary down the way a few days ago so that she could get some ear drops. Andrew thinks that it’s a very weird thing for me to be able to do.

I have got to come back to this island. There are so many cool, beautiful, and absolutely interesting things to do here that spending a week or more wandering around with a camera glued to my face would be a pretty appropriate thing to do.

Observations regarding European parents are, by no means, commentary on the parenting skills and styles of our direct group of friends, nor, god forbid, are they any commentary about either of our sets of parents. On the whole what I am seeing here is what I see from our group of friends who are parents and what I saw and have seen from all four of our own parents. I am merely commenting because what I am seeing is so different from the average American parent/child interaction, especially that to which I am witness in my professional capacity. That disclaimer having been made I hope I am free to say that I’m impressed. I have seen children disciplined, I have seen rowdy and disruptive children removed from social situations, and I have seen fathers especially being much more affectionate towards their children than I am used to seeing. It’s really refreshing honestly.

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