Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Jersey - 3

We awoke sometime between 9 and 10 on our last day in Jersey.  We dressed and packed.  While the alluring princess applied the cosmetics to her beautiful face,  I descended the stairs to the hotel’s restaurant.   The waiter showed me to my table and went off to get the coffee.   I filled the plate from the buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms and hash browns.  Sitting down at the table and looking out at the bay I could see that this day would not be blighted with another storm.

After the breakfast and after we had checked out of the hotel we took one last walk along the beach.  The tide was out and the views were spectacular.

We then set out to explore the western side of the island.  The western coast of Jersey faces the Atlantic ocean.  Exposed to the ocean’s forces this side of the island appears battered and bruised.  Pretty and quaint towards the east, tough and weathered towards the west. 

We started our exploring in the South Western corner, a place called La Corbiere.  Here the sand was replaced by sharp and dangerous rock.  I wondered how many boats had been sliced to threads on this bit of the Jersey coast.

We then drove the the Les Mielles Nature Reserve and parked the car once again.  Looking towards the west it was a surprise to see a group of para gliders floating on the thermals.  More evidence that the flight back to England would bear no comparison to the choppy flight arriving at the island.

Driving down the Grand Route des Mielles the intention was to frequent a military museum.  Jersey is an interesting place for the military enthusiasts because it was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.  Today however the museum was closed so we continued along the coast until we reached a Mexican restaurant called El Tico.  The place was packed and islanders were queuing for a table and we would be in for quite a wait so decided against the meal.  Instead we entered a surfing accessories shop nearby.  It was a clearance sale and it did occur to me that my daughter might appreciate some beach fashion for her approaching birthday.  A quick phone call however confirmed that surf ware was not cool at the moment so no purchases made here.

Our flight was at four and it was time to head towards Jersey’s airport.  Returning the car couldn't have been easier – park the car, lock the car and posit the keys in a letter box inside the airport.  Jersey airport is small and relaxed and we treated ourselves to Jersey ice cream before boarding the plane.  And that was our little weekend escape to Jersey.  It was a pleasant weekend and a convenient reconnaissance for a possible summer holiday further on in the year.

Peace to All

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Jersey - 2

Starting the day with a full English breakfast is always a treat.  And so with a full stomach I vacated the room while M, recovering from a recent cold, remained behind to relax in bed in a room with curtains drawn tight and a Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the handle. Outside of the hotel I took a few moments to enjoy the view out over the St Brelades ‘ bay.  For those with a love of sand and of heat – this indeed is a very worthy summer destination.

Crossing the road I was able to look back towards the hotel.  A four star hotel owned by the chairman of a premier league football club and recently renovated and upgraded to include a health centre and an impressive swimming pool – I felt the booking, this time of the year, to be a bargain.  A double room in a four star hotel for only 65 pounds a night including breakfast – yes that is value for money.
Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey with a population of 33,000 and it didn’t take more than ten minutes to arrive there in the Ford Fiesta. The difficulty, as is the case with most towns and cities of Europe on a Saturday morning, was to find somewhere to park the vehicle.  Most of the car parks required a season ticket of some sort – not something your average tourist is going to have available.  I found a multi-story, parked the car and proceeded to wander through the streets of the island’s capital.  After the storms of the previous week I was happy to be able to walk and to observe a city without the rain and without the wind.  The town didn’t seem remarkable in any way, except perhaps for the sense of class and order that will always percolate through the alleys and squares of any super wealthy town.
After paying the computer in the car park the required fee I drove back to the hotel to pick M up and begin out island tour.  We headed east and parked the car on a coastal allotment that was a ten minute walk from Mont Orgueil castle.  Built in the early 12th century the castle’s purpose was the defence of the island and it was later used as the Island’s prison.  We gave consideration to a tour of the castle but a little cafe called Cafe Louise in Gorey village caught our attention.  And so we sat down in the little cafe and ordered our soft drinks and also ordered a bite to eat.

We then took a walk through the village and a little art and craft shop caught our attention.  This was artist Jane James’ second shop on the island. And so we entered the little shop and on this sunny and calm day a most extraordinary change in the weather occured.  As quick as flipping a light switch the weather changed from bright and sunny to dark and gray and the village was a chorus of ice crystals as the hail fell from the skies.
Thankfully the artist allowed us to remain in the shop until the mini storm had passed.  M bought some souvenirs in appreciation of the lady’s kindness and we recommenced our journey around the island.  We decided to visit the Eric Young Orchid foundation.  Neither of us has a particular passion for orchids – but there is no reason why vacant time, while away on tour, cannot be given to such an unusual attraction.  For those with a passion for the orchid – this place would be a Disney Land of sorts to be sure.
Strong scents and stunning colours and beautiful designs of nature.  Such variety and beauty awaits the visitor to this shrine of the orchid.  M and I decided on a little photo competition.  As we rotated from flower to flower taking photographs with our phones, I gave some reflection to our relationship.  I had a love for her deep and mysterious, bright and sweet.  I cared for her immensely and felt sure we could have a life together once our differences were resolved.

Finished with the orchids we drove back to St Brelades bay via St Heliers and continued past the hotel until we came to the Marquandeer Inn.  It had been a busy day and so refreshments were ordered and we spent a good hour comparing our pics and deciding whose would be best.  Ofcourse we each voted our own to be winners and so that was a bit of fun and a nice ending to the daylight hours of our Saturday in Jersey.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Jersey - 1

Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom, but is a dependency of the British Crown and relies on the United Kingdom for its military defence.  It is located just off the coast of Normandy, France and has a population of 98,000.  Its economy is largely based around tourism and the financial services.  This was the middle of February and my partner and I had a planned weekend break together alone on this island.
It was late afternoon and there I stood in the airport in front of the self check-in terminal.  The screen requested a booking reference and after I entered in the code,  and there it was in big red bold capitals – CANCELLED.

Thus began our weekend journey to Jersey Island.  It was hardly a surprise.  The winds had been gusting at 40 miles per hour and many other flights had been cancelled.  A quick check before heading off to the airport suggested our flight was still on – but now we needed other options.

The Flybe supervisor took our details and we agreed to the 7.35 flight from Gatwick airport.  We were at Southampton airport and so Flybe hired a coach, which we boarded at 4.00 pm for the 87 mile trip.  In these conditions and with a peak hour traffic load it didn’t seem possible to make it in time.  The driver didn’t seem too pleased to have been called out at such short notice – for a journey whose arrival time seemed impossible.  And we didn’t arrive at the airport until 7.00 pm and this was not to be an issue since this flight would not take off until 10.00 pm anyway.

This was also a night of the valentine – and it was hoped to have been in Jersey on time for a romantic meal in the four star hotel that had been booked.  Instead dinner was to be steak and chips in an airport diner – average food but fiercely overpriced.  Not the best start to this romantic break away. 

After a long wait our flight was called.  It was a twin turboprop Dash-8 and we were seated at the back.  The wind blew fiercely and the plane shook and vibrated even while still on the tarmac. 
 It felt foolhardy to be taking off in such a small plane in such conditions – and even more so when bigger and heavier planes had remained on the ground rather than risk a flight.  But the captain had made the assessment – and so it was to be a flight through a violent sky over an English channel whose waters roared and frothed like mad men in the torment of an endless nightmare.

Something was not quite right while approaching Jersey’s landing strip.  During the descent the plane had chopped and pitched and shook to the tune of the gusty wind.  The flight felt beyond the control of the plane’s rudder and ailerons and so it was no surprise to feel the plane detach from the descent, at around 500 feet, and begin ascending once more into the heavens.  The landing was abandoned and another twenty minutes or so was spent hovering above the earth waiting for a more stable atmosphere to glide the plane down to safety.

The second attempt felt just as choppy as the first but this time the landing was not abandoned.  The plane descended in a buffeting wind and the wings oscillated up, down and from side to side.  And if it was hardly a smooth landing, still the wheels didn’t smack the tarmac like a falling slate of cement and we were all safe – and we all felt grateful enough to compliment the captain with a hearty round of applause.

It didn’t take us long to disembark from the plane and head out to the airport’s arrival lounge.  We found our car rental stand and the representative gave us our Ford Fiesta.  The journey to the St Brelades hotel only took ten minutes.  It didn’t take us long to check into the hotel, find our room – and embrace our slumber after a long and exhausting journey.