Day 2 of my Jersey Guernsey Diary includes a missing chandelier, a glass church and some futuristic mannequins. Read on to find out more.
The next morning, I was awoken by Grandad, as he flung open the curtains with a cheery “Good morning!” Grandad always wakes up early. He usually gets up about 6am and goes out for a walk. We were being picked up for the Jersey War Tunnels excursion at 9:45. I’d told Grandad I would get up for breakfast at 9am as I like to have a bit of a lie in on holiday so that I’m alert and ready for the day ahead. This would give me 45 minutes to get ready, have breakfast and gather my things. When Grandad shouted and woke me up, I checked the clock and it was 8am. What?! An hour early! Why?! Had he misheard me last night or just forgotten? Either way, I was up, and once I’m up I cannot get back to sleep, so I had no choice but to get up.
I sleepily got dressed and we went down for breakfast. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, despite writing this only a few hours after. After breakfast, we went back to our room and had an hour wait before the trip. An hour! An hour of my life that I could have spent sleeping but instead spent reading with weary eyes because there was nothing on the TV. They only had about a dozen channels, some of which were radio stations. Ironic really for a place called the Channel Islands.
Since I had some time to kill, I went downstairs to reception to see about booking a separate room. I explained the whole snoring situation to the receptionist – a lovely woman called Heidi – and she said there was a single room available for Tuesday night. At that point, I loved her a little bit. I wanted to jump over the counter and hug her. Maybe, just maybe, I would get some sleep on this holiday! The room would be ready at 2pm, so for now it was time to go to the Jersey War Tunnels.
We went on my least favourite form of transport: the coach. I don’t like coaches because they’re cramped and take twice as long to get anywhere. Before we could go to the Tunnels, we had to pick some people up along the way. I used this time to take in some of the scenery. My favourite view was a building that had a sign on it saying Miranda Apartments. I’m guessing it was an apartment block, but I like to think it was a woman’s name.
The final pick up was a bunch of old women. I say old, that isn’t really a good enough quality to differentiate them from the rest of the group, as everyone on there (apart from me) was over 60. One old woman got on with a walking stick. As she slowly struggled to board the bus, she looked around for a seat. There was a free window seat at the front, but there was a woman sitting in the isle seat. Oh. The woman on the stick looked around, still looking for a seat, although she’d clearly seen the free one at the front. The woman in the isle seat did not move over. I find this kind of behaviour disrespectful at the best of times, but what made it worse was that the woman in the isle seat had a walking stick too! If anything, she should have been more understanding about the old woman’s condition. Eventually, someone asked her to move over and she let the poor woman sit down.
Shortly before we arrived, the driver announced “You’ll come out wiser about the occupation.” I thought this was a pretty obvious statement to say, as that’s the least you expect from a museum. But it got me thinking, what if there was a museum where you actually came out less wise. What if it asked more questions instead of giving facts? It would say things like “The Germans invaded in 1936, but do you know what day? How do you think they got here, by boat or plane?”
The War Tunnels were very interesting and quite powerful emotionally. It was all about the occupation – when the Germans took over Jersey/Guernsey – and the liberation during World War 2. The extensive tunnels housed a number of rooms covering different topics.
With photographs, videos, outfits, weapons and recreations of scenes and rooms, the museum really was an impressively detailed collection and gave a vivid account of the story.
One thing that surprised me was the detail on rationing. A lot of people go on about rationing and old people often mention it when they see food wasted. Most of the time I’ve just thought “Oh it can’t have been that bad” and they’re exaggerating, but in the museum there were examples of the rationing, showing how much – or rather how little – food they were allowed. For example, the photo below shows a daily food ration:
Could you imagine that today! Nobody would be able to live on that. That’s like a mouthful of food. It’s crazy. Another thing I liked was the interactive mannequins. They had mannequins dressed up in the period outfits, but instead of heads they had screens on which a recording of someone’s head talking played. It was a bit freaky, and reminded me of the Spoonheads from Doctor Who.
Those Screenheads were asking if you met a German in the street, would you let him buy you an ice cream or would you invite him into your house. It sounds like an obvious answer, but when you read about the German soldiers living there, you realise that they had families back home too. They were at risk of dying every day too. Not all of them wanted to be there and their living conditions were almost as bad. I’m not siding with them, I’m just saying that it seems like the war wasn’t that easy for them either. People don’t think about that kind of thing though, it’s just “Oh they’re the enemy, they’re evil.”
After the War Tunnels we went to St. Matthew’s Glass Church, which was designed by René Lalique and commissioned by Florence Boot, widow to Jesse Boot, the founder of the famous chemist, Boots. This was pretty interesting information. Not often you visit a church designed for the widow of the founder of a nationwide chemist.
The interior was very nice, with the amazing glass sculptures creating an air of elegant peacefulness. At least that’s what I wrote in the guestbook. Thing is, I’m not religious. I’d probably say I’m an Athiest, but in general I don’t bother with religion at all, so while I admired the architecture, that was about it for me. Grandad liked it though, as he’s a lot more religious than me.
After the church, we had a 40 minute wait until the bus arrived, so we had a wander around Coronation Park, which was just beside the church. It was a lovely park. A nice play area for the kids (complete with a pool), a big bandstand, beautiful flowers and most importantly lots of benches to sit on. When on holiday, I do like just sitting down in a park for a while, soaking up the sun and watching the world go by. We then got the bus to the Jersey Pearl. This is where things get interesting.
My Grandad had been to Jersey and Guernsey many times before. He went a lot with my nan and friends when he was younger. The last time he went was 20 years ago. Before we came away, my Grandad reeled off a list of things that we could do while we were away. My mother warned us that it had been 20 years since he’d visited the places he mentioned and they might not all still be around. She was right. Shell Cottage, closed down. The Strawberry farm, closed down.
I bring this up now because the main reason we went to the Jersey Pearl was to see a chandelier that my Grandad had seen. Needless to say, the chandelier was now gone. We asked a woman who worked there where it was – my Grandad was met with much bemusement as he strode up to her and asked “Where’s the chandelier?” – and the woman said that she hadn’t seen it in all the time she’d been there. The theme of my Grandad’s favourite places being closed down became something of a running joke throughout the holiday.
The Jersey Pearl itself was alright. It was a massive shop selling jewellery with pearls in (as one would expect). There was one bit that excited me. They had a ‘pick your own pearl’ section, where you could select an oyster and they would open it and take the pearl out. You could then buy the pearl or have it set in a piece of jewellery. I loved this idea, but mother is really fussy about jewellery and I haven’t got anyone else to buy jewellery for. Maybe one day I’ll have a need to go back. After looking around the shop, we treated ourselves to an ice cream.
Jersey is well known for its ice cream, due to the Jersey cows and their milk, so we were excited about trying one. Well, I was. Grandad had already tried one 20 years ago. I opted for an Apple & Cinnamon ice cream, which was very, very nice.
We then caught the bus back into town. The station was called Liberation Station. It’s near Liberation Square. Do you sense a pattern? Jersey and Guernsey are very proud of their liberation from the Germans, which happened exactly 70 years ago. They go to great lengths to name everything Liberation something. I can understand that it was a happy time and a monumental occasion, but it did get a bit tedious after a while. I mean, if you haven’t done anything else of worthwhile in 70 years and your proudest achievement is when the British rescued you from the Germans, you really need to get out more.
For our evening meal, we decided to return to the hotel bar. I even had the same meal because I’d enjoyed it so much the previous night. We weren’t served by the same waiter, but he did spot us later and struck up another conversation with Grandad. So it seems he wasn’t just after a tip after all, which is nice. All of the waters were in a jovial mood, and spent most of their time talking and joking around with each other. As nice as it probably was for them, it wasn’t very professional. Grandad made a point of mentioning this to me… in a very loud voice. I’m certain the waiters must have heard him, but if they did they didn’t take heed of his words.
Talking of things people don’t want to hear, the music on the TV in the background was mainly Taylor Swift. I think it must have been a themed show on a music channel, because it just kept alternating between Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift songs. I like Ellie Goulding. I do not like Taylor Swift. She’s just another generic pop singer singing songs about boys and she just irritates me. So I wasn’t best pleased to have to listen to her for most of our dinner.
After the meal I returned to my room. My own room. Just for me. No snoring. No early wake up call. I was ecstatic. Once again the TV had nothing on, so I spent most of the night reading, having a bath and eating snacks. At one point, I noticed something in the wall above the wardrobe. It was round. It looked like a camera. I climbed on top of the wardrobe (as you do) to inspect it. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure it was a camera, as it had a lens with a box on the end of it. I managed to poke it back through the wall and position it so that the lens was facing the wall. No hotelier is going to spy on me and get away with it.
Tomorrow: Durrell Wildlife Park and the trip to Guernsey.
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