Dartmouth to Jersey, Part II
03 July 2018 | St. Malo, Brittany, France
Barbara/Warm, muggy and about to rain!
(Continuing the blog entry which Sailblogs so rudely truncated... And it allows me no extra pictures on this one -- do you suppose I've violated some rule I don't know about?)
But back to Sark. After our visit to historic remains (silver mines, dolmen, cannons...) on Little Sark, we stopped at what appears to be the only tourist establishment there, the Hotel and Restaurant Sablonnerie. It's an oasis of lovely English gardens, with tables set out in the shade and beautiful flowers in every direction. We happened upon it 15 minutes before opening time, and they very graciously accommodated us in a garden settee with cold water to drink while the table setting continued. It was one of those places where the prices don't appear on the menu (so we feared for the worst) but we decided to have lunch anyway. Everything was delicious and elegantly served, including locally caught lobster. The prices turned out to be not TOO bad. The owner, "Elizabeth" invited us to sample her homemade sloe gin, while regaling us with details and stories intended to entice us to come back and/or to send our friends.
After lunch we headed north to the other end of the island; beautiful scenery in every direction. We stopped for an ice cream cone, engaged some local folk in conversation about what it was like to live on a small island, and then headed back down the hill to the ferry.
The bicycle shop owner gave us directions for a “more direct” route. That involved following an ever smaller road, then “just take the path across the field” (what field? What path?) and then finding a trail through the woods. We did eventually find it – muddy, steep, many forks to choose from, and spring nettles threatening our bare legs. Finally down a steep set of muddy stairs and we were on the road to the ferry, returning us to the island of Guernsey.
In Dartmouth and in St. Peter Port we had heard practice sessions of the bell ringers from local churches. It was quite a magical sound coming across the water. In Guernsey we happened upon a bell ringer practice at Ste. Marguerite de la Foret Church where we were able to go inside the church and watch the ringers as they practiced. It’s quite an athletic undertaking, and the timing of the pulls is obviously something that must be learned. Each ringer watches one other person and times their own pull for an exact time later. One of the ringers periodically calls out different numbers and the pattern of the ringing changes. Interestingly, the lowest bell, both in St. Peter Port and in Guernsey, is tuned to A flat. Dartmouth has eight bells – a full octave – whereas the Forest Church in Guernsey has only six. What a treat! I’d gladly trade the exercise class at my gym for a chance to pull bells like that.
As it turned out, our great project of the Channel Islands was acquiring a pair of Brompton folding bicycles. When we were still tied to the outer dock in St. Peter Port, the Swedish boat across the dock from us produced an athletic blonde couple with a pair of these bicycles, which they promptly unfolded and cycled off into town. These bikes fold VERY small and appear to be very sturdily made. Talking with the Swedes and several other Brompton owners, we learned that these bikes can be acquired VAT-free and duty free in the Channel Islands. We visited the Guernsey dealer for Brompton twice – the first time to look and the second time to buy. They had only one bike, but there was another Brompton dealer on Jersey. Craig was soon in touch by phone, and they had several bikes coming in “in the next few days.” So we are now the proud owners of two of these delightful machines, and already getting good use from them.
We had a very pleasant sail to Jersey – at least the first part. Then the wind came up and we had a wild ride into the harbor. We had intended to stay in Jersey several days, but the weather forecast for our planned passage to St. Malo a couple of days later was a bit scary: “Severe thunderstorms”. So we stayed only one day, bought the second bike, I got my hair cut, and we found a grocery store – and then we headed out again, this time for the French port of St. Malo.
I will leave you there, even though it is now several days later. France seems like a new chapter, and deserving of its own blog entry.
In the meantime, we wish you the best. Hope you’re having as much fun as we are!
Craig & Barbara Johnston