Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Jersey - the early days, with my own photos

  • Those early days in Jersey were days when I needed space, and on an island where I only knew a few people, I got some space.
  • I used to go down to St. Ouens bay and sit on the wall and look at the sea, like I now sit on the wall of the Great Ship Bay, just looking at the sea and being alone, I would go to the cliffs at Les landes and Corbiere, climbing on the rocks, which people don't like me doing, but you only live once, so if you see granite, climb it!
  • I craved space so much, especially after George and Jill Lihou, that I did not contact my other friends for a while after I moved to Jersey. 
  • I had told the Lihous I didn't want to know them, and I told my other friends that I wanted space. The day I rang and left a message for my friend, she responded with relief, the email is in the 'year of friendly emails' I think.
  • It was not just the Lihous but the stress of final assessments at college that had left me exhausted and needing space, and the stress of debts that had built up.
A favourite quiet spot where I used to park and enjoy the view, yes that is my old car, 'Anna'.

  • I found Jersey to be comfortingly small, a good place for someone with autism and trauma, because you can't end up 100 miles away so easily if you dissociate, not that I was doing too much of that by the time I arrived in Jersey.
  • I also found Jersey old fashioned, it was not mad with health and safety, you could do risky things like ladders and cables, that you cannot do in the UK, and at workplaces people were allowed to leave the site during the working day and get subs from their wages, stuff that doesn't happen in England any more.
  • The other thing about Jersey was the old fashionedness extended to prejudice and chauvenism, which was a pity, and a lot of men seemed to think that women would fancy them, kind of a very funny thing to observe if you are an outside from the UK, these Jerseymen who strut like peacocks, sorry if that causes any offence.
  • But in all the time I was in Jersey, not that I am adult enough to really look at men, I only saw one or two who were vaguely attractive, in my opinion, and I am not really a fully mature woman who looks at men. I kind of don't understand. 
  • Anyway, the good side of Jersey eccentricities is that it produces some wonderful characters, Symon and Declan were two of those, whatever they were smoking used to send the parrot mad so he would bite me :) parrot bites are quite painful.
Corbiere, one of my own pictures.

  • I was really badly off and in debt when I arrived in Jersey, life had been a horrible grind in poverty for a year, made worse by the Lihous boasting, and so it was such a joy to have such beautiful scenery around me, and to be as if on holiday although I was working.
  • But the debts remained, and my rent was steep, so it was also still a stressful time.
  • The other stress was that my landlord was unpredictable, he was known round the island for being harmless but unpredictable.
  • So he went through times of sobbing for his dead wife or raging about this and that, he even had a quarrel about a parking ticket that he didn't think he deserved and said he would stop sending his photography to the JEP if he had to pay.
  • My landlord had a partner but he still grieved loudly for his wife who had died suddenly the previous year, and I felt it was not appropriate for me to go and comfort him, he used to come out and say 'did you hear me crying?' and I would say yes and that I was sorry, but I knew I should not go and comfort him but I felt awkward, if he had been a lady, then I could have sat with him.
  • He used to say having me there was like having a daughter around, and I knew I was supposed to take it with 'a pinch of salt', and he used to say that he had to be careful not to spoil me, but he did not spoil me. Usually he was out, at his partner's home or eating out, as Jersey people do, those who can afford it.
  • His partner was the lady who was friend with people at the churchwarden's church.

St Ouens Bay from Les Landes

  • My landlord had two great big cars, which, to me, seemed so odd, we lived in a green lane where the speed limit was 20mph! The top speed limit in Jersey is 40, and that is in a few places. He used to say to me that he had to take his cars to the UK and France, 'for a proper run, to get their engines going', ha, it's alright for some, eh?
  • So that was how it was, I lived in this beautiful country house with this rather fascinating Jerseyman, who was one of the leaders of the Island's horticulture society, and who claimed to have been bitten by the only fox in Jersey, which was never seen by anyone else.
  • The gardens of the house were stunning, he was a keen gardener.
  • The other strange thing about the place was that we got real peacocks straying into the garden, they were fascinating, and no explanation as to where they were from, just a Jersey thing, peacocks wandering into your garden.
  • We had game birds and rabbits and other wildlife, and the landlord used to fire at them with his little pellet gun.
St Ouens Bay from the dunes end.

  • At work I worked in the plant sales greenhouse, looking after the plants, keeping things tidy, watering, trying to talk to customers, I also looked after gardens, hanging baskets and tubs and planters onsite, fed the fish and the aviary birds, swept and cleaned, worked in the flowers warehouse and greenhouses as and when asked, and generally did what was needed. I also, horror of horrors, had to work in the shop when coaches of tourists arrived, now that was a crash course in French and patience if there ever was one.
  • I found it fascinating that the Family I worked for spoke Jersey French as well as fluent French, and local customers used to come in and converse with the managers in Jerriaise. I struggled with the basic French with the coach loads of tourists, and to be honest some of them were not very polite, but at least I started rapidly learning French words, which is never bad
  • So work was good, they were good to me, honestly, lovely people, it is a pity that in the end the connection with the church and the fact they closed down meant they weren't there any more.
  • Yes it was a lovely time that summer in Jersey, if only I had done as I had hoped, and gone on to the grape harvest in France, instead of staying because the churchwarden wanted me to, it would be a lovely memory.

The view from Corbiere along St. Ouens Bay.

I guess the Church matters start in the next Jersey post.

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