Today was our day for the north coast and then as much of any other coasts that we could manage. We arrived at the quiet and attractive Bordeaux Harbour, the first of several, so the fisherpersons amongst us can admire boats. This is in the north east of the island and we have seen a good many island roads on the way, not all of them intentionally. Next, a hunt for another of the guide book’s ‘must sees’ – Dolmen le Déhus. This is a well kept Guernsey secret, so well kept in fact that it took us several attempts to find it. Then the only parking space within several hundred yards was taken by a hedge cutter’s van. Today was clearly national hedge cutting day on Guernsey as every hedge owing islander seemed to be out there with their clippers.
Dolmen le Déhus is a small burial chamber dating from between 2000 and 3500BC. Neolithic types were clearly short, or maybe it doesn’t matter if you are being buried but the roof height was about four foot and the ceiling was an unforgiving rock. It did not take long to exhaust the possibilities of this attraction. Having crawled right round and then exited without damage to our persons, I read the interpretation board outside and realised that I had missed some ‘remarkable carvings’. Supposedly, these look like a bearded man with a bow and arrow. My companion insists that I have seen them as he particularly put on the appropriate light. This escaped my notice so I insist that we re-enter. One of our party has clearly forgotten about the ceiling height issue but he seemed to survive. I look at the alleged carvings. I remain unconvinced. It just looks like a slightly uneven piece of rock to me.
We continue our drive along the north coast, stopping to look at various fishing boats at Grand Harve. Beyond Cobo Bay the coast is comparatively less attractive. On reaching the far north western corner, we start to head south. After a refreshment break at Pleinmont we rethink our plans to circumnavigate the island, as the south coast road is closed. I decide that this is a good opportunity to locate an ancestral church in an inland parish. Not helped by the fact that several roads are closed and the map has road names in English, when on the ground they are in French and vice versa, we eventually arrive at the very well kept twelfth century church at Castel. There are wonderful, commanding views across the island and you can understand why early settlers might have chosen this as a site for a place of worship.
We then go to purchase tickets for our trip to Sark later in the week. In order to save money, we book on the 8am boat. This means that we will need to find a parking space that allows us to stop for more than 10 hours. This is not as easy as it sounds. The ferry company direct us to ‘the eastern arm’ but this all seems to be 10 hours maximum. We give up circulating car parks looking for the magic ‘23 hours’ signs and call in on spec at the Guernsey Record Office, expecting to book an appointment for late in the week.
The record office is housed in a former church and it turns out that we can be accommodated today. The place is deserted and judging by the signing in book, our attendance has doubled the daily average for the past week. The adjectives ‘quaint’ and ‘Dickensian’ spring to mind and the lady who emerged from the bowels of the building did her best to help us. I was after records of the Town Hospital aka workhouse. My chap was in the indexes for four years and his death was recorded there but weirdly, the admissions and discharges book (which did include those who were discharged to the grave yard) only noted his admission. Looking at the records was not without difficulty as one of us had no reading glasses and some of the records were in French. Languages were never my forte but I could dredge up enough basic French to roughly work out what was going on. Interestingly, many inmates were discharged to go to Quebec and there’s a whole potential research project out there for someone, following these individuals up on the other side of the Atlantic. Sadly, there are too many things on the very long ‘to do’ list for the ‘someone’ to be me.
There is an outdoor swimming pool at our apartment. We are obviously paying for this facility within our ‘rent’ so our parsimonious nature dictates that we do actually have to use it. Over the past few days we have commented that no one stays in the ‘heated’ pool very long. We trip across the grass in a stiffish breeze. ‘Trip’ was nearly an appropriate term as I have neglected to bring my contact lenses so can barely see the pool at three paces. The water temperature is best described as ‘chill-off’. I brave it out for ten lengths and then hasten back indoors. We now know why there is a high turn over of pool inhabitants.
Unfortunately, the job that cannot be mentioned has tracked me across the seas, so that takes care of the evenings.