The birds seek more

Sunday 19th August 2018, 1.25pm (day 2,551)

Geese revenge, 19/8/18

Two days of total indolence are in progress for me, this being the first. I avoided the temptation to present a photo of this afternoon’s football result (Brighton & Hove Albion 3, Manchester United 2 — oh yes oh yes) and so this one will do. The woman in beige maybe regrets encouraging the geese to visit her for a snack.

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The Hand of Stoke

Saturday 18th August 2018, 12.15pm (day 2,550)

Hand of Stoke, 18/8/18

Finding myself on Stoke-on-Trent railway station for half an hour today, and time therefore to ponder this sculpture: not so much why is it there at all (for there should be more public art if you ask me), but why tuck it down the very far end of platform 2 where hardly anyone ever goes?

The blue post may seem an intrusion but I like it. The photo becomes a study of the various lines going both across and down.

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Braye Beach (and farewell to the Channel Islands)

Friday 17th August 2018, 10.35am (day 2,549)

Braye beach, 17/8/18

Yesterday’s rather sombre subject matter was matched by the Thursday weather on Alderney, but the sun returned today to brighten up our last day in the Channel Islands: we had breakfast here, lunch in Guernsey and dinner at home, in Hebden Bridge. The general family consensus was that we could take or leave Guernsey, but the smaller islands we visited, Sark and Alderney, do tempt one into fantasies of retiring from the world to island life. It’s places like Braye beach — almost empty on a glorious August morning — that particularly encourage this.

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Lager Sylt entrance (lest we forget)

Thursday 16th August 2018, 2.30pm (day 2,548)

Lager Sylt gates, 16/8/18

Unlike the other Channel Islands, Alderney was completely evacuated in June 1940, eight days before the Germans arrived to occupy it for the next five years. Because of the lack of a civilian population, they pretty much did what they liked here, fortifying the island to an immense degree (to the extent that the Alderney garrison did not surrender until 16th May 1945, a whole week after VE Day). The labour that this required was undertaken mostly by Russian POWs, who were housed in four camps, or lager, each named after German North Sea islands. Lager Sylt was the camp for Jews, run by the SS, and along with nearby Lager Nordeney was thus the only concentration camp — so far — to have been built on British soil. 400 graves of prisoners have been identified on Alderney but many more are estimated to have died here. The only remaining sign of any of the camps are these old concrete gate posts, on the edge of the airport, and the small plaque affixed thereon, fading text declaring that this was the entrance to Lager Sylt.

World War 2 too often gets treated as some big nostalgia kick. But it’s worth remembering that all those years, all that effort and suffering and hardship, was fought for poor bastards like those prisoners, to stop this kind of thing ever happening again.  As time passes and the ruins moulder away, there’s a risk that some people are forgetting this.

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Seagull portrait, Alderney

Wednesday 15th August 2018, 6.50pm (day 2,547)

Seagull portrait, 15/8/18

For the second time on this holiday a seagull demands I do its close-ups. Could I (or it) have asked for better light? We are now on Alderney, a 15-minute flight north of Guernsey on a tiny plane on which we were three of only five passengers. Like Sark, but unlike on Guernsey, the sun shone and there is a palpable feeling of otherness, separateness, on this little isle which the bigger one didn’t really have. Two more days away to come.

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The Guernsey beach experience

Tuesday 14th August 2018, 3.10pm (day 2,546)

At Pembroke Bay, 14/8/18

Guernsey has some very nice beaches, including the one we spent most of today on, Pembroke Bay on the northern tip of the island. But these three seemed to decide that the golden sands were not as pleasant to lie on as the comfortable concrete of the sea wall.

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Port de Moulin, Sark

Monday 13th August 2018, 2.55pm (day 2,545)

Port de Moulin, Sark, 13/8/18

The Isle of Sark lies a few miles east of Guernsey and in the 16th century was the haunt of marauding pirates, at which point Queen Elizabeth the First empowered a lord and a group of 40 families to settle it. And not a great deal seems to have changed since. There remain no tarmac roads, street lighting nor cars on the island, which is a spectacular and beautiful place. Today is one of those days where my limiting myself to one shot per day makes it difficult — I could have chosen any of a dozen pictures today, including the precipitous La Coupée, which is Sark’s most famous (and clichéd) sight, but I’m going with this one because I like the light. This impressive rock arch is down on the beach of Port de Moulin, one of the few places that you can get down to sea level from the upper plateau — one reason those pirates were so fond of Sark. Should you get the chance to visit here, I highly recommend it.

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The Lido at La Vallette

Sunday 12th August 2018, 3.35pm (day 2,544)

La Vallette Lido, 12/8/18

Lidos, or public outdoor swimming pools, were all the rage in the Victorian era, but many have fallen into disrepair. This one, just south of the town centre of St Peter Port, is apparently being restored and could reopen soon. It was a grey and drizzly day in Guernsey although the forecast for the rest of the week is pretty good. In the background, Castle Cornet, which has guarded the port here for 800 years or more, and on the horizon, the island of Herm.

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In flight

Saturday 11th August 2018, 12.50pm (day 2,543)

Seagull in flight, 11/8/18

We went to LIhou today, a tiny islet that can be reached by a causeway at low tide that has one house, one old ruin, and lots of seabirds. I was taking this one’s portrait when it decided to launch itself from the rock, fortunately I still pressed the shutter, just in case. It only went about ten feet to the right, before landing on another stone, so I think just wanted me to get the action shot.

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The end of Castle Pier, St Peter Port

Friday 10th August 2018, 3.45pm (day 2,542)

Castle pier, 10/8/18

Last year when I went to St Malo in September the denting of the aircraft’s wing, thanks to ineptitude (not the airline’s) stranded me on the island of Guernsey for 24 hours. At first this greatly pissed me off, but it turned out to be a rather nice 24 hours and an experience I thought repeating and worth sharing with the family. So here we are for a week’s holiday. I feel on this first day I also failed to take any particularly decent photographs, but this best effort is looking back to the island’s capital (and our first place of residence), St. Peter Port, from the end of one of its several breakwaters. Clare and Joe head back to town. There’ll be more from here over the week to come. I can improve. The sun might start shining, too (maybe).

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