Tag Archives: Channel Islands

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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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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Saints Bay, Guernsey

Monday 18th September 2017, 9.35am (day 2,216)

Saints Bay, 16/9/17

Thanks to the problems depicted yesterday, my connection in Guernsey could not be made, so I was here for the night and the morning after. But there are worse places to be stranded for a night I suppose.

Other small islands featured so far on the blog (that is, islands like Guernsey, and not islands like Great Britain, or Honshu): Kangaroo Island, Stradbroke Island (Australia); Stewart Island (New Zealand); Wayasewa and Wayalailai (Fiji); Kvaløy, Snilstveitøy, Tromsøya, Sotra (Norway); Æbelø, Fyn, Sjælland (Denmark).

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