At the end of June I spent a week on the island of Jersey, a paradise that is neither England nor France but a world all of its own. Below are some of my impressions of the island, taken from my writer’s notebook.

An Island for Artists…

 

Art is everywhere. Sunlight creates strong shadows, shapes on grass and sand that fill the mind with images and the beginnings of stories. The sea is a painter’s blue, that is to say every shade of tempest, lull and serene green. The gardens are immaculate. Wildflowers grow everywhere, red, yellow and white. I had the impression that art was valued, seen as an essential part of explaining and enjoying life. For example, the shadowed nooks and crannies of Mont Orgueil Castle were filled with sculptures: a steel horse and knight; a clanking danse macabre; faces bashed from glittering metal to hang like living fruit from a literal family tree; griffins and dragons diving from a turret, all feathers, claws and fire. Everywhere images – striking silhouettes, bronze fists, faces and flags, things captured as the eye sees – moving, flawed and vibrant.

The Sea, the Sea…

 

I now believe that serenity of heart and mind can be achieved by eating breakfast while looking out to sea every morning. Waking to the gentle blue creep of wave on sand and falling asleep to the effortless lap of water made me feel pleasantly adrift. I could spend endless summers just watching the sea and all its island creatures – fulmar, lizard and dolphin. I think the bluest patch of sea (if there is such a thing) is to be found at Corbiere Lighthouse, where blue-throated lizards bask behind ice-cream vans and the lighthouse gleams white and immaculate.

All of the Unread Books…

 

I took one book with me, expecting to read it cover to cover after a couple of days, but there was so much to see and do that for once reading was less interesting than the reality around me. Castles, war tunnels, wildflowers, neolithic dolmens and moonscapes by the sea – real and fictional landscapes blur on this magical island.

Here be Dragons…

 

“Jersey was the land of the fairies and the race is yet believed to exist.”

 

So begins a book on island legends I picked up in a local shop (Jersey Legends by Erren Michaels). If I had more time I might have used this book as a guide to seek out dragons, witches, spectral dogs and crooked fairies, but with only a week I went to Devil’s Hole, in search of an encounter with Lucifer himself. What I found was a gentle devil, more Pan than a prince of hell, protecting the rugged wood of St Mary’s at the edge of  the sea. This figurehead, mysteriously washed ashore from an unknown wreck, acts as a supernatural signpost to the spiral cave known as Devil’s Hole. The figurehead has since grown arms and legs, just like the legend surrounding him. His expression, mossy with age, is a curious mix of contemplation and anger. Perhaps there is a spirit trapped in there after all, or perhaps my imagination is playing up again…

 

 

 

 

Have you visited any of the Channel Islands? Is it a destination you would consider?

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DIARY

A WEEK EXPLORING JERSEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS

Isle of Jersey, Channel Islands

summer. twenty-eighteen

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