Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Steven and the Hedgerows of Doom

After ten hours on a ferry I arrived in Jersey yesterday evening with just enough time not to find my campsite before it turned pitch black. By rights I should have been there in glorious sunshine but the Jersey government had invested all its money in this beautifully well stocked library that I'm now sat in (with free WiFi) and not one penny at all on road signage.

I wonder if Jersey still lives under the shadow of its former Nazi occupation. During the war there was a campaign in Britain to remove all road signs so as to confuse any incoming spies. Jersey still operates this policy. One hundred metres from the ferry terminal and they dry up. You might as well navigate by magic crystal.

From the ferry terminal I headed out boldly in what seemed like the right direction, ignored the road I felt was probably right because it had no sign (it was!) and spent the next hour and a half biking around country lanes six feet wide and with ten foot-high hedgerows. It was like cycling around Hampton Court Maze.

I asked several blokes, who all looked strangely similar and who all had a very laid back, slightly hippyish demeanour ("Yeah, not sure, man!"), and though local no one could tell me the name of the road I was on, or had even heard of there being a campsite, except one on the other side of the island. Eventually, with the sun long set, I lucked out and ran into a fellow cyclist whose map was considerably better than mine, in that it was printed rather than drawn in crayon. The campsite was just around the corner. By now the headtorch was on full blast and all my bike lights were blinking. Anyone looking out of their window would have thought it was another Close Encounter. Except they wouldn't have been able to see me at all for the soddin' hedgerows, that is.

So today I've been exploring, only St. Helier so far but it's a start. I've found my thing to eat I've never eaten before - Black Butter - I've done my Nina challenge, I have my Action for Animals photo, I've managed to get a map of France and I know roughly where I'll be staying for the next four nights - three campsites and my cousin Sarah's, who I haven't seen since 1376.

It's a pity I hadn't planned longer in Jersey. It seems like a place worth exploring. Given enough time I could have hired a set of step ladders to peer over the hedgerows and have a look at the view. I haven't seen any Jersey cattle yet, but the place is covered in Jersey potatoes. It makes the cycling challenging.

So it's France first thing tomorrow, where the traffic reduces and communication difficulty increases. But armed with my French 'O' level, I'll be fine. So, au revoir, madames et monsieurs! I'll seethee on t'continent!

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