Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The European Adventure for Jan & Me - Channel Islands

It is time to conclude the story of what has been a wonderful adventure for Jan & I. Having travelled to Germany, Holland & Belgium, we were now looking forward to visiting the Channel Islands. I had not been there before, but was always intrigued by its history. It is part of England, yet so close to France. For Jan, it was even more special because of family connections with the island of Jersey. Her great grandfather migrated from there to Australia in 1883.

We woke up early on the morning of our departure from St Malo (France) and walked down to the ferry terminal where we were quickly checked in and boarded almost immediately. The ferry we travelled on has strong connections with Hobart as it was a wave-piercing catamaran built in Hobart by Incat.

It was a bit of a disappointment that the ship was only running on two engines, rather than three, thereby slowing us down. But, being on holidays and time to spare, it did not bother us much and we just relaxed, arriving in Jersey half an hour late - the crossing from France took 1.75 hours.

Thankfully, a quiet crossing!

With time on our hands, we walked to our hotel, which was on the Esplanade overlooking the bay. Once checked in, we headed for the Tourist Information Centre to get our bearings. A visit to the St Helliers Genealogy Library (Societe Jersiaise, est 1873) ensured that Jan had an appointment for the following day to research the Delacour family history. Walking around St Helliers was a treat, and the following pics gives you a glimpse of this town:

Times Square? Well, a St Hellier copy.
Life in St Helliers: Above, Liberation Square and
below a market place, which was fun!

The following day saw us at the Societe Jersiaise, in the Genealogy Library. The weather was terrible, so we were quite happy to dig in at the library and begin our research. When we got there, Anna, the helpful librarian, had already dug out several records for us to have a look at. The table was covered with records and it all looked overwhelming!! Where to start? We soon settled down and routinely went through the stuff that was available, gleaning new information and confirming other information. The time simply flew, and 2 pm was on us sooner than expected.

Thankfully, the weather over the weekend improved. So we bought ourselves a bus pass and began exploring this rather small, but interesting island. What is it about islands and us? We just love them.

Greve De Lecq
Jersey is divided into a number of parishes. All steeped in history and, of course, the Delacour presence (well sort of)! We especially enjoyed the township of St Albans. It is a delightful old town, which to my mind , is like a traditional English fishing port with amazing tidal changes. We just enjoyed the atmosphere, had a drink in a local pub and found an Italian Restaurant that really took our fancy. It was a very busy place - always a good sign, and their Tennerfest menu looked very tempting.

We had no hesitation to returning to this restaurant for an evening meal. While they were fully booked, they most kindly fitted us in. The meal was outstanding and we thoroughly enjoyed the food and the excellent service. We went back to our hotel as two very happy people!!

The Sunday saw us on another bus trip, taking in the lovely town of Gorey. Not exactly the best weather, but that did not prevent us from enjoying this town.

Gorgeous green and historic Gorey with the castle a dominant feature.
We finally found our way to St Marys, another little village in the interior of the island. The autumn colours abound and added to the atmosphere.At the St Helliers Genealogy Library, we found that St Marys played an important part in the lives of the Delacours. It was therefore with considerable interest that we made our way to the parish church and checked out the cemetery for Delacours. Alas, without success.

Instead, we found another delightful restaurant across the road. The place was packed with people and all tables were booked. The staff suggested that they could fit us in at 2 pm, which was too late for us to get back into St Helliers. During the conversation with staff, Jan mentioned that we had stopped in St Marys to check on her ancestors, the Delacours. As we were leaving, the head waiter or owner called us back and told us that he thought he COULD squeeze us in. We gladly accepted and Jan believed that it was because of the DLC connection that we got the table there and then.

Once again, the lunch was superb!!

The looks says it all. It did not only look tempting, it WAS delicious!
Also tried the local Pear Cider, which was a smash!!

Back to the DLC search. On our return from St Marys, we had enough time to search for the houses where the Delacours lived in St Helliers, including:

Looking down Gloucester Street: What was it like 150 years ago
when the Delacour kids played footie in this street?

Devonshire Place, which we are sure, would have been quite different during the residency of Delacours.
And from the top looking towards the two houses in the previous two pics.
The Village church is again visible.

It is amazing where we got the energy from, but we walked up the hill to the Almorah cemetery to look for more Delacour graves. This time we struck gold when Jan found the grave of Pierre De La Cour born about 1800, who was married to Molly Esnouf.

The Almorah Cemetery, St Helliers -
According to the cemetery records, the above is the area where Abraham Pierre Delacour - Jan's great, great, great grandfather is buried. Sadly, there was no sign of a grave stone.

However, the grave stone below is that of Abraham Pierre's uncle & aunt - Pierre Delacour & Marie Esnouf.

Our final search about the Delacour family was in St Lawrence. According to the records we read at the Genealogy Library, St Lawrence is where many of the Delacours worked and lived. Once again a lovely village but we found little evidence in the graveyards of any Delacours. That did not stop us from enjoying the visit and chatting with the locals:

The Church in St Lawrence and its interior below.

We completed the Channel Island visit by visiting the historic Elizabeth Castle on the waterfront. To get there, one either walks at low tide over a path, or alternatively and more sensibly, take the aqua duck across, which is what we did.

An amazing place that was also used by the German occupation forces in WWII. Let's just give you a brief pictorial tour:A scale model of the castle.
And the real thing! Impressive!
Incredible views that makes this place pretty impregnable.
Above & below: Looking back. Our hotel can be clearly seen in both photos.
We were in our element, taking photos, and enjoying the sunny day.
The contrast between the guns above and the World War II gun below is 'chalk & Cheese'. I suspect the gun below would do much more damage.

Time to say goodbye with the hope to revisit Jersey again sometime in the future. Our chariot awaits for a 'reduced-speed' journey to Weymouth in England. At least the sunset with the castle in the foreground as a silhouette made up a little for that. Way to go!!