The old man of Petit Portelet


Phew! What a manic summer it has been. Walking, growing, working, family, scrumping, archaeology, photography – my normal busy life, but without the time to write.

It’s Autumn equinox weekend, when day and night are equal, and we are lucky in Jersey in that we have two prehistoric sites which align with the sunrise on the spring and autumn equinoxes; La Hougue Bie and La Pouquelaye de Faldouet. We had planned to go to Faldouet to watch the sunrise, but decided against it when we saw how thick the cloud cover was, only to be tricked out of an amazing dawn through a break in the cloud. If you have never been to La Hougue Bie for the equinox I would highly recommend it.

20130924-034305.jpg We started out our day driving passed La Houge Bie towards Rozel when we took a detour down this lane, one of the prettiest in the island, I think. It’s bizarre, but we ended up down some lanes we have never seen before. That said, although the island is only nine miles by five there are supposed to be over a thousand miles of lanes.

20130924-034816.jpg We made it to Rozel and to the world famous Hungry Man cafe for egg and bacon rolls, enjoyed by the harbour side with the sun blazing down on us.

20130924-035038.jpg Rozel is such a picturesque harbour with it’s small fishing fleet, always awash with activities. This morning, apart from the breakfast munchers and the tinkering fishermen, a group of artists came and decamped strategically around the bay, a jet-skier pootled around outside the harbour mouth, a gaggle of geese waddled aesthetically across the sand and two very brave ladies were swimming. Just another Rozel morning.

20130924-040020.jpg From here we took the short drive up the hill to White Rock to enjoy the view whilst searching for sloes. The sea was so very flat and calm and we watched amazed as a jet skier flew across the bay from Bouley Bay to White Rock and round to Rozel in just minutes.

20130924-040404.jpg We walked a short way along the cliff path heading towards Bouley bay, but although we found lots of blackthorn bushes there was not a sloe to be found! We were slightly mollified by the wonderful views.

20130924-041001.jpg A change of tack was called for so we left White Rock and headed to the National Trust for Jersey property Victoria Tower, which sits strategically above Gorey Castle and commands views across to St Catherine’s breakwater. The tower itself is unusual in that it has a moat, the only one of its kind in Jersey

20130924-042209.jpg I love the peace and tranquility in this small wildlife haven, and it’s very seldom that you meet other people here. We wandered around the the pathways at the top of the cotils and enjoyed the different aspects of nature on show. These beautiful fungi reminded me I need to go walking with the mycology section of the Societe Jersiaise to learn more about the magnificent array of fungi we have here in the island.

20130924-043005.jpgA nature supermarket of elderberries, blackberries, haws and these wonderful rosehips were scattered around the periphery of the paths and we helped ourselves to a small amount to make some hedgerow jelly.

20130924-050632.jpg Whilst walking here we came across an oak tree, but the acorns seemed to covered in a sticky outer layer which I’ve never seen before. Wikipedia tells me that it may be a gall caused by a gall wasp.

20130924-052509.jpg Next stop, down the hill, to the small pebble beach of Petite Portelet behind Gorey Castle. It’s just passed the full moon, and so the tidal differences are quite huge still and when we reached the beach and the tide was well out it was easy to see the high tide mark on the rocks and visualise the huge volume of water that rises and falls twice every day.

20130924-053320.jpg Did you see him? Did you spy the old man of Petit Portelet looking out over the sea to France?

20130924-053521.jpg This isn’t a well known or popular beach. It’s steep and pebbly but, to me, that is part of its charm. From here you get such a different perspective of the castle, you get a real sense of just how difficult it would have been to attack.

20130924-054134.jpg There has been some busy building on the beach in the last few days, with pebble forts and seaweed moats being built above the high tide mark. I especially liked this birds nest henge sculpture.

20130924-054618.jpg The pebbles here are mainly granite, tumbled and tossed by the sea. I like the sound of them crunching under my feet as I wander over the bay, looking for flotsam and jetsam and sea glass.

20130924-055414.jpg I unexpectedly came across a blackthorn bush and took home a wonderful harvest of……….one sloe. One sloe! That’s not even enough for a snifter of sloe brandy. I can’t work out why all the other hedgerow plants are absolutely dripping with berries this year, but the sloes are the opposite.

20130924-122833.jpg My harvest of sea glass was more impressive (3 pieces) so I took them home to join my growing collection, ready for a sculpture one day when I’m feeling inspired.

20130924-123156.jpg I hope you are enjoying the start of autumn, though with temperatures in the 20s it still feels like summer here. Happy Equinox!


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Sheena

3 Comments

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  1. Well Sheena how lucky you are to see so much beauty in the island, I dont think I saw as much in the ten years I lived on the island. I am very proud of you.