Off we go to Alderney; oh, those magnificent flying machines!
Alderney Travel Blog› entry 20 of 24 › view all entries
Rising early on July 21, we packed up, checked out, hit the boulangerie down the street for a couple of loaves of French bread to take with us to Alderney, then taxied across the river to Dinard to catch the plane to Guernsey. Tom had described Aurigny Airlines planes as the size of half of a school bus, and he wasn't far off. This was my first trip in a small craft, and I found it thrilling to be so close to the ground. Tom had cautioned me about the noise, so I had my earplugs handy, and was glad I did.
We landed in Guernsey, started through security. The lady gave Tom a big tub in which he placed his wallet, his camera case, and the baguette. She handed me a small tray that is usually used for pocket change and keys, and expected me to put my backpack, purse, and hat in it! I commented on the disparity, and her reply was, "He's a big, strapping bloke, and you're a dainty lady.
How strange it felt to hear English spoken, albeit with a British accent, by everyone around me.
My backpack was stopped inside the x-ray machine, the lady was called over to look, and she mentioned that I was carrying a Guernsey Gnosh (or some such word). I asked what that was, and it appears to be a traditional Guernsey cake. I disabused her of that notion, saying it was merely a round loaf of French bread. Then we boarded another sawed-in-half-school bus and headed for Alderney. The various farms on Guernsey and Alderney have their fields separated by hedgerows, and the pattern from the air is quite charming.
We arrived on Alderney, and Tom gave me a quick tour of the island by car, not hard to do, as the island is only 1.5 miles x 3 miles. We stopped on a bluff overlooking a stretch of ocean called The Swinge, where the low tide rushes so fast through the channel at that point that one can hear the shushing of the water from the cliff top. Then we headed back into town, St. Anne, to his flat. We needed to do grocery shopping as the larder was bare, so off we went down the street, stopping first at the natural foods store, then across to the butcher shop for some lamb chops, strolled past the bakery (we had our French bread), and on to the grocery store. Everyone knew Tom by name, the experience was quite quaint.
After lunch, he gave me a walking tour of the town ... up and down more hills, and through the Old St. Anne's cemetery. We passed the town museum, and Tom suggested we tour it immediately, because it had very erratic hours of operation. Although only 9 miles off the coast of France, Alderney chose to become loyal to the British monarch in 1204. During WWII, the Channel Islands were occupied by the German Army for 4 years. About 1/3 of the museum was dedicated to the occupation. It is a topic that is not easily forgotten on the island.
Leaving the museum, we whipped by the bookstore to pick up Tom's reserved copy of the new Harry Potter book. Prominently displayed on several shelves were books about the occupation. We ended up at a pub for a drink and internet access where I e-mailed Bill. In Great Britain, there is a law that states pub owners will show on wine glasses the 175ml level, in order to assure patrons of a fair serving. On my glass was etched 175 ml with a ½"-long line. Most pubs give a little more than a fair serving. Maybe US bars could learn something from them. Then we headed back to the flat, gathered up the fixings for dinner and headed to the beach for a BBQ.
The beach was empty, the tide was out, Fort Raz was accessible via the causeway, and we saw the French coast 9 miles off.