Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Guernsey Watch

Guernsey Watch

An occasional foray into news stories from our sister island.


I have to confess an inter-Island jealousy on reading that “GUERNSEY bean jar starred on Friday night’s The One Show.” What’s wrong with the Jersey bean crock? I think in the interests of balance, that should be shown on the One Show too!

The report went on to say:

“A filming team from the BBC One TV programme came over in early December to make the dish and used a number of local products, including Rocquette cider and local herbs. Rocquette Cider co-owner James Meller said it was great to be involved. ‘I tasted it, and it had a lovely smoky flavour,’ he said. He used the cider in the beanjar, and it’s of course essential to use local cider.’”

But one of the commentators was not impressed:

“Cider essential? Not according to my 86 year old Mum it isn't. And leave out the carrots she says.”

According to the BBC site there are varieties of recipe, but this is one:

Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar
1 pigs trotter or shin of beef
½lb (200g) Haricot beans
½lb (200g) butter beans
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 pints beef stock or water

No cider there than I can see either!


Meanwhile, having watched Jersey’s Innovation Fund turn into an absolute shambles, Guernsey is thinking of copying it – well, the idea, anyway:

“LAUNCHING a Guernsey innovation fund is still under consideration, despite one in Jersey coming under fire for a catalogue of failings. Policy and Resources president Gavin St Pier has confirmed his committee was still looking at using some of the States’ reserves to invest in local businesses. He would not, however, be drawn on the situation with the Jersey fund – the subject of a damning new report. ‘It is still something we are interested in,’ Deputy St Pier said. ‘I don’t know enough about their [Jersey’s] scheme. I don’t know how it was set-up, how it was controlled, so I can’t comment. ..I don’t know enough about Jersey’s scheme. I don’t know how it was set-up, how it was controlled, so I can’t comment!".

This clearly roused the ire of one commentator who though Gavin St Pier was just to lazy to do any homework on the matter, which indeed is the case. The full report by the Auditor General looks at all those questions. But I rather like the slightly sarcastic tone of the comment:

“Gavin...sat on your desk is a thing called a "phone" pick up the receiver, looks like a handle, put it to your ear and using the number pad dial 01534 440400 and someone will say "Hello States of Jersey Financial services , how may I help you" you say, "Hello its Gavin the President of Guernsey here, can I speak to someone about your Innovation Fund please" You may find out why it went pear shaped and save us all a load of money... just an idea.”


Sark Vineyards is closing:

“SARK’S Chamber of Commerce ‘fears for the very future of the island’ following the news that Sark Vineyards would be closing. The company has blamed constant conflict with the island’s government for the decision, including the recent move to tax alcohol production. ‘The vineyards were one of the biggest employers of resident labour on Sark and their operation meant that business actually filtered through to all walks of enterprise on the island,’ the Chamber said in a statement.”

A commentator said this:

“Sad news about the loss of 25 full-time and part-time jobs in Sark's vineyards industry. The continuing direct and indirect bitter feud with the Barclays will only end with one loser........Sark and the Sarkese.”

In a statement the company said it "fails to see any future in Sark or its economy..The decision of 5 October 2016 to introduce taxation of alcohol production itself, amounting to a tax on one industry only on Sark, severely undermines the future financial viability of the business”

But was it the right climate for Sark? One commentator suggests that it had problems with the climate on Sark, and the terrain:

“No its time for the person whose big idea it was to look in the mirror if anyone is casting blame. Misty, moist, salty, windy sea-side Sark on non-calcareous terroir was never a recipe for success....you can only throw so many chemicals at all the terrible fungus attacks like last year. Tearing them out sounds like the best idea although re-growing quality pastures is going to be a complete headache as all the residual copper fungicide will have damaged the fauna such as worms which may take decades to re-establish. Also a shame about all the archaeology that will have been damaged given Sarks increasingly important place in pre-history.”

And another agrees:

“It's a shame about the loss of jobs but it was always a vanity project bound to fail. Why couldn't they have spent the money on projects that enhanced the island instead of ruining the environment - valuable wildflower meadows and pasture land. It was never likely that the vines would flourish (the coasts of Normandy and Brittany not covered with vineyards) and the whole project was doomed once the hotels failed to attract their "high net worth" target guests. “

I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Apparent Wine buff Oz Clarke came over and presumably saw nothing untoward about the vineyards. He said that Sark “has every chance of creating “something special” in the world of wine”

And the UK Vine website notes:

“Geographically closer to France than the UK and standing outside the United Kingdom, Sark has given over two percent of its land to grape production and now seen its first grape harvest that took place under the direction of Bordeaux winemaker Dr Alain Raynaud.”

“Dr Raynaud said: “We had a warm summer on Sark so the grapes were able to evolve well and produce quality fruit. Sark’s first grapes are showing us a good balance between acidity and sugar. We are now beginning our journey to make an excellent quality sparkling wine for Sark, using the Champagne method of production.”

“Dr Raynaud and his team include French winemaker Etienne Longuechaud and vineyard specialist David Pernet. Sparkling wine will be produced in the traditional method used in Champagne – and by experienced Champagne winemaker Mark Quertenier.”

That doesn’t quite sound like a bunch of amateurs without experience of vineyards, although the climate and conditions of Sark are a long way from Bordeaux. However, La Mare Vineyards shows that the Channel Islands can be suitable for wine production.

Raynauld himself had some doubts:

‘Vines had never been planted on this island before,’ says Alain Raynaud, the Bordeaux consultant who is heading up the project, ‘and I had to question at first whether it was even possible to make a serious wine here’.

‘Sark is on the 49th parallel, a touch further north than the Loire and Champagne, and even with the softening effects of the Gulf Stream, this is an exposed location. Just getting equipment onto the island proved a challenge, as a low, narrow tunnel at the harbour made it tough to even bring a grape press onshore.’

“But once I analysed the soil, and studied the figures, I knew we could do something interesting. The terroir is a mix of schist and granite, and the climate is warmer and dryer than the UK mainland.’ And besides all this, for Raynaud the challenge to create wine on Sark was something more than simply a technical one. ‘There are very few times in your life when you are offered the opportunity to create something entirely from scratch. It was too much to resist.’”


And lastly for something very different:

“A VIDEO of a bus driving on the other side of the road has been labelled as 'alarming' by the Environment and Infrastructure president. Barry Brehaut, whose committee has responsibility for negotiating the island's bus contract, said it was only right that CT Plus investigated the matter. 'The driving is clearly dangerous,' he said. 'I hope CT Plus do take action as the driver did put other road users at risk. 'I would imagine CT Plus themselves would have been horrified by what they have seen.'”

“A spokesman for the bus company said: 'The matter is with management and is being investigated.' The video, which was posted on social media, attracted 200 shares on Facebook.”

A commentator noted that:

“I am fed up with these huge buses as they career down narrow roads expecting all cars on the other side to get out of their way. Collings Road is an example where these buses often expect cars on the pavement side to quickly mount the pavement without the bus driver having a quick look as to whether this is possible. On this stretch of pavement there are mothers with prams walking children to school etc. These buses are antisocial monstrosities and can often be seen speeding.”

It can also be seen on the BBC site:


“The bus, on Guernsey, can be seen drifting over to the wrong side of the road and forcing oncoming cars on to the pavement.”

And on ITV it was noted:

“People have commented on the video saying it is common occurrence around the island and blaming it on buses being too big.”

While complaints about erratic bus driving seem to be anecdotal, the rise of special “dash cams” or just passengers in cars taking footage are probably going to be a new trend, and it may not just be bus drivers who are shown up.

In 2014, Jersey featured a clip of a video on YouTube showing a yellow Renault driving east along the promenade that runs along St Aubin’s Bay, where cars are banned. Pedestrians, some with young children and pushchairs, and cyclists can be seen having to move out of the way as the man drives towards them.

On the one hand, it is good that incidents like this are recorded because these are instances of dangerous driving; on the other hand, it may lead some drivers to the temptation to hold a camera or phone to record something in their hand while driving behind the offending vehicle, which might be as dangerous.

1 comment:

James said...

Beef in a bean crock? HERESY!!! :-)