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Facts

THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Not a county or borough but we wanted to include The Channel Islands.


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FUN FACTS

The Channel Islands is the 48th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
The Channel Islands has the 46th highest population in England.
The Channel Islands is in 10th place for density of population.

NOTE: The Channel Islands is a name given to a group of islands off the French coast of Normandy. There are a total of 20 islands but only six are inhabited. The islands are not part of the UK although the United Kingdom is responsible for the defence of the islands. The islands are in two separate groups. Jersey makes up one group on its own while Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, Sark and Jethou form a second group. Jethou is so small it only has a popualtion of 3 and the island is not open to the public.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. The link to royalty here is easy. The Channel islands were, way back before 1066, part of the Duchy of Normandy. So, when the Duke of Normandy, namely William, decided to invade England following the death of Edward the Confessor, Normandy and the Channel islands came with him. In fact there is even an argument today to claim that the United Kingdom is part of the Channel Islands rather than the other way around. I'm not sure it would go down too well but you can try. Just don't mention my name in this.

    Since them the islands have always been a part of England and then the United Kingdom although totally self-governing. They are only about 25 kms (15 miles) from the French coast. Later on, in the "Now That's Weird" Section, I will explain how they are grouped together and why. Let's just say does the word "Bailiwick" mean anything to you. Thought not.

  3. The Channel Islands Eat
  4. I didn't want to favour the Guernsey group or Jersey so I've found two recipes, one from each. Funnily enough both are types of bread.

    Let's go to Jersey first. A speciality of that island, still baked in bakeries on the island, is called a Cabbage Leaf loaf. Basically you make some dough in the usual way. Let it rise then knead it again, make it into a large round loaf and let it rise again. Finally, before you bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes, you wrap the dough in two large cabbage leaves and tie them lightly around.

    Once the bread has cooked, remove the cabbage leaves and you might have an imprint from the veins on the cabbage leaves but that will just make your loaf look prettier. All that's left is to taste the flavour and enjoy your Cabbage Loaf bread.

    Let's pop north in the English Channel or perhaps, as we are so close to France, we should call it La Manche, and arrive in Guernsey. Here there is a traditional fruit loaf known as the Guernsey Gâche but pronounced gosh. I am told that gâche means cake in Guernesiais which is weird as this is most definitely a fruit loaf. It is a traditional afternoon tea bread or is, apparently, very nice when toasted with butter for breakfast.

    I'm sure you can find a recipe somewhere so I'll just say that you make the dough as normal and knead it for 10 minutes or so. Then slowly add sultanas and mixed peel. Then, as with most bread recipes, leave it to rise, knead it again, put it in a loaf tin and let it rise a second time. Then into the oven, the loaf tin not you, and bake it for about 50 minutes. There you are, you have a Guernsey gâche to get you gnashers around.

  5. Channel Islands VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born on one of the Channel Islands in the last 100 years:-
    Babette Cole (Writer and Illustrator of Children's Books), Heather Watson (Tennis Player), Roy Dotrice (Actor), Rosie Boycott (Journalist), Matt le Tissier (Footballer), Sarah Pallett (Politician, New Zealand Parliament) and Serena Guthrie (Netball Player)

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Jersey and Guernsey are not ruled by a king so they cannot, like the United Kingdom, claim to be a kingdom. Neither are they ruled by a Prince, like Monaco, so they cannot claim to be a principality and neither are they ruled by a Duke, like Luxembourg, so they cannot claim to be a Duchy. The islands are governed by a bailiff and therefore are known as the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The latter includes the islands of Alderney, Sark and Herm.

    However the Head of State of both islands is the current British monarch who appoints a Governor-General to represent her. But, just as in Australia and New Zealand, amongst other commonwealth countries (by the way neither Jersey or Guernsey are in the commonwealth) have a governor-general they have no real say in running the country and are just a figure head for the monarch. Any relatives of one-time Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam are at liberty to dispute this fact. But, just as in theory, our monarch could overrule a Prime Minister, nowadays it doesn't happen.

    Now you know what a bailiwick is and to prove I've not made up a word, it is written on the back of the two pound Jersey coin of 1998.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. During WWII German forces never succeeded in invading Britain but they did invade the Channel Islands. This is a very long story and I could not possibly do justice to all that happened here so I would suggest you might find it fascinating to find out more about the occupation of the Channel Islands.

    In short, after the fall of France in June 1940, the British government decided that the Channel Islands were of no strategic importance and would not be defended. On 17 June 1940 a plane carrying General Charles de Gaulle of France stopped over in Jersey before flying on to England. De Gaulle would lead the French resistance to German occupation from England and would, in 1958, serve for eleven years as President of France. The last troops left the islands on 18 June. No-one was sure what to do next. The authorities in Alderney recommended that all islanders evacuate, and all but a handful did so. The Dame of Sark encouraged everyone to stay. Guernsey evacuated 80% of children of school age, giving the parents the option of keeping their children with them, or evacuating them with their school.

    The British government told the lieutenant governors, the monarch's representatives, that if they were re-called the Bailiffs should take over their responsibilities. The governors left on 21st June 1940. The Germans did not know British troops had left and so their invasion proceeded cautiously. By 4th July all the islands had surrendered.

    The Channel Islands then remained under German control until 9th May 1945 when the German surrender of the islands took place aboard HMS Bulldog in the harbour at St Peter Port on Guernsey. HMS Beagle took the surrender in Jersey, Sark was freed on 10th May and German troops on Alderney surrendered on 16th May. Alderney, if you remember, had been almost totally evacuated but the population began to return in December 1945.

    During the occupation the Germans imposed restrictions while the people of the islands tried to go about their daily lives. For example all weapons, boats and radios were confiscated in 1940 and cameras in 1942. There were restrictions on going to a beach and no more than 3 people were allowed to meet together. Also in 1940, clocks were changed to German time and people had to drive, if they had a vehicle, on the right hand side of the road. From 1943 there was some rationing. There was also a curfew, identity cards and an increase in income tax.

    Jersey and Guernsey celebrate Liberation Day on the 9th May each year with a national holiday while Sark does the same on the 10. Alderney celebrates Homecoming Day on 15 December to acknowledge the day the first shipload of evacuated people returned to the islands. As I said at the start of this piece, this is a far bigger story than I could retell here. It is well worth finding out how the lives of ordinary people were affected during the time of the German occupation.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I have never been to the Channel Islands and so it would be wrong of me to claim any memories. I did once sail close by on a ferry from Southampton to St Malo but that doesn't really count.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. Mandarin ducks are native to East Asia where they have actually become quite rare. The majority of mandarin ducks seen in the UK today are descendants of birds who escaped from private collections in the 1920s. There are now around 2,300 breeding pairs here with some 7,000 birds wintering in the UK. The main population of mandarin ducks is in south, central and eastern England. They like lakes and wetlands with plenty of overhanging trees and branches.

    Both the female and male mandarin ducks have black, blue, cream, grey and white feathers but the male, as seen in my picture, also has long orange feathers on the side of his face, orange 'sails' on the back, and pale orange flanks as well as some blue and green colouring. Both sexes have browny, orange legs and a black, red beak of medium length and thickness. They eat insects, vegetation and seeds.

    Mandarin ducks are between 41 and 49 cms in length, have a wingspan of between 68 and 74 cms and can weigh between 430 and 690 grams.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip to the Channel Islands check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020