Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sark, part two

Having arrived on Sark, the first challenge was to climb the hill from the harbour.  While some hardy souls did it on foot, the majority paid up their £1 and jumped on a trailer behind one of the Sark tractors.  Definitely money well spent!

There are no cars on Sark, which is one of its claims to fame.  I had expected this to mean "no motor vehicles", but there are actually a large number of tractors on the island: 99 at the last count, which is almost 50% up on the previous year according to someone we spoke to.  The tractors took over from the horses, which used to pull the visitors up the steep incline from the harbour as well as working the fields.  The horses now offer a wonderful way to see the island, and we booked our tickets for the tour later in the morning.

Horses, it would appear, don't have a "reverse" gear.  Backing one into position along with its peers took several people and lots of pushing and shoving.

While waiting for the horse-drawn tour we explored The Avenue, which is essentially Sark's High Street.  A real mixture of shops, including a couple of banks and a genuine French boulangerie (we met the genuine Frenchman who was running it).

Bicycles were the main form of transport for the locals, when they weren't whizzing around on their tractors, and many of the visitors hired bikes for the day.  Being lazy (or, as we were called on Herm, genteel) we decided that being pulled by a horse sounded much more attractive!  Initially, the view wasn't great...

It soon improved, though, as we trotted off along one of the lanes.  Our horse and guide for the day were George and April respectively, and they were obviously very used to working together.  A little way along the street, April declared that George was likely to stop for a "number two"; this he duly did, much to Izzi's disgust as she was sitting right behind the offending orifice.

George had a "near miss" with a tractor recently, so was very wary of them.  As a result we slowed down and gave the nasty machines a wide berth whenever we saw them.  This did mean that occasionally we were overtaken by "boy racer" horses and their drivers.

We stopped at La Seigneurie gardens which also had an excellent tea shop.  A younger member of the party was obviously exhausted by the morning's exertions, and had been lain out in the shade for a quick forty winks.  Yet more Echium (I've been practising remembering this name!) and, of course, the ubiquitous Hydrangeas - although this time pink, rather than the more usual blue.

The chap on the trap (as it were) was actually a Geordie who seemed to have made the island his home.  The lady was well-known to George, in that she drove a "stop me and buy one" ice cream bicycle.  George isn't allowed ice cream as it gives him the runs, but he was given a Polo mint in compensation.

The journey around Sark will continue in part three.  Surely something not to be missed...