Monday, 26 October 2009

I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" whilst on Alderney - not much concrete in the book, but The Guernsey Press said it had increased American tourist numbers to Guernsey.
I also dipped into "Festung Alderney" by Trevor Davenport and compared the diagrams to the actual sites I visited when at times the visibility was down to shrouded-under-a-white-cloth distance - not like the sky in this postcard. The book is pretty comprehensive, if rather niche.

Monday, 19 October 2009

I finally tracked this observation tower down to a field in Guernsey on my research trip. I've been drawing it from a small, old photo for a couple of years, what a difference to see it in a straw-coloured field sprouting satellite dishes and (radio?) masts. It seems to be masquerading as some utility resource for the Guernsey States.

Shell-shrine, bunker, Guernsey. Perhaps a sort of obsessive internal-space camouflage like the WWII domestication of other Channel Island German defence interiors with pictures and ornaments, while hours were wittled away waiting.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Observation post

This charming place is the Nicolle Tower, Jersey (a different branch of the Nicolles from my family). The 1940's Germans came along and added an extra floor to the existing tower, filling in crenellations with concrete and adding rubber roof tiles to camouflage their observation post. The bedroom (top floor) has a compass painted on the ceiling and as would be expected, far-reaching views on all sides of the coast and hills. It's also an interesting place to have a bath.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


An island three and a half miles by one and a half and so many fortifications:Napoleonic, Victorian and German WWII, all jammed on top of each other and around each other. Houses turned into defence fortifications then back into houses. Bunkers built on granite forts and camouflaged to look like stone and great angry-looking concrete slits knocked through the Victorian walls. Winding trenches breached by brambles. Anti-tank walls deluged under banks of sand. A very, very long breakwater with rusting railway tracks disappearing off the end. Organisation Todt on overdrive and the misery of the 'slave-workers' embedded in the wood-shuttered cement. The sense of watching and waiting, of being watched by countless, dank, dark gun embrasures, is immense and so often it is the sense of staring out over the sea to something invisible or perhaps about to appear through the fog.
All this and some stunning seafood too.

Persian textile pattern detail on House.