Hurrah, Jersey Heritage’s sites are open once more for the season. With light Covid restrictions of course but open nonetheless.
The sites are (inside) Jersey Museum and Maritime Museum (outside) La Hougue Bie, Mont Orgueil, Elizabeth Castle and Hamptonne Country Life Museum. I have the great pleasure of working two days a week at Hamptonne on the front desk.
You’d have thought it might have been quiet this morning for my first shift, especially as I’d entirely forgotten the workings of the till and associated systems, my login passwords etc. But no, Hamptonne is a regular meet-up location for nannies and childminders and in they poured on the dot of 10 o’clock, young charges in tow, old and young flying through the shop, membership passes being flashed my way, chicken food being politely demanded. Track and Trace contact details to be collected. After a while the wave subsided and I was able to draw breath.
Hamptonne sits amongst quiet lanes in the middle of Jersey, not easy to find. The buildings date back 400 years and are quite beautiful. But the local families are more interested in the animals and open spaces, a lovely place for the often town bound kids. We have chickens free-ranging around and rabbits in the stables. New this season are sheep in the meadow and piglets to replace the monster hogs that virtually needed dynamite last October to shift them to wherever fully-grown pigs go. Finally, a couple of Jersey calves, the prettiest breed of cows.
A Gardien is in overall charge of each site, a VSA (Visitor Services Assistant) at front of house. In addition there is a regular stream of volunteers. Today, for example, we had Dave as Visitor Host who took some of the heat off me at the desk whilst providing good football chat in quieter moments. There are Tour Guides and, later in the season, we’ll see a bit of Living History, guys and gals that dress and act as if in the good old days.
Like all hospitality businesses, Heritage have struggled with the pandemic but we are well supported by the government. It’s nice to be able to open on time but everyone hopes that we’ll soon be able to welcome overseas visitors once more.