A Jersey Weekender…

DSC_0034

Back in January, we booked a weekend for us and the children on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands under the belief that the business would be sold and we could subsequently spend some time relaxing and mentally preparing, prior to taking off on our travels.

In reality, the business sale is only now coming to completion.

Jamie is no stranger to Jersey, he previously worked and lived on the island and always since then, it has felt like a second home.

He first took me back in 2005, when Louis was 9 weeks old and we have regularly returned, minus children, for a cheeky weekend break if we’ve needed some r&r.

Flying from Southampton takes a little over half an hour, with regular buses running from the airport into the capital, St Helier.  This means you can catch the first flight out of Southampton around 8 am, be there by 9 and enjoy a full day, dinner and an evening out and another full day before catching a return flight on a Sunday evening.  It is the perfect getaway, offering outstanding and award winning beaches, all varieties of cuisines at restaurants that are second to none, fabulous bars and meeting places and tax free shopping.

For this trip, we decided to take the car and trial out the new Condor Liberation from Poole, enabling us to explore the island more fully and show the children parts of the Island that are missed off the tourist map.  At a little over £280, this was a fairly reasonable cost by comparison to flying – however, with a five hour crossing, it would definitely not be my mode of transport of choice to Jersey.

Arriving around 10am, we made our way straight to St Brelades beach for swimming and sunbathing.  Having not slept at all the night before due to a crazily early ferry, driving to Poole on 3 cups of black coffee and no sleep on the ferry meant that this was my opportunity to literally crash out completely on the beach!  And I mean crash!

We opted for alternative accommodation and booked to stay for our first two nights at Durrell Wildlife Park, glamping in a fully fitted yurt/tent with solid beds, hot water, a proper toilet and shower – all in the most incredible surroundings and with all inclusive park access for our stay.

It was certainly a spot on choice – we relaxed and settled in straight away and although not the cheapest to stay in Jersey, the experience was more than worth it.

Jersey has so much to offer, yet is often overlooked in lieu of cheaper or more affordable, foreign holidays.  As a consequence, there are only a few remnants of the Jersey that Jamie knew.  With a growing demand for housing due to encouraged immigration, a dwindling tourist trade and lack of affordable housing options, Hotels are being replaced with homes and apartments.  This has pushed up the cost of visiting the islands, however it is well worth spending out to do so.

Saturday morning, we woke up as nature intended – to the sounds of the animals in the enclosures next to us, followed by a drive to Plemont beach – one of Jamie’s favourites on the Island.

After descending the steps down the cliff to the beach at low tide, we embraced the opportunity to explore the caves surrounding the bay, the beyond freezing waterfalls and the rock pools left behind by the outgoing tide.  As the tide comes in, the sea rises quickly to the steps, although the beach is watched over by lifeguards in the summer months, it can be dangerous.

With the rising tide, we moved on to St Helier to once again catch up with friends, have lunch of oysters and sushi on the terrace outside The Royal Yacht, do some shopping, take in the Fun Fair on at West Park and then eat steak at Wildfire.

Based on J’s experience of Jersey, you usually have good weather prior to Battle of the Flowers week, an annual parade of floats kitted out with hundreds of flowers – hence the timing of our break.  With this comes lots of events, such as the Fun Fair.  It’s always worth checking www.jersey.com prior to any visits to ensure your timing is right.

On Sunday, we used our inclusive passes that came with our camping experience to visit the Wildlife park. I was bowled over – the grounds and enclosures are superb, there are an abundance of spots to picnic, plenty of activities on offer and an incredible amount to learn about the different species at the zoo.  I am not a ‘zoo’ person myself, but at Durrell, they go the extra mile to provide an memorable experience.  And the boys loved it –   don’t miss it out if visiting the Island.

With thousands of choices over where to eat throughout the Island, we checked in at St Magloire Guest House in St Aubins for the next two nights and ate at The Boathouse in the harbour – eating fresh crab and mussels, seafood that Jersey is famous for and does to perfection.  No underperforming restaurant lasts long in Jersey due to how quickly word gets around, therefore the standard of food is much higher than that of mainland England and you’d be hard pushed to eat a bad meal.

Our afternoon was spent running up and down sand dunes, searching out old German bunkers followed by meeting friends on the beach at St Ouens, where Louis took in a surf lesson and we chilled with coffee and biscuits made in our friends camper!

After beaching, there was only one option – to go to one of the numerous cafes that line the beach for an alcoholic beverage, something that you’d be lucky to find along the south coast of England (drinking alcohol on the beach, from a glass!). We opted for The Watersplash, which happened to have a DJ playing reggae as the sun went down. Bliss. Once our friends departed, we headed to El Tico for dinner as the sunset over the Atlantic, before putting two exhausted children to bed.

If you’re looking for a cultural experience, be sure to visit the Jersey War Tunnels, which gives the history of the German occupation of the island during WW2 and the effect on its people.  Max was a little young to understand the full extent of the experience, however, along with Louis he enjoyed exploring the tunnels.  They are much cooler than the surface temperature, however, so wear a jacket.

We spent the afternoon visiting other sites of historical significance:

  • Noimont Point, where there are countless guns and bunkers to climb and explore, a strategic defence point of the island.
  • Portelet Beach and Javelins Tomb.
  • Corbiere – a stroll out to the lighthouse whilst the tide was out.
  • La Houque Bie, an ancient burial mound
  • And a drive past of Gorey Castle.

Without a doubt, you will struggle to take in everything Jersey has to offer in just four days.  The downside is that although cheaper than London, accommodation can be expensive depending on when you go and how far in advance you book.  Meals and drinks come in on a par with mainland England, however the quality is far superior and children are welcome in restaurants until 9.30pm without quibble.  Restaurants tend to be individual rather than part of a chain and as a consequence offer outstanding customer service.

Other points to mention and sights we barely touched on include:

  • Elizabeth Castle in St Helier you can walk out or even take a duck boat to see this more closely at high tide
  • Skydiving landing on the beach.
  • Adventure courses at Creepy Valley.
  • Boat trips out to see the groups of rocks named Ecrehous
  • Boat trips to spot dolphins
  • You can kayak, canoe, kite surf, surf…
  • Take Le Petit Train along the seafront in St Helier
  • Shows on at The Opera House
  • Mazes at aMaizin

In a nutshell, Jersey has something for everyone.

And if you don’t get the chance to see it, you’ll be missing out.

Signing off with love,

Helen