Well, I see from the bulging mailbags we have a letter from a Mrs Trellis, so here for her is my impression of Jersey, with apologies to those, like Martin, who have lived here and know it properly.
My first impression were formed from a 3 day post-Easter visit 30 years ago with my younger son Ben, 13 at the time, courtesy of two free tickets from Brymon Airways after I agreed to formally complain about one of their pilots that i got busted from a flight after he’d tried to queue-jump checkout at our hotel, abused the receptionist and stank of drink.
We came over hoping to surf, but as it was flat we visited the Durrell Endangered Species Zoo, hired mountain bikes and rode all around the Island. The visit clearly left a strong impression on Ben because when in 2013 HSBC offered him a place here he and his girlfriend (now wife) jumped at the chance and are now hoping they can survive the remaining three years which will enable them to buy a rabbit hutch to live in. (Nice houses start at £1M and prices are similar to Knightsbridge, but a shack on Paradise Island is still on Paradise Island!)
Our impressions have mainly been formed from a further eight visits we’ve made, all since they moved here, mostly of two weeks duration but including a couple of day trips. So here goes:
Jersey is the largest and most Southerly of the five main Channel Islands and sits alongside the Cotentin Peninsula of France, about 100 miles from the English Coast and about 25 miles from St Malo, so it enjoys a very benign climate, more French than British.
So why aren’t the Channel Islands French? Well, they were and they’re still full of French place and street names, the pronunciation of which is horribly (possibly deliberately) butchered by the natives. The main department store in St. Helier is Voisins (Neighbours), but if you were to ask for directions to it the response would be, “Oh, you mean Voyzins!”
We can thank The Duc de Normandie, aka William the Bastard, aka William the Conqueror. in 1066, when he invaded Britain, he retained his French territory, i.e Normandy, including the Channel Islands. When Normandy reverted to the French, The Channel Islanders decided to remain British and have done ever since, despite about three attempts by the French to retake them and the infamous occupation by the Nazis for five years during WW2. It still hurts the Islanders to know that Britain “abandoned” and they were the only part of the British Isles to be conquered by Nazi Germany and they deliberately retain a lot of the German fortifications as a reminder. Their biggest day of the year is Liberation Day.
The Channel Islands are part of the British Isles but not of the UK. They’re a British Protectorate (ironical term bearing in mind WW2). They’re not, and never have been, in the EU. They make their own laws and have their own taxation system. Their equivalent to our 20% VAT is GST (Goods and Service Tax), currently at 6%. This can give a price advantage, but not always, as sales volumes are lower and duty could be charged on re-entering the UK with a new item.
Jersey is only 9 miles west to east and 5 miles north to south, but packs in a huge variety in that area. It’s divided into parishes, with St. Helier in the east having the one main town and St Peter’s, towards the west, having the airport. It generally preserves an unhurried atmosphere, partly because the maximum speed limit is 40mph, with many of the roads restricted to 30mph and some down to 15mph. It’s not a place to comfortably drive a large motorhome, especially as many roads have walls and no pavements at the edges. We were nervous in our 6.65m A-Class on all but the few main roads, but we happily go anywhere in our 5.45m Hymervan. A number of the residents have larger Autotrails bu they tend to holiday in France. RVs would not be allowed. Even the buses are built specially narrow and caravans can only be towed from ferry to site and back. We were escorted to our site behind a caravan on our first visit. When we arrived the driver was white and our mirror had been flipped in by a wall!
If you like beach life, this is the place for you with a huge variety from the massive European Class surfing beach of St Ouen’s in the west, through to tiny coves that disappear at high tide, small harbours with good swimming and sand when the tide goes out and including the swish St Brelades which vies with Woolacombe on Trip Advisor to be in the European top three. Apart from St Brelades, which makes a reasonable parking charge, parking is free at most of the beaches, which helps offset the ferry fare, when you think Woolacombe parking is now £10 per day.
As far as other attractions are concerned, if you like to shop, St Helier has a nice relaxed atmosphere with a lot of pedestrianisation, perhaps reminiscent of somewhere like Deauville or La Rochelle. For walkers there are lots of footpaths and a complete coastal footpath, some of which we walked today. There’s at least one golf course and even a horse racing track, which we parked by for our walk. The low traffic speeds make it great for cycling and there are apparently 200 miles of green lanes, all restricted to 15mph, although cars can use them.
There are two theatres and a cinema, currently closed but shortly to re-open as the restrictions ease further. last years summer entertainment guide showed something on almost every night.
Of course it’s home to many monied people, so there are eating places from the sublime to the cor blimey. Plenty of parks and gardens too, but still a surprising amount of countryside and a lovely new bird reserve at the back of St Ouen’s. No mountains but some hills to challenge walkers and cyclists, with some sheer cliffs and stacks for mad climbers. There is also the lovely Durrell Zoo and a selection of castles, museums and occupation sites, plus a 6000 year-old passage grave, La Hougue Bie, almost identical to Newgrange in Ireland
WHERE TO STAY
You will not be allowed in without a Motorhome Permit and that is only issued when you’re booked into an official camp site, even if you’re coming to see relatives or friends that could accommodate your van at their premises. There are two full-facility family Sites, Rozel in the N.E and Beuvelande in the E. I prefer the atmosphere at Rozel but Bevelande is affiliated to the CCC which hosts an annual rally there and can offer good discounts, (they can also get you over £100 off Condor Ferry Fares but not at present as they’re all furloughed and you can’t book the CI ferries on their website although it says you can. Believe me, I tried every possible way). There appears now to be some limited camping at the Durrell Centre but that’s probably associated with courses there, and there was a small “alternative” site called Daisy Cottage near St Ouen’s beach but I’m told that’s been taken over and re-opened under another name. At present it doesn’t seem possible to book any of the conventional sites, although in the last few days we’ve seen a couple of UK vans and they’re not where we are so perhaps things are changing.
However, about 5 years ago a Jersey couple, Dave and Carolyn Huelin, who are keen motorhomers, got permission to open a 5 van site, in the style of a french aire, just off the road to the airport, about a minute’s drive from the coast road from St Helier to St Aubyns. It’s in a valley so it loses the sun early, but it’s only a few minutes walk down to the sea and an easy drive to most places on the island. The five pitches are super-sized, on hard-core with gravel, so it can get dusty in a dry spell, but the landscaping around it is now maturing nicely. Although you can hear the traffic on the road above it’s not intrusive and is very quiet at night. There is an adjacent plant for recycling concrete, which is why it’s an adults only site, but it’s not generally noisy and doesn’t operate early mornings, evenings or weekends, in fact this is the first year we’ve heard it at all. Each pitch has a hook-up (20A apart from ours, which is 30A, but I don’t think they know!}
There are three fresh water points between the five pitches (Borehole, it says not drinking biut it’s perfectly OK) and one at the service point, which has a drive-over drain and very clean toilet disposal point. They also have MH storage adjacent so they occasionally use the service point, but it’s free most of the time.
You’ll find details of the site on UK Campsites (Including pictures of our previous van as we were almost their first customers, but it will say the site’s unavailable to book this year. We only got on because we contacted them direct and they know us, but they would be happy to accept bookings if you mention my name (no money will change hands, I assure you :-( They can be contacted direct on 01534 759082, or text Carolyn on 07797 758919. Phone rates to Jersey are not cheap, although it is now a feel-at-home destination for Three.
GETTING THERE AND BACK
Condor has the monopoly I’m afraid, and their ferries are not cheap, although it is a hundred mile crossing, so perhaps not too bad. There is a fast service from Poole (4 hours) and a slightly cheaper slow ferry (10 hours) from Portsmouth, which can be pleasant cruise out. It’s always a day crossing but the return is always overnight. With the CCC out of operation it’s best to book direct on the Condor website. It works quite well in showing the cheapest crossing over a range of dates. If your van is more than 7m you’ll have to phone them, but they do take larger vans.
Any questions, please ask, I’m off to bed now (1.30am)
Stay sane. E&OE
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On 17/08/2020 at 15:33, Peter S wrote:
From: "Peter S" <peter@...>
Date: 17 August 2020
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org Group Moderators" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [motorhome-list] Jersey Jaunt and St Malo Requiem
Please do write your piece. I do a Newsletter and for the last issue I was surprised at how well my absolute drivel went down - actually got some thank you emails for a change and most of the newsletter was nothing to do with our real activity. I am sure your article will not be drivel but will give those of us who have never been to the CI encouragement to go.
On 17/08/2020 14:23:39, Derek Sims <derek.sims@...> wrote:
Still enjoying our peaceful Aire/CL here, family trips and exploring by ourselves. Currently fee-parked at St Ouen’s overlooking the beach. Very clear so we can see Guernsey, Herm, Sark and the forbidden French Coast. Another week of this, how will we survive the sanity?
Bodger Boris and Grinny Grant torpedoed our French travel plans for the second time this year on Thursday night. Fortunately we got the FCO email 10 minutes after the announcement, and by mid-morning Friday we had changed our 24th destination from St. Malo to the fast ferry to Poole. We’ll head straight to Totnes and hope to visit Tish’s Mum on 25th.
Then it’s home to re-pack and off again, to anywhere but England, with its government of vanity and insanity - whatever happened to the Age of Reason? We were hoping to go to the Isle of Man, but they, like Guernsey, have decided to completely kill their economy for the sake of a few possible cases and ALL arrivals, even if tested negative like us, have to quarantine 14 days, so that’s out. As we can’t get to Sweden, we’ll throw in our lot with Wales and Scotland and hope no-one notices we’re English.
Now, I swear that no money has greased my palm, but have any of you malcontents seriously considered coming to Jersey, because at present (and always), it has an amazing amount to offer in a 9x5 mile package. We’ve been coming here every year since our youngest son moved here seven years ago and we love it more and more. Still discovering new places to visit.
I’m thinking particularly of you, Tim, if you can be self-contained, or anyone wanting an adult-only CL with virtually fully-serviced super pitches for up to 28 or 31 days, according to which regulation you follow.
If anyone,s seriously interested I could write a short piece, either on or off list, but otherwise I’ll shut up and continue to enjoy the holiday.
All the best from a warm sunny and largely Sane Jersey.
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