Return to Jersey

HELEN COOPER reconnects with friends and island life

My love affair with the little island of Jersey began a lifetime ago. I lived here for several years until I got the travel bug and ended up in Australia. Like the fictional Jersey detective Jim Bergerac, I’m back, spending time with friends for the first time in over 20 years.

Only a short time ago, after a 40-minute flight from Gatwick, the captain announced that the very hot weather in London had broken here and it was raining! “Typical,” I’d muttered. Still, it would take more than a spot of rain to dampen my excitement as, like a chequered quilt, lush rolling hills interspersed with mown brown fields, the island spread before us as we glided over the sparkling waves below.

The light showers have stopped. Kaye Fontaine is waiting, beach gear in hand, as I pull up at Le Braye, overlooking St Ouen’s. Before long we’re squealing with exhilaration as we boogie board the gentle waves. How many places spring to mind where you can be on the beach half an hour after disembarking from a plane?

We discard our wetsuits and stay in the water which is warm due to the passing Gulf Stream, swimming and chatting, as Kaye tells me about an activity that’s taken the island by storm, “30 Bays in 30 Days”. In its third year, it’s a fundraiser for Jersey Hospice Care and the National Trust for Jersey. Held throughout July about 300 swimmers signed up to take a daily dip of 30 strokes or more in a different bay every day. Sounds fun, and who knew there were so many bays?

Scattered across the sea off the coast of France, in the Gulf of St Malo, Jersey is the biggest of Britain’s Channel Islands, an area of only 14km by 8km. The other islands: Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney are a short ferry ride away. Due to its close proximity to France, it is a tantalising mix of French and English.

With miles of beautiful unspoilt coastline that includes the long surfing beach of St Ouen’s, white sandy shores ideal for families, secluded rocky coves, and the rugged, wild, north shore beaches of La Greve De Lecq and Plemont, it’s an idyllic island with something for everyone.

This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.

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