JER­SEY

This, the largest of the Chan­nel Is­lands, has thrived within the United King­dom since 1204, but is proudly in­de­pen­dent, self-gov­ern­ing and de­ter­mined to pre­serve its unique ap­peal to dis­cern­ing vis­i­tors.

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Jer­sey is nine miles long by five miles wide (that’s smaller than Greater Lon­don!) YETDESPITETHE SMALL SIZE, Jer­sey has over 500 miles of road­way and 15mph Green Lanes. It means that wher­ever you are in the is­land, YOU’RENEVERMORE THAN TEN MIN­UTES AWAY FROM these a.

JER­SEY IS ONLY NINE MILES LONG BY FIVE MILES WIDE but man­ages to pack in to this con­fined space a mi­cro­cosm of modern life. Ly­ing in shel­tered seclu­sion, much closer to the Nor­mandy coast than the English, Jer­sey has, de­spite WWII de­pri­va­tions and the re­lent­less pres­sure of modern cap­i­tal­ism, mag­nif­i­cently sur­vived, and thrived, re­ward­ing its mul­ti­tude of an­nual vis­i­tors with an un­ex­pected kalei­do­scope of plea­sure. Mother Na­ture has been kind to Jer­sey, giv­ing it a con­ti­nen­tal mi­cro-cli­mate of Gulf Stream warmth and ad­e­quate rain­fall, with­out ex­tremes of tem­per­a­ture and per­fect for the crops and an­i­mals of the many cen­turies of agri­cul­tural life, and the in­her­ent se­cu­rity of is­land ex­is­tence, de­ter­rent to all but the most de­ter­mined of in­vaders. By and large, the farms, home­steads and coun­try lanes still dom­i­nate the land­scape out­side St He­lier, the vi­brant cap­i­tal and only ‘town’, although many of the tra­di­tional farm­houses and cot­tages, gran­ite and stoutly-built, have be­come com­muter prop­er­ties as agri­cul­ture has be­come less labour-in­ten­sive. To pro­tect the land­scape, and the rights of na­tive Is­lan­ders, while not ex­clud­ing the, usu­ally, wealth-bring­ing (and -gen­er­at­ing), new­com­ers, leg­is­la­tion has been care­fully put in place to cre­ate a twin-level prop­erty mar­ket, eq­ui­table and rigidly-en­forced. Ever since gen­tle­folk of the Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian eras dis­cov­ered the joys of sea­side hol­i­days, the leisure ap­peal of Jer­sey’s wildlife, its eas­ily-walked land­scape and cliff paths and, above all, the fab­u­lous beaches and bays has been mag­netic and tourism con­trib­utes 10% of the is­land’s GDP. Although there is an ex­ten­sive pub­lic bus net­work, most vis­i­tors will hire a car at the air­port (www.hertz.co.uk/jer­sey) to give the flex­i­bil­ity to tour the qui­eter, more re­mote ar­eas. The glo­ri­ous ex­panses of St Au­bin’s, on the south coast, and St Ouen’s, to the west, are world-fa­mous, and eas­ily ac­cessed, but my per­sonal pref­er­ences are St Bre­lade’s (and its lux­u­ri­ant gar­dens), Portelet (just re­ward for the phys­i­cal ef­fort) and Greve de Lecq, with its vivid, deep­golden sand. There are so many to choose from, each with its own spe­cial at­trac­tion, you will en­joy find­ing your own favourite. Scat­tered across the is­land are signs of pre-his­toric hu­man habi­ta­tion, none more strik­ing than ‘La Hougue Bie’, where you can ac­tu­ally go in­side the re­cently-ex­ca­vated, Ne­olithic burial-mound and, in another sec­tion, see the con­ser­va­tion work on Europe’s largest horde of around 50000 Iron Age coins, found at Grou­ville in 2012. At Hamp­tonne, you will fall into a recre­ation of 15th cen­tury coun­try life, crafts and tra­di­tions and, ev­ery­where you look on Jer­sey, you find de­fence in­stal­la­tions, from the huge, 13th cen­tury Mont Or­gueil Cas­tle, and its for­bid­ding 16th cen­tury suc­ces­sor, El­iz­a­beth Cas­tle, through the guard­houses and Martello tow­ers of the 18th/19th to the con­crete ex­cesses of WWII, the in­erad­i­ca­ble sym­bols of one de­luded man’s para­noia. Many can (and must) be vis­ited but, atop the cliff at La Cor­biere, over­look­ing the fa­mous light­house, is The Radio Tower, a 1941, cylin­dri­cal, 6-storey ob­ser­va­tion post con­verted, in­ge­niously, by Jer­sey Her­itage into the most amaz­ing, and at­mo­spheric, hol­i­day let, with un­in­ter­rupted 360 de­gree views from the top-floor lounge (www.jer­sey­her­itage.org). Mov­ing ev­i­dence of the wartime oc­cu­pa­tion can be found amongst the ex­hibits in the splen­did Mar­itime Mu­seum, Jer­sey Mu­seum and Jer­sey Ar­chive. For the full story, you should visit the War Tun­nels, ex­ca­vated by slave labour and an un­fin­ished at­tempt to build an un­der­ground

BECAUSEOFTHE pop­u­lar­ity of Jer­sey wool, knit­ted jumpers came to be called jer­seys, AFTERTHEISLAND, the first record­ing of a jumper be­ing called a jer­sey is in 1837

WWII hos­pi­tal. It has now be­come the site of a stun­ning ex­hi­bi­tion, bril­liantly telling of that aw­ful pe­riod, with films, dis­plays, doc­u­ments, ve­hi­cles and mil­i­taria. The past sixty years have seen the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try ‘boom’ and Jer­sey’s GDP has ex­panded, hugely, as a re­sult. In St He­lier, there are mari­nas, the har­bour is im­proved and land has been re­claimed, Hong Kong style, from the sea. Modern of­fice-blocks now line the (pre­vi­ously) seafront Es­planade where mod­est ho­tels used to dom­i­nate. The enor­mous wealth gen­er­ated has seen a bur­geon­ing level of busi­ness and leisure ac­tiv­ity in the cap­i­tal, with vi­brant day- and nightlife and a town cen­tre thronged and buzzing. The pedes­tri­anised, King Street/queen Street precinct is the busiest zone but new ho­tels, bars, cafes and shops abound and even the sleepier sidestreets and squares have come to life. It’s cu­ri­ously ap­pro­pri­ate that, just four miles away from this 21st cen­tury pow­er­house, sits the other-worldly par­adise that is the fan­tas­tic Dur­rell Wildlife Park, ded­i­cated to the con­ser­va­tion of those an­i­mal species threat­ened by the march of progress. Jer­sey is like that – an eco­nomic mir­a­cle on an un­chang­ing, idyl­lic is­land.

Pic­tured Right: Jer­sey's Oys­ter beds. There are many var­ied tours avail­able in Jer­sey, and one of our favourites is to join a lo­cal res­i­dent for a walk among the oys­ter and mus­sel beds in the Royal Bay of Grou­ville, fol­lowed by the op­por­tu­nity to sam­ple fresh Jer­sey Oys­ters at the nearby Sey­mour Inn. Hear about the modern cul­ti­va­tion of shell­fish in Jer­sey - the big­gest oys­ter beds in the Bri­tish Isles - and the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the oys­ter fish­ery, which in the 19th cen­tury was a ma­jor in­dus­try. (jer­sey.com/oys­ter-trail)

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