The island lets you lap up luxury – and awesome cakes too
“CAN’T we just spend the whole week in the hotel?” pleaded my 16-year-old daughter.
As I looked out the window of our luxurious room across pristine, manicured lawns to the heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, tennis court and beautiful lake in the grounds, I must admit I was sorely tempted.
But we had a whole island to explore. And, although it measures only nine miles by five, Jersey — famous for the view of Mont Orgueil Castle at Gorey harbour — is packed with great things to do.
Top of our To Do list were the War Tunnels. The island was occupied by the Nazis for five years in World War Two.
The tunnels, created as a munitions store and later as an underground hospital for German war casualties, were constructed using slave labour.
Today, the sinister complex houses a fascinating interactive exhibition detailing what life was like under occupation for the 50,000 islanders.
After that, we were ready for some fresh air and fun. And St Brelade’s beach, ranked the third best in the British Isles, offered both in, er, spades.
The crystal-clear, turquoise waters, just 19 miles from the coast of France, are a mecca for surfers, kayakers and sailors.
But our terrier dogs Sid and Bells were more interested in racing along the golden sands, chasing after a ball, as my daughters Rosie, 16, and Daisy, 13, jumped into the waves.
A short drive along the coast brought us to St Aubin, a picturesque harbour town packed with boutiques and antique shops, restaurants and bars.
My wife Jo and I soaked up the artworks from more than 100 local artists in the Harbour Gallery before heading upstairs to the café to sample the local produce and homemade cakes, works of art in themselves.
Jersey made headlines around the world 30 years ago when a five-year-old boy, Levan Merritt, fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo, fracturing his skull and breaking his arm.
Jambo, a monster 7ft, 18st silverback male, protected the boy from the other gorillas and ushered them away when the medical team entered the enclosure to rescue and treat the boy.
Today, the zoo, established in 1959 by naturalist Gerald Durrell, prides itself on the great conservation work he began.
It is still home to gorillas, orangutans, monkeys, meerkats, otters, a host of bird life and creepy-looking fruit bats.
Although Jersey is small, it’s handy to have a car, especially with a family (and dogs) in tow.
We had taken our VW Golf over on the four-and-a-half hour ferry trip with Condor from Poole to capital St Helier.
Our hotel, five-star Longueville Manor, was a ten-minute drive from the ferry terminal.
The dinner menu included butter-poached local lobster, roast Gressingham duck with duck confit and flambé Norwegian omelette with raspberry and lemon vodka.
We couldn’t leave the island without an encounter with Bergerac, Jersey’s Eighties TV cop.
The museum and art gallery in St Helier had an excellent Eighties exhibition featuring footage from the series, plus iconic toys, magazines and computers from the era and a dance floor and jukebox.
My daughters scoffed at the Sony Walkman on display but, thankfully, they had their iPhones with them to stream music and watch movies on the long journey home.
Times have certainly changed but there will always be something timeless about Jersey.
CONDOR Ferries runs a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its fast ferry, Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth.
From £59pp each way with car.
See condorferries.com or call 0345 609 1024.
Longueville Manor Hotel is from £195 per room per night based on two sharing a Classic room (breakfast included).
Call 01534 725501 or see longuevillemanor.com.
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