We are back in London, picking up the threads of our usual life. We arrived home yesterday evening, having sailed overnight from Jersey to Portsmouth and taken the train from there.
I will post my account of our trip to Jersey in due course, so I won’t say much about it here apart from confirming that we enjoyed our trip very much and hope to visit the Channel Islands again, perhaps in a couple of years’ time.
Islands are fascinating places to visit because they usually have a character of their own, quite distinct from that of the mainland, no matter how close this may be. This is certainly true of Jersey and adds interest to a visit to the Island. While there is much that is familiar to the British visitor there are also differences and these are worth looking out for.
One of the most obvious differences between Jersey and the UK, of course, is the French influence. The names of many places, streets, houses and political institutions are in French but perhaps not quite “French as we know it” because Jersey, like the other Islands, has its own language, although this has suffered a disastrous decline in recent times. I will have something to say about the language in my account but if you are interested, there is information online: just look up “Jersey French”, “Jersey Norman” or “Jèriais” to get started.
Jersey was better than I expected it to be. It has beautiful scenery and a good bus service that took us all over the Island. The people were friendly and helpful and enjoyed talking about themselves and their life on Jersey. We discovered an old-fashioned courtesy there that has unfortunately almost disappeared from the UK.
Jersey used to be popular with British tourists because of its low prices. This no longer obtains. We found some things cheaper and some things more expensive, so that on average our cost of living was roughly about what it is in London. If you are hoping for a cheap holiday, Jersey is not the place to look for it.
There are beautiful sandy beaches but these were mostly deserted during our stay because the weather was cold and sometimes very windy. Lying on the beach is not something that interests us so I cannot say whether that is an enjoyable way to spend a holiday in Jersey. On the other hand, there are beautiful and sometimes rugged places to visit and explore around the coast. Unless you have a car, it’s best to stay in St Helier as all the main bus routes start from there.
We travelled to and from Jersey by Condor Ferries. The route we took is circular, the ferry calling in at Portsmouth, Guernsey, St Helier, then Portsmouth again, etc. The journey to St Helier takes 10 and a half hours because you call first at Guernsey and then go on to Jersey. When you board the ferry at St Helier for the return journey, it goes straight to Portsmouth and takes an hour less, 9 and a half hours.
You leave Portsmouth at 9 am and arrive at St Helier at 9:30 pm. We spent most of this time in the Quiet Lounge which looks out over the bow so you can see where you are going. The return trip starts at 9:30 pm and arrives in Portsmouth at 6:30 am so we thought it best to pay extra for a cabin so we could have a night’s sleep. I think that’s the best way to do it if you don’t mind spending the money.
You can also fly to Jersey but if you are concerned about green issues, a third possibility is to take the fast ferry from Poole or Weymouth which gets you to Jersey in just over 3 hours or to Guernsey sooner still. We will certainly look at this option ourselves next time we go.