We've all been to Jersey before, but Cate was -4 months, and doesn't remember much about it. So we booked up the Merton Hotel for 9 days, Easyjet flights from Glasgow, and set off to enjoy Bergerac country.
The hotel was nice and clean, friendly and well equipped. It owns a swimming pool across the road with a flume and an outside area, and we had free use of that whenever we wanted. Breakfast was a buffet with cereals, cooked stuff and fruit available so we filled ourselves up at the start of each day. For other meals there is a fancy restaurant, an Italian, an American-style diner and place called Dante's down in the depths of the hotel, which remained a mystery. I'm still not sure if it is a hidden night club or just a place for smokers to go.
The hotel has an hour of free wifi each day, then you can buy more time. But if you have several devices that effectively multiplies your hour. I also managed to get data on my phone with daily boosters at a pound a day. We had a fridge added to our room, which kept our sandwiches fresh and juice chilled.
We arrived at around midday, so after a lunch at the pool we drove to the far corner of the island to our favourite beach from the last time we came: Plemont Bay. The steps were as steep as we remembered, but we went at low tide this time so didn't have to evacuate as the water rose. We paddled, swam in the sea, searched for shrimp, explored the caves and read. Cate found a dead fish in the caves, covered in stones, and was a bit freaked out. Once back we had dinner at the hotel, then a short walk, where we saw some folk setting up the local park for a Tom Jones concert. That seemed a bit unusual to me.
The next day was nice again, so we decided to cross over to the pool and get a couple of sun loungers. Cate spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon swimming, while Claire spent most of the time reading The Fault in Our Stars. We all got a little burned. We then drove into town to the Co-op to get some supplies for the days ahead, and had fish and chips from a place at Liberation Square.
We were supposed to be in for a wet day so we decided to visit the Jersey War Tunnels. These are a series of tunnels dug into a hillside at the centre of the island by the German army during their occupation of Jersey in the Second World War. They were designed first as a defensive structure, but then became a hospital. The tunnels have been turned into a tourist attraction, teaching you about the occupation as you walk through them. We were given replica identity cards when we bought our tickets, with real Jersey residents on them, and at the end you can find them on the cafe wall and read their story. Mine was a physiotherapist who hid a Jewish woman in his home for two years.
There's a place in the War Tunnels building that does ceramic painting. You can pick your ceramic blank to decorate and they fire it for you over the next few days. There was great suprise in the Meiklejohn household when Cate decided to paint a lion.
After lunch we had read about a park near the front of St Helier, which offered great views over the bay. We found it and climbed up the hill, though it wasn't quite as spectacular as expected.
Next we headed into town with the idea of checking out the shops. However there was a town fair in progress so we had a look around all the stalls, before buying some gifts and some fudge from the Chocolate Bar (we were served by Sue, maker of Sue's Fudge, which is excellent, though more like tablet than fudge).
For dinner we went to the KFC beside the cinema. This is close to the harbour so afterwards we had a walk down along the harbour wall to the end, which looks out over Elizabeth Castle. We had earlier watched the amphibious bus take people out to the castle. The harbour was full of big boats and big fish. There were signs saying you're not allowed to fish there, so maybe that's why it's the only place we saw fish on the whole holiday.
We found a good web site (I-love-Jersey.co.uk) with handy tips for places to visit, and one of the author's favourites is St Catherine's Woods. They aren't easy to find, but the instructions on the web site got us right there. We had a pleasant Sunday morning stroll through the woods, which also featured some stepping stones and a couple of rope swings.
There's a market at St Catherine's breakwater every Sunday, so that was our next destination. An artist there has made a great sand sculpture, there were a few stalls, we bought a stone for Cate and had a walk along the breakwater and back. We followed a path down to Fliquet Bay to eat our lunch.
Following the coastline round a bit brought us to a car park at Bonne Nuit Bay. The ice cream van here had lovely ice cream (bonus points for not taking advantage and charging a fortune - a tub of ice cream and strawberries was £2.20) and we needed it after following the path down to the bay and back up again. The effort was worth it for the views though.
We dressed up for dinner this evening, at the Italian restaurant in the hotel. Pasta and pizza, followed by sweet, including a tasty raspberry sorbet.
It was half-way point in the holiday and looked like the weather was going to be sunny for the whole time, so plenty of chances for beach visits. This day, though, we started out by driving to the extreme south-west of the island and walked out to Corbiere lighthouse. You can only do this at low tide as the sea covers the causeway for a good part of the day. We didn't go into the lighthouse but it still took us a good while to walk out and back as Cate kept diving off to look at rock pools.
There are also a few wartime structures here: gun emplacements the Germans built to defend the island against attempts to retake it.
On the way back we stopped off at St Brelade's Bay for a wander along the promenade and to eat our lunch. We popped into Fish 'n' Beads where Cate made herself a bracelet. This beach is stunning and we planned to come here for a proper beach day the next day.
For the mean time though, we decided to head across to the pool for a couple of hours. We had a decent time in the water but my Kindle was playing up ominously. Every few minutes it would freeze up and eventually reset. It was only readable if I kept it perfectly still.
Walking into town for dinner, we found a Portuguese place called Max Grill and had decent piri-piri chicken, skewered chicken and burger. I took us the wrong way going home but at least that gave us an extra bit of exercise to work off our dinner.
We were saving the next beach day for good weather, but it looked like every day would be good so on Tuesday we went to the beach at St Brelade's Bay. With four hours worth of paycards on the dashboard we found a place on the big beach, which wasn't crowded at all. We got there about 10, when it was low tide, so there was a fair walk to get down to the sea, and Cate was just a dot in the distance when she went to play in the water. She made a new friend, Ruby, who had an inflatable chameleon.
We had lunch, then tried out a kayak for half an hour, before heading back to St Helier. However we'd spotted a Chinese restaurant - Jambos - and so drove back later to have our dinner there. While the main roads in St Helier and along the front tended to be very busy, one good thing about the island is that it's not far to get to anywhere.
Once we got back there was an act on in the hotel that sounded interesting. Usually they are just singers, but this was a magician act, so we stayed up late (9.30!) to watch that. He was an oriental man, produced lots of umberellas and streamers from nowhere and did a very good floating lady with his assistant.
Wednesday morning was shopping morning and we had worked out the quickest way into town by now. It passed by a magic shop run by a man called Royston South, which I thought was a particularly rough part of Glasgow. He showed us some tricks and coincidentally said he was performing at the Merton that night, so we got to see his act that evening. After a few other shops, and especially the Chocolate Bar, we went back to the hotel for some lunch.
Next was the Living Legend village. We didn't go to the show (a historical film starring John Nettles, I think) but had a game on the Adventure Golf course. We wanted a shot on the go karts but Cate was too young, so had to make do with the Postman Pat ride.
After a flying visit to the Catherine Best jewellery shop and a drive by St Ouen's Bay we found our way to Noirmont Point, where there are a few surviving bunkers and gun sites from the war. Then back to base for dinner at Jersey Joe's and the magic show.
It was the hottest day yet, and we'd decided to try out the Amaizin Adventure Park, a venue for kids with a variety of things to do (bouncy pillow, inflatable slide, pedal karts, etc) and featuring a maze made of maize. We tried the maze but it was so hot that after 5 minutes we just wanted to get out again. Some of the activities were ok, but it lacked a bit of excitement. There were just a few animals, and you had to buy your own packet of balloons for the water balloon war game.
We stayed for a couple of hours, but then decided to find our way across to Bonne Nuit Bay to visit our favourite ice cream vendor again for one of his strawberry and ice cream cups. It was worth the drive.
We spent the rest of the afternoon cooling off in the pool. It was the busiest we'd seen it, with every lounger and deck chair taken. Afterwards we walked into town to find a restaurant and stopped at a tapas place called La Siesta. It was expensive but lovely. Claire and I liked the tempura chicken, and Cate loved the scallops with black pudding.
The last day arrived all too soon. We had an easy morning, picking up some lunches at the Co Op, visiting Sports Direct and going to the War Tunnels to pick up Cate's ceramic lion.
We had booked surfing lessons for Cate and I (the Flowrider machine at the pool was broken so we got a discount on lessons at the beach) for the afternoon, so we went to St Ouen's Bay to enjoy the beach before the lessons. This beach is huge, but not as sheltered as the others we'd been to, so was quite windy, and it had none of the loungers for hire found at the others. But we enjoyed ourselves in the surf.
Time for the lesson and after both Cate and I had put the wetsuits on backwards, then had to get them the right way round, our teacher Dan showed us how to lie on the board, followed by paddling and standing up. We had a good number of shots each, and Cate managed to get on her feet a couple of times while I barely managed not to fall off while lying down.
For our final dinner we once again made our way down to Liberation Square and the chippie there, though we sat in this time. Claire had a posh fish and chips, which had several different types of fish, including salmon and tempura prawns.
Saturday was travel day, so we handed back the trusty Fiesta, hopped on the Easyjet flight and headed back for sunny Glasgow.
Dave's Home Page