Notes on a small island

I m a bit on the old side to be a surfer dude but it could have been me… if only I d started lessons around 40 years ago. When I got invited on a three day press trip to jersey I thought I d pass on the surfing and the kayaking but they turned out to be s

I'm a bit on the old side to be a surfer dude but it could have been me... if only I'd started lessons around 40 years ago.

When I got invited on a three day press trip to jersey I thought I'd pass on the surfing and the kayaking but they turned out to be some of the most enjoyable things I've ever done.

The kayak tours are led by Chester and his team at Surf and Sun Watersports and include tuition for beginners. What is it about water sports people that makes them so chilled and cool? Don't answer that on the grounds we know already.

There is a preponderance of Antipodean types on the island. Not sure why that is except they are attracted by the sea and surf and those guys are so willing to help you share their love of the sea.

The kayaking round St Brelade's Bay was a smooth unruffled experience with plenty of paddle breaks to ogle the scenery (and it wasn't all landscapes - some of those surfer dudes are excellent eye candy).

I ducked out of the banana boat ride and boy was I glad! I rode in the speedboat that was pulling them and it was hilariously easy to throw everyone off. But I noted with alarm that it wasn't that easy to clamber back aboard the banana. Good one to miss but the rest of our crew loved the thrills and spills as much as it would have scared me to death.

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The tours are suitable for anyone over the age of six who is confident in the water - and me who is not.

Our guide and host with the most was Ali Moffat a game girl without whose outdoorsy skills I might not have had the courage to try the watersports.

Mind you, had the weather held up for another day, the Grassroots Music Festival, an annual event held in a beautiful natural bowl at the Val de Mare Reservoir might have taken the prize for top treat.

However rain did dampen what could have been an idyllic occasion with a blissful blend of folk and reggae.

But it did not dampen the mood of the joyful Jerseyites who appear to know how to have a good time come rain or shine.

It was a superb family event offering something for everyone.

The festival featured a great line-up of blues, roots and reggae music including Newton Faulkner, Natty, Pete Murray and Lloyd Yates

Even more of a family event though was the Durrell Wildlife Reservoir offering the chance to see the gorillas being fed, snakes, Meer cats and exotic birds which lit up the sky with their plumage.

I am not a major fan of animals but even I loved seeing the macho moody gorilla Ya Kwanza, especially when he sat there chomping on an organic sunflower (from the farm on the site). The contrast of beauty and the beast reminded me of King Kong with tiny Fay Wray (OK I know he didn't eat her!).

I thought three days would be way long enough to sample the delights of a small island but a week would have been better as there were loads of sights left unseen including Gorey and its castle.

The hotel we stayed at was the Radisson Waterfront in St Helier, a four star oasis of calm with a cool pool and a steamy spa including sauna and steam room. I had a swimming race with a four year old and she beat me but I was so chilled by that time I didn't mind.

The breakfasts were a high spot of the day with a complete Smorgasbord of delight. There was one dodgy hungover morning when I crawled down early to re-hydrate myself then came down later to experiment with solids thus attracting some unwanted attention from staff who looked askance as though I was trying to have two breakfasts or was that just the alcohol-induced paranoia? Whatever... they were all very nice and helpful.

The rooms were extremely well-appointed with the obligatory waiting-to-be snaffled mini bottle of shower gel and shampoo. Duly snaffled.

We even fitted in a trip to the Marilyn Monroe exhibition at Jersey Museum in St Helier. The fantastic costumes were on loan from local collector David Gainsborough Robertson. Most interesting comment was from Liz Hurley quoted as saying she loved Marilyn Monroe but would have killed herself if she had got that fat. Talk about damning with faint praise.

But if it rained you could go to The Jersey War Tunnels

a permanent reminder of the German Occupation of Jersey which lasted almost five years until the island's liberation on 9 May 1945.

The tunnel complex now plays host to a series of galleries detailing occupation history through the diverse experiences of those who lived through it. Visitors will be led through the events of evacuation, deportation, captivity and siege to eventual liberation.

One thing I did not do was to cycle and that looked like a safe bet with all the cycle routes provided over 45 square miles of the island.

The scenery is splendid in a gentle way reminiscent of a slower way of life.

I came away thinking I might go back . It's a long way from being commercialised which I thought it might be and I personally preferred it to Guernsey which is also lovely.

For more information:

Jersey tourism 44 (0) 01534 448877 or email


Surf & Sun Watersports offers sunset kayak tours for �30 for two hour sessions 07797 736411

Jersey Surf School offers surfing lessons for �25 for one and a half hours 01534 484005