My Dad and I used to go away together all the time when I was young free and single. We travelled Europe together and then South America with my brother. He also joined me in Australia when I lived there for a year.
It’s been a while since I got any quality time with my Dad – he has been well and truly pushed down the pecking order over the years… it’s hard to find enough of a gap in the hectic family life to sit and actually talk. So we decided in the summer that before the year was out, we were going to head off somewhere together to basically eat, drink and catch up.
The next challenge was to find somewhere we agreed on and that neither of us had been to before. Quite the challenge with a travelling companion who has been to over 100 countries. So somehow, we settled on Jersey! The only things I knew about it was that it had good food and a rather unique zoo. The latter fact coming from my friend who would like to get married there when her boyfriend pops the question! We flew from a rather gloomy and foggy Leeds Bradford, with a short stop in Southampton and arrived too late in St Helier to sample any of the amazing food on offer. We ended up with a quick Indian takeaway which was ok to tide us over.
Our accommodation was the faded and quirky grandeur of the Revere Hotel, just a hop away from the beach and views of Elizabeth Castle. The hotel itself was comfortable and I got the bigger room so I was happy – especially as I had a bath in the bathroom. The Revere boasts an outdoor pool and although I had brought my costume, on discovering it wasn’t heated, I made a hasty restreat back indoors! If you follow me on Twitter you will know about my sleep deprivation issues of late, so a night in a double bed to myself in a (relatively) quiet hotel, was bliss! I woke eager to get out into the fresh air on Saturday.
My brother and I had booked my Dad in for a treatment at the spa at the Royal Yacht Club for his birthday, so while he had that, I wandered around St Helier and grabbed myself an excellent coffee at Jersey Pottery on the main shopping mall. Despite it being Black Friday, the pace was quite sedate and I was definitely impressed with how clean the town was.
So next stop was the bus trip to Gorey. You can get pretty much everywhere on Jersey within 30 minutes on a local bus and they run pretty late into the night as well which is brilliant. Gorey is home to the iconic Mont Orgueil which sits overlooking the most ‘invadable’ beach on the island. This fort, narrowly escaped total demolition under Queen Elizabeth, but when she sent Walter Raleigh to carry out the task, he decided it was definitely worth keeping and latterly became Jersey’s governor. At this point in my weekend I started to miss Chiplet – as there was an awesome playground in the grounds of the castle which he would have loved. We also got to see the rather striking ‘Lightness of Being‘ exhibition by Chris Levine in which he studied The Queen to mark her recent jubilee.
Sightseeing being pretty hard work, we stopped off at the amazingly location Crab Shack in Gorey and had a light lunch and a glass of Chablis in the sunshine. We were saving ourselves for the evening’s festivities at Michelin-Starred restaurant Bohemia.
I don’t want to be a food bore, but oh…my…god. The meal at Bohemia might just have been the best of my life. My Dad and I just went for it, treating it as an experience to be treasured and most likely not repeated (not cheap). So we opted for the Pescatorian menu, with matched wines. I won’t even try to describe every course – as that would be a blog series in itself, but I can post the menu that we had and the pictures I surreptitiously took of the food (being assured by a food blogger that so long as I didn’t use flash, that this was totally acceptable).
From the warm rolls in a hessian sack through to the langoustine tail and cobnuts and the melt in the mouth dessert, it was an epic feast that took us 3 hours to get through. Chef Steve Smith has earned that Michelin star many times over in my mind.
I was a little worse for wear on the Saturday morning, having had a mere 600ml of wine and a cocktail (lightweight). So after breakfast (yes I did eat again). I went back to bed for an hour to take advantage of the toddler-free time. I would like to say I awoke refreshed, but I still felt rough as the proverbial badger’s behind. Boarding a bus to the Durrell Wildlife Sanctuary, I told myself that some fresh air and the promise of mulled wine and mince-pies at their Christmas Spirit weekend, would sort me right out.
The Durrell Wildlife Park is a small and perfectly formed place where they really think about how the animals are in their natural habitat and they study them to share their findings with those working on wild animal projects. Author Gerard Durrell founded the park with a view to saving endangered animals and the park hosts an impressive selection of animals include a Gorilla family, Orangutans with the cutest young I have ever seen and tons of Tamarinds and the rare and shy Aye-Aye. We spent about 2 hours at the park and what I really loved was the seats that we placed in calm places so you could just watch the animals – in particular at Lemur Lake. We also have lunch in the cafe which was delicious and followed by mulled wine and a mince pie.
We boarded the bus and headed back to St Helier and then out to watch the sunset over the Corbiere Lighthouse at the south western tip of the island. This was a windy and glorious spot and the buses just give you enough time to watch the sunset and have a drink in the bar before hopping on a bus back.
After the previous evening’s Michelin feast I didn’t think I could manage another meal, but we ended up in lovely St Aubin. We had hoped to eat at the highly recommended Salty Dog but it was fully booked so we opted for The Old Courthouse where we were seated in the upstairs restaurant overlooking the beautiful harbour. The 3-course (I know what I pig I am) meal was delicious – confit duck, seabass and jersey icecream and the staff were very friendly. I was definitely ready for an early night though after such a packed weekend.
There was no time on the Sunday for anything apart from a good breakfast in the hotel and a mooch at the airport shops where I picked up some famous Jersey Black Butter and a Jersey Pottery Ramekin for my friend’s birthday.
What a wonderful weekend we had – I would definitely return with Andy and Chiplet over slightly warmer months. You can stay in a series of cool places, including a renovated old fort in the north!
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