At the bottom a brass band plays alfresco against a backdrop of St Ouen’s Bay. As the fading light glints off the English Channel it’s like I’ve stumbled on another world. It’s a feeling you get quite often in Jersey.
Kayaks and go-karts
I’ve barely arrived on the island before I’m padding across the white sands of St Brelade’s Bay and into a waiting kayak.
Following our instructor Chester Mackley, the group paddles around the headland, sticking close to the shore for views of towering cliffs dotted with flowers.
Our destination is Beauport, a secluded beach of ivory sand lapped by translucent water that makes me feel like I’ve paddled to Thailand.
”I came for two weeks and stayed for 10 years,” says Mackley, a South African. Married to a local, he’s firmly established, as is his business Surf & Sun Watersports, which offers activities from wakeboarding to coasteering.
“Tomorrow we’ll get you blokarting,” he says excitedly as we pass around tapas at beachside restaurant Crab Shack.
I find out exactly what this is as I approach the quieter east end of St Brelade’s Bay. Three-wheeled go karts attached to sails whizz across the beach propelled by the wind.
“Just keep your arms in if you capsize,” advises Mackley as he turns me into the wind.
Thankfully it’s far easier than it looks, and you’re so low to the ground you feel like you’re screaming along across the sand, even if in fact you’re only trundling.
Surf’s up, or not
While the cliffs sheltering St Brelade’s Bay make it ideal for many water sports, St Ouen’s is the place to surf – a vast sweeping bay on the west coast set to host the amateur surfing competition Eurosurf in September.
I’d stopped by that morning to sample the legendary brunch at Big Vernes, where the size of the portions is only justified by a few hours’ surfing, so it was definitely time to get in the water.
Perhaps it was this that was my undoing, though.
After an hour of patiently waiting for me to try to stand up on my board, my instructor Joe Davies had to dash for his bar shift in St Helier.
“We’ll be going there later,“ laughed local events organiser Linzi Wilson. “That’s so Jersey, the guy who teaches you to surf will also be serving you cocktails!”
We never got to see whether his cocktails were as good as his cutbacks, though.
The food at sister restaurant Rojos was too good to rush, and we missed last orders.
Perhaps this was for the best.
Zoos aren’t fun on a hangover and the next morning I visited Durrell, Jersey’s Wildlife Conservation Trust, set up by Gerald Durrell 50 years ago to save endangered species. W
ith highlights including Andean bears, Madagascan lemurs and orang-utans from Sumatra, I didn’t want to leave, and I was even more confused about where in the world it was I was leaving.
Jersey Live might be the island’s most famous summer music festival but it’s by no means alone.
Now in it’s second year, Grassroots has moved to a bigger and better venue and has enlisted the help of Pete Murray and Newton Faulkner to entertain the masses that turn up.
The festival, organised by Aussie Jeff Wison and his wife Linzi, is carbon neutral, and highlights of the site include an eco village.
For more information see allez-oop.com/events.