Visit Jersey (We advise you do!)

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Ok we know this is not Wigan and Salford news but we know lots of you look for that perfect stress free holiday destination which meet the needs of the whole family particularly if you have children of different ages or travel with multi generations.

We have never been to Jersey before and usually head to Menorca but for one reason or another we just didn’t want to face long passport queues, two hours flights and the inevitable long coach journey from the airport to resort. We can also be a challenging party as it can also be hard to meet the needs of a party which spans from 11 to 65 years and find something for everyone.

Travelling with a child with additional needs, an adult with medical problems and another terrified of flying, Jersey seemed the ideal destination. An hour plane journey meant I knew my journey would end soon, no need for passports (photo id needed) and no long queues at border control in either direction with tired/grumpy/bursting with excitement children, infact no queues at all! We landed got our luggage off the belt and where on our way, perfect! There is even a small soft play area and cafe to keep children entertained while you gather your things together.

We arrived to glorious sun with days to go until the start of November, jumped on the number 15 bus from straight outside the terminal which for a cost of just £1.80 each adult (less for children) took us into the centre of St Helier with its lovely harbour, beach and lifeboat house. The public transport system is fantastic and UK currency is accepted so no need to spend your time trying to work out currency conversions on purchases.

Jersey has a facinating and rich history especially for those with an interest in World War 2 having been occupied by the Germans however it is also full of its own history and there is a massive amount to do. For a small Island it is bursting with activities for all the family from Aqua Splash, adventure play lands, museums, cinemas shopping and food places galore including many of your favourite names plus a lovely selection of independent stores.

The Maritime Museum

After settling in our first step was the Maritime Museum. We decided that who ever designed the Maritime Museum either had kids of at least had brought children into the design room. It was perfect, with levers to pull, boats to design and build and water to sail them on plus a pirate ship which really does test your sea worthiness! It really was hands on with many shouts of Mum look at what this one does while at the same time teaching them without them even realising about tides and structure and floating! The staff were amazing, offering pirate costumes and interacting with the children. I had many requests from my daughter to go back the next day to play!

The Jersey Occupation Tapestry was stunning and well worth a visit on its own, they are rich in history. Made by the people of Jersey to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Island’s liberation the tapestries tell the story in rich detail of life under German occupation during World War Two with each area completing a different tapestry to mark their story and the hardship and trials they endured. They really are beautiful and informative and a very important representation of history for generations to come.

We travelled with a member of our party with mobility problems and everything had been thought of with either ramps, lifts or stair lifts in areas where a lift could not be fitted. In fact we found this the same in all the museums and it was such a help.

Jersey Castle

We decided to take the ferry across rather than wait for the causeway to uncover, my daughter has additional needs and was not at all sure of the amphibious vehicle which can run on land and sea but the staff were fantastic and allowed her to take a look and chatted to her to calm her fears before boarding to the point coming back she could not wait for the boat to come back so she could travel! The little safety video is a fantastic way to not only engage children but ensure they are listening to its very important message. It takes only a few minutes to get across but well worth the ride.

The castle which is more than 300 years old is breathtaking, with rooms children will love full of cannons and swords and steeped in history but most of all with perfect space and nooks for children to explore and climb. It is well worth going to the very top for the views alone, seriously it is so pretty with views across the bay and the little sandy shore at low tide around the castle. Do not miss the mid day parade and cannon firing either, very exciting!

There is a little tea room on site selling food, drinks and snacks and plenty of toilets.

The Jersey Museum

The museum tells over 250,000 years of history from Neolithic times to modern days with fantastic displays and hands on items documenting farming and life on the Island.

Most exciting was the coin hoard. 70,000 Celtic coins and pieces of jewellery were discovered in a field in Grouville in 2012. One by one each coin is being removed from the mound, documented, cleaned and preserved. It is a painstaking task but well worth it with preservation of the plants and insect parts found alongside too which will be able to tell us about what was happening at the time they were buried there. You can also watch the work as it is happening through special windows.

The gas lit merchants house is beautiful and a real step back in time with a flash of the future as hologram ghosts tell you their story and drama.

My daughter loved the nursery room with old fashioned rocking horses to ride, toys to play with and chalk and slate to make your mum do times table sums with!

St Helier itself reminds me of my town as a child before it was over commercialised. It is spotlessly clean and has everything you would need, there are several small gifts shops and independent shops, a cinema, an aqua centre and a perfect little centre with recognised shops.

There are many places to eat and everything you could ask for in terms of tastes and likes.

Our only complaint was we had not stopped longer, there is so much more for us to explore with many other castles and the Jersey War Tunnels and much more. The people of Jersey were wonderful, we did not recieve anything but a friendly welcome in any of the attractions, shops or food places we visited.

Departures at the airport must be one of the nicest I have ever been in, with shops to buy gifts and travel essentials and a lovely market type cafe selling all kinds of lovely food, alcohol and ice creams and a great big viewing gallery room where you can watch the airplanes take off while you wait. Security was very quick and I really did not feel the stress and rush you usually have at airports.

What is more when you arrive at Manchester again guess what? You do not have to stand in airport queues at passport control with tired and restless children waiting for your turn, a quick pass through customs and you are on your way! An easy end to a fantastic holiday.

On our last day my daughter refused to go home, we will be back Jersey, thank you for giving us such a welcome.

For more information about Jersey visit http://www.jerseyheritage.org/uk and http://www.jersey.com/english/Pages/default.aspx

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