Stephanie Blackmun, our sales and customer service supervisor, has just returned from the sun-kissed Channel Island of Jersey. Read all about her experience in the latest instalment of Staff Stories.
Where it all began
Call me crazy, but from a young age I’ve always loved going to the airport: for me, this is where your holiday starts! Everybody was wearing their masks and practising social distancing. If anything, things in the airport seemed to be more efficient and I was through security in no time: safety protocols and procedures were well explained and everyone adhered to them.
Once through security, the departure lounge was busier than I expected, although not as busy as usual. The flight was almost full, and everybody was wearing their masks. Before take-off, the cabin crew informed customers that masks were to be worn for the duration of the flight, and no more than two people should queue to use the toilet at any one time.
Drinks and snacks could still be purchased, but there were no brochures or menus on board. The menu could be viewed via the EasyJet app. Having said that, the flight was only 35 minutes so by the time I had finished my coffee we were coming into land! Everything went smoothly and everyone stuck to the new safety guidelines.
On with the show
We met our tour manager, Angela, who was very happy and enthusiastic to meet the first group back to Jersey! Angela was brilliant, friendly, down-to-earth, and very knowledgeable about all things Jersey, having lived on the island before.
The tour was a small group (12 including me). Two passengers made their way to the island by ferry. The group were staying in two hotels in St Helier: the Pomme D’Or (where I stayed) and the Merton Hotel. The transfer was short and we were at our hotels early enough to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
The Pomme D’Or, located across the road from the bus station, is ideal for those who like to explore. If you're interested in the history of Jersey, the Pomme D’Or Hotel is part of the fabric of Jersey life: it was on the balcony of the hotel where the Union Jack was raised marking the liberation of Jersey from the German occupation after World World Two. The hotel is on Liberation Square, across the road from the Harbour and the Maritime Museum, not far from the Jersey Museum, with plenty of bars and restaurants within easy walking distance. I walked up to the Merton Hotel, which was about a 15-minute walk away.
The rooms at the Pomme D'Or had great facilities, and the breakfast was excellent, ranging from avocado on toast and eggs benedict to kippers on toast and full English breakfast. There were three restaurants in the hotel, all of which were reasonably priced. The Harbour Room was my favourite: it had beautiful views over the harbour and serves wonderful fish and chips!
The Merton Hotel is located across the road from Howard Davis Park, a 10-minute walk from the high street. They have an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, which were both open, to the delight of the customers as the weather was hot whilst we were there! The facilities were open to guests of the Pomme d'Or.
On our first day, we explored under our own steam, enjoying a walk around St Helier, looking around the local high street and shops, and the Jersey Museum. The next day our driver Barry, who has lived in Jersey his whole life, picked us up just after 10am for a tour of the island. Barry was fabulous, informative, funny and very knowledgeable – he had many stories to tell and what he didn’t know about Jersey wasn’t worth knowing.
The minibus stopped every 25 minutes or so, to give everyone some fresh air. The first stop was at St Aubin's Bay, then we made a stop at Ouasine Bay, which was stunning and not normally included in the tour as large coaches can't get down the narrow roads, however, we were in a small minibus.
We stopped at St Brelades Bay for coffee, cake, ice cream for 30 minutes, which was one of my favourite beaches – the west is certainly best! Watch out for the seagulls though, they won’t think twice about stealing your ice cream or food!
We made several more stops including for lunch at Greve de Lecq in the north, then an ice cream stop at St Catherines Bay (where they sell the best Jersey ice cream) and finally a photo stop in Gorey, before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Jersey War Tunnels
The following day Barry picked us up at 10.30am for a thought-provoking visit to the Jersey War Tunnels. Customers experienced and learned about one of the most difficult periods in Jersey’s history when the Germans occupied the island during World War Two. I’d recommend comfortable walking shoes and a jumper as it does get chilly in the tunnels.
We had plenty of time to walk around the tunnels at leisure and to read the literature (audio guides are not available at the moment). It was very interesting to read about the lives of the people affected and how they lived. Customers were asked to stand outside the tunnel entrance and each household was called up one at a time for them to give their details for the track and trace system, before entering the tunnels with a 2-metre distance. Some of the corridors only allowed one household in at a time or a maximum of 4, 6 or 8 in at a time. This was not a problem and worked well.
We got back to the hotel about 2pm and spent the afternoon at leisure. Some customers decided to get the ferry to Elizabeth Island, whilst some hit the shops. I walked to St Aubin’s bay, which took an hour each way. It was a lovely walk that many residents of Jersey do on a Sunday.
All good things...
On the fourth day, Barry took us to Jersey Zoo, which was founded by author Gerald Durrell in 1959. The zoo is home to over 130 of the rarest and endangered species, including bears, orangutans and gorillas.
I came home that afternoon, but the rest of the customers stayed on the tour for another day, which included a boat trip to see Elizabeth Castle, St Aubin’s Bay, Noirmont Point and the southwest coast of Jersey.
After having been a little anxious before the trip, my break to Jersey surpassed all expectations.