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A place that deserves to be more famous than it is.

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 12 March 2015 | Views [671]

St. Helier beach with the castle just visible to the left.

St. Helier beach with the castle just visible to the left.

Ask any Australian about Jersey and the only thing they can think of is the cows. The small island is part of the UK, but just off the edge of France with French road names, is full of Polish people and with Parishes (or countys) like St. Johns, St. Marys, St. Lawrence, etc. it sounds like a martydom after-party. They know the value of their most famous residents, as where most countries watermark their currencies with monachs, Jersey notes show a cows head when held up to the light. Buy a chip butty with a 10 pound note and you'll most likely get change in Jersey sterling. It's worth just as much as English sterling but comes with the added bonus of not being accepted anywhere else but Jersey.

A Jersey celebrity

If carbs are your thing, a chip butty is your Holy Grail. I ordered one with curly fries and hot chili, and even though the girl serving me barely understood a word I said, I managed to receive what I asked for. Perhaps I should have ordered some caustic soda on the side cause the chili just melted the bread into a semi set cement and the starch overload was building some post-modern sculpture in my stomach before I was even half way through. Upon completion, because I've never been bested by a meal with chips in it, we made a mad dash to the nearest pub with the sound of an ambulance running through my mind. I ordered a stout, and when the Polish girl tried to give me a Stella, I finally accepted the fact that Australians mangle the English language more than they speak it.

Alex had been my house mate in Broome, and joined me on my first trip to Hobart, so he was pretty sound when it came to grasping my slang. What he failed to grasp what the necessity of tidying up before the arrival of guests. When his sister Jo, one of the 8 girls I had lived with in 'A spy in the house of chocolate, chick flicks and cosmopolitans' dropped me off, we both stopped in our tracks at the entrance to Alex's apartment. We stared in disbelief unable to find a clear path that lead within. Apparently Alex had done three 12 hour shifts in a row and obviously spent the other 12 hours of the day pretending to be Keith Moon in an unattended hotel room. My blow up bed took up every available inch of floor space, and then some, but turned out to be one of the more comfortable beds I have slept on, largely because Alex and I mastered the art of getting plastered together a long time ago.

I'm in there somewhere

I stayed for 4 days and save for one morning shift, Alex was able to be my tour guide for the entire time. Having heard plenty from Jo and Alex about the beauty of Jersey, but hardly believing them, I had a pretty open mind about what we would do. I thought Jersians might ride their cows around like us Australians ride kangaroos around, but we actually had to go out of our way to find some cows.

It wasn't too far out of way though. Due to the Islands size (119 square kilometers) anything out of the way is in another country. The roads were so narrow, with built up edges and no shoulders, that driving anywhere felt like zooming around a go-cart track. Jersey drivers are used to having 2 inches of space or less so they drive like life is one big game of Super Mario Cart. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the cars were hatchbacks, sportcars or those silly smart cars that look like an armchair with wheels and a plastic rain cover.

The island is incredibly beautiful though. The interior is quintessential English countryside with beautiful manicured fields of green velvet grass or the almost as famous Jersey Royal potatoes, edged by stone fences so old they seem to have grown into a homogenous entity with old stone cottages over looking real estate as valuable for its beauty, as much for its rarity on such a small island. The islands periphery varies from steep ragged cliff faces that overlook little inlets to vast stretches of beautiful beach, composed of very unEnglish like sand. Alex had boasted about Jersey having bigger tides than the incredible ones we get in Broome and I scoffed in his face as much as one can without seeming like a prick. Turns out my face should be adorned with his spittle of disdain as Jersey has a truly epic tide. St. 'Who even cares which saint it is by now' Castle defended the island for over 400 years and spends as much time surrounded by deep water as it does connected by a path to the mainland a good 500 metres away.

Not Cable beach, but beautiful nonetheless.

One night we sat on St. Heliers main beach, the water in far enough to make the castle a decent swim away and watched a sunset that would compare with the best that Broome has put on. Like drinking stout and getting trolleyed with Kirsty, sharing intimate stories with Ainslie (albeit just about poo this time!) Steph letting me down, shagging Julia and eating with Maz, sunsets with Alex is one of the defining aspects of our friendship. Most free nights in Broome were spent down on Guantheaume Point, me rolling my eyes at Alex as he tried to convince me Jersey had sunsets just as good. Judging by the photo below, you can understand why I happily admit to being wrong.

 Sunsets don't get much better than that.

We visited Gorey Castle as well, but as both of our accounts would make a welfare recipient feel good about themselves, we decided to just drink a delicious Dublin porter in the shadows of its walls instead. Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands are next on the itinerary so I wasn't too concerned about missing both of Jersey's castles. The weather was so beautiful, I was more than happy to drive around and stare out the window as the roadside embankment threatened to adjust the side mirror everytime a car passed the other way. I was even getting around in only a t-shirt at one stage, although that lasted 10 minutes and even the locals were looking at me like I was either an idiot, an Australian or both.

Jersey even has its own mini versions of Stonehenge, in what they call 'dolmens'. The are just like stonehenge is that their purpose is just as much a mystery and they are every bit as interesting as what you would expect a pile of rocks to be. Being built around 5,000 years ago is quite remarkable and gives an indication of how long Jersey has been inhabited for, but further confuses the matter of why they hadn't gotten around to building wider roads in that time.

 Impressive rubble.

Visiting friends in foreign destinations is a fantastic way to get a free tour guide, and to find things a tourist simply couldn't on their own. One of the best things is being invited to a family dinner when such a treat is too many months and miles away to even consider the next time it could happen. The first was at Jo's house, where her Australian husband was probably just as happy to hear my accent as I was his. Alex made a curry out of jackfruit that was so random and delicious that it will be one of the first things I try to emulate when I get back home. After a chip butty that is.

On my last day I was invited along to a lunch with the extended family, and had that been as the new partner of a girlfriend, the afternoon would have been fraught with judgement and stink eye. As a ring-in with plenty of traveling tales to impart, I loaded up on lasagne like I was on welfare, and passed the time so pleasantly, Alex had to literally drag me away.

The weather had finally gone a little British and our plan to watch the sunset from a pub on the westcoast had to change. I was still having a last pint regardless, but we had to settle for watching a bunch of crazies surf in a pretty choppy mess under dire grey skies instead. Such conditions made me about 1% less sad to be leaving as you would have had to have dragged me away kicking and screaming if the weather stayed as it was for the first three days.

While I never doubted my friendship with Alex, I was always highly dubious about his claims of Jerseys beauty. After 4 days, I can safely say that I have never had a more erroneous assumption about a place than Jersey. It was simply amazing, and I didn't even try a Jersey ice cream. And to be honest, I don't think the chip butty was the best way to sample to Jersey Royal potato either.

Tags: castle, chip butty, cow, dolmars, friends, jersey, sunsets

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