January and February have been unsettling months for us, several family issues arising at once (we are the sandwich generation) and we have both been feeling drained. We decided on a short break, nothing too far away or adventurous, simply a time away from the day to day stuff that fills our heads.
We chose to spend four nights in Jersey, a short flight from Gatwick and a place that we had visited before. We stayed in St Helier, the capital and walked, drank coffee and rested.
The tourist season runs from April to November so most of the well known attractions were closed but we found plenty to explore within a few miles.
Elizabeth Castle in St Helier is accessible by causeway at low tide.
Although the castle itself was closed we were able to walk over the rocks to the far side of the island and found we had the place to ourselves.
St Helier is named after Saint Helerius who brought Christianity to Jersey and spent fifteen years living on the island apparently founding a hermitage in a cave. Today there is a little building on top of Hermitage rock, I'm not sure if this would be the same place.
I photographed the inside of the building through the door, not sure I would want to spend fifteen years here.
In summer the amphibious castle ferry runs from the island to the main shore, in the winter you have to watch for the tides which in Jersey come in very rapidly. This was the view back to the castle as we got back - possibly cut it a little fine!
Below is Mont Origuel castle at Gorey, a short bus trip from St Helier. It was low tide when we were there but it still looked very pretty in the sunshine.
Another view of the bay. The coverings on the hillside are protecting the famous Jersey Royal potatoes which are planted on south facing slopes to receive maximum sunshine during the winter months. These looked snugly tucked up and protected from frost. It must be hard to harvest them on such a slope. Jersey Royals always appear expensive but when you see the effort that goes into growing them then the price seems reasonable.
The weather wasn't all sunshine, we had rain, high winds and grey days as well. St Aubin and St Helier are at opposite ends of a three mile long curved sandy bay, a perfect distance for walking one way having a coffee and catching the bus the other. This is a small beach near St Aubin, an advantage of visiting out of season is that we had these peaceful places to ourselves.
Whilst in St Aubins we stopped at the Harbour Gallery which is well worth a visit. Lots of crafts, many paintings, all by local artists and even a small knitting shop. There is a coffee shop to build up energy for the walk back. We needed the warmth of coffee inside us because the weather changed to this
and then to this. Rain, high winds and high tides all together - we walked a little way back from the promenade at this point!
Generally though the Channel Islands have milder winters than the UK. The Alexanders along the roadsides was much more advanced than here
and in the parks I saw these stocks still blooming in February.
Lots of lovely Chaenomeles
and some rather exotic looking species that I don't know.
One last look at Elizabeth Castle at high tide as we caught the bus to the airport. A little escape to a different world. It did us good.