Swanley & District

Islands

“Making memories” Seenagers in the Channel Islands

Well we’re back, exhausted, happy with lots of great memories made with good friends.
We left as 41 individuals and returned as a contented group of intrepid Channel Island explorers.
It was an adventurous plan that Sue and I hatched, back in August 2018, to visit three Channel Islands in eight days, but we did it, we did it in style, and we did it with lots of fun and laughter along the way.
As the saying goes, “What happens in the Channel Islands stays in the Channel Islands” and “names have been omitted to protect the innocent”.
Now brief details of some of our adventures.

Jersey was our first Island and our base was Fort D’Auvergne hotel.
We had absolutely no complaints, as we were treated like Royalty, the food was brilliant and all members of staff were efficient, polite and attentive to our needs.
At our first evening meal, everyone reported that they were happy with their rooms, as some had negotiated free upgrades. Some members were lucky to be allocated rooms with a sea view, looking right across the bay, and enjoyed watching very spectacular high tides combined with strong winds causing crashing waves against the sea walls. This spectacle was safely visible out of the large windows of the lounge bar.
Hotel guests could use the heated indoor swimming pool which had a large panoramic window looking out to sea. It was set high so you could see out but others couldn’t see you bathing, very atmospheric.

Jersey evenings saw us making our own entertainment with a quiz (kindly provided by Dave Collins - thanks Dave), singing and dancing was provided by an improvised music setup using an iPad, Spotify app and a vibration speaker, that was sat on top of an empty wine bottle box, to make the sound. Music ranged from ABBA to Max Bygraves and Tommy Steele. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, as we had a number of members of the U3A choir providing the various humorous vocals. “Tip toe through the tulips” was my favourite!
The Hotel also laid on, as a complete surprise, an entertainer who was a Magician/ Comedian & Singer, who kept us all hilariously entertained. He decided that Sue and I were to be at the centre of his gags and tricks. If only Sue hadn’t said, “I hope he doesn’t pick on me”, when he was standing right behind her at the bar!
Nonetheless, an evening of harmless fun and entertainment enjoyed by all.

On the first full day in Jersey, we enjoyed an inclusive full day Excursion, taking in the beautiful views and scenery, visiting some of the islands tourist attractions whilst getting our bearings. The weather started off with drizzle but quickly changed to sunshine. We visited Gorey Castle, Jersey Zoo, a sand sculpture artist, La Greve de Lecq bay, Jersey Pearl, whilst being entertained en route by a quick witted driver (Eddy), who should have been on the stage, with his stories and jokes.

During the other three, free days on Jersey, members sub-divided and undertook their own smaller group excursions to Jersey War Tunnels, A Country driving tour which finished up at St Mathew’s Glass Church (which was full of Lalique glass), visits to Fort Elizabeth (for the canon firing), The Tapestry Museum (a set of tapestry’s that depicted the history of Jersey including the German occupation) and of course a visit to St Helier Town centre. The bus service on Jersey is brilliant, it stops every 15 minutes outside our hotel and buses can be viewed live, on a phone app, enabling easy access to all major attractions on Jersey with low cost ease.

The fourth day saw us travelling to Guernsey. Our ferry time had been moved to an evening slot due to high winds at sea, on the previous days, and an extra ferry being laid on to clear the backlog. Our ferry crossing went smoothly and thankfully the sea was a lot calmer. Upon arrival in Guernsey, albeit a little later than planned, we were taken to La Trelade Hotel and allocated our rooms. After a late dinner we retired to bed preparing ourselves for our forthcoming adventure to Sark the next day. La Trelade Hotel facilities were great with a Moroccan themed Sahara restaurant, a fully equipped gym, heated indoor swimming pool and a newly refurbished ballroom.

The following morning, after breakfast, we were taken to St Peter Port harbour for our included full day excursion to Sark. As our ferry left the protection of the Island of Herm we entered into an expanse of open sea when the crossing started to get rather choppy. To raise our groups spirits and divert attention away from the waves breaking over the bow we started playing Fisherman’s Friends “ What would you do with a drunken sailor”, and singing the words out loud, to the great amusement of other fellow passengers.
After a short while, we arrived in Sark harbour and were then taken uphill, in a tractor trailer bus, to our horse drawn carriages which were waiting in the town centre. We then enjoyed a leisurely two hour clippity-clop tour of the idyllic island, which saw us arriving at the other side of the island, on little Sark, with it’s elevated causeway. Upon our return to the town centre and some lunch, we further explored the island on foot before we departed back to the ferry, for our return trip to Guernsey and our evening meal.

Our last full day saw us on an inclusive half day excursion around the quieter with even more scenic views of the island of Guernsey. Smaller lanes, less built up than Jersey but still having the concrete artefacts of the Napoleonic defences and the German occupation, present throughout the landscape, reminding us of some of the hardships that people endured, over the years, but more so of the islands occupations during World War 2.

Upon our return to the hotel and as a complete surprise the owner of the La Trelade Hotel (Mike Doughty) invited us to join him in the Ballroom at nine o’clock, after the dancing lessons had finished. Around 30 of us found ourselves in a would be “Strictly come Dancing” environment with Mike teaching us various dance moves and some dusting off their not so rusty moves. Mike is a qualified dance teacher and has been dancing since he was fourteen, some 45 years. The evening ended with lots of fun and laughter, making a fitting finale to our great holiday.

On the morning of our departure, whilst waiting for transport to arrive, a number of members decided to occupy their time by visiting a local Farmers Market, in Sausmarez Manor, located a short distance from our hotel. They purchased mementos and home made food for our journey home.

The journey home went smoothly by air and road, returning us back to our pickup points in Hextable and Swanley, around 7pm.

To conclude, we all had a great holiday in beautiful island surroundings with good friends. You could say we lived, laughed and learnt about the Channel Islands. We were fortunate to have good weather, with only a couple of wet exceptions, which quickly cleared to illuminate the beautiful islands in glorious sunshine.

Our thanks go to everyone, on the trip, for making our task easy, entertaining and great fun. Now we are recharging our batteries after a tiring but great Swanley U3A holiday.

Where next, that is the question?

Phil & Sue Saunders

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.