Jersey: the biggest of the Channel Islands and home to old TV detective Bergerac.
As it’s a tiny bit of Britain in the Channel, I thought there was little more to discover on a recent break there.
But, upon arriving, I was stunned to hear of the island’s strange history, its independent administration and a huge selection of odd facts.
And yes, the landscape is incredible: from ethereal lunar landscape rock formations to pretty flowering fields, this interesting island is worth discovering.
Here are 17 of the oddest things I learned about Jersey
1. The currency is British Sterling, but they still use pound notes
Yes actual paper ones. But don’t bring one back as you won’t be able to use it.
2. Jersey is only five miles long and nine miles wide making it smaller than Greater London
But this little land mass is far more attractive than the capital as the temperate climate contributes to some gorgeous flowers and plant life.
3. It’s closer to France (19 miles) than to the British mainland (85 miles)
Most street names are French reflecting the island’s history as part of Norman France.
4. Any potato calling itself a Jersey Royal has to have been grown on the island
These tasty tubers have a Protected Designation Of Origin through the EU Protected Food Name Scheme.
So if you’re buttering up a new batch you can be sure you’re getting the real thing.
5. And what makes these summery spuds taste so good?
It’s all in the seaweed. Or vraic, which is harvested from the beaches and used on the potato fields as natural fertiliser in a technique that dates back to the 12th century.
6. Jersey cows are kept for their sumptuous buttery milk rather than beef
7. You can experience every type of weather in a short space of time
The song Four Seasons In One Day is rather apt for Jersey.
8. It experiences the most formidable tidal pulls
One minute the sea is at your feet, the next you can’t actually see it.
For such a small island it has some of the biggest tides in the world.
Don’t get caught out during that dreamy beach walk.
9. Apparently, Jersey was the favourite holiday destination of Karl Marx
10. You’re quite likely to see a red squirrel in Jersey
These rare creatures are thriving on the island and it could well become the only place in the British Isles you’re likely to see one if they cease to exist in on the mainland in 35 years.
11. Knitted jumpers are sometimes called ‘jerseys’ because of the Jersey wool that was used to make them
12. It’s a self-governing island
While part of the British Isles, Jersey is not in the United Kingdom.
It is still officially ruled by the Duke Of Normandy, which makes it French right?
No, the Queen actually holds the title, so, as a dependent of the British Crown it is internationally represented and defended by the UK government.
The islanders call the Queen ‘Our Duke’. Confused?
13. So, who is steering the good ship Jersey?
Well there are no political parties as such, so no toss-up between Labour or the Tories, rather a selection of elected individuals who make up an assembly.
14. As the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in WWII you can still see evidence of the conflict
All in the shape of bunkers, tunnels and outposts built during the five years of occupation.
And the difficulties experienced during those occupied years remains a tense issue for the island.
15. While the island speaks English, they also have a traditional tongue
Jerriais is a living language, a derivative of Norman French that preceded English and is still being taught in schools today.
It became important during the Occupation as it meant locals could communicate without being understood by the Germans.
16. The final episode of Bergerac was a 1991 Christmas Special
Now don’t you feel old?
17. The exiled Charles II was finally proclaimed King on the island in 1649
As thanks, he gifted some American colonies to the island’s bailiff.
The land became known as New Jersey.