Tales of a Blue Badge Tourist Guide for Jersey

My name is Tracey Radford, I am the author of A-Z of Jersey and I’m fortunate to live in the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey. I am also a Blue Badge Tourist Guide, Jersey Heritage site guide and a founding member of Jersey Uncovered, a team of Blue Badge Guides who offer bespoke tours in Jersey.

I have always been fascinated by the past, and Jersey is the perfect place to live as it has a rich history that stretches back at least 250,000 years. Of course, there is more to this island than times gone by, and the guests I show around are more often than not, astonished at just how big this little island’s story is, and how much there is to see and do.

The Pinacle. (Courtesy of Visit Jersey, A-Z of Jersey, Amberley Publishing)

So, here is a little introduction!

Located in the Bay of St Malo, just 14 miles from Normandy, Jersey is 9 miles long by 5 miles wide, with golden sandy beaches to the south, and rugged cliffs and pretty cliff path walks to the north that offer glimpses of Jersey’s sister islands, Guernsey, Sark and Herm. Whilst not in the United Kingdom, Jersey is part of the British Isles, the main language is English, and the currency is Sterling (even having its own banknotes and coins). The British monarch reigns here although Jersey is governed, not by Westminster but by its own government, a state-of-affairs that dates back to 1204 in the reign of King John. 

To the east is the magnificent medieval castle of Mont Orgueil, the quaint harbour of Gorey and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Here on a clear day, you can enjoy spectacular views of the nearby French coast.

St Ouen’s Bay and its seemingly endless beach lies to the west. This stretches from L’Etacq in the north-west to Corbière Lighthouse in the south-west, which was the first pre-cast concrete lighthouse to be built in the British Isles in the 1870s. The bay is open to the Atlantic Ocean and is a surfers’ paradise.  It is also a favourite of locals. On balmy summer evenings when the tide is high, islanders pack up their barbecues and head to St Ouen’s Bay to watch the sun set.

Corbière Lighthouse. (© Barney De La Cloche, A-Z of Jersey, Amberley Publishing)

If your love is nature, La Mare au Seigneur (St Ouen’s Pond in local speak) is a nature reserve, and haven for birdlife. The largest, naturally occurring body of water in the Channel Islands, the pond, the surrounding dune system, and water meadows are owned by the National Trust for Jersey and are a site of special interest.

Away from the coast, discover Jersey’s rural heartland. In the island’s interior you will find more than fifty miles of peaceful green lanes in which cyclists and pedestrians are paramount, with cars limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour.

St Catherine’s Woods. (Courtesy of Visit Jersey, A-Z of Jersey, Amberley Publishing)

The countryside is lush and villages full of rustic charm. Roadside ‘honesty boxes’ sell local produce, and the arrival of the Jersey Royal potato crop eagerly anticipated each Spring.

There are plenty of photographic opportunities, and a selfie with one of the island’s most famous residents, the doe eyed Jersey Cow, is usually top of any visitor’s ‘must-do’ list.  After your bovine photo-shoot, move on to snap the coast, cliffs, and historic town of St Helier.

A trio of Jersey cows. (© Barney De La Cloche, A-Z of Jersey, Amberley Publishing)

It is fair to say that Jersey’s natural beauty, agricultural diversity, architectural heritage, and fascinating history are unique. From Palaeolithic to present day, the island is a constant surprise, and it is an absolute privilege for me to tell visitors and locals alike about it.

However, when Amberley Publishing asked me to write a book about Jersey, I was a little perplexed. How on earth could I convey all things Jersey in just 20,000 words (a word count which by the way, had to include the contents, bibliography, acknowledgements, and introduction sections as well). Normally during a tour, I have hours, often over several days, to wax lyrical about my island home’s past and present. I therefore needed a plan of action and to accept that I wouldn’t be able to include every castle, place, legend, tradition or person in my book. So, my A-Z of Jersey, is based on my experiences as a Blue Badge Guide; what my guests want to see, hear about, visit and do, with a few of my favourite extras thrown in along the way. The book tells the island’s story using each letter of the alphabet and linked topic as a way into Jersey’s past and present. My aim was to deliver the contents as I would one of my tours; engaging, with appropriate levels of light and shade and touches of humour. An example of themes incorporated within the book include; Jersey’s unusual relationship with the UK and France through time; the historic local language Jèrriais; the German Occupation of Jersey 1940-45 and significant or famous people who have live here. 

It’s important to point out though that the people, places and history featured in the book are just the tip of the iceberg and that there is so much more to find out about. Therefore, I can see only two possibilities for you; read my next book, Jersey in 50 Buildings when it is published in 2021 OR even better, visit Jersey and see for yourself, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Tracey Radford's book A-Z of Jersey is available for purchase now.