With beaches galore and a Continental climate, Jersey offers a reminder of how English family holidays used to be says CLAIR BUSSEY
IMAGINE the golden sands and turquoise seas of the Med. Now throw in a few cows, some potatoes and a cream tea. . .
- a tiny island with a big personality and lots to offer. Click here now for amazing offers to Jersey!
As one of the Channel Islands it lies 100 miles off the south coast of England and just 14 miles from Normandy, France.
Jersey boasts the best sunshine record in the ritish Isles, with temperatures around 25ºC in summer and rarely dropping below 9ºC in winter.
And it couldn't be easier to get there.
Scheduled and charter flights operate from 30 UK airports - but if you're travelling with the family the best option is to chuck everything in the car and let the ferry take the strain.
Condor Ferries has up to four services a day. Fast ferry services go from Weymouth or Poole and you can be in the Channel Islands in just over two hours. Want incredible deals to Jersey? Click here now...
Or for those with all the time in the world, you can take the sevenhour crossing from Portsmouth.
That can be a break in itself. The boats have on-board children's entertainment rooms for the little ones to play or watch videos, while adults enjoy a leisurely drink or browse in the duty-free shop.
Jersey has a great selection of accommodation from B&Bs to exclusive spas. We based ourselves at the family-friendly Merton Hotel in St Helier.
The Merton prides itself on ntertainment for all ages. Its Aquadome pool and leisure club now offers the first Flowrider wave machine in the UK.
Guests can try body boarding or stand-up Flowboarding before hitting the waves at Jersey's famous St Ouen surf beach.
The hotel also offers some topnotch food, with five restaurants and cafés and a children-only restaurant supervised by the crèche.
It's a brilliant idea to allow parents some time out - and the chance to enjoy the grown-up entertainment.
The Commentary Box sports bar screens all the big sporting events, while the Star Room stages a more traditional evening of live music and dancing. And if you just feel like chilling out then head for the Boulevard Lounge.
But there is a whole island to explore outside the hotel. It may be just 45 miles square but it is crammed with delightful surprises.
For many of us, Jersey was put on the map by 80s drama Bergerac (you know - with that John Nettles off Midsomer Murders). But its history stretches much further back, with a past of French and English occupancy.
The French influence is still apparent, from the château-style houses to the road names, yet you can't deny its traditional English charm.
From the superb medieval castle of Mont Orgueil to Hamptonne Farm, you'll be immersed in the 17th Century life of our ancestors.
During the Second World War Jersey was invaded by the Germans and fell under their rule for seven years.
The island is scattered with watch towers, war tunnels and museums as a reminder of these times.
With its rolling hills dipping into valleys and beaches, Jersey might have been made for walking and cycling holidays.
You can take scorted walking tours with Blue Badge Guides, seeing some of the island's history and heritage.
Or, if you like to set your own pace, there are many footpaths for nature lovers to capture the breathtaking coastal views, heavily wooded valleys and wildlife. The coves and bays compare to some of the most eautiful in the world and the coastline is perfect for water sports and sailing.
St Brelades was our favourite place. Framed by rolling hills and beautiful gardens, we spent hours playing in rock pools and digging holes to Australia.
St Helier is the place to head if you find time for retail therapy.
Lower taxes plus no VAT mean you get good value for money.
Jersey gets under your skin and unlocks happy childhood memories of how England used be.
Our three-year-old summed it up perfectly: "I love Jersey. Can we take it home with us?"
For now we'll have to leave it where it is - right on our doorstep. FACT FILE THE Merton Hotel is offering some great special offers this summer. Prices start at £98 per room per night (children at reduced rates) including breakfast. Visit seymourhotels.com/mertonhotel/rates breaks for more specials and weekend rates. Condor Ferries regularly sail from Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth. Fast ferry prices start at £90 per car and two passengers each way for up to two days away. See condorbreaks.com or call 0845 230 3241. For more information about Jersey visit jersey.com or call 01534 448 800.