This past weekend we travelled to Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, for a relaxing time away with my Dad’s side of the family. They say that Alderney is a bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it – and I happily found myself in the former camp. In fact, I adored the island so much that I almost want to keep it a secret, but I can’t shut up about it so here you go!
We flew over from Southampton on the most miniscule toy plane you can imagine. Only two people per row and a few yards between us and the pilot. Whilst in the air I read an article which said that Alderney residents have long been worried about the safety of this particular aeroplane and would like it replaced – exactly what you want to read at 5000 feet! After a slightly bumpy landing we made it on to terra firma again and were greeted by the sunshine and blue skies of the Channel Islands. We were booked into the Braye Beach Hotel, which is as close as you can get to the sand without actually touching it.
Our room had spectacular views of the sparkling sea and white shores. I could have sat in that little window seat forever.
But there was exploring to do! The island is very tiny, only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, so is easy to explore on foot. There were a few cars but it has a very quiet feel to it and many people get around by bicycle or walking. It’s really just an introverts paradise! We had a wonderful time picking blackberries, discovering new beaches and gazing out at the ocean.
Alderney was invaded and occupied by the Nazis during WWII so the island was completely evacuated in 1940. The Germans built four concentration camps on Alderney and used forced labour to construct bunkers, air raid shelters and concrete fortifications. Many of the remnants of the Nazi occupation can still be seen and explored today which is quite fascinating.
The only town on the island is St Anne’s, which has a sweet cobbled high street and lots of quirky, individual shops. The few cars that were parked along the streets had left their windows wide open without a care in the world. In fact, one of the things I found most attractive about Alderney was how safe it felt. Children freely roamed around the streets with their friends, not an adult in sight. Local folk had left baked goods and fresh eggs on little stands, with a jam jar for the proceeds. Alderney has such a low crime rate that there is only one policeman serving the whole island and it felt like being transported back to a lovely bygone era of freedom and trustworthiness. I can’t help wishing we could raise our baby in such a fantastic place!
Danny and I naturally had our favourite discussion, which we have whenever we visit anywhere new, along the lines of…”Shall we live here one day?” It was strange though because with Alderney there seemed to be a slightly more serious note than usual – we literally thought it was a wonderful, wonderful place to live. All the locals seemed to absolutely love it. I think it’s the sort of place that I would love to have a holiday home so that I could go there any time of year to rejuvenate. You just could not feel stressed on Alderney! I really feel that it has a therapeutic quality and if you ever need to get away, to make a big decision or simply unwind then I can’t think of anywhere better. We will definitely be going back.