Home Is Where Your Story Begins

What is your definition of home? Where you family is? Where you grew up? Or where you live now? Having spent my childhood and teenage years in one place, and almost my entire adult life in another, I’m never really been sure. When I’m heading back to Leeds I tell people that I’m going home, but when I’m up there I say the same thing about returning to Jersey.

Since I left my Parents house when I was 19 I’ve lived in a series of staff accommodation, house shares and rented flats. None of these have allowed me to really put my own stamp on them in terms of furnishing and decor, and whilst some have been (a lot) better than others when it comes to location, space, facilities, room mates and landlords, none have ever been 100% perfect, because none have ever really been HOME.

That’s all (hopefully) about to change, as I’m preparing myself to take the giant leap onto the lowest rung of the property ladder. With the average property price in Jersey over double the average property price in the UK, this seemed like an impossible dream for many years, even when I was married with two incomes coming in, but due to a series of circumstances and the generosity of my family it’s now become a strange new reality.

It’s taken me a while to decide whether to invest in bricks and mortar here on the rock or back in the UK, with each offering strong pros and considerable cons, but with my life only just settling down after a turbulent couple of years, the thought of upping sticks and diving into the relative unknown feels like too big a gamble to take, so Jersey it is.

I’ve known that this was on the horizon for almost a year, but until now I’ve largely held back on looking at what’s available, as I didn’t want to find the perfect place and then miss out through not being ready. But now I’m literally hours away from having everything in place, it’s time to start viewing.

The market moves even quicker here than I had thought; I’ve booked two viewings so far, and both have had offers made and accepted before I’ve made it as far as the front door. Maybe that’s just bad luck on my part, but it’s done nothing to relieve my nerves about the process!

My biggest worry at the moment, although I’m sure there’ll be more to come, is how to know what I’m looking for. Of course I’ve got a wish list; a parking space ideally, a little bit of outside space would be a dream, I’d like a bath rather than a shower, room for a washing machine and some storage. That’s all simple enough, it’s all the other stuff that concerns me. Potential maintenance issues, running costs, heating systems, plumbing, wiring, TV aerials, phone lines, broadband, service charges, surveys. I’ve got no idea about any of that, and I don’t really know where to start.

Luckily my budget is a little bit bigger than I anticipated, and contrary to every other piece of financial advice I’ve ever been given, several sensible people have suggested that I’ll never regret maxing out what’s available. When it comes to property apparently the more you spend, the more you’ll make. Not true of anything else I’ve ever bought.

Until I actually make it to a viewing I think this will all continue to feel a bit dreamy, but today I added a bit of realism by letting my lovely Landlords know my plans. After 5 years of living next door they have become friends, and it would have felt strange to hide it from them and then suddenly drop a bombshell. I’ll miss them tremendously, not something often said about Landlords, but as it turns out my moving will work out well for all us, as they’d been toying with the idea of remodelling the flat at some stage; easier done if it’s vacant.

So from now on my spare time will be split between poring over estate agent websites, and adding to my ‘dream home’ inspiration board on Pinterest. I absolutely can’t wait to have a space to call mine, and the fact that it’s JUST mine makes it even more exciting. No bickering over colour schemes or how big the TV needs to be; every square inch of the place will be my decision. Just the idea of that is already making me feel more settled, physically and emotionally. It will be another fresh chapter for me, and finally I think I’ll know exactly where my HOME really is.

I’m sure there will be ups and downs on this journey to home ownership, and I’ll keep you updated on the best (and worst) bits. In the meantime I’d love to hear any tips or advice you can offer on buying property; or what you wish you’d known the first time. I’ve got zero knowledge right now so anything I can learn is a bonus! 🙂


‘‘Twas The Night After Christmas…

Well there we have it! Months of steadily intensifying build up and all of a sudden it’s all over, just like that. 24 little hours and it’s done.

The wrapping paper we agonised over in Paperchase has been ripped off & binned without a second thought, we’ve all eaten our body weight or more in cheese & chocolates and there are more pine needles embedded in your socks than on the tree.

It’s enough to make you wonder if it’s all worth it, but for the majority of people I think it probably is.

However you’ve spent the last 48 hours or so I hope you’ve had a wonderful time, enjoyed the company of friends, family or perhaps strangers on the internet, and also taken a moment to reflect on the year just gone, the blessings and challenges it brought and the lessons we can learn to take on into the next year.

It’s also a time to think of those no longer with us, to remember the good times we shared, maybe light a candle and raise a glass in their honour.

Personally I’ve enjoyed a nice balance of fun times, meals and drinks shared with good friends, along with some time to myself, stuffing my face in front of the TV, ugly crying at Christmas movies (It’s A Wonderful Life gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME), catching up on some sleep & collecting my thoughts.

Tomorrow I fly off to extend the festivities for a few days with family, so this will be my last post until January.

Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing last few days of 2017, and a very Happy New Year 😊

Radio Ga Ga

So an unexpected thing happened this week; on Wednesday I received a message from one of BBC Radio Jersey’s presenters, who had read my previous blog post about the  #JoinIn phenomenon and asked if I would be prepared to go chat about it live on air, as part of a programme focusing on people being lonely over the festive period.

I have to admit that my initial reaction was ‘HELL NO!’ Whilst those that know me will attest that I don’t usually struggle for words, the idea of sitting in front of a mic in a radio station was more than a little un-nerving!

But after a little thought, some gentle encouragement from my colleagues and more than a couple of glasses of red wine, I threw caution to the wind and said yes. After all, I am supposed to be making the most of every new experience, no matter how scary.


So that’s how I found myself sitting in the BBC Jersey reception area a little after 8am this morning, trying to hold a coffee in my shaking hands. I’d had a brief chat with the lovely Julie who produces the show yesterday afternoon, which had gone some way to calming my nerves but not enough to stop me waking up at 5am with all kinds of  scenarios running through my head!

I needn’t have worried however, as soon as I was sitting in the studio with Ashlea the conversation flowed and I (almost) managed to forget that the mic was there at all. It was great to chat about something I am so positive about, and know that it was spreading the message to people who might otherwise remain unaware.

Having ended up on-air a little bit earlier than I’d originally thought, I was hopeful/worried (delete as applicable) that friends & family may have missed it, but a barrage of messages once I was back in the car proved otherwise. The response was all positive, and I’m not going to assume that it’s because they’re all biased 😉

It took me a few hours to bring myself to be able to listen and WOW it’s weird to hear yourself on the radio; turns out I’m not actually as Yorkshire as I thought I was?!? Once I’d finished cringing myself inside out, I was actually quite proud – There weren’t too many times that I stumbled over my words or repeated myself, I don’t *think* I embarrassed myself, and the whole thing seemed to more or less make sense, although I largely have Ashlea’s well timed and thoughtful questions to thank for that.

So that is another new experience box ticked in my ‘If Not Now, Then When?’ philosophy, and along the way I hopefully spread the word that it’s OK that we’re not always OK, and more importantly that it’s OK to talk about it.

If you’re interested you can listen here. The whole show is worth hearing, but if you’re short on time skip ahead to around the 2 hours 7 minutes mark.

I’d be interested to hear your comments!

Catching some Zzzzzs at the Zoo

This weekend I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since 2012 when Jersey Zoo, formerly Durrell Wildlife, opened their Wildlife Camp, offering the opportunity to stay a night, or a week if you fancy, on the grounds of this wonderful place.

Wildlife Camp this might be, but ‘roughing it’ it is certainly not. Each self contained spacious yurt is sturdy, carpeted and contains real beds. No sleeping bags or ground sheets are required here. Each unit also has its own private bathroom and equipped kitchen right next door, with everything down to a corkscrew supplied (thankfully, as we forgot ours!). This is Glamping with a capital Glam.

I’d heard only good things from friends who had been lucky enough to stay already, so having an animal loving friend visiting from Australia seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it for ourselves.

We were warmly greeted on arrival by Al, who showed us to ‘Indri’ our home for the evening, before running through a tour of the facilities and safety briefing and leaving us to settle in.

The first job was to introduce ourselves to the neighbours. Now usually a group of noisy, excitable swingers wouldn’t be my first choice of camp mate, but I could make an exception when they are this cute. I’m talking of course about the Ring-tailed and Black & White Lemurs who reside just over the fence from camp, on the banks of aptly named Lemur lake.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on our private sun deck watching them bounce, frolic and chatter just feet away. Not long after their feeding time we realised it was time for ours. Despite the kitchen offering plenty of scope to create a meal ourselves, this was a special occasion so we had booked into Cafe Firefly at the Zoo entrance for their Meze & BBQ special. I’d heard a lot about about this treat, but nothing prepared for how delicious it was going to be, and stunning value at £15 each. After stuffing our faces we walked/waddled back to our yurt by torchlight, and settled in for the night.

Al had earlier given us a lesson in how to use the wood burning stove that takes pride of place in each yurt, so with a September chill in the air we got stuck straight in. Matches, kindling and enough treated logs for one night are supplied, and more are available to buy on site if required.

With the fire roaring we tucked into a bottle of Malbec (thanks again to the corkscrew) and played an intense game of Durrell Monopoly. Snug as bugs inside, the atmosphere was only made cosier by distant thunder and the tip tap of rain on canvas. If only Elle & I were each other’s type this might have been the most romantic night of our lives.

Sensible girls as we are, we were tucked up in cloud soft beds by midnight, and slept like logs until the alarm call we’d been warned to expect in advance. Just before 7am the Lemurs collectively announced that the day had begun, and it was time to jump to it. Impossible to sleep through this cry (unless your name is Elle) thankfully their shouting only lasts a few seconds, and I was soon dozing again, but this time dreaming happily of African safaris.

Like a snooze function the Lemurs remind us that it’s morning around every half an hour, and at the 3rd call we relented and dragged ourselves up for coffee on the deck.

By 10am we had packed up, said a sad goodbye to our temporary home and set out  to explore the Zoo itself (more of which later).

Our night in the ‘wild’ is one that we won’t soon forget, and one that I’ll certainly repeat at the next opportunity. As a fan of unique and characterful accommodation this place shot straight into my all time top 5, and lucky for me it’s right around the corner from home.

Whether you are visiting Jersey or live here and are looking for a fun and unique weekend staycation then this girl highly recommends a night or 3 at Durrell Wildlife Camp. Thanks to Ashley, Al, Vicky and the team in Cafe Firefly for making it such a memorable occasion for us.

(This post is neither a promotion nor an ad. All expenses were paid personally and my opinion is unbiased)

With stars at our feet….

Just before 11.30pm last Friday night, we found ourselves standing somewhat apprehensively in almost complete darkness at La Rocque Harbour. For people more accustomed to the bright lights of the Weighbridge at that time on a Friday, it was a little unusual to say the least.

Any initial nerves melted away however when we were approached and warmly greeted by Derek of Jersey Walk Adventures who was to be our guide for the evening, ably assisted by his colleague Trudie.

Furnished with hired wellington boots and with brief introductions made to our fellow late night adventurers, we made our way cautiously down on to the beach to begin the hunt for what must be the most fascinating and mystical of Jersey’s marine life, tiny bioluminescent worms that inhabit the sands around the south east coast RAMSAR site. Noted by local fishermen for time immemorial, these real Jersey wonders have only come to the attention of the scientific world in the last half a dozen years.

Blessed with a cloudless night, our orientation briefing included Derek pointing out planets and constellations in the star crowded sky above us, before we made off, away from the car headlights and warmly lit windows of land and into the inky dark moonscape ahead.


We hadn’t ventured far, picking our way around rocks and clumps of seaweed as our eyes slowly started to adjust to the darkness, before we hit gold – or green, to be more precise. Gathering us into an expectant circle, Derek dragged one wellington-clad foot through the sand and shingle seabed, and the group let out a collective gasp as the channel he’d created lit up like a Christmas tree, with the light of a thousand minute luminescent worms, each hardly wider than a human hair and glowing for all they were worth. It was quite honestly the most breathtaking and unexpected example of the wonders of nature that I’ve ever seen, and less than a 10 minute drive from my own front door here in Jersey.

I don’t want to spoil all the surprises before you take part in this fantastic walk yourself (and I urge  you to do so) but the next hour or so passed in a haze of child like discovery and delight, splashing through underwater fireworks and writing our initials in twinkling sand, punctuated by just the right mix of facts, anecdotes and jokes from our knowledgeable guides.

Before we knew it we were back at La Rocque, stamping the sand off our boots and wondering if that really just happened. If you only do one new thing this year, I urge you to go out and discover these mysterious creatures who share our Island for yourself, but please do not forget that our beautiful coastline is treacherous and low tide walks MUST be undertaken with a qualified guide. You can book the bioluminesence walk, amongst a selection of others, with Jersey Walk Adventures.

(It is far beyond my modest capabilities to take photographs of this phenomenon, so for the purpose of this post I have borrowed an image from Jersey Walk Adventures/Phil Halper)