Right now I’m back with my family, and I’ve been reminded just what a special place this is. Day one, down on the beach at St Ouen, I stood in the waves taking great gulps of fresh Atlantic air, surrounded by the fizzing of billions of bubbles in the surf, watching my eldest son belly boarding. I felt free.
I live in Cookham, a small village on the River Thames between Maidenhead and Marlow. It is a beautiful spot, but there is a sense of being hemmed in; there are relatively few open spaces in which to wander. By comparison, everyone in Jersey has around 50 miles of coastline within just a few miles of their front door. That’s amazing.
To reinforce the point, several of our friends have visited Jersey this summer. It was easy to tell what they loved about the Island because on social media all of their pictures were taken on the beach. They also referenced friendly people and an interesting history.
The UK may not physically be far away but there are other little differences I notice. You don’t get people tailgating emergency vehicles here, as I’ve seen happen in London. More significantly, Jersey has a tremendous variety of subcultures, from surfing to classic cars to cycling. These communities have a palpable sense of confidence and energy.
There’s also an intimacy to Island life that feels special. Jersey is less than half the size of a single London borough; still small enough that the whole Island can be involved in the conversations that matter for Jersey and its future. That’s a precious thing.
It’s a feeling accentuated by the richness of the media landscape. Jersey is very lucky to still have a daily newspaper offering comprehensive coverage of news and community events. Most local papers in the UK – including in much bigger communities than Jersey – have gone weekly, and are little more than advertising sheets. Jersey has Channel TV and Radio Jersey too.
There are many things that could be better, but Jersey still has a heck of a lot going for it.
nJerseyman Jonathan Renouf is a television producer working in the UK and was a member of the Jersey Electoral Commission, firstname.lastname@example.org