Hertfordshire-based couple Nick and Julie Goddard have just left the Island after their 37th trip to Jersey in 28 years.
They have been faithful visitors following their honeymoon here in 1991 and are already booked to come back twice next year. As Mr Goddard (62) said, they will keep coming back ‘again and again as long as we physically can’.
The retired pair, who met while working at NatWest bank in the UK, are arguably Jersey’s number-one fans. They have visited so much they are ‘pseudo-locals’ or ‘leisure commuters’.
‘We don’t feel like tourists,’ Mrs Goddard (68) said while on the veranda of the Panorama Hotel in St Aubin, where they were staying and have stayed during many of their visits to the Island. They used to be regulars at the Hotel La Tour until it closed.
‘We have lots of friends here and we met a couple who said they had been here 21 times – pfft that is nothing,’ she added.
The pair, in their words, love Jersey for its natural beauty, its hospitality and its ‘amazing seafood’.
‘You can start a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop. If you did that where I come from they’d look at you like an alien with three heads,’ Mr Goddard said.
The couple say they have seen some changes in the Island over the years – some for better and some for worse.
‘They want to increase tourism, but they keep shutting hotels and building, lets say interesting, apartment blocks. Soon, if it carries on, there won’t be enough beds,’ said Mrs Goddard.
Her husband added: ‘We have already booked for next May and September, otherwise we wouldn’t get a bed.’ The pair remember Fort Regent’s heyday, the Shell Garden, Living Legend, Fantastic Tropical Gardens and the Butterfly Farm and other visitor destinations that have been and gone. And while they say it is sad that, on rainy days, they think there is less for young families visiting the Island to do nowadays, they believe the quality of shops, cafés, restaurants and accommodation that is still available has improved greatly.
As for memories during their numerous trips, the couple recall being stranded in the Island because of snow in the early 2000s and how sand sculpture artist Simon Smith, who is now based near St Catherine’s Breakwater, helped mark Mrs Goddard’s 50th birthday.
‘Julie’s nickname is Squid because she moves her arms around when she talks.
‘So for her birthday I got in touch with the Sandman, who did a sculpture down by La Haule slip of an octopus and a mermaid. It’s the little things like that that we remember and we still try to visit him every time we are over,’ said Mr Goddard.
‘People do ask us why we come to the same place every year. We’ve tried France and the Isle of Wight – well this is the answer,’ Mr Goddard added as he pointed to the view from the Panorama over St Aubin’s Fort and the bay.
‘We know what we are going to get here; we have friends, it’s beautiful and if you love seafood you are in the right place.’
Mrs Goddard added: ‘If we had a spare million pounds in the bank we’d move here.’