July felt incredibly busy and I will freely admit that I heaved an enormous sigh of relief when school finished for the summer. The thing that kept me going throughout the never-ending tiredness and inability to switch off my brain was the knowledge that as soon as the term was over we’d be escaping for a week to visit somewhere we’ve never been before: Jersey in the Channel Islands.
We’d been looking forward to it for months – ever since we booked it impulsively during a particularly cold and damp week back in January. I researched extensively all the different places we could explore and things we could do while we were there, and we talked endlessly about what we were most looking forward to, coming up with a ‘bucket list’ of definites and maybes.
I booked our accommodation though Freedom Holidays online, and the whole process was really easy. We’ve always preferred self-catering to hotels and there are plenty of varied options for many different kinds of gorgeous properties all over the island. For somewhere so small (Jersey is only 9 miles by 5 miles) there is absolutely loads of choice.
We narrowed it down to a shortlist of three and in the end the vote was unanimous. We settled on Woodland Barn – a converted barn right in the centre of the island on Le Mont Cochon , which meant that nowhere was more than a 20 minute drive away. The things that really swung it in it’s favour though were the adventure playground in the garden, the promise of red squirrels visiting every morning and a private hot tub!
I’ll go into more detail about our flights and everything we got up to while we were in Jersey in some separate blog posts. For this one I really wanted to focus on where we stayed as it really was so very lovely.
We weren’t supposed to be able to check-in to our accommodation until 2pm, but at quarter to one while we were having some lunch in St. Helier I got a phone call (which I missed because my phone was in my bag and I didn’t hear it!) and then a text from Andrew, who owns Woodland Barn, saying that it would be ready from 1 o’clock. As we’d been up since 3am and our flight had been delayed, we were thrilled that we could get in early so we headed straight over and Andrew met us at the front door.
He gave us a quick tour and then spent a bit of time showing me on a map where the nearest supermarkets and parks were, and which were the best beaches to visit. Then he left us to settle in. I really wish I was further into my blogging journey than I currently am, because I’d have taken a little video tour to show you all what Woodland Barn was like inside. Sadly though I’m not quite there yet, so I’ll have to rely on my words instead this time. I didn’t even get to take any photos as all our luggage immediately ended up spread out throughout the house and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to see that kind of mess!
On the ground floor there was a huge, well-equipped, farmhouse-style kitchen with a utility room leading off of it. The kitchen also housed a dining table which is where we tended to eat our meals as it had a relaxed feel to it. There was a separate, more formal, dining room as well but we used that to store the girls ‘entertainment’ – reading books, felt tip pens/coloured pencils/paper/colouring books, Nintendo DSs etc – as well as all the maps and leaflets I picked up from the Tourist Information Office and our backpacks. The lounge was lovely with a big TV (though we hardly watched anything on it) and doors leading out to the beautiful garden. Finally there was also a downstairs toilet and a ‘snug’ – a little room with a small sofa which the girls immediately claimed as their own private ‘reading room’! They loved going in there with a pile of books or a board game and we wouldn’t see them for ages.
Upstairs there was a family bathroom, two twin rooms (one could be turned into a double and the other was a single bed with a truckle) and an ENORMOUS master bedroom with a large ensuite. Woodland Barn sleeps 6 adults plus space for a baby or extra child, so there was plenty of space for the five of us.
The whole place was super-clean and there was a welcome pack of milk, butter, orange juice, a loaf of bread and a bottle of white wine waiting for us when we arrived. Beach towels (as well as normal bathroom towels and bed linen) were also provided, which really helped in terms of saving weight in our suitcases on the plane. It’s the little things like this that make settling in feel so much easier – it had a real home from home feel and straight away I felt comfortable and relaxed knowing that this was to be our home for the week.
One thing I really loved was how well children of all ages were catered for – there were stacks of toys for them to play with. Cuddly toys, toys for toddlers, cars, an enormous wooden train set that the girls spent hours setting up in the lounge and then played with every single day, board games (Monopoly was a big hit!), a small selection of books and DVDs… All of them were in great condition too.
Best of all though was the beautiful garden. There was loads of space for the girls to run around in, an awesome climbing frame (swings, slide, small climbing wall and ‘trapeze’ swing with a picnic table underneath), a sandpit and a shed that was full to the brim with outdoor toys for them to play with – a trampoline, ride-on toys, footballs (including a decent sized goal), a bike, a scooter and even a wooden kitchen with all the accessories. I think all three girls thought all their Christmases and birthdays had come at once when we opened the door and they peered inside! They went out to play as early as we would let them most mornings and I think they’d have stayed out there all day if we didn’t drag them out to explore the island.
The garden also housed a table and chairs with a parasol for al fresco dining (we tried one lunchtime but attracted lots of wasps so we retreated indoors) and the all important hot tub, which was big enough for all of us and a really rather wonderful luxury feature that we took full advantage of.
We’ve already said that we’ll definitely be going back to Jersey at some point so we can see the bits that we didn’t quite manage to make our way round, and I have no doubt that we’ll be booking to stay at Woodland Barn again – it was perfect for us and had everything we needed and more.
Please note: nobody has asked (or paid!) me to write this post and all thoughts, images, feelings, ideas and opinions are my own. We genuinely loved our time at Woodland Barn and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone else wanting to visit Jersey.