Sharing the secret of Sark

25 Aug

With many of us heading over to Sark for a staycation, the Bailiwick Staycation Club caught up with Sark resident Pippa Donovan who shares her secrets on how to have the best visit to beautiful Sark - and why, once you’ve tasted a Sark cream tea, nothing else will come close.

Can you tell us a little about you?

I grew up in Sark and at the age of 23 moved away for 6 years but recently returned to the island with my little family. I work from home remotely for the local telecoms company. My parents also live on Sark, running a farm and a guesthouse so we all muck in with everything from emails and changeovers to sowing seeds and ploughing. I manage a small self-catering apartment and juggle several volunteering roles that include being a part of Sark's Fire and Rescue Service, a member of the Sark Community Blooms steering group and secretary for the Sark Sports Club - so where I can, I help out with sports as part of Sark School's fantastic enrichment plan.

Pippa Donovan Pippa Donovan

 What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?

The summer is a busy one for me as I will usually have a ‘change-over’ for my cottage apartment. I’ll be washing, cleaning and preparing the apartment for new guests after bidding a fond farewell to others. When I finish there’s nothing better for the rest of the weekend than practicing what I preach to my guests and we head with friends to Grand Greve for a swim and beach rounders in the sunset whilst the Dads tend to the BBQ.

For our ‘date nights’ my husband and I enjoy going to Stocks Hotel; sitting in the Smugglers Bar with a cocktail after a delicious dinner in a relaxed atmosphere out on the terrace is perfect - made even better with a walk home under Sark’s incredible stunning dark sky which we never tire of.

Dark Sky Dark Sky

What would be your top tips for visitors?

  1. Shoes! A comfortable, sturdy pair of shoes for our roads and cliff paths as well as beach shoes in the form of jellies or flip-flops. Also, a wind/shower proof jacket is a must because the sea breeze can be chilly and being an island we can sometimes experience up to a couple of seasons in a day!
  2. Take a 2 hour carriage trip around the island towards the beginning of your holiday as this will help you get your bearings and enable you to explore and plan your daily adventures more confidently.
  3. Always check the tide table before planning your day trip to a beach or pool; the tidal range on the island can mean some beaches are best accessed at low tide, and others are at their best closer to high tide. Derrible Bay is best to go to from half tide falling to low whereas Port du Moulin is great closer to high tide. Dixcart Bay is great for any tide, and a swim in the Creux Harbour is gorgeous during the 2 hours closest to high tide. I’d suggest asking your accommodation host for tips and advice about which beaches to go to when you’re here.
  4. Make a pact with your phone to only use it as a camera. I believe that there’s nothing more important when you’re on holiday here than to stop what, for many, seems to be a constant ‘need’ to be connected to mobile devices for fear of missing out. The truth is that you’ll miss out if you spend your time on our beautiful island with your face in your social feed… be mindful, take time to yourself and absorb everything that’s good for your mind, body and soul; fresh sea air, fresh local food, and flora and fauna in a safe, welcoming, friendly community. Share the secret of Sark and your amazing holiday photos when you return home relaxed and refreshed from your island escape.
Creux Harbour Creux Harbour

What’s your favourite local dish and drink?

I love food! In Sark I think many of us do take for granted how close we are to fresh, healthy, great tasting food.

For the meat eaters amongst you, personally I think that David Curtis’s Sark beef and local vegetables can’t be beaten… I’m slightly biased though as he’s my Dad, but there are many other locals who will tell you how tasty it is! If you prefer lamb to beef, Dave Scott’s Sark Lamb is sold at Mon Plaisir, one of our two grocery stores, and it’s wonderful. Not to forget the Sark pigs; both the grocery shops sell hand-reared pork and Sark’s resident butcher, Vince, makes yummy sausages that taste amazing on your BBQ.

We’re spoilt for choice with seafood too; a whole fresh lobster caught by Sark born fisherman Jordan De Carteret is truly a Sark delicacy. You’ll find Sark lobster salad on the menu at AJs Café or Fleur du Jardin Tea-Garden.

If you’re self-catering on the island, you must have freshly picked Sark Crab from ‘Pip’s Pickers’; either in a sandwich to take to the beach or in a fresh linguine for your evening meal. Delicious.

If you’re visiting the island for the day, my advice to help you, your camera and your taste buds get the most out of Sark is to cycle to La Coupee and head into Little Sark.  Explore some of the coastal paths near the Silver Mines and stop off at La Sablonnerie Tea Garden for a Sark Elderflower cordial, homemade scones topped with Little Sark butter, their homemade jam and Little Sark cream. You will remember that taste forever and no other cream tea you have will be quite as good.

You don’t have to visit a café, restaurant or hotel to get a taste of Sark; if you pass any of the honesty ‘hedge boxes’ on your Sark travels you can buy Sark Eggs that have the most sunny yolks you’ve ever seen, or choose from a selection of homemade jam and preserves to take home - perfect as a ‘thank you’ gift for your dog-sitter.

In terms of drink, I would recommend visiting Stocks Hotel as they have an incredible selection of fine wines, as well as some more unusual and unique to Sark. If you’re not into vino, you can still get a taste for Sark by ordering a Sark Sloe Gin (at least 3 years old) or an impressive local ale from the Sark brewery.

The truth is that there’s still so much I haven’t mentioned so please, I urge you to ask about the food on the menu, where it’s from and how it’s cooked; and choose dishes with local produce because your taste buds won’t be disappointed.

Cheers and Bon appetite! 

Sark Lobster Sark Lobster

What is unmissable during a visit to Sark?

When you arrive on Sark, one of the things I would suggest doing is visiting the lovely team in the Sark Tourism Office to ask them to find out, based on the weather forecast, when the best time for you to visit the Sark Astronomy Society (SaStros) Observatory, and they will give you the information you require. Our sky is free from light pollution so this really enables you to see so much; a truly amazing evening that you won’t forget.

Usually on holiday you would expect a lie-in, though a Sark sunrise is the one thing that I urge you to get up in time for! Sitting on the headland of La Valette campsite near the Lighthouse with the sounds of seabirds waking others on the cliffs below is simply stunning. 

At some point during your Sark holiday, please head to the serene Seigneurie Gardens; spend your time being mindful and really immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the gardens. Take a book with you, choose a bench and settle down to one of the most relaxing reads you’ll have. Alternatively, just sit, watch and listen… 

For the perfect sunset recipe take a bottle of wine, some snacks and a blanket in your rucksack and head to Pilcher Monument.

If you’re adventurous, a swim in Venus Pool, or for the super-adventurous, find Adonis Pool for a swim (but I wouldn’t recommend with children under 12yrs). Top tip: Venus Pool is only accessible for around 2 hours around low tide so be sure to find out the best time to go during your holiday.

Lastly, a boat trip on Non Pareil around the island with son and father Morgan and George Guille enables you to experience Sark from the sea, which I would argue is even more breath-taking as on land. You’ll have the chance to get up close with our resident dolphins, puffins (during their breeding season), rare seabirds and explore the many caves scattered along our 42 mile coastline – all whilst hearing all about the islands’ fascinating history and what it’s been like to live here through the decades.

If you’re lucky enough that high-tide falls in the morning, you must swim in the Creux harbour… and of course reward yourself with coffee and one of Mini’s homemade delights at the Harbour Café afterwards.

Thank you to Pippa for sharing her Sark secrets! If you are visiting the Island soon, please share your staycation with us, we’d love to hear about it #StaycationClub

To find out more about Sark visit http://www.sark.co.uk/

La Seigneurie Gardens La Seigneurie Gardens