Isle of Sark

We set off to Sark, not really sure what I was going to find, but what a lovely surprise when we arrived after a short flight from Gatwick to Guernsey, then a 50-minute ferry to Sark.

I did know there were no cars, just tractors, 96 of them, bikes, and the occasional electric trike. The population is about 600 come or go a few, but what a peaceful, charming place.

It does take a few minutes to adjust to the fact that you have to bike or walk anywhere. The bike shop is very helpful, just remember to lock them up! No the don’t get stolen, then get borrowed, so I’m told…

I was staying at the Stocks hotel about 5 minutes from the main street, if you can call it that. Downhill through the meadow is a quiet dusty track, past a couple of shops, a bakery and a restaurant. A fabulous makeover for a beautiful house, the current owners have spent a lot of money renovating the hotel. Its many rooms are nicely decorated, the bistro and restaurants offer modern up to date food (new chef Byron has only been at the helm for a few weeks) and a swimming pool complete with a water slide for the kids.

The grounds are small, but well looked after, the staff charming, polite if slightly nervous.

Breakfast has a good offering, from the full works to woodland mushrooms on toast. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to eat dinner, just a light lunch or local brill with a few slightly undercooked vegetables. I did have a Ploughman’s the size of 2 main courses that included 3 kinds of cheese, fish mousse, bread, pickles, fruit, all very nice. Paul, the manager and part-owner, Byron the chef and all the staff, could not have been more helpful, so my thanks to them, nothing was a problem. We filmed the last piece to camera with some of the people I had met.

We then spent hours filming pieces to camera, falling off bikes, and eating some great food.

Two delicious meals at Tides Bistro in the main avenue, including Risotto Nero with squid and scallops and calves liver, not a combination I have cooked, but worked well apart from the raw cabbage sprinkled over.

And our final meal at the Aval du Creux hotel, very smart and brand new. I ate scallops and black pudding, then lobster and herbs, finishing with a very light cheesecake. Again, nicely cooked and presented well with charming staff.

Julie from the tourist board met us as 3 tractors and took all our bags, then off for a quick lunch at The bistro (Julie’s sister) of scallops and Chorizo, very good indeed, impeccable scallops and lovely coffee.

My thanks also go to John, Bo (Jack Russel) Graham for taking us fishing for scallops and jumping back into the water to film some underwater shots. He also made us ceviche of bass and scallops on the boat on the way back to harbour, how wonderfully fresh.

Andrew for his Bean Jar, recipe below, a simple Sark dish of haricot beans, pork shoulder or trotter, bay leaves, onion and water, then cooked for 10 -12 hours, how delicious it was. Elsie cooked me a Gache Melee Bramley apple suet cake with thick unpasteurised island cream; how delicious it was. Alex and Helen (owners of the Stocks) kindly lent us their house, orchard, and garden to film these unusual Sark dishes.

Zoe, the secretary at the Autumn fair, let us film the awards being presented and then let me taste many cakes, scones and biscuits.

I discovered that driver Phillip and George, who loves vanilla ice cream, found the lovely horse and let us film it around the island. His patience was amazing.

I cooked John’s Sark scallops with Bramley apple sauce and black pudding for my guests to say thank you, all washed down with Jim’s local ginger wine.

What gem of a place, and I implore you to take the short trip from Guernsey and spend a night or two here. It’s worth it just for the fact that there are no cars, no street lights, and the tractors stop between the hours of 10 pm to 6 am. Apart from the doctor!!

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