Suddenly, Jersey is on Oxfordshire’s doorstep. From Oxford, you simply take the excellent shuttle service to the airport at Kidlington (now calling itself London Oxford Airport) and take off for the warmest place in the British isles.

The trip on the daily scheduled service is reminiscent of an earlier age of flying. And it’s a fun thing to do, too.

The courteous service, the smallness of scale, and the sense of adventure, seems a million miles away from the hell that is all too often what modern travel resembles. Even walking across the tarmac to the toy-like plane, rather than processing along endless passages on a moving floor, is fun, romantic even. And all for £55 each way.

And the first glimpse I caught of Jersey, peering down from the 19 seater Jetstream 31, convinced me that here was a place I could quickly get to know and love.

It was of a sandy beach at the foot of granite cliffs, bordering a cove on the island's northern coast, with just one small boat anchored in it. And nearby were comfortable looking farmhouses set in lush orchards and approached by driveways and paths lined with bright flowers which, I later discovered, were hydrangeas.

It got better too. For the temperature was noticeably warmer than in Oxfordshire when I got off the plane.

Little wonder early potatoes come from here and no need for that jumper (or jersey, named after the island's former knitting industry) that I had packed.

But this small island is also a peculiar place — nine miles from east to west and five from north to south — that lies just 12 miles off the French coast. Indeed, the title of a book I saw for sale at St Helier airport, Not Quite British, seemed apt.

For all tourist information notices are in both English and French, and most place-names are French-sounding. In addition, about two per cent of the 98,000 population still habitually speak Jèrriais, or Jersey French, largely derived from the old Norman French.

The island's official status within the British Isles is as a "Peculiar of the English Crown."

In truth it is not English at all because, together with the other Channel Islands (namely Alderney, Sark, and Guernsey) it is part of the old Duchy of Normandy which William the Conqueror held before invading England in 1066; and which, for the most part, his descendant King John lost in 1204.

Famously this strange status, both part of Britain and yet not part of it, works in Jersey's favour as an offshore tax haven; and the very air seems to crackle with money like a Switzerland on sea.

The top income tax rate here is just 20 per cent which, along with various other concessions, makes the place a magnate for the rich and super-rich.

Banks, investment funds, accountants and lawyers on the island now manage more than £400bn and the financial services sector accounts for 26 per cent of employment according to the 2011 census.

But don't let that put you off. An abundance of smart cars here there might be, but the island is far from being stuffy or (as seems to be widely believed), full of pensioners. Indeed, everywhere I went there were young people doing such sports as kayaking or surfing, to name but two.

All in all it is a good place for an active holiday. Those cliffs I saw from the air, for instance, are surmounted by a coastal footpath (48 miles round the island) that is popular with walkers. And holiday lets, sometimes in spectacular heritage buildings, are available at surprisingly reasonable prices.

But a more leisurely (and more expensive) way of life is available here too with the island's food starring as a major attraction.

I stayed in the five star Grand Jersey Hotel, in St Helier, where prices range from £215-£350 a night for a double room. There, in the Michelin starred Tassili restaurant, I ate the best dinner that I have ever had in my life I am no foodie so I will not elaborate too much, but suffice to say that the Jersey sole mineure, scallops and clams, sea vegetables, shellfish mayo, and sustainable caviar seemed to capture the very essence of the sea itself which, as it happened, was visible through the restaurant window.

Sadly though, such a meal, including the apple pudding, and the wine, would set you back £112.

I had worked up an appetite by walking across the beach in front of the hotel to the Elizabeth Castle. It dates back to 1600-1604 when Sir Walter Raleigh was the island's governor.

Here I learned that Edward Hyde, later Lord Clarendon, had stayed with the future Charles II in 1646. He wrote most of his History of the Rebellion here, royalties from which paid for the Clarendon Building in Oxford’s Broad Street.

Hyde stayed on Jersey during the English Civil War, but there is no lack of evidence on the island of a war nearer to our own time, the Second World War when the Germans occupied it from 1940-45. Most dramatic are the tunnels, dug largely by slave labourers from Eastern Europe, to make an underground hospital.

Those were hungry years indeed for islanders. But for all its varied history the place has a happy atmosphere, particularly in August when the annual Battle of Flowers takes place.

Each year since 1902 floats have been elaborately decorated with flowers, mainly hydrangeas, and paraded through the streets of St Helier. It is called a “Battle” because in earlier times people destroyed the floats and threw the flowers at each other.

As for the tax concessions, I discovered that any old drinker can benefit from those. At the airport on the way back I found the cheapest Duty Free I have come across (£10 for a litre of spirits) Having made the acquaintance of Jersey, I shall certainly be going back soon.

Contact: Grand Jersey Hotel: 01534 722307, Manx 2: 0871 200 0440