We had a really lovely time in Guernsey in 2014 so when the Tourist Board brochure came through Mark started looking at the website for the Granary, where we stayed last time. The owners had asked if they could use some of my photos – which I was delighted to share – and one of the ones they had used was of Mark sitting reading on the swing seat beside the reservoir. One look at that photo and Mark decided that not only did he want to go back, but he wanted to take his mum and dad to show them the beautiful island of Guernsey too.
Of course when we booked we had no idea Mark would be so ill with pneumonia before we went. He managed really well but was not up to doing as much as we did last year…so no day trip to Herm this time round. All the same, it was a lovely week…here’s a whistle stop tour!
We arrived at the Granary only a wee bit later than planned and were greeted with our names on the welcome board (and ducks on the wall) – never tire of the view of the terrace, garden and Guernsey National Trust watermill from our apartment. All you can hear is bird song and the odd duck and goose, the occasional prop plane overhead and a horse and rider every now and then…oh and the sound of running water from the reservoir.
Our first task was to walk up to St Peter’s Food Store to stock up on goodies (also food and flowers available from the numerous ‘hedge veg’ stalls). The butcher in the food store spotted my camera and asked if I had seen the poppy field across the road…wow, it was gorgeous; set off perfectly by the white chapel beside it.
On any UK holiday we have a bit of a tradition of fish and chips on our first night so the four of us set off along the green lanes only to be distracted by the amazing orchid fields. Last time we were in Guernsey we were a month later and the wild orchids were over, but this visit they were in full bloom!
Then along the beach to the fish and chip shop; I was delighted to find they had salt and pepper squid on as a special. The others were defeated by the portion size…never-ending fish and chips. We reckoned everyone else was in watching the Cup Final so they gave us extra.
Dusk was drawing in as wended our weary way back to the apartment and as we came through the gate in to the three acre gardens of the Granary, there was a hedgehog right in our path. He was very considerate and stood quite still for me to take a few photos. I was struggling to decide whether I was more excited by the orchids or the hedgehog.
On the Sunday we had a lazy morning enjoying the Guernsey gache (fruit bread), butter and creamy milk left in the flat for us and then wandered down to the bus stop on the coast road. All bus journeys cost £1 each on the island and by getting the 91 the ‘wrong’ way round the island before it arrives in St Peter Port (or Town as it says on the bus timetable) you get a bargain tour of the island. It was a real treat as the driver recognised that most of the passengers were doing the same as us and gave us a brilliant and very funny commentary all the way. He stopped to point out attractions and nice views (and even a front garden full of flowers) and when a dog on the bus gave every impression of having had enough of the bus trip he stopped at Vazon Bay for five minutes so the dog could have a run around and the passengers could get off the bus to take photos…and he counted us all back on. It was the best scheduled bus ride ever!
When we got to Town, we had a bite to eat and headed for Hauteville House; Victor Hugo’s house while he was in exile in Guernsey. Oh my word – the house was amazing! Our guide was brilliant and I was embarrassed about how little I knew about Victor Hugo…an amazing man and so ahead of his time. Our holiday apartment had broadband so I downloaded his memoirs as soon as we got back.
Waiting for the bus home we enjoyed the view of the harbour and Castle Cornet.
After dinner Mark and I walked up to ‘the top of the world’ to watch the sunset. It’s a lovely wildlife area of bracken and foxgloves with a steep path and lots of steps up to a fantastic view of the coast.
Normally I prefer sunrise to sunset, as there are generally fewer people around but this time of year sunrise is horribly early and where we were staying faced West and there was only the two of us there, so we got to enjoy several lovely sunsets over the week.
The next morning I took an early walk (although not at sunrise!) to remind myself of how lovely the Granary and its grounds are.
Since our last visit I have treated myself to a set of macro filters and enjoyed playing with the 10x filter on the flowers on the terrace and in the wall between the terrace and the lane. You have to get very close to your subject (about 3 to 4 cm!) and I have to be careful not to fall over steps or bash the camera in to the wall.
When the others were up and about we walked down to the coast again but turned the other way and headed towards Fort Grey (and the Guernsey Pearl for breakfast). Of course, this meant passing the orchid fields again…
Breakfast at the Guernsey Pearl was lovely, but ill timed as a coach party got there just before us…
The paths were lined with bright yellow wildflowers and vibrant succulents (aloes?). After breakfast we walked further along the coast to the Imperial Hotel in an attempt to walk off our full English breakfasts.
Heading back ‘home’ and oh look, we haven’t been in to that paticular orchid field yet!
Tuesday was our only bad weather day. It drizzled so we decided to go back in to town and explore Castle Cornet and its five museums and collection of gardens (not much time in the gardens, truth be known). We arrived just as they fired the mid-day canon – not a welcome we get everywhere we go!
The ducks in the Granary grounds quickly became a big part of the week. I am so sorry Jonathan and Aileen, we didn’t initially spot the warning in the welcome folder not to feed the ducks except by the Summer house…! As soon as we saw it Sue didn’t feed them any more, but we soon understood the reason for the warning…the ducks set up camp outside the flat, wandered in to the hallway if we left the door open and even tapped on the door with their beaks to be given food. We shooed them away whenever we saw them after that.
Wednesday woke blue and sunny so I took some more photos while the others snoozed.
Once well breakfasted we got the bus to Sausmarez Manor. Sigh…so lovely. We thought we couldn’t possibly have as good a guide around the house as we had last visit, but he was really good too – so enthusiastic. A light lunch between the house tour and a gentle stroll around the subtropical gardens and sculpture trail and tea and cake afterwards!
We quickly spotted the ducks and ducklings but thought the ‘turtles’ were sculptures…until Mark saw one move its head! It turned out they were terrapins. Mark’s mum, another Sue, left her beloved tortoise Tommy-Fred with our friends while we were away and was delighted to find one of the terrapins on the path beside her. Mark suggested she shouldn’t stroke it’s head as it is not used to people the way Tommy-Fred is…he was right; he popped his head straight in to his shell.
We got the bus back to the food store and, as the sun was shining, I took a few more photos of the poppy field.
I also took a little detour on the way back to the apartment, to see the goats in the goat farm.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Guernsey and some of the buildings still bear their victory marks.
On the Thursday we went back to Town for a potter around and to enjoy Candie Gardens. Mark and I left Sue and Don to go shopping while we went to see the Guernsey Tapestry. Photography was not allowed but you can see it on their website – each of the ten tapestries covered 100 years of Guernsey history.
We had intended to go to Herm and had warned Sue that everyone gets sunburnt on Herm and persuaded her to get herself a sunhat. She didn’t want to wear it while we were out, as we didn’t go to Herm in the end, but needed proof that she had at least donned it…briefly.
After a cup of tea I wanted to go to the Silbe Nature Reserve, which is just a couple of minutes walk from where we were staying. Mark and Sue came with me. Lovely cool dappled light.
Walking back, Mark and Sue were looking over the wall for geese and ducks and then Mark spotted someone sitting below them…Sue couldn’t resist a closer look.
That evening I went off to see what wildlife I could find in the gardens…lots of bees and butterflies and I spotted a rabbit by the Summer house. I really wanted to see a hedgehog again, as they are so rare these days, and thought I would have to make do with taking photos of the ducklings. I must have been standing very still for quite some time and when I turned round the hedgehog was right next to me!
After the main garden I went to the top of the world, taking photos of sunbeams as I went, and right at the top was a little grey and white cat. At first the cat ran away from me, but soon decided I was not a threat and started rolling around on the path in the way cats do.
On our last day we decided to stay local and just wander down to Fort Grey.
Very impressed with the only person we saw brave enough to swim!
Fort Grey houses a shipwrecks museum and has great views, including a view of the Guernset Pearl!
After lunch, Sue didn’t want to end the holiday without a paddle in the sea, while Don and I took photos and Mark carried Sue’s handbag (really suits him, don’t you think?)
Back to the Granary where I sat by the Summer house and read my book, Don took photos and Mark and his mum went to buy something for tea. Then I took photos of the bees and butterflies on the valerium outside the apartment. Last visit I saw a hummingbird hawk moth but hadn’t got a very good photo and hoped to see one again again while the zoom lens was on my camera…
Success! At last I got to see a hummingbird hawk moth…fantastic looking things, looking every bit like a miniature humming bird.
All too soon it was time to come home…it was good to collect the cats from the cattery though and settle back in to our house in Bath.