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One hundred things to do in guernsey when the rest of the world has gone to sh*t! No.11 The Children’s bathing pool, La Valette

A bit choppy this morning!

This morning we ventured out into the storm for a swim at La Valette. It was divine! Just as it had started to rain it was time to get out. The waves were pretty raucous and it was lovely to pootle about in the guarded pool.

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100 things things to do in Guernsey when the Rest of the World has gone to Sh*t! No.6 Let get political, political! Let’s get very political.

“The place where the story happened was a world on the back of four elephants perched on the shell of a giant turtle. That’s the advantage of space. It’s big enough to hold practically anything, and so, eventually, it does.
People think that it is strange to have a turtle ten thousand miles long and an elephant more than two thousand miles tall, which just shows that the human brain is ill-adapted for thinking and was probably originally designed for cooling the blood. It believes mere size is amazing.
There’s nothing amazing about size. Turtles are amazing, and elephants are quite astonishing. But the fact that there’s a big turtle is far less amazing than the fact that there is a turtle anywhere.”

I have often been suspicious that Guernsey exists as a world on the back of four elephants perched on the shell of a giant turtle. We have covid activity afoot, perhaps somebody has flouted isolation on return from a faraway land by nipping to the shops to buy a pint of milk and a packet of B&H? Who knows, but this all happened within a turtles fart of our Sir Lord and Saviour Gavin St Pier being toppled from the lofty heights of power by “Everybody’s Dad” (seemingly, although that sounds like a some kind of dapper nineties indie man-band, time will tell). Life is strange in Guernsey at the best of worst times. Deputy Ferbrache has taken the wheel for now. We raise our tea mugs in the mornings with a smile as we think about the faces who fell, Mother Mary, and Matt the Milk. I wonder now they are doing nothing, no longer powerful figures in the village (by village, I mean the Island of Guernsey). Politican watching is a favourite sport, and if you listen close enough to the local rumour mill (meat draws are hot beds of gossip) you can learn to speculate wild rumours of your own doing! Love local life! Live, gossip, love! I imagine that Terry Pratchett could have told the story of Saint Gav’s road to the backbench better than me. Hopefully this new assembly will not suffer humiliation at the hands of the electorate, or each other, before their time is up. And, hopefully they remind each other that bullying is not actually a style of leadership.

#livegossiplove #lovelifelocal #dontgoalllordofthefliesthistermplease

Chocolate tofu cheesecake

Inspired, as ever, by other people this looks blooming delicious! Now that the weather has turned, and the clocks are changing, this could just be what we need this weekend. Yes!


How do you make a “healthy” dessert that doesn’t look or taste healthy?  Make this vegan chocolate cheesecake with silken tofu.  EASY.

Ok ok, there’s plenty of chocolate in here but when you hold that up against the silken tofu (all that protein!), the dates (so fibrous!), the almonds (hello vitamin E!) and the hemp milk (oh heyyyyyy calcium!) you’d be hard pressed to find a healthier cheesecake in a non-vegan recipe.  But we don’t do non-vegan around these parts, do we?

untitled-3241 *wipes drool off chin*

And the ridiculous thing is, it tastes delicious.  Don’t be put off by the tofu – it really doesn’t taste like it.  I had a mild panic attack when I put the the silken tofu in the blender without any of the other ingredients and gave it a whizz, as it smelled so much like tofu.  No one wants to eat cake that tastes…

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Le Creux Mahie is a place of legendary tales: a smuggler’s haunt, secret passages and a haunt of elves and fairies! An underground passage is said to lead from the cave to Saint Saviour’s church, and according to folklore it contains a table, plates and mugs all made from stone and laid ready for a great feast (or, a post Barbie-Bestival brunch! Yes!). A band of robbers are also said to have lived in the cave, and made forays into neighbouring farmland to steal cattle. What can be said with more certainty is that the cave was used by smugglers, as recently as the end of the last century. Thomas Picot, the rector of Torteval and Forest parishes in the middle of the 17th century, used it as a place of meditation until his unorthodox methods led to his dismissal.”

Words and map are taken from the ‘Guernsey Coastal Walks and Scrambles’ guide

“Mahie’s cave is the largest in Guernsey, being nearly 50 yards in length and up to 60 feet high. It used to be called Le Creux Robilliard, named after the family that owned the cliff land above it… It can be accessed from the Torteval Post Office. Take the road towards the sewage plant (just around the bend). After a short distance take the unsurfaced lane on the left to a small car park. Head right along the cliff path to a fence, then follow the track behind this down a ridge and then back left. The cave can be seen at the foot of the cliff. There have been large rockfalls in the past, so don’t hang around the entrance admiring the view!”

A set of neat steps lead under the narrow entrance (the relics of the guided tours which took place in Victorian times). Once inside the cave we are relatively safe from rockfall. At the back of the cave is the talus slope and near the top of this are several tunnels through the blocks which are fun to explore. One of the has a particularly memorable tight squeeze, the nearest thing Guernsey has to pot holing! Old clothes are essential for exploring the cave. The guides illuminated the caves with torches made from dried furze, and the soot is still grimed everywhere. “

If the tide is low enough there is a pleasant scrambling east towards Les Ecrilleurs, or west a short distance towards Les Tielles. Here, if there is a swell and the tide is around the halfway mark, the waves create a blow-hole effect as they crash in the undercut rocks.”

There are some articles on the Priaulx Library here:

Just make sure the tide is out!!!

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Chraoniques d’Sarnia, lé paradis à bouanne maugerie

***This is my “unwinning” entry to the 2020 AA Gill writing competition, set up by Flora Gill, for imperfect but dedicated writers who always need a place to go***

At the end and frayed edges of the English Channel there is a granite rock called Guernsey. Priaulx Library records reveal a dark past; spine curdling accounts of burning witches, prosperity from privateering, smuggling and harbouring eccentric exiles, mystical toilers of the sea. Great and terrible things happen on small islands. Invaded and occupied in the summer of 1940 to 1945 by Hitler, most children were evacuated and thousands of islanders remained, who foraged to survive and made ‘potato peel pie’ to combat hunger and starvation. When the tomato farming industry soured to a stale gazpacho halt, the finance industry blossomed and bloomed. The vineries were abandoned, humiliated and heartbroken; now they decay like Mrs Haversham’s wedding breakfast. Discreet offices with black tinted windows are everywhere if you know where to look.

Bean Jar is the official delicacy, all you need is a slow cooker and a ham hock, butter beans, haricot beans, an onion, carrots and a handful of herbs. After midnight, chips cheese and gravy is the unofficial national dish if you have had a pint or ten in the Thomas De La Rue, St Peter Port.

Guernesaise, the local language, haunts the cobbled streets of ‘Town.’ The seafront promenade is lined with eclectic, vibrant restaurants. There is even a restaurant at the bottom of a car park where you can meet the dish of the day if you don’t want to read the menu. But if the universe were to end suddenly, with a “gnab gib”, and the weather was pleasant enough, we would go to have lunch at the Fermain Beach Café.

The island is an untold treasure trove of honest and easy, laid back gastronomy. Sarnia Cherie, gem of the sea, dear Guernsey, sparkles in the sunshine and shimmers, with whimsical alacrity, in the wind. Simplicity is pervasive. Island life is set at a lower pace – a safe contagion for travelers and tourists who stay.

Fermain Bay, Guernsey

There are twenty seven unique beaches on the island. There are marble landings and cobbled jetties, pristine white sand dunes and crystal clear horseshoe bays. Lobster and crab pots are bobbing about everywhere, so are fishing tugs tied up, softly fretting in the high tides to break loose. Hitler’s desperate, and  dissolute, heavily fortified bunkers stand guard.

The Fermain Beach Café operates out of an old ammunition store, hidden at the bottom of a winding, hairpin bend hill. A whooshing wall of pebbles separates the land from the ocean. The bay is a sheltered cove, hidden away and less than a five minute R.I.B ride from town. In earlier times a ferry would take you from ‘Town’ to the bay. A smooth and sandy loophole tower remains beside the wooden picnic tables, now fully restored, its cursed rubies and smuggled gold have been long since lost or stolen. From the water, it looks like a creature conjured out of a Miéville bouillabaisse gouged out a bite of the sea wall during the winter storms. All of the monsters that once inhabited the island are gone but who dares to repair the storm damaged in case the kraken awakes? 

Bel’s gluten free carrot cake

Late on a summer afternoon last year we ventured out of the house without forgetting to take our firstborn with us. Elvis, who was very new to the world, had not yet experienced the divine delights of Bel and Manuela’s beautiful beach cafe. We were haphazard, late, sleep deprived. A long queue had formed, the kitchen had closed to catch up with orders, this information was delicately balanced with the availability of a table and our sleep deprivation, so we decided to stay. There was nowhere else to go. Bereft, with nothing to do but to look out to the ocean, gazing somewhere beyond the gently bobbing dinghies and boats, way out, lost in the sea and old dreams. The summer interlude let us lean into the scenes of sailors and divers emerging from the shoreline, bejewelled with beads of fresh, salty seawater, and teasingly unzipped their wetsuits halfway undone before reaching the kiosk to order chips and beers. Clear waterproof wallets, satellite phones, silver coins, and stolen rubies were tied to their sun kissed ankles for the watery commute to shore. Life envy was very much in full flow that afternoon. I had almost half forgotten about the tyranny of motherhood. Our little king snoozed beautifully through these easy scenes. The beers that sailed past our picnic table  and glistened fifty shades of gold, were a delicious tease. The chips could easily have been dipped in honey, smothered in local Guernsey butter and made to walk the plank like rogue dominoes into a scene from a Pirate themed Busby Berkeley movie, of spinning hot vats of glorious oil before enduring a vaudeville finale of salt and vinegar.

I am a civil servant in Guernsey and everybody calls our headquarters, ‘The Custard Castle.’ By that definition I am just a clown imitating life, waiting for a moment in time to join a queue to order food. Yes! That’s what island life is all about, simplicity. “Tànt mouoïns qu’nou broule la vie, tànt pus qué nou peut en baïllier pour bagoulaï” ( – the less we complicate life the more we can devote as much of it as we can to idle tittle tattle gossip). I’m not a local born Sarnian so I can say what I like. Every place to go for lunch is an opportunity to crowd scan and inhale the scent of a scandalous affair and island notoriety. Everybody knows everybody else’s business. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle with heady tinctures of fear and delight when I bump into somebody that knows mine. Guernsey isn’t everybody’s coupaïe d’Tée! 

Fermain Bay via the cliff paths

At the horizon it was all cornflower blue skies, the trees that surround the bay prevent the sun’s warmth from penetrating the water. The shimmering stillness of the bay was in glorious harmony with the busy undertow. We had ordered and just as the plates arrived, on cue, Elvis woke up to be cuddled and entertained. My Lulu Guinness looking salmon salad did not disappoint. Delicious at every bite, sumptuous and divine. A confession, it’s what I always order. It looks like a handbag and tastes amazing, every time, every bite. I have done a lot of lulu salmon salad in my time, but I can control it. Quit your holiday elsewhere. Hand in your reservations. Resign all hope at finding anywhere that can do delicious, divine and simple with honest elegance and grace. Enjoy the queue. 

The “Lulu” salmon salad
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Herm Island

Herm Island, July 2020

End systemic racism.

Call it.

Say it.

Show it.

Tell it.

Grab it and shake it.

Move it and make it shift.

Culture is our collective creation. Take responsibility. Be accountable.

Fight the power!

Lockdown life

Port Soif
Peachy bum bum in the greenhouse
Raw Store delivery divinity
WhatsApp banter about the crimson jiiihad
Intermittent fasting (intermittent eating like a pig)
Fermain Bay