I am delighted to welcome back to the blog
Anne ~ welcome back to Jaffareadstoo...
Jo has suggested I write about what is so special about Guernsey that I've already written four books based on the island. Here goes…
It's a beautiful island only a few miles from the French coast although it's British. Not very big – seven miles by five – and can be driven around in about an hour and a half, Guernsey has a certain mystique, a feeling of separateness that epitomises islands. Its fascinating history has been traced back to Neolithic times, with old burial mounds and menhirs dotted around the island. As someone who studied history for my degree, it was wonderful to spend time in a place embodying centuries of British history. Initially Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were Norman French, belonging at one time to William the Conqueror; hence the strong French influence found to this day. The islands passed into British hands some few hundred years later but the local dialect, or patois, is Guernsey-French and I never did manage to understand it!
I arrived, with my three children in tow, in 1988, to set up a residential natural health centre, which promptly fell through weeks later. At the time I was a psychotherapist and set up my own practice to keep a roof over our heads. A year earlier I had fallen in love with both the island and the people and was determined to live there, whatever the cost. Guernsey has such beautiful sandy beaches, cliff walks, winding lanes and a pretty 'capital' in St Peter Port that it proved irresistible. The thousands of tourists who visit each year, from all over Europe, are testament to its many attractions.
St Peter Port is a must for visitors, having something for everyone. There are narrow cobbled streets – some a little steep, I admit! – full of great shops, cafés and restaurants, with gorgeous views over the harbour and neighbouring islands of Herm and Sark. I'm sure you've all heard of Les Miserables? Well, Victor Hugo finished the book and wrote others while in exile from France, living in St Peter Port. His house is exactly as it was back in the nineteenth century. All the beaches are lovely but my favourites are Vazon and L'Ancresse. And if you do go over, don't miss Herm☺ It's a tiny island, only one mile by a mile and a half, and takes about 15 minutes by ferry from St Peter Port and has an atmosphere all of its own. Readers of my books may notice how much I love it! There are no cars or bikes and everyone walks around at their own pace. A place to unwind and, for some reason, always seems to enjoy better weather than Guernsey. I was over in June and spent a super day there, even managing to fit in a book-signing as I sat in the sun☺
Although I left Guernsey some years ago, returning reluctantly to England, I go back at least once a year and this last time I found it extra hard to leave. My older son still lives there and I have some lovely friends to catch up with, making my visits fly by. And, of course, I need to fit in research for my novels. In June, when I launched my latest book, The Family Divided, I went around the island to decide where to site the action for my next, Echoes of Time. Not having a car, I hopped on a bus which took me around the complete coast in an hour and a half and it cost me £1! An absolute bargain…
Huge thanks to Anne for sharing her love of Guernsey and for bringing the place and its people so gloriously alive in The Guernsey Novels.