Thursday, December 10, 2009

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY

Mary Ann Shafer & Annie Barrows best seller.

Marla’s Delta Gamma book club read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.” The book about the Isle of Guernsey’s occupation under the Nazis in World War II, was read by over a million people in the U.S. Guernsey holds a special place in my heart as my sister lived there for over 34 years. How my sister came to Guernsey could almost be the subject of a romance novel. She married her pen pal! Marla and I visited Pat and her family over 25 times. Guernsey remains at the top on my Favorite Places list. Please join me as we explore this unique place.

Map of the Isle of Guernsey.

The Channel Islands comprise the crown dependencies of the bailiwicks of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Sark. The island was first settled by Neolithic farmers in the prehistoric era. It has been governed by the English, the French, privateers, and occupied by Germany during World War II. Today, Guernsey is a wonderful place to enjoy a holiday. Visitors arrive from England by Flybe Airlines, Blue Islands Airlines, or on the 20 minute flight from Jersey on Aurigny Airlines.

Turn of the century postcard of Saint-Peter Port.

Saint-Peter Port is Guernsey’s bustling main city. The postcard above shows Castle Cornet built in the mid 13th century to protect the Guernsey’s main anchorage.

Saint-Peter Port buildings.

A Nazi band marching in the old quarter of Saint Peter Port during World War II.

The old quarter is quite beautiful during the Christmas holidays. Shoppers and tourists alike walk the quaint lanes, shopping, connecting with friends, stopping for a pint, or having tea. Jewelry shops offer good values on luxury goods as purchases are exempt from VAT tax.

We gathered together to visit my sister’s gravestone in 2001. My niece and nephew told many stories about our past trips together. Over spirits and libations, we reminisced over old times with tears and laughter. My brother-in-law Vic, pictured here, was evacuated as a 2 year old just before the German invasion in 1940. Guernseymen are noted for their toughness. Vic walked to work for over 50 years, regardless of the weather, and never drove a car!

Foulon Cemetery is down the hill where my sister’s home. I remember posting a letter in the mailbox across from the cemetery late one evening. We had been listening to haunting tales of prehistoric Dolmens and Menhirs. Snowflakes and the sound of the wind filled the pitch black night. I took a quick glance at the cemetery and ran full blast up the hill to my sister’s house. The family still laughs at how afraid I was.

Guernsey has wonderful Norman style stone houses.

Guernsey tea.

Marla and I loved having Guernsey tea with scones, Guernsey butter & cream (Incredibly rich!) and jam. My niece brought us Guernsey Gache and Battenburg cake (Marla’s favorite!) when she visited Hawaii with us in November.

Beautiful cliff walks ring the island.

Moulin Huet Bay on Guernsey’s south coast.

Renoir visited Guernsey in 1883 and loved painting the rocks around Moulin Huet Bay.

Fermain Bay.

Scenic hotels line the cliffs above the coast.

Ferry to the Isle of Sark

Sark is a 45 minute trip by ferry from Saint-Peter Port. Sark is often considered to be the last feudal state in Europe. The inherited title of Seigneur was enacted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1565. The island is more democratized today since the death of Dame of Sark, Sybil Hathaway. There are no cars on Sark. You take a tractor pulled wagon from the port up the hill to the main town. Strolling by foot, renting a bike, or a horse drawn wagon are your choices to tour the island.

La Coupee

La Coupee is the razor-edged isthmus joining the main island to Little Sark. Before 1900 when protective railings were built, children from Little Sark had to crawl on their hands and knees to avoid being blown over the edge. The present concrete road was built in 1945 by German POWs.

Beautiful La Grande Greve Bay lies 300 feet below La Coupee.

We cycled to our favorite restaurant on Little Sark.

La Sablonnerie Hotel

Our lunch was a feast of Sark lobster dipped in golden Sark butter, washed down with a refreshing wine from the Loire. Sublime!

The estate of the Seigneur of Sark is beautiful in the summer!

We say goodbye to Guernsey.

These lovely rocks are dear to me. I hope that someday soon we can visit Guernsey and relive happy memories with my niece Suzanne & her husband, Chris, nephew Steve and wife Karen, and brother-in-law Vic. I hope you can experience this very special island as well.

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