Hooray – It’s the Guernsey Literary Festival!

Last weekend I was in a local dance competition – Strictement – to raise funds for St Saviour’s Community Centre. Huge tick on my bucket list, I can tell you… But I won’t go on about that here. Instead, it’s time for the Guernsey Literary Festival, and I get almost as excited about books too. I’m helping out at a couple of talks, and really looking forward to the (sorry, sold-out) session tonight with Adam Kay, of This is Going to Hurt fame.

It always astounds me that our little island is such a creative hub, and the range and fame of authors coming to treat us this weekend is as mind-boggling as ever. As a volunteer I could have given Lionel Shriver a lift from the airport but I was worried I’d be too star-struck and might say something stupid (although I adored her short story collection, Property).

There’s always too much to cram in – next time I think I need to book myself a mini-break at the Old Government House Hotel and pretend to my family that I’m not here, so I can max out on all the opportunities.

But back to that family… My daughter was thrilled to write to Nigella a few months back, and get an actual hand-written response to her questions, so now, enthused by the Literary Festival, she’s penned a little note to David Walliams in the hope of getting him over next time:

Fingers crossed. In the meantime, there are still tickets available for a number of child-friendly events, including story time with Sophy Henn and her Ted stories, and a session with local husband-and-wife team Charlie and Magnus Buchanan with their original illustrated folk tale, Invasion of the Wavelets.

There are also some mummy-focused talks by blogger and novelist Helen Wallen, and by author and adventure activist Jessica Hepburn who will be discussing her biography 21 Miles – the story of how she met and ate with 21 inspirational women and then swam 21 miles in search of the answer to the question: ‘Does motherhood make you happy?’. Great question. I can’t wait!

It’s about time for “40 Acts”

It’s got to the point in our house where we all need to have a sit-down and re-think what our family values are. I’m tired of the way the older two children are talking to each other, weary of the niggling and the knee-jerk aggressiveness. I’m utterly fed up with the general lack of kindness being shown. It wasn’t always like this, and we, as parents, are starting to think, ‘What on earth did we do wrong?’.

In a way, it’s good timing: for the last few years, in Lent, we haven’t given anything up, but have instead taken up the mantle of the award-winning 40 Acts Lent Challenge. You sign up, and every day a mini challenge is sent to your inbox. There are ‘green’, ‘amber’ and all-out ‘red’ versions of the challenge so, depending on your time and resources, you can choose how you respond. You can also dip in and out as you please.

There’s also resources for families and I’ve printed (and laminated – it makes it feel more official) the wall chart to put on our fridge.

One of the first family challenges was, simply, ‘try not to argue, disagree or interrupt. Only speak encouraging words.’ That day, I only got to talk to Number One son briefly as he flew out of the door to school, but I talked to the younger two about the importance of listening to someone properly, and they discussed the ‘Decider Skills’ they’ve been learning at school – which included respectful listening this week. Something went in!

One of my favourite quotes ever is by Simone Weil: ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.’ I know I’m guilty of not listening properly or giving people my full attention, but, wow, what a difference it makes when someone does.

Here’s the little introductory video. I challenge you not to be moved!


Aquatic surprises

We had an afternoon with Grandma and were at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I’d never been to the Guernsey Aquarium before but had heard that it had had a major refurb, so we gave it a go. I’m rather pleased we did.

My 11-year-old was grumpily adamant he didn’t want to ‘go and stare at a load of boring fish’ and trudged sullenly along. By the end of our very pleasant hour or so he was entranced and had taken ownership of my phone.  It turned out to be a great little place for our different age ranges.

We particularly loved the mini eels (adorable), the graciously sweeping rays and the camo-ready brill, and a couple of empty tanks meant that some exciting big fishies might be on their way soon. Our 3-year-old was given a little step so he could enjoy everything his siblings did. The aquarium is good value too – only £5 for adults, £4 for OAPs and £3 for children, and if you buy 4 tickets the 5th is free. They are open daily and even offer children’s parties.  It’s a great space which has been done really well. They even offer fishy pedicures – I’m not sure whether the advertised ‘2 minute taster session’ is meant to be funny, though…





Les Bibides

This morning, we were so glad to discover the Les Bibides class, run once a month by the Guernsey Language Commission, and Jo in particular – to teach Guernésiais (Guernsey French patois) to pre-schoolers. Held in Le Grand Courtil in St Martin’s, we popped along there for an hour or so with my three-year-old and his eight-year-old sister and they really enjoyed it. Continue reading

It’s Showtime!

It’s that time of year when this lovely old-fashioned booklet starts appearing in every (properly) local shop and veg stall.  Two came home in book bags.  It’s West Show time!

Now, I’m a relative newbie to this scene; I’m imported from the UK, for a start, and we’ve only lived ‘out west’ for the last five years, so we’re pretty insignificant in this neck of the woods.

Let’s be clear.  The West Show is a BIG DEAL.  It’s also a whole lot of fun.  The summer holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it, and I’m proud to have taken part in our own little way since the kids have been at the local school. Continue reading

SING at Beausie

Yesterday didn’t start well on the weather front, but Beau Sejour had a solution for the afternoon in the form of a ‘Sing’ event in collaboration with the School of Popular Music. On the concourse, the school had set up electronic drum kits, electric guitar and bass stations, keyboards and ukuleles for kids to try out, and in the Dave Ferguson Hall you could try your hand at karaoke or dancing to the sounds of the DJ. Then we chilled out in front of the fantastic film, Sing.  Highly recommended, and well done for an inspiring afternoon, Beau Sejour.


This week we joined the bubbly Juliana of The French Workshop for her fun-filled session of Bibliotots at the Guille-Alles library. It happens every Monday, 11-11.30 term-time only for pre-schoolers (you can book by calling the children’s library on 743635).  She also visits local pre-schools and nurseries. My little one’s been along twice now and has enjoyed sharing the French books and nursery rhymes with Juliana.

Mini Vraic Day


It was a beautiful day in the summer holidays and this was the view we were welcomed with at the St Peter’s Mini Vraic Day at Lihou headland.  It was the culmination of the Floral St Peter’s entries into Britain in Bloom – the judges had just been ’round.

Vraic is the Guernsey French name for seaweed and, for four centuries, farmers and growers have collected the valuable stuff from Guernsey’s forshores to fertilise their land.

Here was a ‘mini’ celebration in honour of the lovely stuff – there were seaweed-themed stalls teaching us about the benefits of these wonderful plants – whether medicinal, culinary, horticultural or cosmetic.  One stallholder had baked some delicious samosas with local seaweed, and very tasty they were too.  There were local vraic experts on hand to show different species and the children were encouraged to feel and taste.

There were also beautiful Ormer (abalone) shells for sale.  Ormer gathering is another longstanding local tradition.  The States of Guernsey has a strict code of practice for the shore gathering of ormers, in order to protect local stocks and limit damage and disturbance to our shorelines.



Children from the gardening club at the local primary school, La Houguette, were proudly manning their own stall, displaying the vegetables they had grown, and the award-winning planted wheelbarrow.