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…

 

 

 

 

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

Ice cream at Icart

It was a pretty good day on Saturday, and the kids and dog were on form so we headed to the car park at Icart for a pretty walk along the cliffs (and back again) with the promise of a delicious ice cream at the end.

This was the view we were rewarded with.

The wildflowers are stunning at this time of year – my littlest one was swamped by them. Not too many nettles, though, and he didn’t complain once. There are plenty of benches dotted along the cliff if you need them.

The tea room at Icart is legendary. It’s an unassuming place with no website or anything, and the well-used picnic tables are slowly getting engulfed in the shrubbery and towering echiums, but this all adds to its charm. We found a little private spot to enjoy with the worn-out pooch, after we’d chosen from the HUGE choice of ice creams lovingly handmade by the tea room’s chatty owner. I had raspberry and coconut, btw, and my littlest one was offered a ‘special’ small version of his fave, strawberry.

Mini Vraic Day

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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.
http://www.vraic.org

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.

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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.

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Lovely Lihou

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Despite having lived in Guernsey for nearly 16 years, I’m ashamed to admit that until Easter Sunday I had not been across to Lihou Island.  Lihou is tiny, reached only by a twenty minute walk across a causeway at low tide.  It has one hostel, is surrounded by a bird haven during the breeding months and has a windswept meadow to the West.  Cut off from Guernsey twice a day, it would make a fabulous setting for an Agatha Christie novel; I wouldn’t be surprised if a few novels hadn’t been penned there too over the years.

Lihou is owned and maintained by the States of Guernsey, and Lihou Charitable Trust maintains the house and its grounds.  Between them they ensure that the island retains its unspoilt beauty, simplicity and ‘away from it all’ feel.  You can rent Lihou for a night, a weekend or a week but it’s incredibly popular and it gets very booked up so check out their website for the date when bookings are released to the general public. Electricity is at a premium here as it is generated with the help of solar panels and a generator.  So there’s no TV, microwave or dishwasher and you are not allowed to bring much more than a phone charger. You have to bring your own supplies, including linen, but in most cases there’s a tractor to help you transport all of that. Continue reading