Douit-ing it with rafts

If you’re new to Guernsey, you might not (yet) know that streams are called ‘Douits’ around here. I understand that ‘out-west’ you pronounce the ‘t’ and ‘up-north’ you don’t. This morning I had the privilege of accompanying my daughter’s class on a beautiful walk out to a sizeable douit down from the Reservoir in St Saviour’s, where they tested and raced their handmade rafts for a school project.

Despite being reasonably outdoorsy, and having been in the island for 19 years, I’m ashamed to say we’ve never discovered this stream ourselves, but we’ll definitely be coming back. I like to think I know about how to play Pooh Sticks, as Pooh Bridge is (literally) in my neck of the English woods, but this little stream makes a great Guernsey version. There’s even a little bridge at the end where you can sit and wait to catch your raft/stick/child coming through.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. By the end of the time, the children had all named their creations and some of them had decorated them with (weedy but beautiful) flowers and fragrant rosemary growing along the mini-towpath. Adorable.

Going palm oil-free?

I’m sure many of you saw this moving and thought-provoking ad from Iceland over Christmas – not on TV, as it was deemed ‘too political’, but on social media. Here’s the YouTube link:

I applaud Iceland for being the first UK supermarket to take a stance in this way – their own-brand products now contain no palm oil – and this fact has certainly encouraged me to shop there.

It’s made me think carefully about avoiding palm oil where we can. So, at the busiest time of year for our family in terms of grocery shopping (and pretty much everything else), I’ve also been scrutinising ingredients labels on the food we’re needing to buy.

In my experience, products such as biscuits, crackers and cakes are major culprits and whilst the best way of avoiding palm oil is to bake these things from scratch, we don’t all have the time. So, choosing ‘all-butter’ varieties such as shortbread and butter biscuits is a helpful step.

Shopping at Alliance and Morrisons, I found some good snacky options:

And whenever we’re in France, we stock up on this brand of palm oil-free choc hazelnut spread.… But Nutella’s palm oil is at least sustainable, according to their website:

It takes a bit of time and effort, and a brief search on the internet for brands which are palm oil-free was a help. I found this little list of brands which use sustainable palm oil, and thought you might find it helpful too:


I’d love to hear about your own efforts to go palm oil-free in Guernsey… And I haven’t even started looking at things such as shampoos and conditioners, which can also be palm oil offenders. Have you?

Read the book, got the tea towel…

Photo from VisitGuernsey

Guernsey has had such an exciting time in the last week, when Hollywood came here for the Guernsey premiere of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society film. I tried really hard to win tickets to the black tie premiere event or the special preview screening, but to no avail.

I had to make do with the ITV facebook livestream of the red carpet event, with the lovely Lily James, Greg Powell, Sir Tom Courtenay, producer Paula Manzur, director Mike Newell and screenwriter Thomas Bezucha strutting their stuff.

I’ve also been following Lily’s official instagram feed  and was completely delighted to find photos of her in very familiar Guernsey locations – including Cobo, Fermain Bay, the Little Chapel and in the little alleyway in between Town Church and the Albion pub –  dazzling in stunning Valentino, thanks to her (Guernsey!) stylist, Rebecca Corbin-Murray.

The Guernsey Literary Festival has also launched early with some special Potato Peel talks, and I was at St James on Saturday to hear local film aficionado and presenter Wynter Tyson interview producer Paula Mazur, co-novelist Annie Barrows and screenwriter Thomas Bezucha (modelling a brand-new Guernsey, btw) about bringing the novel to the big screen. Really fascinating (and moving) insights with some interesting questions from the floor. PS Paula said she’d never been treated to such a great black tie premiere before, so well done Guernsey!

Guernsey is well and truly in the limelight right now. Here’s a great short film about the history behind the film, on the Telegraph website, made by the film producers. And here’s Lily James’ interview in Saturday’s Times… She’s even wearing Guernsey wool whilst being interviewed!

I’m a big fan of the novel (think it’s time for a re-read) and I really do have the tea towel. My friend Athene Sholl is a jewellery designer and even has her own range of gorgeous potato peel-themed jewellery (you can take a look at her Etsy shop here.) Another friend, Jessica, is running a Guernsey giveaway competition on her instagram page/blog The Open Home. I just need to watch the movie now.

While I’m waiting, I might just try out one of these this potato cake recipes we found at the Occupation Museum too…

Engage Warp Drive @ Candie Museum

We had a great little stop at Guernsey Museum at Candie Gardens over half term, where the science fiction exhibition – Engage Warp Drive is on until 31 December. I’m not really a sci-fi fan,  I have to admit, but we all enjoyed it.

We were delighted to see (amongst many other things ) a reproduction dalek and K9 from Doctor Who, a stormtrooper from Star Wars, loads of sci-fi memorabilia, covetable vintage toys and interesting facts. Who knew that composer Barry Gray (who wrote the theme tunes to much of the Thunderbirds material) – lived in Guernsey and, in later life, was the resident pianist at the Old Government House Hotel?!

My littlest guy was thrilled by the brilliant Thunderbirds section and loved popping on the headphones and listening to the familiar theme tune and voiceovers.

The unexpected cherry on the cake was the offer free tickets to a screening of the original Star Wars IV – A New Hope – to be shown at Beau Sejour Cinema on Sunday, 26 November at 4pm. These come free with entry to the exhibition.

With grateful thanks to Emma – ‘Director of Smiles’ at the museum reception for our warm welcome.

Despite having ‘watched’ all the Star Wars films in our house, I confess that I don’t think I’ve actually seen the original (or – ahem – maybe any of them) from start to finish, in one sitting; I generally get restless. So I’m looking forward to making a little family trip of it on the 26th. I might even become a sci-fi convert, you never know.

Old people and 4 year olds

I watched this much-talked-about programme, back-to-back last night and was totally gripped. It was a social experiment looking at the impact of introducing ten 4 year-olds into an old people’s home for six weeks and the measured results were terribly moving, and staggering.

It was a bit of research, really, as I was due to interview Dr Melrose Stewart, one of the programme’s featured experts, this morning. It has really got me thinking. How can we get children and old people together more in Guernsey? It’s a win-win situation for everybody.  If you haven’t watched the programme, do it.  And if you can make it to the Dandelion Project’s next event, Thrive 2020 next Friday, Melrose will be speaking and she’s an absolute inspiration.

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…





Caring Café

My daughter spent yesterday evening fiddling around with an origami book and a stash of gorgeous paper squares, so she was tickled pink when we arrived at the Caritas Community Café in Town this morning to discover their perfect display of delicately folded paper cranes in the window.

It’s a wonderful community initiative, run by volunteers, and the inclusive welcome those people provide is heartwarming.  We’ve always been made to feel at home. The food and drinks are home-cooked and very good value (my coffee and three hot chocolates came to £5), and the philosophy is that, if you can, you pay a bit extra to pay ahead for someone less fortunate than you.  Continue reading

Literary Festival Fun

We’ve just come to the end of a fabulous, fun-filled few days at the 5th Guernsey Literary Festival and I hardly know where to start. I’ve been blogging a little during the Festival, so you can take a look at that here if you fancy.  For families there was loads to choose from all weekend long – from a Night at the Castle with spooky storytelling with John Kirk to slam poetry with World Slam Poetry champion, Harry Baker. My kids were spellbound by Kirk’s macabre and gripping yarns (but never too scared) and charmed, delighted and inspired by Harry Baker’s brilliant, tongue-twisting verse. He’s a mathematician, a linguist and is utterly captivating. But don’t take it from me. Here he is doing his 59 poem:

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