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Guernsey in General
Member Name: jrh2
Guernsey in General
Date: 30/01/13, updated on 05/02/13 (86 review reads)
Disadvantages: Not much for teenagers to do
The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a group of islands that along with the Bailiwick of Jersey makes the Channel Islands.
The islands that make up the Bailiwick of Guernsey are: Guernsey (the second largest Channel Island), Alderney, Sark, Herm, Lihou, Jethou and Brecquou (these are private islands.) The Bailiwick of Jersey consist of just Jersey itself, the largest Channel Island. The Channel Islands are found just above France in the English Channel.
Guernsey has been a crown dependency since 1066 and has its own government. Guernsey has a population of 59,000 and is 64 square kilometers. The island is 6 miles long and 3 miles wide, you can easily drive from one end of the island to the other in half an hour. It is split into ten parishes which are all different and individual.
St Peter Port: the capital of the island is always busy and includes most workplaces, shops, high street, tourist attractions and hotels.
St Martins: this is a parish which prides itself with flower arrangements and hanging baskets everywhere you look.
Torteval: the parish which works hard on the Torteval Scarecrow Festival.
St Saviours: a beautiful parish full of grass and fields.
Castel: a busy parish with a few schools and businesses.
Vale: this parish is split in two and is a quieter parish with lots of houses (this is where I live.)
St Sampsons: this is the second busiest parish. It is much debated whether the Bridge is in St Sampsons or Vale (it is half in both) and the second largest shopping area on the island.
St Andrew's: this parish is full of fields and the home of the Little Chapel.
Forest: this is where the airport is situated.
St Peters: this is a rural parish and a long way from everything.
Guernsey is very much influenced by France and used to have their own language Patois (Guernsey French). Up to the second world war this was spoken with barely any English. After the islanders were evacuated to the UK they had to learn English and many returned not knowing Patois. This died out and now local schools are trying to bring it back by teaching new children in hope they will pass it on to others. Many of the roads, hotels, restaurants are named in Patois, e.g. the local leisure centre Beau Sejour which means Beautiful View.
Guernsey is full of narrow roads and lanes, most lanes are two way but can only fit one car at a time meaning you usually end up reversing into a driveway. Like the UK, we drive on the left and require a valid driving licence.
All parking is free but you cannot always find a space. A lot of areas have cars parked along the roads.
The planes that go to and from Guernsey are Aurigny (I have reviewed under Air Aurigny), FlyBe and Blue Islands. These all go between the other islands, UK and France and can be booked on there website for around £80. The longest it takes to get here is an hour and a half from Manchester and the shortest is half an hour from Southampton.
The only boat that goes to Guernsey is Condor Ferries (I have also reviewed this separately). This is not the best boat, but the only choice we have. This goes between Guernsey and Weymouth and Poole both via Jersey at around £100 with car. The longest it takes on boat is 3 hours from Poole and the shortest is an hour from Jersey. I would advise you never to make plans for the time you should arrive back as they are known for consistently being late (by a few hours) or cancelled due to engine troubles.
The buses go all over the island and are £1 for all journeys, however long or short. All buses have a wheelchair ramp and a space inside for a wheelchair or pushchair. Ormer cards can be bought for multiple journeys from the information desk at the bus terminus, £25 for 50 journeys.
To get a taxi you must phone them or visit them in town by the roundabout but buses go most places you would need.
Hire cars can be got from the airport with a choice of a few companies.
Guernsey has stunning scenery and the outdoors is a vital part of its beauty.
Everywhere you go you will see the beach. These are always packed in the summer and some of the more popular beaches are Vazon, Cobo and Chouet (I usually go to this one as it is right next to a ice cream shop and has a walkway down unlike some others). They are great fun to build sand castles (whether a child or child at heart) and you can always search for rockpools or go for a swim in the sea. The water in Guernsey is all safe to swim in but it is not advised you swim in the beach opposite the Red Lion near town as it is dirty due to sewage.
A walk along the sand is lovely in the evening as the sun sets. Most beaches have beach cafes within a 5 minutes walk from the sand which is perfect for that much needed ice cream to cool down.
There are 27 beaches on the island and all are checked regularly for rubbish to ensure they are clean. During the summer months dogs are not allowed along certain beaches to ensure maximum cleanliness.
At Vazon you can try kayaking, surfing and wind surfing if the tide is right and this is a really long beach which is popular for water sports. Right across the road is a family friendly restaurant Crabby Jacks, which gets very busy during the summer months.
The coastline of Guernsey has many cliffs. These are often admired by visitors and there are guided cliff walks, should you be brave enough, which have spectacular views perfect for photos. These are quiet and peaceful, away from the roads and people of the island. A popular one is Pleinmont and when you get back to the road you can stop for a drink and an ice cream, phew.
Floral displays and hanging baskets are all over the island and are regularly maintained to keep them in top condition. These make gorgeous scenery and many are throughout town. Some parishes like St Martin's have won awards for their floral displays. This is just up the hill from town.
Parks are throughout the island with some childrens parks recently having been rebuilt. The largest park is Saumerez Park with miles of grass, a childrens park, duck pond, cafe and Victorian museum. Whilst some others are on top of schools or right next to beaches.
The island has a variety of hotels with differing star ratings. The most expensive on the island is the OGH which is right in the heart of town. Other hotels include Le Friquet and Grange Lodge among many. As I leave here I cannot comment on the rooms but all of the ones I have been to have great food.
Other accommodation includes self catering cottages and campsites. These are usually in more rural areas of the island and surrounded by countryside. Caravans or motor homes can be brought over on Condor Ferries but can only be lived in on a campsite.
Guernsey has restaurants everywhere and all have great food at a range of prices. A popular place to eat is Christies in the centre of town but you will always find somewhere to eat over here.
Most restaurants over here don't have children's play areas although they are family friendly. The two that have good safe play areas are The Longfrie (indoor area) and Crabby Jacks (outdoor area).
Pubs are very popular with the locals and serve food just as nice as restaurants. They are used as much as restaurants when finding a place to eat.
Unlike the rest of the world we have absolutely no fast food restaurants. We used to have a Burger King but after a year it left. There are chip shops and takeaways though and my favorites are Harbour View Chinese (the Bridge) and Chip Shop Inn Fountain Street (town). Cobo chip shop is great for eating chips on the wall watching the sea as the sunsets.
During October and November the island has Tennerfest. This is when most restaurants have a set three course meal for either £10, £15 or £20 per person. It used to all be £10 but over the years the price has increased and the name has stayed the same.
The Channel Islands have no VAT on goods which you would think made goods cheaper but this isn't always the case as we don't have cheaper shops like the UK (no Tesco, Asda, Homebase, Ikea, Bhs), most of our shops are local or branded clothes shops.
The two main places to shop are town and the bridge. The bridge has mostly charity shops now but it is still classed as the second largest shopping area on the island. It also has a few jewellery shops and newsagents.
Town is right next to the harbour and has a variety of shops, a lot of which are local. These include clothes shops, jewelry shops, local mobile shops, food shops, book shops, and our entertainment shops are HMV (if it's still here). I feel we have very little shops in comparison to some places in the UK. We have one department store Creaseys which sells clothes, perfume, bags, toys, homeware, fabrics. It is not all in one building though, the toy shop is the opposite side of town.
Most shops in Guernsey are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. We do not open shops on Sunday due to Sunday Trading Laws.
Guernsey has its own notes and coins, including a one pound note (this is so much better than the pound coins in the UK as coins are heavy and I often forget they are in my wallet). We accept notes from the UK and Jersey but they do not accept ours back, so don't forget to change it before you leave.
We have cash machines throughout town and the bridge and our main ones are Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HSBC.
Candie Gardens: Beautiful Victorian gardens a short walk from town. Free entry. Has a cafe for a peaceful drink.
Castle Cornet: A fortress that once protected town. It now has a museum inside and a walkway to the lighthouse.
Fort Grey: Known as the cup and saucer as this is what it looks like. It is a Martello tower from 1804 and inside is a museum.
Guernsey Aquarium: A small aquarium just outside town with lots of fish and reptiles. Great for children.
Guernsey Candles: A lovely local shop with gifts and homemade candles. There is also the option to make your own candle with assistance from their friendly staff. A popular place for parties on the island, I loved making these as a child.
Guernsey Freesia Centre: A shop and greenhouse full of freesias. A popular flower on the island.
Guernsey Pearl: A shop and cafe selling jewelry with local pearls. Directly opposite the cup and saucer.
Guernsey Clockmakers: A local clock shop right next to the Little Chapel.
Oatlands Village: Family friendly shops, mini golf, childrens play area and cafe.
Saumerez Manor: A beautiful manor open to the public.
The Little Chapel: A tiny chapel made from shells and pieces of china. (I have reviewed this separately)
Other Islands in the Bailiwick
Alderney is the third largest Channel Island and can be got to by plane (Aurigny, blue islands). It has a small cobbled high street, a church and a school. The population is only 2400. This is where the Wombles writer, Elisabeth Beresford, lived and now is where the Wombles museum is.
Sark can only be accessed by boat and has a population of 600. There are no cars on Sark and they use horse and carriages or bikes. Many people visit to see little Sark which is across a bridge from Sark.
Herm is a beautiful island visited a lot in the summer for the sandy beaches. It has no vehicles and can be got to by boat. There is only one shop and hotel on the island. It has many busy campsites in the summer.
Lihou is a tiny island just off Guernsey. It has one house and the rest is grass. You can only get their by walking so you must check the tide before you go. If not you could be stuck (unless you swim).
Brecquou and Jethou are private islands that cannot be accessed by the public. One of which is owned by the Barclay brothers.
Battle of Flowers: During the summer each year at the north show, islanders enter into competitions to see who can make the best float out of flowers. These always look fantastic and is a great day out. The north show also had fair rides, competitions for best veg, animals, cakes etc. There are also South and West shows but the Battle of Flowers is exclusive to the north.
Liberation Day: on the 9th May each year we celebrate being free from the war by closing the seafront and car parks in town to make room for parades, music, food, events, all of which are in the street. The fun day ends in fireworks over Castle Cornet. This is a bank holiday in Guernsey so all the shops are closed.
Town Carnival: one week each year town is filled with bands, choirs, punch and judy, town crier and other entertainment throughout town making it an even better atmosphere than usual.
Donkey Derby: a donkey race at Saumerez Park.
Torteval Scarecrow Festival: the parish is full of homemade scarecrows for people to look at.
The weather is mainly the same as England but a little warmer. It's sunny in the summer and rainy in the winter. Unfortunately it rarely snows here and when it does there is barely any. The other day it snowed a tiny bit and my snowman was smaller than a football.
Other Interesting facts
If coming from the UK or Ireland you don't need a passport.
Guernsey has a smoking ban on all public indoor places, as it has been since 2006.
Many visitors like to see our cows as they are brown and white and produce a much nicer creamier milk than in the UK.
Guernsey gache is a popular island fruit bread. (yum yum)
Ormers are a local delicacy (yuck).
Some famous people from Guernsey are:
Heather Watson (tennis player)
Victor Hugo (les miserables writer)
Lee Merrien (runner)
Andy Priaulx (racing car driver)
John Savident (former corrie actor)
Guernsey is a great place to visit for adults and children but there is very little for teenagers to do. Summer is a popular time to visit for the beaches and is always busy with people off cruise ships.
Summary: Definitely worth a visit