20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

St. Peter Port, Guernsey

Last summer we applied for an April 2016 housesit on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I've mentioned numerous times both on this blog and to anyone who will listen about the wonderful people we meet via housesitting and this particular assignment is no exception. Homeowner Catherine not only met us upon our arrival at the Guernsey airport, she gave us a mini-tour of the south part of island before dropping us off at the St. George's B&B. This quaint bed and breakfast is located in the capital of St. Peter Port and our room was at the top of the stairs (left dormer window.)

We stayed four nights in this lovely little b&b and highly recommend it. 

Our sea view room had everything we needed including a desk and writing table that provided a perfect place to read or just sit and watch the tide roll in and out. Btw, Guernsey has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world. At 33 feet in height it transforms the coastline every six hours and is in constant motion. 

This is looking left at low tide from our b&b window to the outskirts of St. Peter Port.

The following day Catherine invited us to her home for dinner and once again acted as our chauffeur. We can't thank her enough for her gracious hospitality four days before the actual housesit began and it was a joy to meet the entire family (waving hello to Martyn, Jacques and Luke) as well as become acquainted with pets Ralph, Ebony and Brittany. There will be plenty more about our housesit in future posts, but for now I'll focus on our exploration of St. Peter Port.

Guernsey is a tax haven and as such banks from around the world have branches here. A huge poster for RBC greeted us inside the terminal and Catherine mentioned when she first arrived in Guernsey in the early 1980s she worked for CIBC.

This modern walkway in St. Peter Port is a testament to those banks (and others) - a HSBC branch is to John's left.

Most other sections of the city, however, hold onto their historic past. The pedestrian only shopping area is a favourite with tourists and most days it is bustling. We walked around both on a busy Saturday when the streets were crowded (and a cruise ship was in port) and on Sunday when most shops are closed. Guess which day these next two photos were taken!

Down near the harbour is a roundabout surrounded by beautiful pink tulips.

In the centre of the roundabout is a ship's mast.

Buildings around town are a combination of French and English.

Streets are narrow. Walls are either thigh level or higher depending upon the whim of the original owners (which can date back centuries). Building codes are strict and current owners must seek council approval for just about any change, including replacing the front door or windows. Those who let weeds grow on their brick or stone fences receive written notice to take better care of the exterior of their home. The upside is most properties are in impeccable shape and picture perfect.

Cornet Castle has protected St. Peter Port's harbour since the 13th century.

The French and English fought for its possession numerous times over the centuries and it was occupied by the Germans during WWII. 

Today it houses five museums, a cafe and gift shop.

Further along the pier is a lighthouse. The islands in the background are Herm and Sark.

This is the view back from the lighthouse to Cornet Castle and St. Peter Port.

We found two interesting tidbits that link Guernsey and Canada. On the pier wall outside the castle is a plaque honouring Canadian pilot, John Walton Saville, who died in WWII while defending Guersney. The exact location of the crash site remained a mystery until the 1970s. Soon after the discovery F/L Saville had gone done with his plane the site was declared an official war grave. Saville's sister and a few other family members came to Guernsey and held a private service over the site. During the 1980's Saville's squadron was stationed in Germany and flew CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft. One pilot flying home asked permission to do a fly-by of the site as a tribute to Saville and as part of the local Battle of Britain display.

The second Canadian link is in town proper on the far side of this church.

Guernsey is the birthplace of Sir Isaac Brock and we were told there are still many members of the Brock family living on Guernsey. There is also a scholarship set up in his name that entitles one Guernsey student to study for one year at Brock University in the Niagara peninsula.

We ended our first day in Guernsey with a drink and meal at The Boathouse Restaurant

Can you tell he's hungry?!

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