Bailiwick of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is “Separate from but not independent of” the United Kingdom, whatever that means (to quote its feudal lord, Charles.) It consists of Guernsey and several other islands in the English Channel including Herm, Sark and Alderney.  It is under the Crown of England but is not part of the United Kingdom nor a member of the commonwealth.  The UK handles defense and foreign affairs while Guernsey is self-governing in domestic matters.  You can spend the UK pound there but Guernsey issues its own banknotes that cannot be spent in the UK and their own coins, which have the size, shape and feel of UK coins but aren’t.  They can’t be spent in the UK, but I bet they would work in vending machines.  Guernsey money is on par with the UK pound.  

We spent the night in a hotel overlooking St. Peter Port, the capital.  From our perch we could see chimney pots, towers and the Candie Cemetery for Commonwealth war dead, as well as across the port to the English Channel.

The town had several curious signs.  Liam was walking ahead of us and came running back to point out a sign on a gate that said a gate that said “DIE TERY.”Other signs at intersections said “Filter.”  I think that means “alternate merge” but am not sure.  A sign at the entrance to a park with a football pitch, benches and picnic tables said, “Persons using this facility do so entirely at their own risk” and below it, on the same pole “Notice, Trespassers will be Prosecuted, Penalty £50.”  A welcoming park.  We also liked the “Watchman Security” signs with a prowling cat.

We walked through the cemetery with its lichen covered gravestones and past walls with small flowers blooming not only from the gaps between the stones but from the stones themselves.  In fact the flowers all over St. Peter Port were stunning. (See separate photo gallery.)

The port has one of the biggest tide ranges in the world, after the Bay of Fundy, Mt. St Michel and neighboring Jersey.  We spent time wandering around the port.  While Brian and the kids did more wandering we were “Watching the tide roll in.”  When we started a lot of boats were sitting on the sand.  We watched as they, floated one by one.

I am reminded of the phrase used to justify tax cuts designed to improve the economy.  “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  In American Politics JFK first used it, and tax cutters have been using it ever since. Its origin is from Qing dynasty China.  I thought of that aphorism when I saw the rapidly rising fleet of boats in St. Peter Port.  But I live in a seafaring town and know it works only if you can afford enough anchor chain to deal with the highest flood tide, otherwise you get pulled under. This was a near full moon flood tide and fortunately, all the boats in St. Peter Port had ample scope on their anchor chains.

But we weren’t just watching the tide roll in.  It was Guernsey street festival week with several stages spread around the town with each musician doing a 45+ minute set and QR Codes for making donations .  I was particularly charmed, and amused, by an 18-year-old girl singing “My Way.”  She sang it with feeling, but it still wasn’t convincing.

On the other hand, a rockabilly, jump music band played Louis Jordan, Bill Haley, and Big Joe Turner and had the grannies, who could reasonably sing “My Way” dancing in the streets.  Me too.

We had a lovely lunch of toasted Brie and cranberry sandwiches in a café overlooking the port and fort.  I hadn’t had that combination since it was a favorite at the Irish Pub in Bratislava.  After lunch we wandered the old streets and gan the climb back to the hotel, stopping at sunken gardens, manicured parks, and a softball field, something I didn’t expect too see on Guernsey.

*The gate opposite “DIE TERY” said “CAN CEME”

Goodby Guernsey. Sunset flight to Jersey, next.

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