Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

Guernsey Weekend

I went to Guernsey for the weekend, flying out of Southampton Airport on Friday morning, and back on Monday. The ostensible reason for the visit was the Quaker Monthly Meeting (the administrative meeting for the district) being held there, but since it's the first MM I've been too, there may have been ulterior motives on my part!

I was travelling with Friend M from Winchester, she was in her wheelchair, although she can walk for short periods, so I was able to participate in the 'how to board with a disability' routine. I have to give Flybe credit, in that it was all perfectly straightforward, M used an Ambulift, and the staff were uniformly helpful. We had booked a Delta taxi at the other end, and since there was a little melee of Quakers at the arrivals area, we took another couple in our taxi, and headed off for Les Cotils. This proved an excellent place to stay, and M's room which she shared with Friend P from Guernsey had a lovely view of the sea and neighbouring islands - particularly when sitting on the loo!

Friend P took us to eat at Les Sablons which served lovely old-fashioned food, the best chips I've ate in ages and a cup of milky coffee like Mother used to make. Very good value as well. On the way to eat and afterwards, P drove us around nearly all the coast of Guernsey, which for such a small island had a varied coastline of cliffs and beaches, and I'm afraid I don't remember all of them. But I was glad that we parked opposite Lihou Island when the tide was down so you could see the causeway, since when we flew out it was completely cut off from land, and you would assume there's no way of reaching it.

I popped out the car at one place to see the fairy grotto Les Creux es Faies which is an amazingly well-preserved Neolithic passage grave with two immense stones in the roof. Even though they've obviously been there for years, and showed no signs of collapsing it still felt very precarious inside.

We then went on to visit Castel Church which had several fascinating artifacts. There was an ancient female menhir outside which had been defaced by having one breast struck off. However, as M observed this could make it an object of hope and reverence for anyone who's undergone a mammography. Inside the church under a glass floor was a bell pit where a bell had been cast. The theory was that it was so big it couldn't be done outside and then bought in. The best items though were the medieval frescoes which were still very clear to the naked eye, and which reminded me of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, although they're probably about a 100 years earlier.

Having seen one fresco, our appetite was whetted so we went on to Ste Appoline's (Ste Appoline for any trivia fans is the patron saint of Dentists, due to her being martyred by having her teeth and jaws broken). The paintings here were of a last supper with stylised flowery vines on the roof, fainter than in Castel, but very atmospheric since it's such a tiny chapel that you're much closer to them.

On the Saturday morning, M and I ventured forth into St Peter Port, with her in her wheelchair. This is when we realised the big disadvantage to the lovely views at Les Cotils - St Peter Port is Very Hilly. Luckily M is very light and her wheelchair manoeuvrable or she might well have got away from me and ended up in the harbour! Also hardly any pavement had a lower section where you could cross the road, so a lot of time M was unceremoniously wheeled off the pavement backwards. There are probably several drivers in Guernsey who are concerned about their eyesight or mental stability after watching this :-) We did admit defeat after we'd reached the bottom and took a taxi back up.

I won't go into details of the MM, only saying it was very interesting and we all had a lovely evening meal together afterwards. In the morning everyone headed off to Guernsey meeting house, which dates from about 1810 and although very simple does have benches for the elders and chapel looking windows. It was a particularly good meeting with varied yet interlocking ministry, and tea and biscuits afterwards. It always amuses me after the meeting for worship has ended how chatty Quakers are!
For lunch we went to Cafe Victoria at the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery which was full of Quakers and which served enormous and very tasty sandwiches. Luckily we'd arrived there on the last day they were hosting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006 which was brilliant. Astonishing, moving, hilarious photos from all over the world. Definitely worth a visit if it ever comes your way.
After this we did try to walk along the quay to Castle Cornet, but although it was sunny all week, it was quite cold and breezy so we turned back, and just had a quiet evening back at Les Cotils. Early start back to the mainland on the Monday, and wonderful views of the islands as we left them.

Tags: quakers, travel

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