Travel to My Hometown

Travel to My Hometown: Guernsey
By Chris Simpson

The best place to play squash in Guernsey is at the leisure center, Beau Sejour. There’s a great squash community on the island with keen players at all levels. If you are visiting the island and fancy a game be sure to contact Guernsey Squash, and they can find you a playing partner.

Although Guernsey is a British island, it has a lot of French influence, which has given it a unique atmosphere. We have our own currency, the Guernsey pound (and you can spend English pounds too), and we have our own coins and notes including the £1 note—which I love. May 9th is Liberation Day, a public holiday with loads going on; I like to watch the islands idiots throwing themselves into the harbor in the man-powered flight competition.

The harbor at St. Peter's Port
The harbor at St. Peter’s Port

Eating in Guernsey is all about fresh seafood. I’m a big fan of the Portuguese restaurant Roberto’s, in Trinity Square, St. Peter’s Port, where I go for the king prawn espetadas. For lunch I like to have a pint of prawns at the Beach House overlooking Pembroke Bay, a modern restaurant built into a fortification left over from the German occupation in the Second World War. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do like my cakes, and a local cake worth trying is Guernsey gache, a special bread made with sultanas, raisins and mixed peel. I like it toasted with butter.

My favorite bar is Reds, a trendy cocktail restaurant run by Big Red. He’s a larger than life character who was pretty handy with a squash racquet in his day. Nightclub-wise, it has to be Folies D’amour, although I would describe it as so bad it’s good.

If you like literature, Victor Hugo’s house is interesting. In exile from France, Hugo lived in Guernsey for fifteen years and wrote Les Miserables there; his home, Hauteville House, has been preserved exactly as it was when he left. I also find the Little Chapel stunning. It’s possibly the smallest chapel in the world, decorated with shells, pebbles and broken china—just completely different.

Beau Sejour Leisure Center in Guernsey
Beau Sejour Leisure Center in Guernsey

Summer is the best time to be in Guernsey. The beaches are some of the cleanest in the world, as they are tidal and so are washed clean twice a day. Port Soif is my personal favorite beach, although I always nip across to neighboring Grand Roques to get an ice cream from the kiosk where I had my first job. The cliff paths at Pleimont are ideal for trail running, but if the swell is good you have to try surfing at Vazon Bay. On a nice summer’s day there is nothing better than taking a day trip to another island in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Sark holds many fond memories for me. It’s a small island with a population of 600. There are no cars. You rent a bicycle or a horse and cart to get around its dusty roads, stopping along the way to eat fresh seafood and visit the island’s sights and beaches.

The one Guernsey thing the rest of the world needs to know about is the Guernsey wrap. They are an all-in-one beach towel, with an elasticated hole at one end that you put your head through so as to wear the towel like a sort of dress—this offers some modesty while getting changed. I swam a lot when I was younger and thought these were completely normal. It’s only since I’ve moved away that I’ve realized they are very Guernsey.