Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A visit to Guernsey of the Channel Islands

Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands or as they are called in French Les Isles Anglo-Normands, in not, according to Wikipedia, part of the U.K. It is a crown dependency and a Bailiwick.

I knew very little about the Channel Islands of Europe, except that they had cows, before I read the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Ever since reading that book several years ago, I have wanted to visit Guernsey. I hadn’t been able to make the trip in our many visits to Normandy before this, so I decided I was going to go this year in June, whether Jim went with me or not. He decided to go, so that made it easier and more fun for me.

It takes about 5 hours to get to Guernsey from here. It would be easier to get to Jersey, but there were a couple reasons I wanted to go to Guernsey. It’s a drive of 1 hr 50 min. to get to St. Malo; the ferry takes about 1 hr 50 mins as well, and then there is the time in between. We arrived in Saint Peter Port about 1:00 pm.  We then picked up a rental car.  That was made more difficult, by the sobbing children surrounding the rental car desk.  There were some 50 inconsolable children making quite a racket.  I was reminded of the evacuation of children from the island in 1940, but this wasn’t an evacuation. I think it was French children going home after an exchange program.  They apparently had enjoyed their time on the island and developed close relationships with host families. Next time we go to Guernsey we won’t rent a car, not because of the children, but because of the roads on Guernsey.

The roads are very narrow and lined by walls or hedges on both sides with no shoulder.  Here is a road we walked on. This one is a bit wider than some of the ones we drove on. You can also see the Guernsey flag in this photo. Most of the roads were two-way, many too narrow for two cars, so one car would have to back up to a wider spot to let the other get by. At other times both cars had to squeeze very close to the walls in order to pass each other. Since they drive on the left, I was riding on the left and the walls going by so close to my left shoulder were really scary. Jim was driving a stick with the shift on the left and driving on the left on these very narrow roads.  For those reasons, on Saturday we took a bus into Saint Peter Port. The busses on Guernsey are great, so that’s what we would do next time. That was probably the only time we have ever had 2 rental cars and ridden a bus.



Guernsey has lots of flowers.  We see lots of flowers here in Normandy, but there were even more on Guernsey. Here is a photo of some large stalks of blue flowers that we saw in many places on the island. I don’t know what these flowers are called.

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And here is a photo of me standing on the west coast of the island.

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This photo was taken from above the town, looking out toward the port.

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For more of my photos of flowers and the Guernsey coastline, see this page.  And here is a second page of photos of Saint Peter Port.

Guernsey is also the home of Martine of the iMake blog and podcast, which was the main reason I wanted to go to Guernsey.


Martine had graciously invited us to tea at the Old Government House Hotel and tearoom. We sat in the garden, which was lovely. The tea was delicious, as I think you can see from the photo.  There were little sandwiches, scones with Guernsey butter and jam and mini desserts. I’ve been listening to Martine for about a year and hers is one of my favorite podcasts, so I was delighted to get a chance to meet her in person.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Use what you have decorating

This should be the last attic post.  I’ll try to get more travel pictures in the next few posts. We are leaving tomorrow for Le Havre, Etretat, Honfleur, Houlgate, Dives sur Mer, etc. We’ll be back Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s a short trip.

But yesterday we bought a few things for this room , so I did a little arranging today.  This room was a blank slate.  I figured I could do whatever I wanted here, but really didn’t want to spend much money on it and wanted to use the furniture we had.  That consisted of three items that were black metal—a bed, a futon bench and a clothes organizer.  So we started by moving those three items into the room. After much scanning images on the internet, I decided I wanted a brown and turquoise color scheme. I wanted a brown futon with turquoise accent pillows and lamps.

We came home with a black futon, because brown wasn’t available.  I also couldn’t find any turquoise lamp shades for the little lamps we have, but I did find two turquoise pillows (3 Euros each).  We also planned to get a couple light fixtures, but that was confusing and I didn’t see anything I liked well enough to pay the price on it.  So we came home with a temporary solution—two paper shades.

And once home I realized that the afghan in the living room was perfect for the futon and pillows, so it went up to that room.  Here are the pictures. 

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I put the sofa here, because it faces the window, which doesn’t show in the photo. If you sit in the futon you can see out the window.  If we make it up as a bed, we would move it to the far wall.

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We may figure out how to drop the lamp shade lower some day. The afghan is one my mother crocheted, which Marta brought over in October.

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The funny little end tables were in the second bedroom. They are made of wood slats, fabric and cardboard. They might weigh 2 or 3 pounds each.  If we could get some nice plywood cut to the size of the tops, we could make them flat and somewhat usable. The little lamps are too small, but they were here too, so they ended up in this room for now. I’m not sure if they’ll stay.

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The other side of the room.  That little lamp was removed. I was going to put the shades on that one and its twin, but then decided to go with the other two. I have 4 lamps and 3 shades. They are all pretty small.

I had some matching bedding for the twin bed and some towels in turquoise, so put them on the shelves here. I think that organizer will work well for guests. There is room to hang a few things and the shelves and that’s about all most travelers want. If the guest or guests are using the futon as a bed, this bed would work fine to hold suitcases.

And now, for the people who have been here and seen the ugly hallway outside the door, look at what it looks like now!

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The carpet here was tan and stained. Strangely, the workmen put the laminate right on top of the carpet. I don’t know if that was a good idea, but it seems fine.

The bathroom door is just to the right in this photo. The tiles in there are turquoise.

I would sound a lot smarter if I said I used the afghan to plan my color scheme around, knowing that it would coordinate with the aqua tiles in the bathroom. Yeah, that’s what I did—exactly.


Well hopefully I’ll have more travel pictures to share soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Attic renovation complete

I cleaned up the beams, stained them and Jim helped me with the priming and painting this week. We cleaned up today and took some pictures.

So here’s what you see when you enter the room.

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The laminate floor will be really easy to maintain.

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The new window and lower part of the beams.  If you compare to how they looked in the previous post you’ll see the result of the cleaning I did.  Though, getting the plaster off was easy. The hard part was that they were very dirty too.

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Another view of the beams, stained. The builder put that new bit on the floor to hide the part of the iron rod that came above the floor level.

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Last shot, looking up.

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And in case attic renovation isn’t your thing:

We went to a flea market in the next town on Monday (Pentecost) and picked up these items for 10 Euros.


On Wednesday, I decided to try to figure out how to recreate a Tarte Tatin we had had in St. Ceneri. It came out pretty well.

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This morning it was nice enough to eat breakfast outside. We had put together this table we found in the garage. This part of the garden is in the sun in the morning and in the shade in the afternoon, so we keep the other table on the patio, which is in the shade most of the time except late afternoon.

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And the big rose bush has started blooming this week.