Has Guernsey Lost Its’ Gosh (Gâche)?
Reversing the greenhouse effect
In search of life’s lower gears, the need for a break from our constantly connected digital world led us to the Channel Islands, Guernsey. A crown dependent gem closer to France than England with over 100 miles of apple crumble coast line. A perfect combination of Anglo French culture steeped in historical drama, home to a Huguenot exodus and the German occupation, it’s now an economic paradise for those with telephone number bank balances. Yet its unspoilt habitat of grassy vales fat Guernsey cows, towering cliffs and vanilla beaches retain an hypnotic innocence and naivety. Hedge veg (home grown vegetables) sit expectantly on home-made shelves with honesty boxes, tempting passing traffic to strawberries, tomatoes, beetroot and other seasonal produce. All of which possess an ethnic taste, they actually have an intense flavour rather than bland watery content. Food here is celebrated and largely organic, perhaps owing to its heritage of greenhouse growers. A shimmering mass which once occupied vast acres of this fecundate isle, partly owned by the Maharani's Guernsey patois speaking elders, has now sadly gone to seed leaving just a few thousand feet for Artisan producers such as Alf & Ruth Lainé. A new crop of green has taken root, a VAT free variety, despite the island wide 35mph speed limit, Guernsey seems to be speeding up.
Simple lifestyles currently sit alongside vast wealth, the latter of which threatens to out price locals out of house and home as house prices creep toward a Babel summit, despite the duality of local market and open market rates. A visit to a crumbling former family house built from 16thCentury stone was interrupted as the new developer owners spun their granite Aston into the drive. Perhaps nostalgia is best left to rest in the memory.
Is Guernsey’s 1950s idyll of modesty and honesty in danger of being replaced by a brasher cash and flash culture? This Crown loyal state is in peril of selling its jewels to the highest bidder. However, the best things in life are still currently free(ish), large skies bruised by orange purple sunsets, postcard villages, proud gardens, magnificent hidden bays in the Fermain Valley, followed by thick slices of the island’s fruit bread Guernsey Gâche (gosh) skimmed with rich Sark butter. The stay at the Fleur Du Jardin was made enjoyable courtesy of its seasonal staff, who really deserved the 3 stars, rather than the inconsistent accommodation and food. Next time it might be a glamping stopover at Vaugrat Campsite, not sure if they erect Yurts though.
Swinging our legs over the promenade wall we watched the sea swallow the sun over Cobo Bay whilst fishing boats rocked themselves to sleep and gulls scavenged BBQ remnants from the sandy floor. Tucking into our most memorable meal, chips soaked in sharp vinegar dusted in salt, we realised our shoulders had dropped several inches, a natural botox smearing away city stress lines. Guernsey is a prized tonic in the medicine cabinet known as the Channel Islands.