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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bowled over...

I always knew that Guernsey people were friendly, but top marks go to the Island Bowl at St Sampsons for going that little bit further...

When my daughter, Chloe, and her husband Phil discovered their ferry back to England was delayed by ten hours they were struggling to entertain eighteen-month-old toddler Millie Grace.

Having checked out of their apartment they headed for the bowling alley where staff took pity on their plight.

'As soon as they realised we had nowhere to go,' says Chloe, 'they switched the flat screen tv on to cartoons and told us to make ourselves at home. Nothing was too much trouble. It was great not being pushed out when we'd finished eating and we reckon they all deserve a medal.'

I'd love to think that would happen in England - but somewhow I wonder. Three cheers for Island Bowl...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A novel way to lose weight...

I came back from Guernsey this year having managed to lose weight, despite the consumption of cream teas and other local delicacies...

The secret? The Constitution Steps. One of the oldest stone flights on the island, these aptly-named steps are akin to climbing Mount Everest (by my standards, anyway) and are better than any regular workout at the gym.
Our lovely apartments, La Madeleine, stood at the top of a continental-style terrace overlooking the harbour. According to the brochure there are several different paths to reach the apartments. However, it adds, 'Constitution Steps are not recommended.' Who could refuse such a challenge?
Every morning my intrepid husband braved the 150-something steps down to the town to buy a newspaper, returning, slightly red-faced, several minutes later. Not to be beaten I then emerged to 'skip' downwards and climb my way (very slowly at first) back up again. Below is the view of the harbour from half-way up.
Most people stop at this point, ostensibly to admire the scenery, whilst actually attempting to regain their breath.
By the end of the ten-day holiday, I had the whole thing down to a fine art and felt
fitter and, dare I say, slimmer, than when I arrived. But then I do like telling stories - they're so much more fun than the truth...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Secret of the Secret Garden

I have just read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden, an intriguing book that follows the life of a young English girl abandoned on a ship bound for Australia at the turn of the century. It reminds me of my favourite children's story, The Secret Garden, written exactly a hundred years ago by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Although she wrote mainly for adults, the Victorian author captured the hearts of children the world over with this delightful tale.

The author's own secret was the tragic death of her 16-year-old son, a loss from which she never fully recovered. Written in his memory, the story provides the happy ending that she herself was denied. Born in Manchester, the family moved to the United States when she was a teenager and she spent much of her life travelling between the two countries. She was much criticised in the press for being away from her family and this affected her deeply when her son died of consumption.

The book fell out of favour until the 1960s when a new generation of children, and adults, took it to their hearts again.

I captured this shot in Guernsey, an island famous for its glorious gardens. What better place to read - and write?