Return to Guern: What’s New, What’s Good


I’m home, released back into the wild!

I’m rocking and rolling, bouncing and chirping, soon to be earning and burning.

I have taken somewhat of an impromptu hiatus from this blog after churning out 11 articles over 10 days in the Hotel Quarantina.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Ask Me Anything’ exercise, and must thank everybody who contributed such interesting and thought-provoking questions, and apologise to those who contributed questions I did not answer. You all helped keep me sane.

I had a pleasantly surprisingly 2,000 views across the 10 AMA pieces, which I am chuffed with.

The most views were on the piece discussing food in the different destinations, by some margin. I thought the piece on LGBTQ+ experience in these countries or the piece on Iraqi Kurdistan would generate more interest. More likely, I tired the gentle reader out after 10 days of rambling!

Anyhoo, since that burst of energy whilst in enforced insolation, I have freely and happily been able to redirect my energies elsewhere.

Readers will know I am returning to a quiet and stable and predictable existence, whereas a few weeks ago I was living a rather full-on, unpredictable period of life across a series of unstable countries.

To that point, my friend Nathaniel said to me at the bathing pools last week, “I was reading your blog whilst you were away. It sounded crazy! What’s it like being back in Guernsey?”

I make a broad gesture towards the pool, my other friend’s two twin daughters splashing about and squawking with delight, the deep blue and almost cloudless sky above, the islands of Herm and Jethou and Sark in clear view, the medieval Castle Cornet gently announcing itself in the near distance.

I answer, truthfully, “It is hard to describe just how nice it is to be back.”

Nat laughs, knowing himself that it’s paradisical. He says, “You could be anywhere, eh!”

Many people have asked me what it’s like to be back, enough to merit an article.

Here it is.

A few weeks removed from romping around the middle east and central asia, I am overdue a rambling chirp about my return to Guern: what old haunts and peculiarities and people I missed in Guernsey, and what exciting new prospects present themselves over the fast approaching horizon.

Guernsey: Home and Away

One thing I’ve really enjoyed upon my release is, ironically, something that used to annoy me about living in Guernsey during my teenage years and early twenties: seeing people you know, everywhere, almost all of the time.

Hollering ‘wotcher’ out of the car window, bumping into old colleagues in town, catching up with familiar faces down the Bridge, seeing my biddies wittering away at Bordeaux, arriving at my friends’ houses uninvited and chirping to them and their nippers, having unsolicited conversations with humans I don’t recognise but probably know via someone else if I bothered to ask – all of this is special and unique to small tightly-knit communities.

I was one of those young people who needed to live away to realise I had a potential paradise at home, and now I cherish it as just that.

One memory is wrapped up with that realisation.

I was returning on the Condor from Brighton after my first semester at university – thoroughly disenchanted with a city chuck-full of homeless people, mouldy and clamorous, incidentally still my favourite UK city – and I saw Guernsey come into view.

The low-lying houses of the island’s north, the quaint French-looking houses and church steeples poking out of St Peter Port, the emerald trees of the southern ‘upper’ parishes, the sheer plunge of cliffs into sea, some of it cupped within our Victorian tidal pools.

As the Condor cruised past the lighthouse, with people fishing happily of it with rollies in their mouths, and we came into port next to fishing boats, the Sark Ferry and Travel Trident, I remember thinking, “Yes, I am home.”

Now, presently, returning from almost half a year away, I know what I am arriving home to.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t missed home.

I pined to be home in the latter weeks of my time away.

I moved quickly and kept busy travelling whilst away, knowing I was homesick only to the extent I wasn’t preoccupied by something novel and exciting.

So, counterintuitively, my connection to home had me travel rather more adventurously than I envisaged before departing.


Family time I missed enormously, and though they were very ordinary things I missed, they hold extraordinary importance for me. Being away made me realise little satisfies me more than little things such as the following.

Picking up my three year old niece Fwob from playschool. Fwob is a force of nature. Before her teacher can get her coat on, she walks towards the door and presses her face against the glass to make me laugh, shouting, “Hi Beard!”

Walking towards the car, I say to Fwob, “We should go to Candie Gardens.”

“No!” Fwob commands, “I want to go to the park.”

To Delancey Park we go, where Fwob spins on a roundabout until she can hardly stand, and immediately attempts to scale a climbing wall while still on unsteady legs.

Taking my ten year old niece Cez for an impromptu dip at Salarie Corner with a couple of friends. We take turns to jump off the pier, and I lift Cez onto my shoulders and launch her like a spindly shot put. Laughing hysterically, she splashes side-on into the sea.

Seeing my eldest niece Ella, age 18, suddenly an adult and working a job and socialising after hours with friends old and new.

Third-wheeling my elder sister Annie and her husband’s date night at a curry house.

Meditating and dipping with Annie and Cez at 6.30am yesterday morning.

Swimming around Bordeaux Bay with my Dad, soaking in the soon to be frigid seawater, and soaking up that last spurt of summery sun.

Chirping with my squawking Mum, together laughing at and doting on the little’uns, then drinking beer, playing Mario and shooting the breeze when they’ve relented and gone to bed.

Taking my Grandshag on the hedge veg run, walking him to surprise-visit Mum at work, hearing his old tales, and laughing at his admonishments at travelling to such “dangerous” destinations.

Being woken up at the crack of dawn by my two youngest nieces, Fwob and Rooster, thick as thieves, bounding downstairs, no doubt in an attempt to try and clandestinely “bake” something before any adult wakes up to thwart their efforts.

As you can see from two such instances, it was better I distract them and redirect their energies elsewhere before the inevitable culinary catastrophe ensued.

I have them draw pictures, and bless their hearts, they both choose to draw Beard.

(Rooster’s artwork below: She counted the lines on my forehead, giving me an unlikely but forgiving three lines. Blue eyes and ginger beard spot on. I had my shirt off, hence the disconcerting nipple emphasis. Not sure what happened to my fingers and ear that morning, though.)

After Fwob mistakenly says it’s nighttime, I lift both onto my hips and walk out onto the dewy grass to show them the first fingers of sunrise pulling back the night.

Picking up Rooster and Cez from school. Chatting to the only other person waiting outside the school without phone – a chirpy grandmother who walked up to me and said, “Do I have to have a phone to be here?” As they leave school, watching my nieces interact with other nippers is always a treat.

We walk and skip and chirp through town, stopping so they can climb or jump on this, hang on or jump off that.

We catch the bus, where Rooster reads Rumplestiltskin aloud to me, whilst Cez reads to herself, distractedly looking outwards over beautiful Belle Greve Bay.


Guernsey is clean and quiet and beautiful. Though I visited some achingly beautiful places, clean and quiet can be said for few of them.

Rooster was picking up litter when we went berry picking the other day. Unsolicited. That kind of automatic care and consideration of the environment is simply not present in the countries I’ve just returned from.

Guernsey’s natural beauty and kaleidoscopically changeable weather is something to behold.

Yesterday morning, wind and rain was whipping across the island. By the afternoon, sun was beaming from a clear blue sky, and my friend and I were shirtless on Cobo Beach, boxing and soaking up the sun before our second dip of the day. Huzzah.

The tides all but erupt from the deep and quickly change the whole character of the coast. The sea stretches up and steals whole beaches before retreating again to leave vast swathes of land ready for walkers and womblers. Nary a dull day, with Guernsey’s awesome ebb and flow.

I can find a place of peace and beauty to myself, almost without fail.

My friend and I went to the uppermost point of the Fairy Rings the other week, laying down underneath the full harvest moon. We stargazed and meditated in the moonbeams. Aside from the amazement of shooting stars and UFOs, it is amazing that such places are often conspicuously empty, though uniquely beautiful.

It’s often the same for beaches and parks and lanes and fields, if you time it right, when there’s the lightest smattering or rain or swoosh of wind. Even in little old Herm!

Like this morning, I swam at Bordeaux at 8.30am, and it was empty but for one other human, a fisherman tending his boat who said, “I’m wearing my winter gear and you’re wearing bathers. One of us is mad!”

New Adventures

What’s new? What’s good?

What’s the story morning glory? What’s the word humming bird?

My friend Scouse AKA Luke Graham has started a glorious early morning initiative called Ultimate Morning Guernsey.

A group of likeminded good people turn up first thing in the morning, rain or shine, and workout, stretch, meditate, and then swim in the sea.

I dare you to join and see if you don’t glow the rest of the day.

I have restarted Humans of Guernsey, that elaborate ruse which allows me to ask interesting questions of interesting and inspiring people, which I then share with you, dear readers, alongside local photographers’ images of the interviewees.

Our first interview after a three month hiatus was an insightful and moving one with the lovely Sarah Kelly.

Upcoming there are interviews with a jeweller, a civil celebrant and tour guide, a musician and teacher, a photographer and student, a zookeeper, and another Deputy, to preview you just a few.

Variety is the spice of life, shags.

Speaking of which, my short season of gallivanting dosserhood has drawn to a close.

I am to settle into a new season of employed respectability on this jewel of an island by starting a new role – as a Youth Worker.


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