Aug 152014

St Peter Port, Guernsey was our next stop and again we were  being tendered to shore. I have always had an interest in Guernsey  as it was the only part of the British Isles to be occupied during World War Two and it was a regular holiday haunt for some of my English cousins and I found out just before I went away was my boss’ wife ancestral place!

For a while I was not sure i would be going ashore as the sea had a bit of a swell and when you are not very tall, not very agile and the side of the tender boat suddenly drops three feet just as you are about to step on it gives you pause for second (and third!) thoughts. Shame there wasn’t a camera around as my face must have been a picture!

The sea, boat and I got in tune finally and I was safely on the boat.

The Guernsey sea front was quite colourful. The guide told us they had reclaimed some of the shore front and that the sea used to sea lot closer in.
We were doing a tour of the island by coach.  Guernsey is a tax haven and is business home to 70 or so international banks. This has also meant that home prices are extreme, costing million plus pounds for some fairly ordinary places with many places costing more than London prices which seemed horrific enough to us.

There were, of course, quite a number of mansions on Guernsey as you would expect for the home of more than 70 international trading banks and heavens knows how many companies head offices. I’ll never be the sort of person who has a mansion that needs a gatepost topper like this unicorn on my gate post. 

Although maybe I could make an exception and a  dragon could adorn my gate post of my humble abode as I love dragons and have collected them for years.

No maybe not.

This is the Little Chapel. It was built by Brother Déodat who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. Apparently this was his second model as it is said the first model was taken by his bishop back to France. 

It is decorated with seashells, pebbles and colourful pieces of broken china as once the Brother had built the chapel it was of a grey brown material and didn’t look that nice so he started putting on decorations. A reporter from a London paper came to Guernsey on holiday and heard of the chapel and asked him what could he do to help and then wrote a piece in the paper about the need for broken crockery to cover the chapel and surrounds. Bags and parcels of china started coming from all over England but it was still slow going. Then the Brother received a letter from the very well-known Wedgewood factory asking how much china he needed and they sent a large skip of broken china. You can see the Wedgewood patterns and there were some comments from the tourists, ‘oh I have that pattern at home!’

You can’t come to Guernsey and not at least look at the cows that along with the Jersey cow are the progenitors of so many dairy herds around the world.

Guernsey was the only part of Britain that was occupied during World War Two. Evidence remains around the island of bunkers, gun emplacements and the memories are long of the difficult times that were endured.

On the coach tour were a couple of people who had been evacuated as children and I had a nice chat with them about a book I had bought about the evacuation, living in England with strangers then coming back after a number of years to family that had almost become strangers.

Guernsey was a lovely place and one day hopefully I’ll go back for a longer visit.

There had been a number of people who had missed my Timelines talk as they had attended the other presentation in the same time-slot. I had agreed to present it again during the Research Help Zone session today so headed back to get ready for that.

Then there was the Eileen O Duill and “Dublin, 30 June 1922: did everything blow up?” and of course the answer is no, not everything was lost. Yes there was a tragic loss of some records and no, the censuses that don’t exist today were not all burnt then as some had already been destroyed by the Government previously.

We are seeing many more Irish records being digitised and available outside the Irish archives and this is wonderful. Ireland is definitely one of the places where you have to know the history, politics and legislations in plae to know what records are likely tohave been created and what could be available today. The opposing session was Marie Dougan talking on Scotlands People. I had already had my great win using Scotlands People back at Inverness where i was able to acquire so many records for my fifteen pound investment.

Then Alan Phillips gave an update on the planned future cruises and you can find out more about them and download the new cruise brochure here. As a teaser there is the Sydney cruise in October this year, the Western Australian one in January 2015 to commemorate where our boys left from to go to Gallipoli 100 years ago, the Baltic cruise cruise in the middle of 2015 and then the Transatlantic one in late 2015 and a number of others after that including the New Zealand one where the eminent lecturer the legal Genealogist Judy Russell will be the lead presenter in early 2016.

Then it was time to have dinner and chat in the lounge where there were comfortable chairs, power-points (an essential item!) and genies talking family history.

Some of the genies had been spending a bit of time at night collaboratively doing a jigsaw puzzle and they had completed it. The topic was quite appropriate in timeframe.

There was a very creative Chef aboard the Marco Polo, who had had training as a wood carver. he created some very interesting fruit/vegetable animals and displays.