It was the night before Christmas Eve Eve and we arrived on a dark, blustery and wet Guernsey. James and I agreed last year that because our families are so far apart we’d alternate our trips between the two each year. This year was my first Christmas in Sark with James’ family, my first Christmas in 30 years without my own family and my first Christmas not spent in either London or Birmingham! So when we landed I was feeling a mixture of tiredness, excitement and anticipation.
I knew it would be a different kind of Christmas, taking on new traditions and enjoying being in a quiet place by the coast. Of course I’d let myself daydream of a crisp winter break by the sea, blue skies and plenty of time outdoors. But the four-hour delay getting to Guernsey due to fog issues and a doubtful boat to Sark introduced me to the realities of island life!
C H R I S T M A S E VE E V E
I was so happy when we woke up the next day and welcomed by clear skies. Our boat to Sark was due to depart at 15.15 so we had the morning to wander around Guernsey and I was going to make the most of it.
The first thing I wanted to do was get to the coast and catch a sight of the sea. After what felt like a never-ending year at work and plenty of parties, the rush of a cold, salty breeze felt amazing.
I spotted a lighthouse near Castle Cornet that I hadn’t noticed on previous trips and I had to go and see what the view was like from there.
Isn’t the sound of crashing waves blissful? Easily one of the best sounds on earth (sorry if I’ve said this about 100 times!).
It’s a bit of a strange feeling being in a place that is new and exciting to me, but familiar and homely for James. I try my best to hold in the desire to want to see everything and obviously photograph like an overly enthusiastic tourist, but sometimes I just can’t and will often embarrass myself in the company of others who find it all pretty normal (you’ll find some more examples of this later).
After a late-ish lunch we found out the boat had got the all-clear for our trip to Sark and off we sailed.
We arrived just as the sun was setting and it was such a lovely welcome. Our bags were loaded onto the tractor, which would drop our bags off at the doorstep later on, and we chugged up the hill on the tractor bus. We walked to James’ family house and breathed a sigh of relief. WE’D ARRIVED.
If you’re wondering where on earth I’m talking about, Sark is a little island off the coast of Guernsey with a population of about 600 (according to Wikipedia). I think it‘s most well-known for being one of the few places in the world where there are no cars. But being only 2.10 square miles, you only really need a bicycle and some sturdy shoes.
C H R I S T M A S E V E
The next day everyone woke feeling excited. Everything we needed for Christmas was in place, and we generally spent most of the day relaxing, reading books and watching TV.
As I’d hoped, we decided to go for a walk. We passed horses and ponies calmly wandering around local fields, and then I spotted COWS.
When you’ve spent a number of weeks in the city, barely seeing a patch of green land bigger than the local park, there’s something hilarious and uplifting about the sight of a cow. It’s a sign that you’re properly in the outdoors and away from corporate life. (Embarrassing example no 1 – of course I wanted a picture, I was surprised I’d managed not to get over-excited about the ponies in the first place.)
After a very short walk we were wandering along the cliff tops. I couldn’t have felt more at ease. All we could hear was each other’s voices, the sound of the wind and crashing waves, and of course the odd dog bark.
I could have possibly spent hours sat on this bench contemplating the crazy world we live in.
But Christmas Eve called. There was a Church Christmas service to attend, dinner to be had, games to be played, TV to be watched and chocolate to be eaten.
C H R I S T M A S D A Y
We woke up early and enjoyed the excitement of James’ youngest brother opening up his presents from Santa. We ate breakfast and then played Pie Face. We went for a brief walk to the coast. James cooked an excellent Christmas dinner. We all opened our presents. We played more games. It was a lovely relaxing day.
B O X I N G D A Y
Traditionally spent sale shopping online, watching boxing day movies and eating more chocolate, the explorer in me wanted to get out and about.
So I went ahead of James to his Grandma’s house where I planned to find plenty of embarrassing childhood photos.
The last time I was in Sark was at the peak of summer. We passed holiday makers on their bicycles and locals going about their day-to-day life. In the midst of winter and the day after Christmas, it was pretty deserted.
I loved it. The whole time I was in Sark I could feel my mind slowly unwinding and this quiet walk was just the perfect tonic to add to that.
James caught up whilst I was eating his Grandma’s biscuits and rummaging through her photo albums (at her encouragement!). Amongst all of James’ family occasions I found a photo from 1933! I love getting personal glimpses from a time long ago.
Once I’d had enough of giggling at James’ bowl cuts, we set off to the sea and into the woods.
James took me to a few parts of the coast with the best views. It was fun to see James’ house is perched on the cliff edge.
But the Window on the Rock was beautiful.
Such a stunning view and we had it all to ourselves.
(I had the strangest dream that night about getting too close to the edge! It’s not for anyone with a fear of heights!)
The wind whips around the shore sure enough here!
And I made the most of that feeling.
We made it back just as the sun was setting, poured a cup of tea to warm up and settled down for the evening.
When I played my best monopoly game yet!
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I hope you’ve enjoyed being transported across the Channel Islands. After almost a week in the office Christmas is certainly starting to seem like a distant memory!
Have you had a Christmas in a completely different place? Out in the depths of the countryside or in another country?