Excerpts from 750 word article


by Pam Hobbs

I can't say I have a lot of faith in polls, but when results of a Gallup poll tell me residents of Guernsey are the happiest people in the world I believe it with all my heart. I mean, really, who wouldn't be happy to live on this island off England's south coast? The sun shines almost every day, and a balmy climate brings the flowers out long before their buddies on the mainland. Income tax is 20%, and there are no goods and services taxes. Golden beaches connect adorable little ports, while inland farms are perfumed by carnations, roses and freesias grown for export.

Even the cows are happy. They stare placidly from beneath lashes most women would die for, and give the richest milk in the world. (Interpret that as cream, as in cream teas.) There is virtually no crime, and no unemployment. No visible poverty either. In fact money is big business, with more than fifty different banking groups active on this 62 square km (24 sq mi) island.

On Guernsey you will never be at a loss for something to do. An efficient bus network will get you around. Coastal paths make cycling and walking a joy. And if you rent a car you'll find that a full tank of gas will keep you going all week. Local seafood is second to none. Cream teas served in country gardens are unforgettable.

St Peter Port is Guernsey's capital and the Channel Isles' oldest community. Presenting a Mediterranean scene with buildings crammed onto the hillside rising from a busy harbour, its narrow cobbled streets have little in common with the 20th century. The shops could keep me all day. So could the historic dwellings, their gardens bounded by granite walls with wild flowers tumbling from their cracks. Castle Cornet has guarded the harbour for something like 700 years, and still fires its cannon at noon each day. Follow the town's side streets pointing towards the coast, and you will find yourself above seascapes of heart-wrenching beauty....

Hugo wrote most of Les Miserables here, twenty pages a day. His afternoons were reserved for long walks, which made him a familiar figure on the coastal paths. Now true fans like to follow the official Hugo Trail.

Guernsey is very accessible. U.K. Air flies to this and other Channel Islands from Britain's major airports. A car ferry sails between Poole (Dorset) and St Peter Port in three hours.