Almost as soon as I started reading, I fell in love with England. Books like Frances Hodgkins Burnett’s A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, Jean Estoril’s Drina series, and Noel Streatfeild’s Shoe books made me an Anglophile at age seven or eight. I dreamed of someday visiting the magical land of afternoon tea and theatre spelled with an re. That day came in November 2009, when my husband and I traveled to London, Oxford, and Edinburgh. We hit some of the big tourist sites like the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, but what meant the most of me were the sites related to the books I loved: taking pictures outside the Edinburgh café where J. K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book; stumbling across the Oxford pub where C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien used to meet; seeing a performance of a pantomime, a uniquely British form of entertainment that’s featured in Ballet Shoes. Oh, literary travel, is there anything better? When we planned a return visit in late summer 2012, we knew we’d be based out of London again, but we wanted to take a couple of side trips too. As we tossed around ideas for side trips (Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, was a must), I thought of the British isle of Guernsey. (Guernsey is actually not part of the UK, though some of its functions are handled by the British government, and you can use British currency there.) Both of us had enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, a historical novel that takes place shortly after the German occupation of the isle during World War II (and now a Netflix Original movie). It felt a little strange, picking a destination—especially a relatively remote one—based on a single book. But if literary travel wasn't a thing before, we decide it was going to be now.book vacation Category_Blog Posts>Our Stuff & Not Our Stuff Guernsey Guernsey literary and potato peel society literary travel
Moo.Transportation issues aside, we found Guernsey to be utterly charming. We spent quite a bit of time walking around the capital of St. Peter Port. Whether you were looking out toward the water or in toward the town, there wasn’t a bad view to be found.
Views from St. Peter Port.
Staring at Guernsey cows while waiting on the bus = meh; eating ice cream made from Guernsey cow milk = yum.As we flew into Guernsey, we’d seen gorgeous cliffs, but we never did figure out how to get there. Instead, we wound up at Cobo Beach, on the opposite side of the island from St. Peter Port.
The Little Church. It doesn't get more charming than this.As our plane back to London took off, I had a lump in my throat. As tiny as the isle is, we still hadn’t seen everything we wanted to. With all the places in the world I wanted to see, would I ever have the chance to come back to Guernsey again? I didn’t know. But I did know that I did not regret experiencing my first foray into literary travel. Having read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society before we traveled meant I felt connected to the place before we arrived. It made our explorations there that much more meaningful. People often say that reading takes you to places you’d never expected, and in this case, that was literally true. Meaghan Porter is a trained tap dancer, a gymnastics and Gilmore Girls enthusiast, and a managing editor at W Publishing Group. She is also wife to Jared and the source of gravity in the world to three-year-old Abby. You can keep up with Meaghan’s future posts on Page Chaser’s Instagram or Facebook page. * * *