By Jessamy Baldwin
I love to plan my escapes. Whether it’s coming up with ideas for a fun girl’s weekend in Amsterdam, researching our upcoming trip to Malaysia or even lusting online over the current 30+ degree temperatures in Thailand, I am an expert when it comes to plotting nomadic excursions.
However, I’m often too busy dreaming up and organising exciting getaways that I look past the beauty of where I already am. Most of us – wherever we are in the world – have so much on our doorstep that’s ripe for exploring. It’s just a case of embracing it.
I’ve been living in Bristol for four months now but I’m writing this on a quick visit back home to the rock. It’s got me thinking how we are spoilt for choice here in Guernsey when it comes to reaping the benefits of local life.
With 27 beautiful beaches, cliff walks to rival the best coastal treks in New Zealand or Norway, an abundance of restaurants that use delicious and locally sourced produce, nearby islands perfect for day trips, a rich heritage as displayed by our museums and one of Europe’s prettiest harbour towns for our capital, we are seriously lucky.
Making the most of what’s already around us is not only cheaper than constantly going away, it’s beneficial to local businesses and our overall sense of wellbeing. If we’re connected to and have fond memories of the world immediately around us, our roots grow deeper and so does our sense of belonging to a community.
I think Guernsey folk are actually pretty good at embracing local life. You’ve only got to drive past Cobo on a sunny Saturday to see the beach and pub full of families and friends soaking up the sun and good times to know that’s true. We love our traditional events and activities, from catching the Trident to Herm on a scorching Sunday morning and annual Liberation Day celebrations, to enjoying our mum’s bean jar and watching the sunset go down after the West Show.
But we can all do better, right?
Whether you’ve just moved to the island, have lived here your whole life or are about to embark on a new adventure living somewhere else, there are a whole host of ways in which you can get more in tune with all things local.
We tend to forget about the importance and health benefits of spending time outdoors. The overall health of our bodies and minds depends, to a large extent, on the amount of pure, fresh air we breathe. Getting out-and-about on your next free day or just going for a run after work will make you feel more in tune with your local area and get your endorphins going. Why bother staring at amazing outdoorsy pics on Instagram when you can experience the real thing? Why not try an unusual walking track, swim in a bay you’ve never been to before, take a picnic to a secluded spot with a spectacular view or crack out the bike that’s getting dusty in the garage. Treat your next free day the same as you would day 2 on holiday – time to explore!
Join a local club (nothing work related!)
A huge part of embracing local life is embracing its people and there is no better way to do that than being a part of a group, class or club. Whether you’re into sports, arts and crafts, photography, spinning or volunteering, most local towns cater to a variety of interests and hobbies – Guernsey being no exception. Embracing an old or new passion, making like-minded friends and having a focus outside of work is a great way to inject positivity into your life and challenge routine. You know that feeling when you meet people on holiday and you think to yourself ‘I wish there were more people like that where I live’? There are! You’ve just got to actively put yourself in a position to be able to meet them.
Use your feet
The best way to get to know an area is by foot. Nothing beats experiencing somewhere on your own steam. Walking through the lanes, picking blackberries, listening to the birds, probably getting rained on and smelling orchids …as well as cows? Or, driving through with your eyes on the road, always focusing on the destination rather than the journey? Of course we all sometimes have to be somewhere in a hurry, but when you do have the time, try and use your feet. You never know where they may lead you.
Be a tourist in your own town
Often when we live in a place, we never do the things that tourists travel thousands of miles especially to do. It’s the same everywhere you go though. When I lived in New Zealand, I remember asking someone who worked at the Waitomo Caves, if he’d ever actually been inside and he replied that ‘no’ he hadn’t – ‘never found the time’, he replied. We’re all guilty of this. I only went to the Occupation Museum a few years ago and I definitely haven’t been to every beach on the island. If there’s something you’ve been meaning to do or there’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit, make the time for it. Trek Machu Picchu – sure, but why not see if you can come up with an exciting itinerary to take in your local sites? A great opportunity to do this I’ve found is when you have friends and family to stay from abroad.
Embrace local food
Whenever I travel, I’m always super keen to sample the local cuisine. Nope, definitely not one to head straight for MacDonald’s, no siree. From alligator bites in Florida and goat curry in Kenya to BBQ fish caught fresh from Lake Malawi and highly calorific cheese pizza in Italy, I’m all about getting down with the local grub – or rather, getting it down. I don’t see why we can’t all do this at home? Back in Bristol, I’m making a real effort to drink local ciders (I say effort…?) instead of just imported ones and I’ve become obsessed with Colston Buns – a traditional Bristolian sweet and spicy bun. That’s not to say we don’t love the international cuisine here, but it’s good to have locals’ backs. I was speaking to a fellow Guernsey girl the other day who had never heard of bean jar, and I died a little bit inside. Don’t be that person.
“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children