Friday, 5 February 2016

For sale: one lovely yacht with lots of happy Greek memories

For eleven years, this was my holiday.
Not bad for a confirmed landlubber.

It all began in 2004 when Mr Grigg and I were looking for a holiday home on the beautiful island of Corfu.

The place we wanted, on the edge of a village called Kavalouri, fell through. So on the last day of our fact-finding holiday, we called in at Gouvia Marina where my husband had an appointment with a man selling yachts.

I'd sooner sit by the sea than sit on it. And then I saw an advertisement for a partnership scheme with the aptly-named Odysseus Yachting Holidays. We'd pay half the price for a boat and the company would pay the rest and charter it out. At the end of five years, it would be ours and, in the meantime, we could use it for up to five weeks a year. 

Mr Grigg is crazy about the water. I am not so. I prefer rolling hills, cows and agriculture. However, I am pretty passionate about Greece, its islands, its people, ancient history and culture. And those azure waters are pretty inviting.

So when we got home to windswept Blighty, we talked about it. Mr Grigg got very excited and I overcame my aversion to being a tiny speck in a vast ocean and reasoned it was a great way of seeing Greece. It would be like a sea-borne caravan.

In any case, the partnership scheme was much cheaper than buying a house and it meant the Ionian would be our oyster.

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. I had to learn to sail first. But I did it, passing my competent crew course at Weymouth to qualify for a life on the ocean wave.

Over the years, we've visited some wonderful places, had great holidays and had family and friends join us. I genned up on ancient Greece by studying for an MA at Exeter University.

We've sailed, like Odysseus, into Ithaca, we've been caught in thunderstorms fierce enough to shipwreck an ancient hero, we've found ancient ruins, met some wonderful people and put our feet under the Greek table. 

But all good things must come to an end. And now Nestor, our 36ft Bavaria, is up for sale












Our adventures in Greece and connection with the good people at Odysseus will continue as will our love for the village where we lived for twelve months in 2012 and 2013.

I'll be back in Corfu at Easter to launch my book about our grown-up gap year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Ravens and yew trees


Ancient folklore features in my latest posts for the website A Dorset Year.

For the first one, in which we ponder the fate of the 2,000 year old yew tree in Lush Places, I'm joined by my new neighbour, the lovely Natamagat, who is helping me with photographs. You can tell which ones are hers. They're much better than mine, but then she is a photographer.

In the second post, I'm surrounded by rooks and a solitary raven. Nevermore.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Reasons to be cheerful

About seven weeks ago, I wrote a piece for my column in the oldest woman's weekly magazine in the world, The People's Friend.

It came from the heart. But my writing speciality is light, uplifting prose, sprinkled with humour, and based on a love of the countryside and a strong sense of place. I like to take a sideways look at life and focus on characters, detail and quirky situations. It's sometimes thoughtful and reflective, but never gloomy.

What I wrote was never published because it didn't fit my style. But I'm publishing it on The World from My Window now because today I have reasons to be cheerful. When I wrote it, I had been referred by a specialist for an MRI scan. I am pleased to say that, although I still have the health issue that led to me having the brain scan in the first place, it was clear. There were no nasties up there causing my sudden hearing loss.

What a relief. 

It wasn't a big thing compared with problems some people have but it's been a worry, nonetheless.

So let's have a collective hug for anyone undergoing bad stuff right now. Talking about it is good, bottling it up is not. You are not alone.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

No place like home


I’m a little down in the dumps this week.

It’s unlike me. I’m always the first to tell people there is no point in worrying. It’s just wasted energy and not good for the soul.

I have a health problem that needs sorting. It’s not necessarily a life or death situation but it’s still preying on my mind. And then there are a few problems on the domestic and work front that are getting me down.

It’s a dull, windy day and I’m stuck indoors in front of the computer in between two quick walks for Arty. The dog cheers me up, especially when she nudges me from behind with one of her soft toys as I sit at my desk trying to find inspiration in the blank screen staring me in the face.

She wants to play. Of course she wants to play. She’s a dog and not prone to worrying. So I gently prise open those jaws and take the toy – a wild boar bought in France last year as we made our way back from Greece – and hurl it across the room.

Arty scampers off and is back in an instant, with the toy in her mouth and wanting to do it all over again. So we do that about five of six times and then I think, blow this, I’m going to go out for a walk with her before it gets dark.

So we walk briskly along the road, her new collar flashing neon green in the dusk, and the trees swaying in the breeze as we head down the lane to a muddy field. That’s the trouble with this time of year, there is mud everywhere, particularly in Dorset. And it feels like a storm is brewing.

We have a whale of a time in that field, Arty and me, until she finds something that looks like a dead rabbit which she tosses around in the same way a killer whale treats a seal. It’s not a pretty sight. So I blow the whistle and get her to come back to me. I can’t tell her off because she’s just responded to a command and that will be confusing for her. And none of us likes mixed messages.

We head home and when I touch the keyboard on my computer, the ‘bubbles’ screensaver disappears but the Word document I left earlier is still blank. I had a faint hope that some divine being might have intervened while I was away and scribbled out a bestseller just for me. Now there’s a thought.

Arty’s drying off in her bed now and I just don’t feel myself. It’s as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders. So I leave Mr Grigg a note and head off in the car. I’m not sure where I’m going, I just need to have some time away from the house and time to myself. Time to myself, that’s it.
I head down to the Bay to look at the waves and think. I get as far as the harbour because it’s too windy to go on the beach. The Jurassic Coast bus goes past me and I think of getting on it and going to Weymouth for the evening and then dismiss the idea as rather reckless.

I’m tuned into a radio station and the inane presenter is driving me to distraction. And then he plays a song with the lyrics Wasting away again in Margaritaville and I think the DJ might have a ESP and can see me in my car because the Greeks called me Margarita when Mr Grigg and I were there last year.

I dismiss the thought from my mind and then see a boat on the side of the harbour, its name written on the side as if it’s telling me something. The vessel is called Home and it’s where I need to be. So I turn on the engine and head back to Lush Places.



Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A Lush Places welcome for Afro Celt Sound System

We're in the pub in Lush Places, our ears ringing from a night of wonderful music.

The gritter lorry goes by, churning its contents across the road and over the pavement. Baby, it's cold outside.

We're huddled around the bar and having animated conversations about the brilliant night we've just had in My Kind of Town. And then a hush descends.

Our cheery landlord, Mr Pie, pipes up: 'The band's here.'

And then a colorful array of characters walks in through the door, led Pied Piper-like by our own Ding Dong Daddy.
The assembled throng breaks out into applause. Locals from this enchanted village have just had the most wonderful evening, watching, listening and dancing to the Afro Celt Sound System, a band founded by Ding Dong Daddy twenty years ago. They blend world rhythms into an unstoppable force, performing them with sheer joy on the stage.

The uplifting spirit of the music is totally infectious and we are all still on a legal high.

The band members take a bow, grab a drink and amuse themselves with what we in Lush Places consider top-notch entertainment.
Somehow, though, I don't think my position as vice-captain of the pub's new table skittles team is in jeopardy in any way.

Oh what a night.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Sandwiches, port, horses and hounds for the annual hunt meet

Take a trip across to A Dorset Year to see what's been happening today in Lush Places.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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