Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Broadchurch's last episode: a very Bridport affair

There were gasps as the verdict was announced.

Surely not? And then the programme went on, with twists and turns, including the unexpected and the entirely predictable.

Anyone would think the popular television drama, Broadchurch, was for real. Well, for those of us who live here, where the show was made, it does feel a part of everyday life.

The writer lives in Bridport and the actors are now frequent visitors to the town and its harbour, West Bay. The series' backdrop is as familiar to us as the backs of our hands, although the magic of television splices the geographical areas of North Somerset and West Dorset with surgical precision, so that the dramatic East Cliff of West Bay on the south coast suddenly looms on the distant skyline beyond Clevedon and the Bristol Channel.
In Bridport last night, the charming Electric Palace Theatre played host to the haunting, atmospheric music of ├ôlafur Arnalds, the composer for the series. He and his band filled the quirky venue with loops and refrains, seemingly simple piano and ethereal violins.
And after ninety minutes and a standing ovation, the curtains were drawn, the roadies moved in and the stage was set for the finale of the second series of this show, as the audience, which included writer Chris Chibnall and actor Jodie Whittaker, who plays Beth Latimer, settled down to watch the big screen and find out what really happened.

It was the sort of thing Bridport does very well.

As the end credits rolled, there were cheers when it was announced Broadchurch would be back for a third series.
Jodie, Chris and Ólafur signed autographs and the audience went home happy.

It is such great publicity for this part of Dorset.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 13 February 2015

Pictures of Maddie

We've just had a photo session, Mr Grigg and me, here in the kitchen.

It's usually me behind the camera - I've never been much of a one for inflicting my fisog on the world. Invariably, pictures of me on the web are of tea cups, tiki masks and Fra Newbery's painting The Spirit of Bridport.
I also use this one a lot.  I like it. I took it. But I'm not in it. 
'Smile girls,' I yelled from afar. 'Jump up and down a bit.'

So they did. 

It's one of my favourite pictures.

But, over the last few months, it's me who's had to be the subject of the photographs. 

'Can you send me a nice photo of you by the sea?' the feature writer at Good Housekeeping said to me last summer.

'Do you really need it?' I said. 'Can't you use a picture of the Greek village we lived in, or a back view of me?'

'Well, not really,' she said. 'It's a two page feature and it's all about you and how you felt living on a Greek island.'

It happened again this week.

'We'd like a head and shoulders picture of you,' said the nice lady from The People's Friend magazine.

'Can't you use a picture of my new dog?' I asked.

Well, she is rather beautiful.
'Of course not,' the nice lady said. 'Not unless the dog's writing your column.'

So there, in a roundabout way, is the announcement I had to make. On the strength of this blog, I've been asked to be a columnist for the oldest women's weekly magazine in the world.

It's a huge honour, a wonderful opportunity and I can't stop pinching myself at my good luck. So I've had to jettison the reluctance to having my photo taken because, basically, the dog is rubbish at writing.
And as my first column is due to be featured on or around April 1st, I reckon photo number four.

What do you think?

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 2 February 2015

A dog's day out in Broadchurch

It's Broadchurch tonight.
It's funny to see our Dorset coastline in all its glory. Week after week after week.
Those cliffs at West Bay are a towering presence in this popular television series, which is gripping the nation with all its twists and turns.
Through the magic of television, we even saw East Cliff looming up on the skyline in a shot filmed at Clevedon, on the other side of the south west peninsula.

The whole series, whether you like it or not, is a great advert for this part of the world.

In real life, though, you have to keep away from the foot of the cliffs. They're unstable and pieces could - and do - fall at any time.

So we kept to the shore when we introduced Artemis, a ten-month-old Korthals Griffon, to the ocean for the very first time yesterday.
The verdict? She says she likes it.

She'll be back.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 26 January 2015

Maddie in Wonderland

It's been ages since I've written a blog post, and I apologise for that

There's been lots going on in Lush Places and lots going on in my life. All good things, I hasten to add, but sometimes real life takes over.

There's been new work on the horizon, which I've grabbed with open arms because I need the money and the human interaction. There's been collaborative writing in The Lady Shed, with my latest post about the Greek elections here. I've signed up for a TEFL course after being inspired by those wonderful children in Peru.
Whether I'll ever use the qualification I don't know, but at least I'll have it.

I'm going to revisit my masters in classics and ancient history with The Open University later this year and I'm going to be writing and publishing more things Greek. I've missed Corfu these last few months.

And I'm singing again. Laaaaaaa!

Some doors are closing, others are opening.

Open me, open me, close me, close me. Eat me, eat me, drink me, drink me.

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland (to be honest, I always feel like Alice in Wonderland. It dates back to the day when I was seven and my mother put me in the village fete fancy dress competition as an Arthur Rackham illustration).
Anyway, I have some other news to share with you soon. I'm genuinely exhilarated by it. It's something the blogger A Brit in Tennessee predicted years ago. And now it's finally about to happen.

I'll keep you posted.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Community cinema and top quality musicians - not a bad weekend for a small village in Dorset

We sat in our seats, the lights went down and there was not a whirr to be heard.

At the opening night of our very own Lush Places cinema in the village hall, we had a few shorts, including the Happy video I made with a friend last year.
And then it was the turn of Effie Gray, a beautiful film made by Emma Thompson, featuring a great, mainly British cast, and based on the true story of the ill-fated marriage of Victorian art critic John Ruskin.
The ladies in the audience, in particular, were gripped by this tale, even though nothing much really happened.

'It was miserable and too long,' said one of the men.

'Aren't you glad you're not married to someone like that?' said a husband to his wife in the front row.

But it was a hit as far as being the first film of our community cinema was concerned, despite the man behind the scenes (and behind the stage curtain like the Wizard of Oz) poking his head out from the side of the roll-down screen as the story unfolded.

It was almost a full house and the people of Lush Places are indebted to the National Lottery for paying for the state-of-the-art equipment and the local media, including Wessex FM who interviewed Mr Grigg, for their help in publicising the event.

Two nights later, and the stage was set for Five Star Swing and Hits from the Blitz. Toes were tapping, one woman turned up with a gas mask and the top prize in the raffle was a walking stick.
'I swear,' said a villager, 'one day I'm going to come to a wake at this hall and there'll be someone doing a prize draw.'

We had choruses of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Run Rabbit Run and then the bass player got up and asked band leader Chris Smith if he might play the trumpet.
It all happens in Lush Places.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Coming soon to a village hall near you

And now the decorations are down, the Christmas tree over the pub door that some woman thought looked like a willy has been dismantled and the discarded trunk and branches of someone else's tree lies on the pavement.

It is such an undignified ending for such a previously lauded bit of nature, which stood in the corner of people's front rooms or kitchens and was, for a brief moment in time, more important than the telly.
But that's how Christmas is. Once it's over, we're itching to move onwards and upwards, at least I am, grasping at the year ahead like a Chance Card in Monopoly.

It's hard writing a blog like this when the madness of the real world shouts loudly all around us. Our own petty problems or comic moments in Lush Places pale into insignificance sometimes.

But life goes on, all over the world, and we just have to work hard to get on with it as best we can. And, for those of us who have life and good health, it's our duty to do so. Mustn't grumble, is the saying. And whilst we do, it shouldn't be for long. Life is too short to let anyone or anything get us down.

I hadn't meant to go all philosophical. I'd meant to describe the scene that greeted me this week when Mr Grigg and four men of mature years were up at the village hall testing out the new cinema equipment.

You see, Lush Places has just been awarded a lottery grant to bring movies into the village, to lessen social isolation and for people to have fun together through the joy of sharing moments from the big screen.

I had visions of the five of them sitting around in tub chairs, smoking on cigars and watching porn. I'm sorry if that offends you but it's how my mind works.

But when I toddled up to the hall and pushed open the double doors, the film showing was a wildlife documentary about monkeys, with commentary by David Attenborough.
'How sweet,' I said. 'Sweet. But dull.'

They glared at me as if I were mad and then carried on fiddling with remote controls and the knobs on the brand new Blu Ray DVD player.

As soon as I turned to push open the double doors to leave the building, the soundtrack changed and the on-screen grunts and squeals began. At last, I thought, my suspicions were right all along.

And there, on screen, was Babe, the sheep pig.

That'll do pig.

Which gives me the excuse to show this:
Could there be any better ending for a film? It makes me well up every time.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year's Eve in a Dorset village

I woke up this morning, drooling on my pillow like Patsy from Ab Fab.

My hair was sticking up on one side and a trail of clothes led to the bed. I can't find my coat and I hope it's still in the pub.

Some weeks ago, Ding Dong Daddy asked me to help him out with the disco in the pub on New Year's Eve.

It wasn't exactly like this, but not dissimilar.
All afternoon, Ding Dong Daddy and I worked in separate houses, putting our playlists together. Messages pinged back and forth, a conversation on Twitter included Caitlin Moran, the writer Marian Keyes favourited one of my tweets and the violinist with the Smashing Pumpkins and I had a bit of joshing on Facebook.

Things could only get better...
Well, Ding Dong Daddy and I played back-to-back. I sneaked in Siouxsie and the Banshees, followed Tom Jones with Tom Jones, peaked too early with The Monkees, got back in the game with Lady and Sing It Back and then emptied the dance floor with James Brown's Think. It took I'm Every Woman to get them bopping again. Works every time.

And everyone kept bringing the DJs drinks, causing me to crash a few intros but, heck, no-one apart from Ding Dong Daddy noticed.
And then it was Hi Ho Silver Lining and out in the square for Auld Lang Syne.
 And then it was back into the pub for another hour, wrapping it up with a bit of Doris.
Today, we're in the pub again for a late breakfast before heading to friends at Lyme Regis and a brisk walk along Marine Parade for some New Year thinking.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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