Thursday, 29 July 2010

Please vote for me...

I feel a bit of a sneak because I've pinched the idea from Milla, over at Country Lite. However, if you really do think I'm sexy or, more importantly, you like my blog, please click on Cosmopolitan magazine's link below and cast your vote in the 'lifestyle' section.

I'm not usually one for self-promotion but, honestly, your vote really does count.

I thank you. (And so I don't feel too guilty, maybe you could consider nominating Milla as well. But not at my expense, obviously).

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Seeing red in The Enchanted Village

Colour prejudice isn't something we usually tolerate in The Enchanted Village.

The occasional odd remark in Compost Corner might sometimes go unchallenged in the pub. But more often than not the speaker will get the cold shoulder or be left out of the next round of drinks.

We’re used to seeing all sorts of people in the square, after Ding Dong Daddy, a purveyor of world music, moved here. In the shop, waiting at the bus stop or going for a walk up Bluebell Hill. Men in turbans and women in saris, children with dreadlocks. It’s all part and parcel of our global village.

But The Enchanted Village is beginning to see red. And it’s all to do with the traffic calming scheme, still unfinished after two years.

The road has been narrowed and the speed bumps are in, with street lights more like the aliens in War of the Worlds than the lamp posts marking the entrance to Narnia. When the county council threw the light switch, it was as if Dr Frankenstein had breathed life into his monster. The light was blinding.

There was pub talk of having a five-a-side football match in the square as a public protest at the new 'floodlights'. But the council got away with it. They said they were sorry they inflicted the lights on us without consent and 'lessons would be learned'. Which means the lights continue to glare away like evil eyes along a flight path while the boy racers take off over the speed bumps. And the modern lamp posts still visually slice attractive listed buildings in half.

The kerbless pavements have yet to be colour-coded, as originally planned, to separate the traffic from the pedestrians, leading to an interesting mix during term time when the children skip to school.

However, about six weeks ago, a man with an aerosol can of white paint and a high-visibility jacket sprayed the word ‘Buff’ on various parts of the pavement.

Villagers imagined a creamy off-white colour to complement the mellow stone listed buildings, or even a pale yellow-brown colour, like a biscuit. The sort you might dip into your tea while you were sitting on a rickety chair next to Aga. Our county councillor thought the same.

But on quizzing several council officials, the word on the street is that the colour buff is actually red.

So not content with littering the centre of The Enchanted Village with hideous 21st century lamp posts, interrogation lamps and a plethora of signage, it seems the powers-that-be intend to turn it into Red Square.

Our only hope, Obi Wan Kenobi, is that this idea will be part of the council’s £40 million budget cuts to reduce costs because the country is in the red. Or maybe that should be 'the buff'. And while it's there, can someone please turn out the lights?

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 23 July 2010

The day the music died

A grey mist hangs over The Enchanted Village. It is not unusual, but it feels chilly, like an overcoat left in a cold hallway and then put on bare arms.

A tramp is booted out of the church after a lady doing the flowers discovers him relieving himself behind the organ. The incident leaves a blemish both physically and emotionally. It is not very nice. No gentleman of the road is he.

But the greyness seems apt for the news that greets me when I come back to the village this afternoon. One of my blog characters has to be removed from the cast list. Poor old Dudley, he of the Grand Marnier, red wine and Guinness, he of the magic musical fingers and beautiful mind, the organiser of jazz concerts in the church and in the hall.

Dudley was a troubled soul who everyone knew but no-one really knew very well. He was part and parcel of everyday life in The Enchanted Village, even though he would leave us for weeks on end to get away from it all.

The last time I saw him to speak to, he was in good spirits. The two of us were deep in conversation outside the pub while he had a fag and I escaped from the World Cup. He was looking forward to a new life in the Malvern Hills - a pipe dream, maybe, who knows - but he kept expressing his gratitude for the friendship he had found in The Enchanted Village even though sometimes being here was just all too much.

I understood his need to escape and was pleased to see him looking so happy and making plans. He had a new spring in his step, at least for a while. I thought at the time his move would never happen. And it never did.

Sir Edward Elgar, that most English of all composers for whom the Malverns were such an inspiration, said “My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as your require.”

Rest in peace Dudley, The Enchanted Village will miss you.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The bells, the bells

The wild honesty is going to seed and the rose bay willow herb is losing its spikes of cerise flowers, like a sparkler in reverse. The clouds lie in still layers as the sun goes down, illuminating the witch on a broomstick weather vane on the house down the path.

It is the middle of July in The Enchanted Village but it feels much later. The children have almost broken up but it could be the end of August. The parched fields are damp with much-needed rain and in the mornings the mist hangs over Bluebell Hill like a shroud.

But hark, what sounds are coming from the village square? A rustle and tinkle, the clash of sticks and a jolly accordion under a colourful umbrella. The Wessex Morris Men are on tour. But there is cacophony in the wings. Never mind morris dancing waking the earth and bringing forth new life. The noise is enough to wake the dead.
They've only gone and chosen to perform on the bellringers' weekly practice night.
Hankies wave furiously as the church bells ding and dong.
A small crowd gathers. Someone goes up to the bell tower to have a quiet word. The church bells stop and the tower captain comes down to watch the Morris Men. Half an hour goes by and their performance is over.
The big bells resume. Harmony is restored.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Could it be magic?

I am home five minutes and I find I have to alter my cast list.

Not only is my son no longer a university student, he is a very smart graduate. His degree ceremony was one of the proudest moments of my life. Hundreds of Harry Potter cloaks and a great hall straight out of Hogwarts, just yards from where Number One son studied environmental geoscience at Bristol University.

The organ played Bach and the masters in their assorted coloured cloaks and hats took to the stage dresses as Dumbledore and Co.
Back in the village, however, something is not quite right. My morning dog walks are usually punctuated by the sound of Russell's Crow across the valley, cocka-doodle-dooing. But not any longer.

While I was away, the noisy blighter discovered the invisibility cloak. He is no more. He is a dead bird. He has gone to meet his maker.

The end was short and sweet, I am reliably informed. And he went very well with a glass of red wine, apparently. Which is a relief, really, because an ancestor of mine used a dead cockerel to cast the evil eye on a rival in love, who was hit by a train the very next day.

But I can't help thinking the ghost of Russell's Crow might still be heard as the sun rises over The Enchanted Village. Or pecking at the windows of Bellows Packman perhaps...

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Where the legend begins

Back home in the Enchanted Village and a queue snakes around the hall car park. Morris dancers with blacked-out faces wave their hankies and dance gaily around the tarmac. Inside, a sound check is carried out and the beautiful voice of a singing woman soars through the evening air.

My friend Tuppence opens the doors - a feat in itself because she's a slip of a thing - and the crowd rushes in, making for the bar and a barrel of Branscombe Brewery's best bitter. At the counter is Nobby Odd Job and Mr Loggins while Pelly, Mr Sheepwash and Mrs Bancroft and I dispense the drinks in the background.

Mr Grigg - still sunning himself in faraway lands - would be proud of us.

The music acts as a disembodied soundtrack to the pouring of wine and beer. It's like The World from My Window: The Movie. On stage is Ding Dong Daddy, tonight's promoter, with assorted members of his band The Imagined Village.

'He's famous,' my ethnomusicologist cousin said to me a few weeks ago. This coming from a man who has his own Phil Hull is an epic LEGEND page on Facebook, kindly set up by devoted students on his university course.

'There are two Ding Dong Daddies,' Ding Dong says, modestly, when I tell him tonight.

'No, I'm sure he meant you.' I say. Well, I hope he did.

To the ringing of Mr St John's till, John Jones from Oysterband takes to the stage, after walking 16 miles from Lyme Regis with a jolly but reluctant band of ramblers to get here. John usually has great weather for his walks to gigs. But, as usual, The Enchanted Village is shrouded in mist.

Through the serving hatch I can see the toes of Mamma Mia tapping, alongside Manual and Mrs Regal Bird. General Custer, who won the lottery a few years ago, asks loudly for another pint of beer, but no-one minds because Ding Dong has just described him as a legend for loaning his field for the night to happy campers.

I also get a public thank you, for helping with the PR, and I am unmasked as 'the village blogger'.

''We all have pseudonyms,' Ding Dong says to the audience. 'I'm known as Mr Charmer. If you get the chance, have a look at it. It's called The View from my Window.'*

In between the rush at the bar, we listen to the lovely singing of Jackie Oates - 'Pam Ayres with a bit of The Cranberries', according to Mr Sheepwash - as Nobby sits on the counter, a satisfied beam on his face for having spearheaded such a smoothly-run bar. Pelly is resting her back and sitting on a child's wooden chair in the corner of the kitchen while Mrs Bancroft is pleased with herself for mastering the thumb trick I taught her when pouring fizzy drinks.

My mind wanders. With the heritage of Cecil Sharp's collected folk songs all around me - geographically and also through the family ties of my folk singing uncle, the late George Withers, and hippy sister, who was on the official Glastobury line-up (albeit in the bicycle-powered Buddhist stage singing with her eyes shut and playing penny whistle and trombone) - and a professional musician, producer and now promoter Ding Dong Daddy well ensconced in The Enchanted Village, maybe next year we should hold our own mini-folk festival.

Well, even Michael Eavis's event at Pilton started small. And now look at it.

Big trees from little acorns grow.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

* Irish Eyes, if you get any more followers over the next few days, then you have Ding Dong Daddy to thank.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

When the wind blows

Feeling sick as a dog on the boat in Ithaca while Mr Grigg and the Champagne-Charlies are at large in a bar on the quay somewhere.

Can someone please either get him a message or help me with my essay? Read more at The World from my Porthole.

Monday, 5 July 2010

To hell and back

Up in the mountains, Mr Grigg and I visit mighty Meteora. Down on the coast we descend into the Underworld after a boat trip to the River Styx. 

More on my sister blog, The World from my Porthole.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

How to become a Blogger of Note

Hoorah! Today I logged in to The World from My Window to find I now have 800 followers. It's a great feeling, believe me. To think someone might be reading this, even if they're not. And to know that people land on this page - by choice - from all over the world. Now that is amazing.

Several new followers have asked me how they, too, can become a Blogger of Note. Well, for the record, I did not sleep with the entire Blogger team, nor did any money change hands.

It came out of the blue, it really did, and the only advice I can give you is to keep on blogging. Write regularly and make it personal and interesting, with photos too if you have them.

Oh, and it helps if you try out new Blogger features and include web links. My accolade came not long after I started using the new Blogger template, so how ever much I like to think it's the quality of my sparkling prose what done it, it's more to do with playing the game.

Anyway, my Greek road trip continues at The World from my Porthole where Mr Grigg and I will be swapping tyres for sails on Sunday.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 2 July 2010

A Greek chorus

A post from Metsovo, Greece, where the old men gaze fondly at the young women of the past and truffles dry out in the sun.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Batten down those hatches, it's recycling day

It's blowing a hooley out there.  The wind is lashing against the windows and the dogs are play fighting in front of the Aga before...