Saturday, 31 December 2011

Shuffling into the new year

And there's me, drawing up a playlist of new year's resolutions to keep me going through 2012 when I suddenly have an epiphany.

Why not just put the soundtrack to my life on shuffle, and see what happens?

The prospect is rather scary. It depends on what's in you in the first place. Because when my iPod is on shuffle, I can get cool new jazz from 4 Hero followed by Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in The West, tracks by The Hives I really should erase, the sublime beauty of The Cinematic Orchestra, Faure and Vaughan Williams, a rousing fanfare from Aaron Copland, drums by Buddy Rich and then Barry White telling me I'm his first, his last, his everything.

And then Elvis saying I should return to the sender.

So, fly by the seat of my pants or be organised? A bit of both, I think. It's always worked in the past. So Happy New Year to all my readers. I did think about jacking in the blog for 2012 but now that would be stupid.

And any suggestions for the musical soundtrack to my new year and yours would be most welcome.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The calm before the storm

The seagulls are buffeted in batches as they attempt to cross the West Bay sky.
People in new hats and scarves walk around the harbour. An elderly couple wear matching reindeer jumpers. A half-breed terrier barks bravely at two huskies, wolves in eskimo clothing.  A child tears around on a toy tractor with only a small wall between him and a muddy end.
The tide is out and so are all the after-Christmas revellers, soaking up the salt air like good quality kitchen roll mops up those yuletide spills.

The Grigg household is quiet now, after a Christmas Day for waifs and strays at the Champagne-Charlies and Boxing Day with thirty eight relatives ensconced in various corners of the house, children squealing and being obliging or otherwise, people going outside for crafty fags and teenagers cursing because they couldn't send a text. In The Enchanted Village, no-one can hear your mobile phone scream. There is no signal.

Tonight we will process around the village for a safari supper. And then there's the book club party. And in houses up and down the village and across the land, outfits are being created for New Year's Eve. The countdown to 2012 is just beginning.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

So this is Christmas - and what have you done?

I walk up to the village hall to our 'outreach' post office. We've had two sessions a week since losing our post office a couple of years ago.

'Tai chi?' says our district councillor at the door.

'Sorry, no, I've only come to post a letter.' She seems a little too eager to rope me into something I really don't want to do.

So I get in the queue to send off a very late Christmas card to an old Bridport friend now living in Australia. A dour Mr Putter is standing behind me and in a hurry but I stand my ground because I've got things to do, people to see.

And then I become aware of the relaxing, oriental music. I turn around and look across into the main body of the hall. A crowd of grey-haired onlookers are gazing wistfully at the gentle scene unfolding before them.

Six ladies are doing a tai chi demonstration, arms slowly revolving and legs-a-pointing like some very weird line-dance routine.

The music stops and the hall is buzzing, with people exchanging Christmas cards and gossip.

We may have lost our shop and pub, but this community is still thriving. We've got the Village Hall Arms coming up on Christmas Eve. And with a can-do attitude, who knows what the new year will bring?

So I wish you good tidings to you and your kin. And a selection of photos from my year.
























That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 19 December 2011

Santa Claus is coming to town

So Mr Grigg went into Bournemouth, to take Christmas cards and presents to his colleagues.

As you know by now, he is not one to do anything by halves. He still had his Santa outfit from when he was called upon to perform a special duty at the school fair a week or so ago. So he pulled into a layby to get changed. Pity the poor driver who got an eye full of Mr Grigg’s bottom as he struggled to get into the trousers.

Once the transformation was complete, he pulled out into the traffic. There were open mouths from other drivers as they drew up parallel with Mr Grigg’s Freeloader at the traffic lights. There were double takes as pedestrians walked out on to the zebra crossing.

There were honks of car horns and, best of all, looks of amazement from a school playground as word spread that Father Christmas was in a Landrover in the line of traffic outside. So the children waved and Mr Grigg waved back.

He stopped off at the florists to pick up an ordered bouquet.

‘Your name?’ the lady behind the counter said.

‘Santa?’ Mr Grigg replied.

Outside, clutching the flowers and with a sack over his shoulder, he walked up to the Landrover and just got right in, much to the amazement of passers-by on the pavement.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Step into Christmas

Caruso says a few words to declare The Enchanted Village christmas tree lights well and truly on. A switch is thrown and there is applause as the lights illuminate the village green. Applause because no-one really thought they would come on at all.

Down the road, a tree lights up above Mr and Mrs Champage-Charlie's front door, over the church shop, at Mrs Bancroft's and, last but not least, the Grigg abode. It is a relief because a few hours earlier, Mr Grigg had a plaintive phone call from Mrs Bancroft who wailed: 'My lights have come on and it's only half past three.' So the timers were all adjusted and we just hoped for the best.

We had no idea if anyone would turn up for this step into Christmas but well-wrapped-up figures come from here there and everywhere to join in the ceremony. It isn't quite Oxford Street but it's ours, and it's going well.

There is mulled wine and cider, mince pies and carols around the tree led by Tuppence. I trill like a canary, doing the descant for 'sing choirs of angels' but bottling out of the rest of the verse.

And then it is all off to the village hall arms, joyful and triumphant.

That's about it.


Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Santa and my little pony

The children waited patiently, the excitement mounting.

And as Mr Grigg waited in the house in his glad rags, rouge freshly applied to his cheeks by Mrs Champagne-Charlie to add to the effect, a light clip-clop could be heard coming up the road. It was just before two o'clock. His transport to the school Christmas fair had arrived.

While he adjusted the big buckle around his red tunic, the phone rang. It was Bellows, whose voice is so loud that in all honesty, he could just have easily walked outside his front door and shouted down to us.

'UM, ER, IT'S THE HORSE,' said Bellows.'I'M AFRAID YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAD IT TO THE CHRISTMAS FAIR.'

'Skittish, is it?' Mr Grigg said, the phone six inches away from his ear as he marvelled at his profile in the hall mirror and squatted up and down to test the gusset of the Santa trousers. 'You know, I'm very good with high-spirited fillies. Don't forget I married Maddie.'

'UM, NO, IT'S JUST, UM, IT'S JUST PERHAPS IT'S A TAD SMALL TO TAKE A GENTLEMAN OF YOUR GIRTH.'

And then it arrived. Ride your pony, get on your pony and ride.
Well, perhaps not.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mr Grigg mans the community bar

I've got thousands of words to write for three essays in my classics and ancient history course, so it figures that I am blogging far more often than is reasonable.

Here's one I did earlier for my chums at the Real West Dorset website. If you want to know how Mr Grigg's latest community caper got on, take a look. If it helps, imagine him behind the bar with Movember moustache, Bret Maverick waistcoat and black stetson.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Chris Evans has a lot to answer for

So Movember is done and dusted and Mr Grigg still hasn't shaved off his trucker's moustache. He's getting quite attached to it.

And when he went out to play skittles with his Enchanted Village chums last night, in double denim and trainers, he looked just a little bit like a 70s porn star, minus the gold chain around his neck (ladies, never trust a man who wears a necklace). So much so, that this week his eyes lit up when a colleague, carrying a plastic carrier bag full of old videos, whispered: 'I've got something here you might like...'

Mr Grigg went out the back and had a rummage.

'And guess what they were,' he told me later. 'The entire collection of Miss Marples.'

I chuckled, not because of the image it conjured up but because he is forever putting an unnecessary 's' at the end of people's names:  Cliff Richards, Roger Moores, you get my drift, although he gets very cross when people call him Mr Griggs.

Anyway, he's now putting that comedy moustache to good use and joining it up with a little goatee he's growing as he and Chris Evans and I dare say a whole host of other people launch into Decembeard to raise money for bowel cancer charities.

And after that, Manuary.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Raise your glasses to winter

But for the sound of two crying seagulls, the air is still. There is a coldness to it, a coldness that signifies something is coming. Winter.

The gulls career around, circling above The Enchanted Village, far from their coastal home. A car trundles through and then there is quiet again. The shop blinds are down and the pub curtains are drawn. No-one is home.

White vapour trails, like the tails of mechanised comets, criss cross in the crisp, blue sky to make the sign of a kiss. There is hope on the horizon.

The Village Hall Arms is about to open for business.


That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Home is where the heart is

They say you should never go back. But for the past few weeks, I've had a yearning to go home, to revisit my roots. I don't know why. It's an odd feeling and I can't explain it. I've had Enchanted Village compassion fatigue for about the same time and I felt like running through a field and yelling at the top of my voice.

This weekend, I've done a bit of both but not at the same time. With the fragrant Mrs Putter, I belted out a few negro spirituals at a singing workshop run by my dear friend, Tuppence. I got my voice back.

And then today, Mr Grigg and I put the spaniels in the back of the Freeloader and headed across the county border into Somerset. It was only just over thirteen miles away but it felt like the Land Rover was a time machine as we went back to 1979.

And there I was, in the top field, the one called Bella's Nose, and then up into the wood with its Scots pine trees and then down again through Corn Close, where I learned to drive, and then to the farm where I was born.






 
I reconnected with the past.

And before going back to the car, we called in to see some of my relatives in the churchyard, as well as old school friends and people who I had just known and lived in this village. I hadn't said hello for a long time - aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, niece. It was good to catch up.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Benjamin Button is alive and well and living in The Enchanted Village

The fragrant Mrs Putter sighs deeply as she inputs data on to a spreadsheet from the parish plan questionnaires.

(And this is before she gets to transcribing people's suggestions on alternative uses for village common - 'flood it and turn it into an ice skating rink, grass it over for polo or use it for dogging').

There is an intake of fresh breath as she pores over the forms and reads:

Question: What is your age range? 
Answer: 0-4 years.


Question: How long have you lived here? 
Answer: 65 years.

For a moment, Mrs Putter has visions of Benjamin Button hunched up in front of a log fire, dressed in a baby sleep suit and muttering scribble talk gibberish in between sucks on his dummy and a smoke on his pipe.

The Enchanted Village population is getting younger by the hour. There's youth dew in that parish pump.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 21 November 2011

It's all about me (again)

I have lots to blog about, but also lots to do, with three 4,000-word essays to write in the next four weeks plus some other university-related tasks that have to be done at the same time.

Oh, the joys of being a full-time MA classics and ancient history student when I also have a part-time job. However, that’s my choice, so no feeling sorry for myself here. There’s work to be done.

I am grateful, therefore, to Barbara, at the March House Books Blog, for, firstly, giving me an award and, secondly, for making me slow down and think about myself. I’m not usually one for these ‘meme’ things, but sometimes they can make you look at yourself in a slightly different way.


The requirements of receiving the Lovely Blog Award are:
1. To thank the giver and link back to his or her site.
2. Provide five random facts that folks may not know about you.
3. Pass this award on to five other lovely blog sites and let them know you're awarding them.
4. Copy the award logo and paste it onto your own site.

So here are my five random facts. Not sure if anyone is remotely interested, but it gives you a bit of an insight into the sort of person I am.
  1. I could happily eat nothing but roast parsnips.
  2. I love the smell of wallflowers.
  3. I can recite the opening lines of the 70s TV western Alias Smith and Jones without pausing for breath.
  4. My dad once drew around my Clarks sandal on the lead on our village church roof to go alongside the footprints of people from hundreds of years ago who had done the same.
  5. This video clip made me nearly wet myself:

And here are the other five bloggers to whom I am sending this award: friends, former colleagues and a self-confessed loafer:

Chips Ahoy
A Curious Girl's Guide to Life
House With No Name
Sally's Carcassone

They'll hate me for it , but tough, someone had to receive it. And I think the award logo will look particularly fetching on the first and last blogs.

I was also nominated for another little blog award a while back, but now can’t find the original comment or email. So if it was from you, please don’t take my lack of response personally. I have a head like a sieve.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The bells, the bells

Just when I think there is not much for me to write about if ever I did get round to doing the autobiography, two things happen.

After a nice Sunday lunch of local hoggett, we sit down on the expansive Champagne-Charlie sofas and hear the Remembrance Sunday bells ringing outside.

'You have to come outside and listen to these,' I say. 'They're half muffled.'

Mr Champagne-Charlie comes out like a shot but his wife, Bubble, and Pelly Sheepwash take a little persuading, until Mr Grigg explains how for years he has been going up in the bell tower, fastening the little leather mufflers to the clappers on the bells each Remembrance Sunday.

In deference to his annual bravery, they come out with me to listen. The bells peal in rounds, clittery-clattery loud and then a perfect muffled echo. The bells are yelling to each other and whispering back. It is a conversation worth listening to.

And then the ringers get into a sequence called Whittington: 'Turn again Whittington, turn again Whittington...' and the muffled peal echoes its response from another century ago. It is a wonderful sound, and one that connects the listener to hundreds of years gone by.

And when we go back into the house, I walk backwards to the roaring fire in the woodburner, my skirts held high to warm my bottom. I become my favourite aunt who made a habit of making an entrance in cape and swirling dress and then backing up the fire to heat up her best asset. God bless you, Auntie Marj.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 11 November 2011

Where are you now, you North Somerset Yeomen?


Where are you now, you North Somerset Yeomen,
Who came, swift to answer your country's appeal,
To pit your raw strength 'gainst the might of the foemen,
To give shot for shot, to oppose steel to steel?

You came, not for gain, for reward or for glory,
And little you heeded where duty's path led;
You wrote your full page in our England's proud story,
Thanked God for your victories, and mourned for your dead.

For some lie near Ypres, beneath the clay sleeping;
They suffered, they died, but no inch would they yield,
And dull leaden skies up above them are weeping,
For them, as they lie 'neath the battle scarred field.

And all up and down where the old trench-line wandered,
The plain wooden crosses their message proclaim;
Yet no man may say that their young lives were squandered-
They died for this England; they rest in their fame.

Where are you now, you North Somerset Yeomen,
Bred to the ploughtail, the desk or the mine?
You gave of your best, did your duty, and no men
Can beat your proud record, your glory outshine.

You fought and you died, you were wounded and shattered;
You stuck to it grimly, till Peace came at last,
And now, on the face of the earth you are scattered,
Till nothing remains but the ghosts of the past.

The ghosts of the past - in the mists of tradition,
The actors depart, but their exploits remain;
But still the old Regiment retains her position - 
She'd do it, if need be, all over again!

William Percy Withers 1894-1970 (my grandfather)

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Always remember

And at eleven o'clock on the eleventh of the eleventh of the eleventh, Mr Grigg and I stood in silence outside the church.

I could hear the cawing of rooks overhead, the sound of gunfire in the towns beyond the hills as everyone else's two-minute silence began and ended at different times.

And I thought of my grandfathers, brave old souls, giving it all in the war to end all wars, with my maternal grandfather stopping every now and then to write a poem about it. I thought of my paternal grandfather's best friend, killed in France and lying in the British ceremony at Courcelette, a fact we discovered only through the marvels of internet research a year or so ago.

And I thought of Mr Grigg's uncle, killed on HMS Glorious by the German battleship Scharnhorst in World War II, never to know his nephews, one of whom was named after him. Similar stories repeated to this day,widows and orphans made from the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I thought back further to the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, when ancestors on both my parents' sides joined their Westcountry comrades to fight against the king's men.

Such sacrifice, such loss. Heads bowed in silence all over the world.

And there on a church tower, a union flag unfurls in the breeze, a gargoyle winks and glints in the sun.

 

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A region in mourning

So much to write about, so much to say. But the inclination is not there. Not at the moment.

We are a region in mourning after Friday evening's terrible pile-up on the motorway near Taunton, which claimed seven lives in a fireball and left many more injured.

It is a junction people around here know very well. It's our pathway to Bristol and beyond. We know the rugby club, too, next door, where it is now being suggested that thick black smoke from a fireworks display descended without warning, blinding drivers and causing this dreadful crash.

But we don't know what really happened, it is all speculation. We only know that it is terrible and, with the speed that some people drive at, barely leaving enough stopping space between them and the vehicle in front, we are surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this horrible, horrible accident.

More from me later in the week, when I will describe Mr Grigg's journey through Beaminster in a cattle truck and our hopes about who might be among the people carrying next year's Olympic flame.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Novel writing, blog posting and moustaches

November is a strange time of year. We've really said goodbye to the summer and we're on the quick, quick, military two-step march to Christmas. Already, in houses, and possibly mud huts, across the land there are discussions about where each one of us will be spending the festive season.

Children far too young are demanding presents that are far-too-old for them and materialistic parents are going along with it. Meanwhile, in far-flung corners of the world, children will be happy to receive a shoe box full of bits and bobs which have been filled for them by their more affluent cousins from the western nations. The true spirit of Christmas, in my humble opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, I love it to bits. I'm from a big family and I love giving and receiving presents (and giving most of all). But children get far more joy from simple things or time spent with them than the latest must-have toy or gadget they have been conned into wanting by adverts or over-indulgent parents.

However, I digress. There are several things happening in November.

There is National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo for acronym fans. I tried it once but I don't think I got away with it. Fifty thousand words of complete rubbish. Although I can sort of see the point in it. It certainly gets you in the writing habit for at least 30 days.

And now there is NaBloPoMo, a challenge for bloggers everywhere to write a blog post every day for a month. Now, I'm sorry, and there is an old colleague who is currently doing this (I admire her and her blog, which was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan magazine blog of the year awards), but what is the point in this event? I find it self-indulgent inflicting my blog on people twice a week, let alone every day.

But there is another thing in November. And it's Movember. Yay! When men all over the world grow moustaches for money to give to cancer charities.

I have just signed up Mr Grigg for this challenge. Others have a three-day head start, but I am sure he can do it. He used to sport the most delicious moustache ever. You could jump in it, play hide and seek in it, kiss chase even or use it as a pair of stage curtains and make an entrance. But a few years ago, someone persuaded him he'd look younger if he shaved it off. And ever since, I have been trying to get him to grow it back.

I like the Tom Selleck look.
Hey, even Peter Bowles ( Mr Grigg was once told he looked like this very British of actors) has a certain something. I saw him on an underground train in London a month ago and he looked very handsome and dapper. He must be at least 107.


And it's hard to beat a Salvador Dali moustache.

So, thanks to Movember, when men everywhere grow a moustache and it's all for a good cause, I am getting the old Mr Grigg back. I can't wait.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Up in the air and down

Bored with your job? Hop on over to Real West Dorset for my latest Lush Places blog. It's not all bad.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween from The Enchanted Village

A hollowed-out pumpkin, with an evil grin and squinty eyes, glows in the window of the house next door.

Mr Champagne-Charlie sits behind the letter box, armed with a bucket of sweets and wearing a gorilla mask.

Three young trick or treaters, who I swear are Pelly Sheepwash, Mrs Bancroft and the fragrant Mrs Putter  gone backwards a few times on Ray Bradbury's carousel, beam when I give them some fun-sized Mars Bars and a packet of Maltesers.

And then they go next door, and, by the pricking of my thumbs, I hear a blood-curdling scream.

'Oobee doo, I wanna be like you-oo-oo,' Champagne-Charlie sings from behind the mask. But it is a muffled mix of latex and tone deafness.

The three little maids from school hot foot it up the road, the treats flying in their wake.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 28 October 2011

Excitement mounts in the village square


The blinds are now down permanently at the village shop as a committee of the great and good do their very best to come up with a rescue plan. The pub is shut after the publicans' farewell party last night and one of the five roads leading off the square is closed for resurfacing.

The only thing of any interest lately has been the young man from the road menders, whose sole job is to sit on a kerb in the square all day to help people who can't read the 'diversion' sign. There is another man at the other end of the road, but he has a van to sit in so is clearly higher up the road mender scale.

So it's an empty square this morning as I look out from my window.  But not for long.

The removals lorry backs up the one-way system outside the pub.  The bus arrives and attempts to do a nine-point turn. The lady (I am sorry to say) driver can't find reverse on her gear stick and narrowly avoids hitting the 'diversion' sign in the middle of the road.

And then the mobile library arrives.

As Champagne-Charlie sits in his Land Rover outside his house and mutters an obscenity from the safety of a closed window, Mr Grigg walks out of our front door and springs into action.

'You would have been proud of me,' he says later.

'Did you fly into the bus and put it into reverse?' I enquire, picturing him as Keanu Reeves in the film, Speed.

'No,' he says. 'I moved the diversion sign.'

My hero.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Show me the way to go home

As we stagger home after an evening at the delightfully fragrant Mrs Putter's, the road is illuminated by Mr Champagne-Charlie's head torch.

He is whacked across the head by his wife, Bubble, for talking far too loudly at one o'clock in the morning and then the torch suddenly switches to night-sights-red. Wild animals cower in the hedge as he sways from side to side. An owl is just about to hoot and then thinks better of it.

'Fancy a snifter, chap?' Mr Champagne-Charlie says to Mr Grigg when we get back to our front door.

We decline, politely, and then find out the next day they were up until half past three drinking sloe gin.

'Were the Griggs with you?' Mrs Putter asks Champagne-Charlie.

'Not sure,' he says. 'Can't remember. I can't even remember getting home.'

It is a joy for me to be the only sober one in the party, for once in my life.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Some enchanted evening

There's a glorious silvery sunset shimmering over the flat-topped hill in the distance. The rooks are gathering on the slopes of the field as I walk the spaniels this evening, and then the birds sweep upwards, popping and cackling in the late October wind, as if to say, you can try as hard as you can but you can't catch me.

The youngest spaniel runs off pointlessly into the distance and my gaze is punctuated by lots of plumes of smoke stretching for miles. Here and there, people are stoking garden bonfires and thinking about putting a match to the logs and newspaper in the grate.

The crunchy, crunchy leaves and the now squashed crab apples litter the path as I make my way back home.

Today, I have been learning about Greek shamens and sorcerers, a suitable subject for a mature student from an enchanted village.


On my way to university this morning, I saw a county council workman sitting on the pavement opposite my house, looking like a scrunched-up scarecrow, his hood up to hide away from the wind. It seems his sole purpose is to sit there all day to make sure the 'diversion' sign doesn't blow over.

Up the lane past Mr and Mrs Sheepwash, a policeman who looked barely out of his teens was doing a fingertip search along the riverside. A trail of sheep's wool was strewn along the path. The

Friday, 14 October 2011

Caught: Oliver 'Bin' Letwin

As The Enchanted Village MP is castigated in the national news this morning for dumping parliamentary and constituency papers in a London park bin, the Twitter airwaves are buzzing.

Oliver ‘Bin’ Letwin is the new name for the man who called at my house earlier this year asking for my vote.

At the time, you’ll remember, I was worried my friend thought it was me who'd defaced a poster of him by adding spectacles, horns and a twirly moustache. On my doorstep, he looked nothing like this picture of him.


After the story in the Daily Mirror, Mr Letwin is now ‘trending’ on Twitter, bless him.

This, from Queen_UK (Elizabeth Windsor): ‘Just received weekly briefing papers from Oliver Letwin. He leaves them in the bin outside. One picks them up whilst walking the corgis.’

And from RogerQuimbly: ‘I think that Oliver Letwin makes an excellent Womble.’

Professional comedian mrchrisaddison: 'I tell you what, there are some surprisingly well-informed tramps in the parks Oliver Letwin goes to.’

TheMediaTweets: ‘Is Oliver Letwin the first MP caught doing something newsworthy in a park that didn't involve another person?’

Poor Mr Letwin. It’s a story just made for Have I Got News For You.

But here in The Enchanted Village, we’re just itching to know the content of the dumped Constituency Letters.

Has someone drawn to his attention the person who cheated in the village flower show by polishing their marrows? Or maybe the Full Monty dance routine devised by Mr Grigg and his followers for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? Or has he received details of that dirty dog that does its business right in front of our neighbour's front door?

But please, please, please, don’t let my letter about using our new street lights for target practice or the other one about the flasher who wears nothing but a pair of ram horns be in amongst the garbage.

If the papers got hold of that, they’d think I was a real nutcase.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Autumn leaves and windswept villagescapes

I am sitting in my room looking out of the window. As usual, for now at least, The Enchanted Village Square is quiet. It could be at least a year or more before we have the shop back up and running.

The cattle have been moved nearer their winter quarters, leaving a trail of empty fields in their wake. There are magic mushrooms growing up on the ridge and, as the October wind whistles through the village, the red and green and brown, crunchy leaves are whirling up and down the road like dervishes.

I love the wind, it makes me feel powerful and insignificant all at the same time. It sends children in the playground running wild and it brings a certain frisson to the air.

A police car goes by, slowing down to go round the one-way system, its lights flashing and siren blaring, New York-style. The sound is out of place in this quiet place, and is followed by a chugging tractor and the automatic revs of a long, lean sports car.

I should look out of my window more often.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Feeling sorry for myself

Well, the Canadians have gone back, just as the weather started to get really cold. They're from opposite sides of the country, one flew to the east coast to Nova Scotia and the other flew to the west and Vancouver Island.

That just leaves the cuckoo's nest and it's right here.

The village is strangely quiet now that the shop is closed and the pub is winding down before the publican bows out. I think the Canadian ladies were a little disappointed that The Enchanted Village failed to enchant. And I'm afraid I didn't inspire them much either. I think they thought I'd be funny in person when all I am in real life is funny peculiar.

Anyway, I am having to wear fingerless gloves to type at the moment. It is so cold. I have been wearing a quilted jacket and hat and scarf in the house for the past couple of days. Mr Grigg has finally got the message and allowed me to have the heating on.

He has just taken an hour-and-half to have his hair cut because he needed to call into the pub in the next town on his way home to get some cider.

He is now geting ready for a night out with Nobby Odd-Job, MDF Man and Mr Sheepwash to watch the football and fish and chips. He is shuffling around in his slippers which he will deposit in the middle of the room so they become a trap. Why he can't pick his feet up when he walks or put the darn things away is beyond me.

Then it's rugby in the morning and then a day out with his Number One Son on Sunday. Meanwhile, I am home alone with a house like a tip while the new kitchen is being put in so no cooker to cook on. Mrs Bancroft and Pelly Sheepwash have gone away for the weekend and I have hours of ancient Greek revision to look forward to.

A whole weekend of it.

Oh lucky me.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 3 October 2011

You are Maddie Grigg and I claim my £5 prize

As the mist swirls down from Bluebell Hill and in and out The Enchanted Village streets, I can at last feel autumn is heading our way.

After almost a week of unseasonably hot weather, October is now putting its pullover on the right way round after a couple of days of wearing it inside out. The designer label was on show for all to see. Indian Summer, it screamed. Scorchio.

Down at the seaside, there have been people on the beaches, in the water, on the water. Yesterday we caught thirty laughing mackerel from an open boat.


The voyage was too much for Number One Son. Although it could have been something to do with the party he went to the night before.


Meanwhile, the cliffs along our part of the Jurassic Coast are stunning.



We are so lucky to live here.

And then this evening, the woodsmoke rises from The Enchanted Village chimneys to shake hands with the fog that is making its way down the hill and crunching fallen crab apples in its wake.

'Well hello there,' the woodsmoke appears to be saying. 'Delighted to make your acquaintance.'

And then the weirdest thing happens.

My doorbell rings and there are two ladies I have never seen before, standing on my doorstep.

I bristle, thinking they are Jehovah's Witnesses.  I don't need saving, really I don't.

'Are you Maddie?' they say.

'Why?' I retort, in a far harsher voice than I meant, but I don't have room for a copy of The Watchtower.

'Well, we're from Canada and we read your blog.'

Blimey.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

A funny thing happened on my way around the hill

Up on the hill early one morning this week, I was walking quietly around, minding my own business, when I noticed a billycan hanging from ...