Saturday, 15 December 2012

Of dormice and Greek men called Spiros

When the young Gerald Durrell and his family moved to Corfu in 1935, it didn’t take him long to get to grips with the local wildlife.

It absorbed him so much, the boy grew up to make a career of it. Not only did he write My Family and Other Animals, he also founded Jersey Zoo and became a champion of the underdog.
Two months into our Big Fat Greek Gap Year, and I have also become very close to the local wildlife of this beautiful island.

I’ve been stabbed by a palm spike, bleeding like a stuck-pig and stung by a jellyfish.

To top it all, a noisy family of edible dormice has moved into the attic. Bless them, they’re nocturnal so think nothing of starting a game of acorn billiards just as Mr Grigg and I are about to nod off.
We’ve witnessed the conception of a litter of puppies while trying to eat a stifado outside one of the village tavernas, been woken by the sound of dogs, geese and turkeys every morning and been adopted by a ginger cat who thanks us for a chair and cushion on the terrace by doing his dirty business in the driveway.

My friends back in cold UK are saying it’s karma for deserting them for twelve months in the warm Greek sunshine. Well, let me tell you this, it’s cold here in sunny Corfu. There is snow on top of the mountains across the Corfu Channel, there is steam coming from my mouth and I have to wear fingerless gloves, a hat with ear-flaps and a bodywarmer - and that’s just indoors.

How pleased I am we took heed of Maria and Jim Potts when they told us we needed to make sure any house we rented had a log fire and central heating.

Although this week the central heating packed up in our bedroom and bathroom. Until, that is, neighbour Spiros came to the rescue.

Everyone needs a Spiros.

This big bear of a man not only fixed the heating, in the past few weeks he's turned up with chainsaw, winning smile, pony tail, orange tee-shirt and matching bandana when we needed to cut back the oleander, went out and bought us a digi-box and programmed  the television, sorted out the electricity supply when we were inadvertently cut off and then invited us to his name-day party on Wednesday with eighteen members of his family.

We didn't understand a word and neither, apart from a few of them, did they. But every now and then, Mr Grigg would get up, raise his glass full of home made wine and say yamas and then, a few minutes later, one of Spiros' family would do the same.

It was like a Greek version of the classic Goodbye scene in Laurel and Hardy's A Perfect Day.
Two months we’ve been here, and already we feel a part of this Greek family, this Corfu village of Agios Magikades, which nestles so cosily beneath Nausicaa’s Ridge and looks out across the olive groves towards the Mountains of Alcinous.
Indeed, we are blessed.

So, to thank the gods for small mercies, we’re having a Christmas ‘at home’ next weekend. We might not be able to persuade Spiros to do the Macarena or Cha-Cha Slide, as our Dorset neighbour Champagne Charlie would have done, given enough priming with gin and tonic. Because our new neighbour is teetotal, you see, and his favourite tipple is Ribena.

However, those creatures in the attic could come in handy, in among the canapés, mince pies and Mr Grigg’s famous sausage rolls.
Dormouse souvlaki anyone?

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Please no edible dormice on the menue. Let them continue their nocturnal adventures.

  2. Looking forward to the pictures of the Big Fat Greek Knees Up :-)

  3. Sorry it's so cold, but you're having plenty of adventures!


  4. My husband & I came over for a year too, and are still here four years later, I would just like to say I love reading your blogs on life in Corfu, simply written, but so easy to picture, & exactly describes life on this beautiful Island. Keep up the blogs, & hope the mice had a good feast.


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