Monday, 18 February 2013

What is this life if, full of care...

We fell in love with the Villa Oleander as soon as we walked through the front door.

It belongs to a writer's family and I hoped some of her success might rub off on me. Mr Grigg, meanwhile, saw it as a place to wind down into retirement.

'We're going to live here,' we said, when we saw the house back in June last year. 'We'll let our cottage in Dorset and have a gap year in Corfu.'

'Why?' asked our family and friends.

'Why not?' was the stock response.

I could spend the time writing and Mr Grigg, newly-retired, could do a bit of work around the house.

Part of the deal was to tidy the garden and spruce up the inside in exchange for a cheaper rent in the winter. It needed a bit of love, this place, a bit of love and a bit of life. The owners haven't been here for a while and it showed.

The first week we spent cleaning right through, wiping down mouldy window frames and chasing away the dust. And then the garden. Ah, the garden. It was lovely once, but bushes have grown sky-high to become trees, fighting the lemons and oranges for light and overcoming them into submission.
Now, however, after a lot of hard work, there is light at the top of the canopy.

With the garden almost sorted, it's time for decorating.
At the end of last week, we finally took delivery of emulsion, gloss, paintbrushes and rollers.
But before we get to the fun bit of painting, the preparation begins.
I am a rank amateur at this sort of thing, impatient to a fault. If I can't do something quickly or easily, I lose interest rapidly. When I eat an elephant, it has to be the whole thing or not at all.

But Mr Grigg is teaching me to take one bite at a time.

Siga siga as they say in Greek. Slowly slowly.

So we rub down the woodwork in anticipation of the painting fun to come. And in the afternoon, we will go for a walk.

When we moved into our house in Dorset's Lush Places (people have been Googling the location but it's a name I gave to the village after the nature column in one of my favourite novels, Scoop), I found an A4 sheet of paper attached to the garage ceiling. On it was a poem copied out by the previous owner. It's been done to death, but I think everyone should recite this poem by supertramp W H Davis at least once a week.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad day light,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

And even if you have only five minutes, take a look at the world from your window.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Wonderful photos and posting. Good luck with the painting.

  2. Love your blog!
    Amanzing pics :)
    Have a nice day.

  3. Beautiful pictures, right now we have sleet and ice right outside our window.


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