Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A Year in Corfu: and what a year it's been

I can't believe how quickly the year has gone.

This time twelve months ago we were stuck in the mist in Jura, France, waiting for a spare part to arrive to mend a broken-down car. I argued with my insurance company which claimed I had no breakdown cover and I argued with my husband. I felt like I was on the road to nowhere.
I hated my car, I hated my husband and, most of all, I hated myself for ever thinking a grown-up gap year abroad could ever work.

I was homesick as anything from day three and I hadn't even gone through the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

Still, after a few glasses of local wine, a nice meal and a good soak in a hot bath, I was ready for anything, particularly when VW Heritage came through with a new dynamo and the insurance company admitted it was in the wrong.
Since then, Mr Grigg and I have continued to argue with each other, patched things up and struggled with our lack of Greek. We've made friends and no enemies, we've laughed, cried, swum naked and got up on our feet and danced the night away at our local panygyri. We've been entertained at an olive press, listened to Corfiot mandolins, the island's choir and the country's orchestra.

We've become hooked on The Closer, NCIS and Greek adverts, we eat well and have had plenty of sunshine.

Our village neighbours have been the most generous and kind people you could meet. We've fallen out with the village priest, watched the pots being smashed in Corfu Town for Easter and entertained thirty visitors. I've had a quick go at snorkeling but still have to overcome my fear of jumping feet first into the water.

We've decorated the entire house, cleared the jungle of a garden, seen the sights, snuck off to the mainland for a week and visited the UK three times. I've written a few things for The Ionian magazine, taken a whole heavenly host of photos, gone down the chutes at Aqualand a few times and perfected a tiramisu made from kumquat liquor.

I've read seventy novels, completed three of my own, become a Saga top blogger and had three Dorset businesses approach me to do some freelance work when I get back, and all without having to lift a finger. They came to me. How good is that?

I've encouraged two old friends to publish debut novels via the about-to-be-launched The Bridport Press, registered the name of a website after having a Richard Branson lightbulb moment and am really excited about collaborating on plans for a children's book written by a very talented young woman from Dorset who died tragically almost twenty years ago.

Truly, I've been blessed these past twelve months. My muse has been working overtime. The whole year in this literary house will make a great book. A kind of My Family and Animals (without the family) meets Eat Pray Love without the praying and whining and A Year in Provence only funnier.

And I have a lovely Corfiot writer who is happy to write the foreword. All I need now is a publisher.

In less than two weeks we'll be on our way home to Dorset. And, guess what? I'm thinking do I really want to go home to the cold, the dark nights, the wind and the rain when I could stay another year?

Well, to be honest, it's all of the above here in Corfu right now. We've had wind, rain, dark nights and mornings and, for the first time in ages, I snuggled my feet into my Ugg boots as I sat at the computer this morning.

And, yes, I do want to go home. And, yes, I do want to stay here. So I'm trying for the best of both worlds. Watch this space.

But before then, we've been invited to a Greek wedding at the weekend, and it's the Corfiot family who we have come to know and love. I couldn't have planned a better ending.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. You've certainly had quite the adventure. I suspect you'll continue to crave this kind of life from here on in. Who wouldn't. Best of luck with whatever you decide. :)

    1. Thank you Hilary. It's been wonderful having the time and inspirational environment to write. I'll be back, I'm sure. I'd also like to go across the US, east to west, in a Partridge Family-style bus and spend three months in Australia, researching family history.

  2. what lovely memories, I've loved reading your blog all year and I look forward to reading the next chapter once your back in the UK, Shame we never really got together, although I am glad to have met you both. oxoxox

    1. Thanks Jo-ann, yes, the feeling is mutual. And maybe we can put that right next year...

  3. You'll love being home & then something little, a smell, a sound, will trigger the memories & you'll be wanting to go back. It will tug at you, cajole you into thinking it wasn't so bad after all. It's going to be so difficult juggling the need/want to be in both places. I have been envious of your gap year, yet I know you have been so homesick at times. Look forward to meeting you in November :-)

    1. Is that Sophia? If so, I'm looking forward to meeting you, too. You're right, those sounds, smells, something small will trigger a memory and I'll be off. In my head, if not my heart.

    2. Hi no, it's cathy (your cousin's friend)

    3. Well, Cathy, cousin's friend, I'm particularly looking forward to meeting you! The tweet-up is now the following week, Sat16 Nov, same venue, from 10am, because I'm doing a book signing at Waterstones, Bridport, on 9 Nov.


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