Sunday, 27 January 2013

Home again, home again jiggety jig

Back in Blighty after a bit of a staggered journey - a stopover in Athens and then again in Watford - and the arrival of Number One Daughter's Number Three Daughter in Dorset.

We were delayed by fog in Corfu and then worried about snow grinding everything to a halt in the UK. But we made it.

We got here just in time to welcome Baby Ella (Number Three) and do the school run for Number One and then engage in battle with Number Two, whose favourite word is 'no', said very loudly.

Nothing, said one of my friends, stops a mother on a mission. And by Zeus, was I on a mission. To be here and to be helpful. And, for once, I was.

Since then, we've been stuck on snow in the dark on the A35 at the aptly-named Three Sisters, west of Dorchester, as we headed back after a hospital visit. And then, a few days later, we battled flood water and faced three diversions in the space of thirty minutes.

And bloody Champagne-Charlie, our Lush Places friend and neighbour with whom we are currently staying, has called me the wrong name every time he bloody looks at me. How quickly I've been forgotten. We've only been away for four months.

Anyway, I will wax lyrical about Dorset and Corfu in due course. But for now, this is me, a proud granny, checking out.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The day after tomorrow and great expectations

There was a storm on Tuesday night that threatened to turn our solidly-built house completely inside out. I was huddled up so tightly, I expected at any minute to see the jacaranda tree walk hand-in-hand through the front door with the oleander in a kind of Arthur-Rackham-meets-Edward-Lear-type moment.
'Give us shelter,' they would plead, as I fought off an inexplicable urge to tidy up the house before letting them in. Well, I wouldn't want them gossiping to the palm tree. I wouldn't trust him an inch.

Rain poured through the end windows, drip-plop-torrent. The wind roared and whistled down the chimney in such a terrifying way that, for a split second, I turned to see the shadow of Mr Grigg and thought it was the convict Abel Magwitch from Great Expectations.

I shuddered.

And then the thunder cracked, splitting the sky in two after a great flash of light like an Olympian paparazzi ready to pounce on the world's greatest scoop.

It rained and rained and rained yesterday and then there was a tiny bit of sunshine. Almost enough blue to make a sailor a pair of trousers, albeit a very small one. But even a midget matelot would do for me.

For today, you see, we are bound for the UK, where Daughter Number One is due to have Baby Number Three. After the trauma of the last one, we've volunteered to do school runs and other duties, at least for a while.

Only the flight taking us to Athens from the green isle of Corfu (now we know why it is so green) is cancelled as we wait at the gate, because the visibility is so poor. Which means we will miss our connecting flight. Which means we have to make new plans.

So be it. Time for another coffee in the Agios Magikades kafenion perhaps, in between the showers.

So, think of us, with everything crossed, for a safe trip back to Dorset on Saturday, where friends and relatives say we will need snow shoes and chains on our tyres and a shovel in the boot to get back to Lush Places.

That's if the UK airports aren't at a standstill.
But, if Dennis Quaid can make it to New York across the frozen wastes in The Day After Tomorrow for the sake of his son, we can do anything, especially for Number One Daughter.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The chapel on the hill

 The church clings to its rock like a limpet mine on a ship's hull. There is a sense of danger up here in the clouds. Any minute now you could topple right over the edge.
Nausea overwhelms you as you peep out over the sheer drop to the valley floor below. In the distance you can see Paleokastritsa harbour, the monastery and not Homer's wine dark sea but your own.

And that speck on the beach, it's probably just a pile of debris washed up by the storms. But maybe, just maybe, it could be the ghost of Odysseus waiting to be discovered by Nausikaa.
It doesn't pay to look too closely. There's many a slip...

To the south is the village of Liapades marching up the hill and to the left the fertile plains of the Ropa Valley, with its gypsies and market gardens. Out across the olives and cypress trees there is Corfu Town, the old fort, the islands of Lazaretto and Vidos sitting in the water and, across the channel, the snow-capped mountains of the mainland and Albania.

Crane your neck around and you see the road along the mountains and villages falling from the sky and tumbling down the hillside.

It's a terrifying, heart-in-the-mouth feeling of vertigo. It is not a place to bring a small child. You might just as well leave a baby to chance in the middle of a busy road.

The emerging leaves of tulip and mullein line the path as you climb back up from the church's perch and back towards concrete and civilisation.
That's about it.

Love Maddie

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A winter's day in Corfu

The shadows are long now in Agios Magikades and it is chilly out of the sun. The men wear bobble hats to fight off the cold air while the women find thicker headscarves to keep their ears warm.

Up on Mount Pantocrator, the summit is shrouded in mist.
Out in the olive groves, the people are gathering up the olives that have already fallen in the nets laid out so neatly on the ground. They will take them to one of the olive presses in Vistonas where these black fruits of wonder will be converted into oil.
Down at the school gates, the children are quieter on these winter days. They make for the classrooms as soon as they are dropped off, no stopping for fun and games in the playground before lessons begin. It is too cold for that.

And still the geese honk, the dogs bark and an emasculated cockerel fails to reach the high notes. There are turkeys burbling, cats stalking through the long grass and the amplified voices of men selling potatoes and gypsies looking for scrap metal as they cruise through the village in their ramshackle vans.

The women siphon off the holy water blessed by the priest at Epiphany, when the church was decorated with arches of palm leaves studded with multi-coloured Christmas tree lights and a gaudy, flashing wheel of fortune in the centre.
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They came with Mythos glasses, ceramic jugs in the shape of sweetcorn and chickens and bottles that once contained Grolsch beer and ouzo.
This miracle water last one hundred years, or so the priest says.

Across the village square at the kafenion, the men are in playful mood as they gather like gunslingers in a Western saloon bar. They grab their cards from the counter, and a pen and paper and get in position as the National Geographic Channel shows the latest programme about predators and their prey.

Outside, the white lights twinkle in the trees, a stray dog howls along a street of squashed lemons and pomegranate and a wobbly scooter rider makes his way home after one glass of tsipouro too many.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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