Sunday, 21 September 2014

Good things come to those who wait

They say that good things come in threes...

Well, two good things have just happened to me, writing-wise.

There's a feature about my year in Corfu in the October issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. One of their feature writers contacted me after reading this blog.
I didn't make the front cover but then Tess Daly is rather beautiful, even if I've never actually watched Strictly Come Dancing.

And then I had jaw-dropping news that I'd won a holiday for two to Peru (to Peru!) in a travel writing competition for Saga and The Daily Telegraph.
There are two things I'm waiting to hear about, but I won't jinx them by saying what they are.  The moral of this story is you have to be in it to win it - you need to put yourself out there, here and everywhere, if that's what you want.

Yes, you'll get rejected - lots of times - and wonder if it's really worth carrying on. But if you love writing, you're passionate about it, you just do it - as with any other all-consuming interest or hobby.

You do it because you want to, you enjoy it, it's what makes you you.

My head hasn't quite filled the room yet, but there is part of me thinking yes! after an unsolicited encounter with a drunken Scot earlier this year, which has preyed on my mind ever since she snarled: 'The trouble with you is, you're riding on the back of past success. Just because of what you achieved in the past doesn't mean the things you do now are any good.'

Ouch. At the time, I consoled myself with the fact that she was drunk and I was not, having gone on the wagon for Dry January.  But it did get to me.

It was worthy of a blog, really, but rather embarrassing in this sweet, gambolling world I have created for myself from my window. Conflict is good in writing, but I wasn't prepared to share that with the world.

But as with all these put downs, the moral of this story is don't give up. If you want to do something, and think you can do it, just do it. Don't let lack of confidence or people eaten up with bitterness get you down.

You are in charge of your destiny. And only you. And if you are indeed riding on the back of past success, then well, good on you. If it's your success in the first place, why not?

And, as my old primary school teacher always used to  say: 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.'

Which is sort of ironic really, because the person she was quoting was Robert the Bruce. Who was Scottish.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 18 September 2014

From a magical bay in Ithaca

The four old friends bob around in the water. Three of them are wearing white hats and all have sunglasses on.

It's a daily ritual, this swim in the bay at the bottom of their village. They chat in gabbled Greek, they exclaim, they laugh. And then they swim slowly to the shore, still talking, a loud kalimera! shouted at them by a local fisherman.

A cool breeze ripples across the water and what sounds like a tune from a faraway flute winnows across the bay as the wind catches in the wires of the masts of yachts anchored by the Cave of the Nymphs.
The clear, blue-green water laps around the boats and on the fine shingle. In the distance, there's a goat bell tinkling

I am sitting in the sheltered bay of Polis, on the north west tip of Ithaca. It's not hard to imagine, in this wonderfully peaceful place, that this is the true home of Homer's wandering hero, Odysseus.

Like Penelope, I sit and wait patiently. And then Mr Grigg returns with two large bags of bay, thyme and sage collected from the hillside.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The view from a bar in Kastos, Greece

Laid-back, Latin music is playing in the little bar by the harbourside on the island of Kastos, Greece.

The wooden chairs - directors' chairs - are full of Dutch people speaking a strange, guttural, glottal, purring language only the Dutch understand.

There is a blast from a ship's horn down on the quayside and all eyes turn to a twin-masted wooden vessel, a tripper boat called Christina.

The Dutch people pay for their beers and coffees, taking their hats, sunglasses and smiles back along the harbour.
And now the sound of a Latin trumpet wafts through the bar's shutters onto an empty terrace.

A dog barks and the cicadas are like constant maracas accompanying this jazz tune which whirls around in my head and through the clean, warm air. The island hugs its bigger, more rugged brother Kalamos in the wine dark waters of the Ionian Sea, close to the Greek mainland.

A kitten snakes its way along the terrace, after jumping from the arms of an America woman who says: 'I'm gonna take this little one home with me.'

Far out in the bay, our boat Nestor, named after the wise old man of The Iliad, bobs about in solitary splendour, nose pointing towards Meganisi, Ithaca and Kefalonia to the west, our next ports of call on this odyssey.
The music turns into something like the theme for Muscleman on Opportunity Knocks, an anchor chain clunks as a boat heads for the open sea and the sun hides behind a blanket of mackerel clouds as a swallow thinks about flying south.

And, for a while, the small village of Kastos sleeps. Until the next tripper boat arrives.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their ...