Wednesday, 30 December 2015

An ill wind blows through the village as the pothole repair man comes and goes

Hop on over to A Dorset Year for the latest news in Lush Places: recycling, Storm Frank and the pothole repair man. The excitement is just too much.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Maddie has an announcement to make

After a period of blogging, not blogging and blogging again, I'm back, but in a slightly different form. A new year is about to begin and it's time for a new project.

I will continue to use this as my website and personal blog. So if I'm in Budapest, as I'm going to be later this month, you can read all about it here. And if I have a book to launch, which I will do in the spring, I'll let you know about it on these pages.

And I still have the joy of writing my weekly Maddie's World column for The People's Friend Magazine, who found me through this blog.

But for a while now, I've missed writing consistently about the ebb and flow of nature and country life in my neck of the woods. So I'm going to try a little experiment. 

It's called A Dorset Year and I hope you're going to like it.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The countdown to Christmas begins in Lush Places

Every now and then, this village, this lush, lush village, jumps up and tugs on your sleeve.

'Hey,' it says. 'Remember me? I am the place where magical things happen. I am the place where the ley lines cross, where people gather and share their joys and sadness. I am the place where villagers come together to have fun.'

I've been a bit preoccupied lately, and otherwise engaged, for one reason or another. My brain has been burbling; there's been too much going on.

And then a light shines and a bell rings.

We've had the vicar leading carols around the village Christmas tree, after Dave Goulden from our local radio station, Wessex FM, did the honours and switched them on, and wonderful generosity from our new publicans, who handed out selection boxes to the children and burgers and hot dogs to anyone who wanted one.

Apologies for the photo quality but you get the picture.
We are blessed.

Our church is looking particularly vibrant and full of life this year. Not that I'm religious but I love the building's architecture, its history and the fact that it's been a community hub for hundreds of years before the words 'community hub' were invented and then put together. And, besides, all that singing and the bells...

Anyway, eighteen Christmas trees have been decorated by various organisations in Lush Places, including the community shop, the post office and short mat bowlers. Each tree is wonderful and tells a great story, which I find out as I make my way around while the organist plays my favourite carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti.

We've got our shop manager's head on an angel's body and the young farmers' tree stand is a pair of wellies. The Jubilee Group, which organises the annual fun day, has corgis wearing crowns in among the branches and the Over 60s' one is full of bus passes and raffle tickets. The village school has each pupil's face in a bauble, there's a duck at the foot of the cricket club's tree and pots of jam and music sheets from Jerusalem on the WI's tree.

There is wit and fun. The attention to detail is brilliant. They've been doing a similar event for years in Bridport but this is the first time we've done it.

Entry is free with donations to the Grade II listed church's upkeep and improvement and to Autism Wessex.

Here's a round-up:
  Only in Lush Places would our village hall be called Comrades Hall.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A love letter to Prague

Oh Prague, how beautiful you are.
Bohemian, divine, sad and surreal, sublime.

Architectural detail wherever you look. Along with true tales of heroism in an ancient land which recent history has treated so badly.
And there was I, worried about running into stag and hen parties.

Plenty of people, it's true. 
But the place is so lovely, so interesting. I saw through the crowds to hear the music of Dvorak and Smetana in the air. I absorbed the art of Mucha and architectural detail wherever I looked. And the light, oh the light...

Well, Prague, you ticked all my boxes, you really did. Easy to get to, wonderful to get around and so much to see and do.

Although I can't say I liked your food much. Potato dumplings, ham, sausages and enormous smoked ribs are not my style. But I loved your beer and your wine.
And with the aid of our Lonely Planet guide, we found some wonderful places to eat.

My taste for the bizarre was tickled when I discovered Tycho Brahe is buried here. He of the brilliant astronomical mind and the nose of silver or gold. This is a man even my imagination would have been hard pressed to come up with.
So many stories and characters.
Shops selling barrel loads of sweets, garnet. amber and silver, corner stores with absinthe on shelves alongside what purports to be bottles of cocaine and cannabis-infused liqueur. Could they be for real?
 And a shiny, old Skoda, the like of which I've never seen before.
 A baby on a street corner, a street entertainer who had his audience (including me) spellbound.
Well, Prague, you lively, vibrant, wonderful beauty, that's about it.

Love Maddie x

Batten down those hatches, it's recycling day

It's blowing a hooley out there.  The wind is lashing against the windows and the dogs are play fighting in front of the Aga before...