Saturday, 22 October 2016

A weekend break in an Airbnb in east Cornwall - proper job!

We're walking down a wooded lane, Arty the dog and I. There's a high estate wall on one side, a long bank on the other. We crunch through leaves and step on chestnut husks.

She's on the extendable lead as a yappy little dog roars up around the corner. Arty bounces, a bit, to one side, an incomer in a new place. The other dog sniffs his approval and then trots back to his owner.

'It's a lovely morning,' the woman says. 'There's no-one about. You can let her off the lead.'

I explain that as we're only staying here a couple of days, I want to see the lie of the land first before allowing the girl to explore unfettered.

We leave the lane and enter a large, sheep-free field. A short walk through the grass, around the bend and then there's this...

We meet another friendly dog walker, who directs us up some steps and through a wood. We emerge onto a quay and I can look at the viaduct from a different direction.
Wow again.

We're in St Germans, a village in a tucked-away part of east Cornwall, just across the Tamar from the metropolis that is Plymouth. We're staying in a small but cosy cottage, a barn conversion in someone's garden. We found it through Airbnb and it's brilliant. We'll be back.

I've not felt so strongly attracted to a place in years. Even passing teenagers smile and say hello without any trace of sarcasm. There are lots of trees and creeks. There are rolling hills and views out across to Dartmoor from the top of them. There's a community shop, a pub, a village hall, a school, a station, a stately home, an antiques shop, a gallery and cafe.

'I could live here,' I say to Mr Grigg.

He glowers. The last time I said that we ended up renting a house in Corfu for a year.

Vapour trails cut across a clear blue sky, as aeroplanes bound for faraway lands pass by a daylight moon. Trains heading for Penzance hurtle across the viaducts and bridges.

On nearby beaches, dogs play in the waves while people grab a cup of tea and a bite to eat from the pink van that is the Travelling Diner, one of the best little food places for miles around. Street food not fast food, with as much choice for the vegetarian as the meat eater, along with banter from proprietors Emma and Andy. 

On days like these, who'd want to be anywhere else?

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Chard Carnival 2016

Yet again, the stops are pulled out. There are bells, knobs and whistles, and music with a bass line to make your rib cage dance.

It's carnival time again in south Somerset and I love it. The gaudy costumes, the bright lights, the majesty and the humour, they all combine to make a magical evening.

Next stop is Taunton on Saturday 15 October.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Saturday in Sicily

There's a wedding today in the heart of Ortygia, Sicily.

Women in high heels and expensive dresses stand at the door of the imposing Duomo. Every few minutes, men glance at their watches.

A busker changes instruments and the sweet sound of lute is replaced by swirling bagpipes. Three cyclists, in tight, bright Lycra, do figures of eight in the piazza.

Guests begin to spill out from the cafes in which they have been waiting, as an advance party comprising photographer and video cameramen announce the bride's imminent arrival.

A sleek, black car pulls up outside the church, an old man gets out and two women fuss over the bride, who towers over them all as she emerges, wearing shoes the height of Etna and a bun on top of her head.

There is applause from the watching crowd as father and daughter walk, arm in arm, up the steps. The doors are shut and the people in the Piazza del Duomo disperse.

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...