Monday, 23 April 2018

Dorset on St George's Day

It's England's national day and the St George's Cross is flying high on the church flagpole.

Across the road, the brewery has just picked up a load of empty beer barrels from the pub and stocked up its cellar with full ones.

In the fields, there are cuckoo flowers. Great drifts of them.
The naked ash tree is silhouetted against a bright blue sky and the old shepherd and his dog on my late father's weather vane trudge ever onwards.
In the village hall where Mr Grigg and I had our wedding reception many moons ago, they're clearing up the remains of the cider festival. The golden nectar of my grandparents' days, when they made cider from their own orchards and no additives were involved, is now quite rightly enjoying a resurgence.

Thomas Hardy loved it, as you can gather in this extract from Great Things:

Sweet cyder is a great thing,
     A great thing to me,
Spinning down to Weymouth town
     By Ridgway thirstily,
And maid and mistress summoning
     Who tend the hostelry:
O cyder is a great thing,
     A great thing to me!

And so did William Percy Withers,  my grandfather, in his poem Ode To An Onion:

Here with a loaf of bread beneath the tree
A hunk of cheese to keep thee company,
A well-filled jar of cider by my knee,
Holds life, indeed, a deal of charm for me.

A knife, to cut my food in slices neat,
a friendly dog to watch me, while I eat;
A pipe - tobacco tasted ne'er more sweet;
Then forty winks. Now is my bliss complete.

In the hall on Saturday, The Skimmity Hitchers sang about keeping ferrets in the front room and second home owners discovering the Westcountry and running a nice little stall in the farmers market.
It's a rustic life.

Spring is here. It's taken long enough.

And just when we've got used to T-shirts, shorts and blue skies, the weather - oh to be in England, now that April's there - decides to turn its back and go cold on us again.

But that's no matter. We can see beech buds bursting greengage green, worms wriggling in the newly-turned earth and herbaceous plants making a break for freedom from their earthy winter quarters towards a clear blue sky.

There's a thrush nesting in the privet hedge and seven buzzards circling high in the sky. The rooks are thriving in their tall tree colony down the lane and seagulls have ventured inland to nest and match the jackdaws for noise.

And the dog is hot, even in her new spring coat.
It's a lovely time of year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Spring is coming and we're off to Corfu

We've been promised a heatwave of sorts here in England next week.

And about time, too! Spring's been a long time coming. Still, in the words of Louis Armstrong, I don't care what the weatherman says, when the weatherman says its raining, you'll never hear me complaining. Unless it's snowing and I slip and hurt my back. 

But that's all in the past. The agony of back pain is forgotten, at least for the moment.

Trees are beginning to come out in blossom. I even saw a swallow in Lush Places the week before last! Deep joy. They fill me with such happiness. And the wallflowers too. I love them. And mine are beginning to come out. Their scent is going to fill me with paroxysms of delight, I just know it.

While we've been waiting for spring to spring, ITV has been very cleverly spoon-feeding us sunshine ever Sunday night in the shape of The Durrells, the television series loosely based on the Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell.

It makes for very easy viewing. Okay, it's not particularly demanding or challenging, but who needs that on the night just before the working week puts in its boringly regular appearance? It's followed by The Good Karma Hospital, which is not going to win any prizes for brilliant drama, but it's worth watching just for the (supposedly) southern Indian sunshine.

A couple of years ago, we were in a bar in Dassia, Corfu, celebrating our friend's name day when Alexis Georgoulis, the actor who plays Spiros, was pointed out to us. Our female Greek friends were at his side like bees around a honey pot. I had no idea who he was so, at their request, took their photos with him but didn't have one of myself. #missedopportunity

When I've watched The Durrells lately, I've longed for that wonderful Greek light. Mr Grigg and I spent a year in Corfu and I wrote a book about it. I missed home, dreadfully, but there was something very magical about the island and its wonderfully hospitable inhabitants.

So imagine our delight when we saw a little face light up the screen two weeks ago and again last Sunday. Our own little Marie Angela, whose birthday we celebrated in our rented house along with the Greek family who 'adopted' us, has a non-speaking part in the current series as the little sister of Leslie's girlfriend, Daphne.

Here she is a few year ago with her lovely mother and our dear friend, Betty.

Mr Grigg and I took one look at Marie Angela, tears in our eyes, and said in unison: 'I miss Corfu!'

So we've gone on the internet and booked flights so we can visit our old village at the end of the month.

We can't wait.

Love Maddie x

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