Monday, 30 July 2018

Why we'll be watching Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again at least one more time

We were sitting down watching the end credits of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

I always make a point of staying for the credits. I mean, if I were involved in a movie, I'd want people to see my name in lights, albeit only briefly. It's only polite.

Also, increasingly, there are often 'unseen' extras during the credits which are worth remaining in your seat for. We weren't disappointed as there's a funny bit with the comedian Omid Djalili right at the end.

As the lights went up, I turned to Mr Grigg and asked him if he'd enjoyed the film.

"Well, actually, I found it quite emotional," he said. "I cried at one point."

"Which point was that?" I asked him.

"The bit where she was walking through the olive groves. It reminded me of when we lived on Corfu for a year and I'd like to go back."

We're off on holiday there soon, so hopefully that will satiate his desire.

And then he said: "But I did get a bit confused."

Confused? The plot of Mamma Mia 2 is not that difficult to follow. It tells the story in flashbacks of how central character Donna ended up on her Greek island and became involved with the three men who could be Sophie's father.

Simultaneously, the film focused on the present and Sophie's efforts to restore and reopen her mother's hotel.

There is one tricky word in that two-paragraph summary.

"It's the flashbacks isn't it?" I said to my husband.

"Flashbacks? What flashbacks?" he said. "I just couldn't work out how the daughter had met three men just like her mother did, and they all had the same names."

It suddenly dawned on me that for the entire film, Mr Grigg had confused Lily James, the actress who plays the young Donna, with Amanda Seyfried who plays Donna's daughter, Sophie, in the present.

"But didn't you realise that the graduation scene at the beginning also features Donna's two 'Dynamo' friends when they were younger?"

"No, I just thought it was odd that Sophie had two friends who looked just like her mother's friends. They even had the same hairstyles but were younger versions."

I was speechless. The scene was clearly captioned 1979 but that must have passed him by. How could he have got it so wrong? And the fashions, hadn't he even noticed that?

"We're just going to have to watch it for a second time," he said.

Uh-oh. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 27 July 2018

A long Dorset summer


The sky's clouded over now we're due a spectacular red lunar eclipse.

The so-called Blood Moon should be on show tonight from nine o'clock until quarter past ten. But it doesn't look likely from where I'm standing, as the sky is currently a light grey.


Still, we need the rain, and the little we've had so far today is not even as much as the salt and vinegar the lady in the chip van puts on my Tuesday night treat of battered sausage, chips and curry sauce.

I wish the heavens would open, spill their load and then the clouds part just before nine o'clock to reveal an orb of striking red.

If wishes were horses, I'd have enough to enter the Grand National for each year of my life.

The lunar eclipse would be a fitting end to the working week in which people in un-air conditioned offices have sweltered and local builders worked in the heat on rooftops and took on the shape of human finials.

Trees stooped in the hedgerows, gossiping like old friends.

Down at the Bay, children of all ages celebrated breaking up for the summer holidays. 

Teenagers crowded around the piers and jumped into the water with gay abandon, oblivious to the dangers. People are invincible at that age. Or at least they think they are.

And on the beach, little ones made new friends, sharing unicorn inflatables, playing ball in the sea and skimming pebbles in the gentle waves.

There were even little children fresh from their last day of lessons going into the sea in full school uniform, including white socks and T-bar shoes.

The weather has been glorious but not so for farmers. The fields are parched, things in the ground are struggling to grow and the cattle are already munching on this winter's feed.

Bring on the rain. And then let the sun shine again.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 6 July 2018

A walk through the trees and a fabled encounter with an Asian Hornet

It's a beautiful morning as I find my way to the central path up through the maize field.

We've not been up here for weeks, the dog and I, what with cattle, sheep and then, before that, lots of mud.

But today we're up on the highest hill in Dorset and it's only eight o'clock.

It's like a cathedral to nature up here, with the rising sun peeping through the branches to illuminate the trees, elevating them into something even more special than they already are.

We soak up the hazy view from the top before meandering around the summit, taking in the sights, sounds and smells and feel of this lovely rural spot.

There's a rope swing in front of me. It's pretty low on the ground but no-one's looking. So I lift my leg over and swing through the morning. The dog thinks I'm mad.

The sun throws a spotlight on my antics and then it's down the hill again, before anyone spots me. The scornful look on the dog's face is bad enough.

A foxglove gives a last hurrah, showing off its beautiful pink hue by nodding its farewells in the morning light.

Down here, below the currently pointless gate, the trees look like something from a desert. And so does the sky.

Back home, the builder shows me something nasty from the woodshed. He's captured it in a jar and we're worried it could be one of those horrid Asian Hornets that are eating our British honey bees.

But fear not, said I (for mighty dread had seized our troubled minds), I'll do a bit of research.

It's not long before I've clicked on a link and receive very speedy expert advice, from a very nice person called Steph Rorke from the GB Non-Native Species Information Portal (GB-NNSIP) at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford.

"We receive lots of reports of native species that look like Asian hornets and I am pleased to say that the photograph you have sent is not of an Asian Hornet," she says.

"Your photograph shows a type of sawfly called the Horntail, or Wood Wasp (Urocerus gigas). It is a wasp mimic and is also a Hymenopteran like wasps but the larvae feed in the trunks of trees unlike wasps. It is completely harmless and the ‘stinger’ is actually just an egg laying body part (ovipositor) elongated to inject eggs into host trees. The ovipositor is modified in other hymenoptera (e.g. bees and wasps) to sting.

"Thank you again for your report – it is a magnificent creature and a great find, and such reports are also extremely useful for non-native species surveillance. Please do report any future sightings of concern by using the on-line form or app."

Well, thank Mother Nature for that. The Horntail had us worried for a minute.

So the builder is entrusted with the jam jar to release the Horntail back into its natural environment.

For an overview of the Asian Hornet and its status in the GB take a look at this factsheet. If you find something you think might be one of these unwelcome creatures, email a photo to

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Football's coming home...(possibly)

How’s your World Cup going?

I’m not even a football fan. For years I thought Baddiel and Skinner were singing about Three Lines. But I got well and truly sucked into it last night.

The England games are being shown on a big screen in the village hall, thanks to my soccer-mad husband, who took no persuading in setting it up after learning that the pub was going to be a footie-free zone during the tournament.

Last night, the chip van in the village square was doing a roaring trade.

“But it’s funny,” said the young woman in between battering cod and haddock. “I’ve never seen so many ladies queuing up. Obviously the men have something better to do.”

Up at the hall, the smell of testosterone on a warm, sunny night hit me as I walked in at half-time with our supper.

“Just in time,” said my husband behind the makeshift bar, before he was inundated with requests for ice-cold pints of Thatchers and Branscombe beer straight from the barrel.

“You couldn’t do me a favour, could you?” he said, as I handed him the chips. “Only I’m running out of cider. You couldn’t pop down the shop and get me about four lots of four cans?”

Easy enough, you might think, but the shop closes at six o’clock so I ended up disturbing the manager at home and getting him to unlock the store, just for a bunch of thirsty football fans.

But, true to form in this village, all you have to do is ask the universe and you get what you want. The manager said he really didn’t mind, and was there anything else I needed?

“Several pairs of hands to carry the booty back to the hall would be nice,” I said, only for four teenagers to suddenly appear with open arms.

“We can drink it on the way back,” they laughed, reeling off a litany of drunken exploits which was meant to shock me to the core but was pretty tame for a teenager from the 1970s.

The cider safely delivered (I counted it out and counted it back in again), we settled down to watch the second half. I have to say, I’ve got a soft spot for Colombia, having been there two years ago, but even I knew it would be risky to declare my love for that particular South American country right at that moment.

It was all going so well, what with going up 1-0 when national hero Harry Kane scored a penalty, But then Colombia equalised in the ninety third minute and he hall erupted in fury.

To go into extra time and then a penalty shootout was all too much for some of us, with a world musician, local resident and football fanatic hiding in the toilet and others covering their eyes with their hands.

I couldn’t bear it, so went into the hall kitchen and booked tickets to see The Blockheads at The Electric Palace, Bridport, in November.

I could hear my husband shouting “Dier, Dier-Rea” when England missed a penalty and he mistakenly thought it was Eric Dier rather than Jordan Henderson.

Well, they’re both young, white men wearing red, so it’s an easy mistake to make. They all look alike to someone who should have gone to Specsavers.

And then there were excited roars and the sound of people running around on the hall’s wooden floor as England triumphed. Anyone would have thought our village had collectively used mind control to skew the score in our country’s favour.

And that, of course, was it. After fifty-two years of hurt, a nation is predicting that football’s coming home. You just have to believe.

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 ...