Saturday, 29 September 2018

En vacances Francais: on holiday in France


It is autumn in southern France and the rural lanes are full of fallen walnuts, squashed damsons and spiky chestnuts.

There are teasels and cornflowers, scabious and vetch and yarrow. Wild yarrow.




In our neighbour’s garden a banana tree grows. It’s ugly and incongruous in this enchanted light but, still, it grows bananas.

The scent of deer is strong, very strong, as I take the dog out on a long lead down unfamiliar paths, past long-dead sunflowers, their sad heads drooping, ashamed to look at the ball of light still burning so fiercely in the sky. Their faces turn away from the waning gibbous of a once glorious harvest moon, still sitting high in the sky despite the sunlight.



It is autumn in southern France. It is warm and light and inspiring, with a vast blue sky, save for a few vapour trails from aeroplanes flying in and out of Toulouse.

There is complete tranquillity here but in the woods, jays shriek as if they are witnessing – or committing - a murder. A woodpecker drills in competition with a man on his log pile, several villages away. And the postman trundles up the road and passes the gite as he goes from house to house in his yellow van.

There are hounds barking, desperate for the chase. And a church clock clangs and clangs as the villagers gather for the market.

I could live here, I think, and then pinch myself because the last time I thought that we ended up staying for a whole year on Corfu.

Which can’t be bad, although I was tediously homesick.

Be careful what you wish for.

Next stop, Spain.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Oh to be in Dorset now that autumn's here

It's that luscious time of year when late summer turns to autumn.

Far from being sad that the leaves are changing colour, the perennial plants are dying back and the days are getting shorter, I'm filled with warmth, contentment and the knowledge that the cycle of life carries on going around and round.

There is mist circling above Bluebell Hill.


I can see the breath escaping from the cattle's nostrils.


And the hedges are heavy with fruit like blackberries to treasure and belladonna to avoid.


The smell of chrysanthemum is a top note to combat the lows of rotting vegetation. The maize is still to be harvested, conkers yet to be played with and filberts to munch on. There are deliveries of logs in people's driveways.

Among the elderberries and haws, great rosehips hang like precious pendants.

The changing call of the wood pigeon and the croak of the raven signal that the end of the year will soon be here.

And while the earth begins to prepare for its slumber and so many living things are just itching to go into hibernation, the school and college year begins. New promise, new hope, new life.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Bridport Hat Festival: now it's time to put on our thinking caps


After our first foray into Bridport Hat Festival, at which Mr Grigg and I rather boringly wore our trusty Panamas purchased from a little shop in the delightful small town of Salento, high in the Colombian Andes, it's now time to put on our thinking caps.

In 2019, we need a mass entry from Lush Places that really captures the spirit of our lively little community.

We've managed to miss Bridport's wonderful celebration of all things hats ever since it began nine years ago. But next year, we'll delay our holiday not only for the Melplash Show (my favourite day of the West Dorset year) but also the hat festival.

On Saturday, we ventured into my kind of town, found a place to park and wandered up the street. Everyone, but everyone, was wearing hats. Even the dogs.



There were market stall holders in hats.



Siblings in hats.


Friends in hats.



If you weren't wearing a hat, you stood out like a naked, sore thumb.




There were television presenters in silly hats, men, women and children in upside down tree hats, battleship hats, fruit hats, flower hats, steampunk hats, stovepipe hats - with real steam coming out of the top - and Trump hats.

There were locals, visitors and foreigners, all in hats.



"Well," this chap said, "it is the hat feztival."

To get a true reflection of the array of hats, take a look at the pictures in my local newspaper, The Bridport and Lyme Regis News.

Stunning, are they not?

My favourite is the one that reveals the inside of that well-known West Dorset's landmark, Colmers Hill.

As a notice on the mayor's hat said: "This is not my normal size. Bridport doesn't do normal."

A huge thanks goes out to all those involved in organising such a brilliant event. And to Roger Snook from T Snook Hatters and Outfitters for running with the idea in the first place.


Let's hope lots of money was raised for the chosen charities, Brain Tumour Research and the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Blue sky thinking

The sky is as blue as a sailor's trousers this morning. You could make hundreds - no,  thousands - of pairs, if only you had the rig...