I've just had the most delightful morning at Cricket St Thomas, speaking about Maddie's World to People's Friend readers who were on a five-day break at the Warner's leisure hotel in Somerset.
Maddie's World is the one I inhabit in Lush Places and which I share news from each week in my column for the magazine.
I was hoping to take Mr Grigg with me but he's busy in France, although currently tucking into a rather nice pizza in the bar just down the road.
Pelly Sheepwash was otherwise engaged so I took The Angel of the North along for the ride as well as moral support. I introduced her several times as I got into my stride, telling my audience about myself and my family and pets, why I wanted to be a journalist (it was the film His Girl Friday and the character of Hildy Johnson played by Rosalind Russell. Who could resist her sense of style and wit?) and, then, what they really wanted to hear, all about Lush Places.
The burning question was where exactly is Lush Places. I swore them to secrecy but they all know now, so it's quite possible there were a few interlopers at our village craft centre this afternoon enjoying a cream tea.
Lush Places is the enchanted village where I live in Dorset, and named after William Boot's nature notes column in the comic novel Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. This 1938 book is a bit dated in these politically correct times but I still love it. The premise of a gentle nature writer being flung into reporting a civil war in Ishmaelia, a fictional state in East Africa, through a case of mistaken identity has never been bettered. It's a terrific send up of sensational journalism and foreign correspondents.
Anyway, as usual, I digress.
It was a wonderful morning with some very nice people, including staff from D C Thompson who publish the People's Friend (and also The Beano!), the world's longest running weekly magazine for women. My audience of readers was a delight, asking me some very interesting questions and then coming up for a chat afterwards.
'It was lovely seeing in your slideshow a picture of your dogs playing in the kitchen,' one of them confided. 'The best thing was seeing your kitchen. It wasn't spotless. It was sort of lived in.'
Some people might have taken that the wrong way. But not me. It made me appreciate one of my readers felt quite at ease telling me that, as if she were an old friend.
So thank you, People's Friend, for asking me to write a weekly column on the strength of this blog. And thank you to the loyal readers of this remarkable magazine. I really feel part of the family.
That's about it.
Love Maddie x
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