There are so many small chapels scattered around the island of Lesvos and some of them are to be found in the most unlikely places. Many are up high on top of mountains some are tucked away along remote dirt tracks. There are at least eight that I know of in and around our village but it would not surprise me if there were more. I was invited to a memorial service in one of theses hidden gems about five years ago and it was a challenging little chapel to find. I walked out of the village along a dirt track and down down into a valley. Negotiating my way through thistles and shrubs it was difficult to imagine I would ever reach my destination. After what seemed to be a rather long trek I arrived at the small chapel, set amongst trees in the prettiest location next to a stream. I watched old yia yia’s (grandmothers) making their way down the hill, some using sticks for stability as they treked across the uneven ground, I was impressed at their stamina, strength and determination. Papa (the priest) was last to arrive and he had with him his assistant, a grumpy bearded woman carrying a small suitcase containing all the necessities for the simple service. Candles were lit and prayers were recited and incense burnt as we stood shoulder to shoulder and prayed for Nick, it was a lovely simple service. Last week I visited another small chapel set in a rock beside the sea. Walking in from the strong midday sun it took a little while for my eyes to adjust to the caves darkness. Here are my snapshots from the chapel in the cave.
My beautiful god-daughter and muse, Grace Bagot.
When we bought our village house it was filled with somebody else’s life. It was really strange to open the door and feel we were entering a very personal space that was not ours. It felt like someone had just gone out shopping or to visit a friend and had never come back. I suppose that is what happened. The house had belonged to the village priest, Papa, and his wife. After Papa’s death his wife continued to live in it until she passed away. We were extremely privileged to be privy to their lives.
Our village has many abandoned houses. When I am lucky enough to peek inside I find it fascinating. Last summer our village friend George called me into the house of one of his relatives. This house is relatively close to ours and locked up behind big blue gates, completely out of sight. George knows we love the history of the village and its people and also knows I love houses. He invited us in. The house was fab and I asked George if he would mind me taking some photographs of my goddaughter Grace who was staying with us. He didn’t mind at all and here are the results, enjoy!
Isabel La Howe – Conant, “He who loves an old house never loves in vain.”
What a fantastic London spring night for great party! My Greek Island Home has now been published in the UK by, Clearview Books and was launched in London last Wednesday night. Despite the tube strike and Chelsea playing at home my trusty friends and followers turned up in droves. It was great to see friends both, old and new and also be introduced to some new faces. The venue was Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart in Pimlico, a fantastic location. Nikki generously provided her beautiful shop overflowing with spring blooms and her and the girls, Ruth, Robyn, Sophie and Lucy were perfect hostesses. Domus Nova, Notting Hill’s best estate agent, very generously sponsored the event and kept everyone’s glasses topped up with prossecco, rose and white wine. The Grilling Greek parked his van outside and served up a feast, thrice-cooked chips, pita, hummus, olives and vegetarian souvlaki, it was all so yummy.Some of our Greek recue dogs, Robert, Maisy and April were able to make it to the evening which for me was the highlight .Clearview Books gave 10% of the money raised from the sale of the books to Nikki’s charity The Doghouse. ‘Want me’ t shirts designed by artist, Matthew Usmar Lauder to raise awareness and money for the rescue dogs were on sale too. I am blessed to have such great friends and supporters and thank you everyone for making the night a brilliant success.If you were not able to attend the night and would like to purchase a book you can go to Wild at Heart or online to amazon. It you want to support the dogs and would like a ‘want me’ t-shirt go to email@example.com. Don’t forget to take a selfie in it and share. A shared selfie with the book would also be great.Below are some photos taken on the night by Rob Dawkins, thanks Rob!
Living with dogs is a new thing for me. I had never had a dog until now, and I have gone from one extreme to another. As a child I begged my mother for a dog but she dug her heels in saying she had enough of us to look after without a dog. I now understand she was completely right and admire her for sticking to her guns especially even when I did my up most to sway her. Matthew and I have found ourselves taking care of many waifs and stray cats and dogs, that have made their way to our doorstep. We both find it curious the way we have become so fond of these furry friendsWe help them as much as we can but it’s very difficult as there are so many. As I write this we feed about sixteen cats, one of which has just has two of the sweetest kittens and six dogs, three of which need new homes. We only have a small garden so exercising the dogs is important. I usually do one long walk in the morning and Matthew another four around the village throughout the day. A couple of the cats like to join in the walks and our village friends are amused when they see the parade.
I dedicated a chapter in my book My Greek Island Home’ its called ‘Nature Nurture’. I write about some of the characters that have passed through our lives. One of my Greek friends, Vasillia has 25 rescue dogs in her care. She once told me that it was important to harden my heart otherwise it would be broken. It often is. We do our best and over the years have re-homed many four legged friends, especially dogs. A couple are now living happily in America, the others in the UK and Europe. We get help where we can and have been lucky to have very generous friends.
London florist Nikki Tibbles absolutely loves dogs and she has helped us with some of the financing and re homing of our four legged friends. We like have make contact with the potential new owners to get an idea if they are compatable with the dog. We have made some new friends along the way and also kept up with most of the dogs beautiful new lives. It’s hard work and expensive. There are the vet bills for injections, chipping and neutering together with the transportation costs, it all adds up. Matthew does the lion’s share of transportation dealing with the flights and the paper work which seems to change daily can be extremely time consuming and challenging.It’s always hard to say goodbye when they go off to their new lives, I sob but I know it’s for the best. When we see the lives these beautiful dogs are living now its so, so worth it.
Matthew has designed a t shirt to raise awareness and money for the dogs and cats we rescue, care for and re home. If you would like to be part of raising the awareness and helping the dogs and cats the ‘want me’ t shirt can be purchased on line www.usmarstudio.bigcartel.com And don’t forget to take a selfie in the t shirt and post it wherever you can. The t shirts will aslo be on sale at my London book launch on Wednesday night.
I am very excited to announce my London book launch. My Greek Island Home is being published in the UK by Clearview Books. Next Wednesday night, April 30th Nikki Tibbles, Wild at Heart, Domus Nova and Clearview Books will be hosting a launch party at Nikki Tibbles, Wild at Heart. So excited!
The village church
Our village priest
I can’t believe how quickly time has passed, it really doesn’t seem like a year since my last Easter post. We had another beautiful Easter service in our village last night and were extremely lucky with the weather. We have been having torrential rain and electrical storms here on Lesvos the last couple of days. The procession around the village was really lovely and makes me feel privileged to be part of this village. Happy Easter and love to you all.
These animals sure know how to choose their owners. Bingo one of our rescue cats always finds a way to get inside. He fits perfectly into the our white house and I think he knows that. He’s a very special boy.
At this time of year the village is quiet. Our village friends tend to stay indoors. It’s not at all surprising as the weather the last few days has been extremely wet. I felt the need to go back into my archives to remind myself of village life in June. Here are some of my friends. Enjoy!
Finally after three months away I am back on My Greek Island Home. The weather here is extraordinary, piercing blue skies, warm sunshine and blossom decorating all the fruit and nut trees as far as the eye can see. I have been in my hometown of Sydney and my work town London and enjoyed everything about both of them but there is nothing better than returning to the place that touches my soul, the Greek island of Lesvos. The last three months have flown by and have been filled with family, friends, sunshine, fires and rain. I have been a little slack with my posts to say the least so forgive me for that. Hopefully I will get myself back on track and share with you the things that make my heart sing. In April my beautiful book, My Greek Island Home, is to be launched in the UK by my publishers Clearview Books. There will be more info on that later. I have a new instagram account, mygreekislandhome where you can find images by the day or sometimes by the hour of my life here on this fab Greek island. We continue to rescue and re-home dogs and Matthew with the assistance of Nikki Tibbles in London re-homed five before he left. Three dogs went the UK and two to Chicago. Since his return he has taken in a tiny puppy that had been dumped in the village, cowering, cold and staving. Whilst in Sydney I came across this great old-fashioned milk bar in the suburb of Summer Hill. My niece, Hannah and I went clutching our cameras; there were so many photo opportunities. We met with the owner a wonderful Greek man who has lived in Australia most of his adult life. I had the opportunity to speak with him using my limited Greek, he seemed happy enough, allowing me to butcher his mother tongue. Below are some of the images I took on the day.