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Last Friday evening I sat with eleven other like minded creative women and one lone divine man, in Saskia Havekes Sydney shop Grandiflora, to celebrate the end of an era.This was a very special evening a tribute and thank you to the very talented Julie Gibbs. The evening was hosted by Saskia Havekes and Megan Morton and I felt privileged to be included. Julie Gibbs has been the publishing director of Penguin Lantern for the last eleven years and in that time she has given many authors the opportunity to produce some of the best illustrated books in the world.

I was introduced to Julie by a friend several years ago. At our first meeting Julie told me she had been a fan of my previous book, Sensual Living published by Conran Octopus many years before in the UK. She then went on to say she would love to publish a book by me which completely took me by surprise. At the time I had no idea of what that book would be. As I was leaving Julie’s office she said words to me that were magic ‘write about something you love’. That was all I needed to hear. I knew immediately what I was going to write about, my new love which was living in a village community on a Greek Island. That is how My Greek Island Home was born. I come from a visual background and have never felt confident writing. When I was art directing magazines I spent much of my time trying to get the editors to cut the words to enable me to fill spreads with large photographs. So when Julie suggested I write the book myself I felt overwhelmed and terrified. She said it’s your story and you are the only one who can tell it. She had such confidence in me that I could not refuse I just had to get on with it. Whilst I had nearly all the images I needed for the book it took me a while to put pen to paper. I have many friends who are authors and journalists and felt uncomfortable asking them for help. I did discuss my fear with a few friends and they offered some suggestions based on what worked for them. One of my friends suggested a I use a dictaphone to record my thoughts whilst walking my rescue dogs. This however ended in disaster with me being distracted by their bad behaviour and screeching their names (TRIXE…… BERTIE…..HECTOR……MAVRO) at the top of my voice whilst they headed off in the direction of their choice chasing some poor creature into the countryside for sport. Another suggestion was to go to my computer everyday at a set time put on my favourite music and type and type until I came up with something I was happy with. As I find typing a very slow process and have never been one for routine this was also highly unsatisfactory.

I did finally manage to find my own way, armed with a pile of fresh clean sheets of white paper and a very pleasing felt tipped pen I sat under the rays of the Greek sun on my terrace or in a taverna by the sea with a cold glass of wine and some fresh calamari and poured my heart out. I had two great editor friends take a look at it before I had the nerve to hand it in, it was like homework. I will never forget emailing the text to Julie who was on a shoot somewhere in Europe. She was excited to receive my words and said she was looking forward to reading them on the very long train journey she was about to embark on.  She said she would then report back. Whilst I waited anxiously for her call I tried to distract myself from the what if she hates it thought that kept swirling around in my head. When Julie called me she was so enthusiastic I wanted to weep. Julie understood me, she has a knack for understanding her authors, we are all different and approach our books in very different ways. She understood I needed complete freedom to go off and shoot, to edit my own shots and to lay the pages out. She knew I came with a lot of experience in these areas and respected that. She also knew who to team me up with in the Lantern art department. Her choice of Evi O was perfect and Evi brilliantly designed the cover of my book. We sat together until every page had been laid out perfectly.

I want to thank Julie Gibbs for giving me the opportunity to write about something I love, for her pride and passion in the books she produces and for her friendship. I am excited for her as she embarks on a new chapter in her life. Thank you so, so much Julie xx

PS thank you too, Saskia and Megan

Untitled-1 The woman of the evening Julie

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Untitled-13 Amanda, Megan, Julie and Christine

Untitled-14 Saskia, David and Collette

Untitled-15 The divine table thanks to Saskia and Megan

Untitled-16 Besties, Julie and Saskia

 

One of my favourite flowers is the peonie. I love the way they open from the very tightest bud into soft paper like petals. I love alliums too, they burst out from their protective pods, unlike the yellow kernels of corn which remain hidden inside a thick husk. Photography by Claire Lloyd.

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Wherever you are in the world spring is always an exciting time. Here on Lesvos the 1st of May is a holiday. Our village friends always celebrate leaving the cold winter months behind and who can blame them. Family and friends gather together and share delicious food and mark the start of a new season. To acknowledge the beginning of the season there is a tradition of hanging wreaths or bunches of spring flowers on the front gates and doors of the village houses. Bunches of wildflowers are also tied to the front of cars. It really is very charming. This year one of our neighbours, Mary had gathered with a couple of friends, Despina and Yanoula in her front garden and together they made beautiful wreaths. Matthew and I went along with part of our family, 4 dogs to watch the women as they worked. One of the local men arrived laden with rosemary, this was used as a base and decorated with thistles, roses and hydrangers. The result was stunning. A few hours later we got a big surprise when we found a wreath had been hung on our gate. This stunning piece had been made especially for us. We were overwhelmed. There is so much generosity here in our village and on our Greek Island home.

Untitled-1 I just love the colour of these thistles

Untitled-17 The arrival of the rosemary and Yanoula gets to work

Untitled-16 Trixie watches on as Mary weaves in the flowers

Untitled-18 The combination of the hydrangeas and the rosemary looks stunning

Untitled-19 Despina proudly shows off her wreath which is crowned with bulb of garlic

Untitled-12 Roses are added into the mix and Yanoula is taking instructions from her sister Despina

Untitled-13 The smile says it all, pure enjoyment

Untitled-15 Needless to say the smell of these wreaths are divine

Untitled-14 This is the divine gift which was left hanging on our front gate made by Yanoula

 

Yesterday I went for a walk through the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. At the harbours edge I was lucky enough to meet Emma who asked me to take her photo. Emma has such lovely face and beautiful smile and  I would like to thank her so much for sharing it with me. Emma gave me her email address but unfortunately the email bounced back so if anyone recognises Emma please let me know. Through the lens of my camera I can capture intimate moments which give me great joy. This to me was a lovely, lovely moment in time, thank you Emma.

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IMG_7208-2 Emma photo Claire Lloyd

 

IMG_4348A Mr Matthew Barr

IMG_4351A Mrs Jessica Barr

IMG_4362 Mr and Mrs Barr

IMG_4607A Love

I am still enjoying the memories from my besautiful niece and her gorgeous husband’s October wedding. As promised…….. introducing Mr Matthew Barr. Matt and Jess are about to embark on their new life together in Darwin, a big change from their familiar Sydney.  I hope it will be great adventure for both of them. Thank you for Matt and Jess for being in my life, I love you both.

 

Last Saturday my beautiful niece, Jessica Lloyd married the man of her dreams. For me it is hard to believe Jess is even old enough to contemplate marriage, but old enough she is and the years since I first held her in my arms have passed far too quickly. Jess and I have always had a strong bond, perhaps it’s because she was the first of my nieces and nephews to arrive or maybe it’s quite simply because we share the same star sign, Virgo. Whatever the reason I love her dearly. From a young age I would take her off on little adventures and she would come for sleepovers when I was home from abroad. I used to phone her to ask if there were crocodiles under her bed, this always made her screech with laughter. Jess has always been determined, independent, caring and fun with a great sense of humor. She was a lovely little girl and now she is a beautiful woman. I captured a few intimate moments before she took my brothers arm and walked across a paddock to stand before the man who will take her on the next big adventure in her life. She looked so beautiful and I was so proud. The man of Jessica’s dreams will be revealed in the next post. Enjoy!

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Usually the images I post of  My Greek Island Home (check out my book) are in colour but Greek village life is just as beautiful in black and white. Enjoy my wandering around the village.

IMG_8650_1a Delicious handmade mazipan flowers by the woman in the village co-operative

IMG_3401a A villager eturnig at dusk along the track laden with hay

IMG_5953a A handfull of newly picked fresh wild asparagus

IMG_2325a Panayiota and Stratos  sitting happily together in their kafenio

IMG_0803a Fresh bread being made in the local bakery

IMG_1247a Wash day

_MG_7786a A quite moment for the late Charalambos

20091011_RALITSA LAN`D_4528a A plate of  grapes just picked from a neighbours vine

_MG_4355a Preparation for the olive picking

_MG_1688a Crocheting lace, the village women are always busy

_MG_5671a Bagging up the olives

_MG_4209a Home baking means hands on work

_MG_8180a Watching the world go by

_MG_1705_1a Things turn up in the most unlikely places

DSC00124a The original kitchen in our house

Vasso's mums handa Freshly picked vine leaves which will be used for making dolmades

 

 

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My niece, Hannah came to visit on My Greek Island Home recently. The summer afternoon light was perfect in my bedroom and I could not resist using her as my muse. Thank you Hannah I hope you enjoyed My Greek Island Home.

 

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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