I photographed a little peak of Matthew and my life here on the island of Lesvos for You Magazine a couple of months ago and here it is. Thank you Clare Nolan for loving our lifestyle and Fiona McCarthy for your kind words.
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.
One of the best things I have experienced on the Greek Island of Lesvos is community living. Living in London was great and although I was connected with my really special friends I hadn’t felt the strong connection that comes with living in a close knit community. There is a special feeling you get, a safe feeling, a feeling of belonging. On Sunday December 15 I will be appearing at 8.40 on channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise and will be sharing my experiences of living in a community with Monique Wright and Andrew O’Keefe. Take a look.
This is the time of year when we all think about a holiday. It’s almost Christmas and if you live in the southern hemisphere it’s almost summer. I am now on holidays hooray! I have left behind the winter months of My Greek Island Home and all my furry friends to enjoy my other life, my Australian life. This is the time of year I spend with family, and friends in the summer sunshine. The sun is not shining at the moment but it is still a beautiful place to be. I am writing this with my computer perched on my lap looking out across Sydney harbour and through the heads. Although it’s grey there is still activity on the water, sailing boats, ferries and ocean liners float across the horizon in front of me. I have chosen this painting by Matthew Usmar Lauder to accompany this post. It’s a beautiful painting small like a gem and touches me. I love it because it reminds me of holidays, it reminds me of the past and it intrigues me. I hope you love it too.
I renovated this mews house in London several years ago. We lived in it for a couple of years before selling it. I completely renovated it, starting from scratch with just 4 walls. I added an extra floor and inserted sylights into the roof. I also had also glass panels set into the outside terrace floor, letting light into the kitchen below. My aim was to make a small London mews house feel like an appartment. I achieved this by opening up the spaces and bringing in as much light as possible. As usual everything was painted bright white. The outcome was a serene, spacious liiving space which we enjoyed enormously. Photographs by Nathalie Preim
I love peering through the windows of workshops on my many trips around our village. Some are well and truly forgotten and are sadly left to crumble. Their remains hint at a life and an occupation, which is no longer. There are still signs of life in others though and it’s a treat to be invited in for a closer look. George one of our village friends has had this workshop for the whole of his working life. In fact it has been in his family well before George was born. George is now retired from his trade but you can still find him occasionally pottering around or reshoeing the odd donkey. There are few donkeys used in the fields these days but it wasn’t that long ago when George would shoe all the donkeys of the village a full time job.