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Yesterday was a full day on My Greek Island Home. Every one of my emotions and senses were touched and stimulated.

I was woken by the soft paw of my cat Sweetie. She dragged it across my face with only partly retracted claws hoping to raise me from my cosy bed. She then proceeded to lead me downstairs to her empty food bowl, in the kitchen. On my way through I open the door onto the garden where 3 tails wagged madly and there were hysterical sounds of excitement. It was as if I have been gone from the dog’s lives for days rather than hours.

I put on some music, Midnight Oil, and we danced, the three dogs and I. Dog number four was on a sleep over, integrating into the family that will be driving her across Europe to her new home in London. Even though living in a Greek village has many distractions and surprises there are still some routines that must be followed.

Next on the agenda was a dog walk via our guesthouse. We call the guesthouse Ken’s Spiti. Spiti, being the word for house in Greek and Ken being the name of my father. It’s a bit mad really but I like it, as it’s a constant reminder of my lovely Dad. Before reaching Ken’s Spiti we were greeted by 7 cats of varying sizes, colours and ages all thrilled to see the dogs and I. The cats purred, everyone rubbed noses, legs and whatever else that can be rubbed and we moved on to the final destination, the guesthouse. I fed the cats on the wall, some others joined in. High walls surround the house and there is a metal gate at the entrance. You cannot see into the small stone garden. I opened the gate and there in front of me is the most enormous shaggy goat with very long, curly horns. Shocked and amused to find this lone and oversized creature out of context, I laughed and laughed, I could not stop laughing. What has happened, what has my life become? After corralling the goat out of the garden I headed off along the track for my daily dog walk.

A Greek lesson was next and I needed to be in Molyvos, 30 minutes away by 10.30am. At 12pm I had organised to meet a family from Istanbul in the harbour. Several days ago I had an email from a gentleman who lived in Istanbul. He had seen my blog and enjoyed it. He and his family were visiting the island and he asked if we could meet. I was happy to. The meeting was delightful, my newfound friends are very interesting people and we spent a couple of hours together, chatting away. It was relaxing and I really enjoyed it. At the end of our time they presented me with a gift. The most beautiful book called Dance of Fire, Iznil tiles and ceramics from the Sadberk Hanim Museum. I was completely touched by this gesture. I left them feeling so full of joy. Looking at the book has inspired me to pick up a brush and start painting.

I was home about 4pm just in time for another dog walk. Walking through the village I came across a kitten that was unable to walk and was incredibly weak. I picked it up as gently as possible and took it home where I wrapped it in a warm towel and fed it watered down evaporated milk through an eyedropper. It took a little milk and I let it rest.

Alexandra my Albanian cleaners daughter is learning English and I am helping her a couple of times a week with her work. She arrived at 5pm I checked on the kitten and thought I heard a faint purr when I stroked it. After Alexander had left I went into the bathroom and found the kitten had lost its fight. Its little body was limp in my hands and I was so, so sad. I hate it, I hate seeing it, and I hate being so powerless.

The day had almost come to an end a day with life and death, laughter and tears, joy and sorrow. Out of the blue came an email from an Australian friend. She had been moved to send the email by the previous post I had put up on my blog called Turkish faces. She said the photos had reminded her of a radio programme she had listened to recently with Hugh Mackay (click to listen), about life and happiness. She thought I should listen to it. Quote, because it’s all about living the ‘good life’ and what he was saying is exactly what you are doing!This morning I lay in bed and listened to the program, it absolutely hit the spot with me, the timing was perfect. It’s an inspiring interview and really worth setting some time aside to listen. Thank you artist Susan Hipgrave for your perfectly timed email. Thank you Phillip Adams and Hugh Mackay for an intelligent, thought provoking programme. And YES I am living the good life.

walking dogs My Greek Island Home

Living the good life! Walking the dogs, late afternoon on the Greek Island of Lesvos. Photograph Matthew Usmar Lauder

 

 

 

 

Living on a Greek Island has opened our eyes to so many new things. We are privileged to be living our life here. We have met wonderful people and been embraced by our village community. The landscape that surrounds us is spectacular. When we arrived we never imagined the number of cats and dogs that needed help. There are some people on the island doing incredible work with animal rescue and we try to help when we can. Matthew volunteered for 1.5 years at the wildlife rescue centre, which has now closed. We have taken on kittens, cats, puppies and dogs, something I would never have imagined myself doing when I lived a city life in London. All of the animals we rescue are unique and they all have their own special place in our hearts.We do what we can to re home them and to date, with the help of our friends, we have re homed 8 dogs and many cats. The dogs have gone to Scotland, England, Holland and one puppy found a great home here on the Island. Every time we say goodbye it is really difficult but we know it’s absolutely for the best. We are lucky to find them new families and also lucky that the new owners keep us posted from time on their new lives. The last dog to leave was about a month ago now. Her name is Tollie and we found her on the outskirts of the village with a puppy. The puppy was about 2 months old and Tollie the mother only about a year. She was an incredibly good mother. The puppy, now called Cookie found a home here on the island. She was taken by a Greek girl and is happy, spoilt and doing well. Tollie was well loved in our garden and also a big hit with the children of the village. Bingo our white rescue cat had a special bond with her and they played together continuously, it was sometimes quite rough and tumble but they loved it and it was a joy to witness. They slept together every night even when the puppy was still with us. They would choose the smallest dog bed and all pile one on top of the other occasionally you would find that the puppy was at the bottom. She was a sensitive enthusiastic and charismatic dog and when she looked at you, you felt she could see into your soul. Nellie our first rescue dong, the one we have kept became her close friend. Nellie is very particular and doesn’t share herself with just anyone. They had hours of fun together and Tollie even managed to convince Nellie to relax and play, something that didn’t come naturally to Nellie. On the day Tollie left we took her and Nellie to a lovely beach for their last run together. We then drove to the port where she boarded a boat for Athens. This was the first leg of her long trip to the UK. Here are some photos of their last games. They were in dog heaven. I cried when we handed her to Vasillia her chaperone on the boat to Athens. Vasillia then took her in a taxi and checked her onto her flight to Heathrow. It was so sad to say goodbye but we knew it was the right thing for her. Tollie is now in a lovely home just outside of London and we have seen photos of her with her new friend Jack, she is happy. Tollie you will never be forgotten, thank you for all the laughter, joy, love and fun you brought to My Greek Island Home.

 

 

 

VILLA GAGA

Matilda

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VILLA GAGA5 Matthew and Matilda

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VILLA GAGA11 Gerbien and Matilda

We took a trip south to visit Matilda. Matilda is a very special dog and we are hoping she will find a lovely home very soon, meanwhile she is staying with Gerbein and lots of new friends at Villa Gaga. Matilda was chained to a barrel and we saw her every day when we went walking. We took her food from time to time and also would take her for a short walks. The farmer said he didn’t want her and told us to take her, so we did. You couldn’t see her eyes and she had completely matted fur. We hacked our way through it with scissors before taking her to the vet and it still took the vet 2 hours to shave her with sheep shears. Matilda did not complain once. She has a loving nature and is very friendly and gentle. Villa Gaga to is a place where waifs and strays are cared for by lovely Gerbien. Gerbien is another wonderful woman who dedicates her life to the animals. She works so hard and gives so much to all the animals in her care, cats, dogs and horses. It was great to see Matilda, we took her for a walk along the beach with Nellie and were sad to say goodbye at the end of the afternoon. Thank you Gerbien for all the wonderful work you do for the stray animals. Thank you for caring for Matilda and thank you for not only being a sweet, sweet person but also a lovely friend.

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Matthew came back from a dog walk the other day with some branches of blossom for me, spring is on it’s way, hoorah. We have been hearing the screaming of faunicating cats, bouncing off the narrow village street walls for the last couple of weeks, so that’s also another sign that spring is in the air. I put the pretty blossom in an old, found glass bottle and it really gave the room a lift. Also on the table are dried flowers from our pink bouganvilla, a left over reminder of last summer. The glass bottles all sit on a hessian runner made by my sister for Christmas. I love it and by the looks of it so does Sweetie. Now there is one cat not interested in spring fever!

[wpvideo cV0jQmHk]Matthew and I LOVE all the waifs and strays that have passed through our lives here on the island. It is extremely difficult when any of them die. This week has been challenging as two of our cats have gone missing and one has died. Grey Bear our three legged rogue went to heaven yesterday. Having said that I think heaven for him for the last 2 years has been living with us. He has been a true friend and a wonderful companion. He has made us laugh and now is making us cry. We will love him always and never forget him. Grey came to us for help. How he knew to come I don’t know but he did, he was a clever cat. His leg had been crushed and he was in a shocking state. The pain he was in showed in his eyes. We took him to the wild life rescue centre and his leg was removed. His recovery was touch and go it was also lengthy. When he recovered we took him back to our house where he has remained. Sweetie our first rescue cat was not happy but over time they became friends. Greys favourite thing was opening the refrigerator. He would stand on his one back leg and use his two front paws to break the seal. This film is one we did about 2 months ago. It introduces a few of the cats and dogs in our life, Grey Bear features. Take a look and I hope you like it. Beautiful Grey!

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