Archives for posts with tag: life

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

Recently my goddaughter asked me if I found it easy to ask strangers if I could take their photographs. I had to admit I am still really self conscious when it comes to photographing people. I actually find the initial approach scary. I feel sensitive towards my chosen subject and also feel responsible for capturing the essence of them in my shots. When I approach people who I don’t know I am always amazed at how open they are to having their photo taken. I can honestly say that it’s rare that someone says no to me. No is fine and to be respected. When yes is the response I love  the fleeting relationship between me and my new friend. I always feel elated after having taken the snap and sharing a few words with the person or people in front of me. Language is never a barrier if you are warm and relaxed, and that’s also when you get the best result. I shared this with Grace and then suggested we sit down and watch the Bill Cunningham documentary, very inspirational. Thank you everyone who has said yes to me and given me your time whether it be 30 seconds or 2 hours. Below are a few faces who happily said yes.

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This man was not phased at all by my lens copyright Claire Lloyd

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These two were definitely on for a photo copyright Claire Lloyd

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A little self-conscious but obliging never the less copyright Claire Lloyd

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 This gentleman was my favourite. He was so excited I had asked him that he beamed, it was worth it just to see the pleasure in his eyes copyright Claire Lloyd

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I snuck in from the side on this one. This lovely couple had asked someone to take their photo with their camera. I thought she was particularly beautiful and there was lots of love there copyright Claire Lloyd

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He looks exhausted by life but became quite animated when we talked about Australia copyright Claire Lloyd

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This guy was very keen to be photographed he actually asked me and then proudly placed himself in the doorway of his shop copyright Claire Lloyd

 

Yesterday was a superb day here on the island. We seemed to have skipped spring and just gone straight into summer. Just back from Sydney I had woken early and Matthew and I decided to take the dogs along the track towards the sea, a familiar and beautiful walk, especially at this time of year, with the abundance of wild flowers bordering the track. We took off on our walk with three very excited dogs, Hector, Nellie and Tollie. Quite some way down the track probably about 1.5 kilometers we saw a group of people heading towards us. At first we thought it was a walking group but on closer inspection realized it was a large group of refugees. There were about thirty of them, young women and men and two children. They had risked their lives crossing the Aegean Sea over night on a small boat from Turkey. Matthew and I stopped and spoke to them, a couple had some basic English and we learnt they were from Somalia and Syria. These people asked where they were. They had no knowledge they were on an island let alone in Greece. They were beautiful people with nothing more than a few possessions carried in a bag or rut sack. They were tired and thirsty and anxious to find the nearest town where they would present themselves to the police, they were still a long way from that. People often say to us that we are ‘Living the Dream’ and in some ways we are but as Matthew pointed out on seeing these people, they are the ones ‘Living the Dream’. Their dream is escaping their homeland, risking their lives to find a better life without war and persecution. The meeting was a thought provoking experience and I have to admit to a sadness that has hung over me since. We did what we could, loaves of bread, cheese, bottles of water, biscuits and chocolate for the kids but it’s haunted me that it wasn’t enough. Where are they now? Will the find a place to settle and make a new life for themselves, will there be any opportunities? I leave you with one image today an image of the end of the day where the water is still and calm and my thoughts are with the beautiful people.

BOAT 2/Claire Lloyd

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