Archives for posts with tag: TRAVEL

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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 www.usmarstudio@bigcartel.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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew knows the small village streets on our GREEK ISLAND HOME like the back of his hand and I think he has now become familiar with every flowering rose bush too. I don’t know how people manage to grow fabulous roses but it seems we are the only people in the village incapable of it. Apparently they just grow there is nothing special we need to do and of course everyone has these flowering beauties in their garden. Everyone but us! But I need not fret as I am lucky enough to have  roses picked for me from someone else’s abundnt crop. We do have a small amount of fruit trees providing us with seasonal delights. A quince tree is the first tree growing as you enter our small garden and although our annual crop seems to be far less than others in the village there is still something that can be used in a chicken staffado . There is also a small plum tree, set in the middle of our yard and an olive, fig and an almond tree too. These were not planted by us and were well established when we arrived probably planted by the wife of the last inhabitant, a priest. She was said to have had green fingers. There is an abundance seasonal fruit and veggies in the village and we are very lucky to receive bags of goodies which we usually find hanging from our front gate. This is always tricky as you don’t know which one of our many generous village friends has left it. Recently we received a bag filled to the brim with persimmons a fruit I must admit to never have eaten before. I really enjoyed this fleshy fruit and found myself unable to stop eating them once I started. I also used them in salads a delicious addition, they taste divine and add wonderful colour. We still have not worked out who left this gift but we are once again truly greatful.

FLOWERS Beautiful delicate pink roses from someone else’s garden copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

FRUIT Persimmons a gift from a village friend copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

Some snapshots from the summer, new friends Ayu, Ming and Sinyo. I hope we meet again soon and thank you for allowing me the pleasure of photographing you.

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Ayu copyright Claire Lloyd

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Ming copyright Claire Lloyd

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Ming copyright Claire Lloyd

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Sinyo copyright Claire Lloyd

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Sinyo copyright Claire Lloyd

The chiming of the church bells was the first sound I heard this morning, the next was Papa, our village priest singing at the top of his voice, it must be Sunday. There are many churches and chapels here on the Greek Island of Lesvos and I love visiting them. They are full to the brim with icons,and all things shiny. I find them a visual treat and a peaceful place to meditate and contemplate. Two of my favourite places are in Petra. Panagia Glyofilousa, Our Lady of the Sweet Kiss, is the crowning glory on the top of a 40 meter high rock. It’s a steep climb up the 114  steps that are carved into the rock but worth the effort. The basilica was originally built in 1609 and is considered one of the most important places of worship on the island. Agios Nikolaos is a tiny church below the rock and near to the square. It is a single-aisled basilica with a stone floor and there are three layers of frescos on the walls. It is such a special place and you rarely see another soul inside. blog churches4 Frescos from Agios Nikolaos copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches3 Chairs sit in front of the fresco at Agios Nikolaos copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches2 Candles lay waiting to be lit at Panagia Glyofilousa. Flowers at Agios Nikolaos copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches I love the placement of the icons and the bold colour and pattern of the black cover copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches7 Details from Panagia Glyofilousa. I especially like the tin money chest copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches8 Candles at Panagia Glyofilousa copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches6 Insence burners Panagia Glyofilousa copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches5 Ceiling details Panagia Glyofilousa copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

blog churches9 I love the wooden doors and they way they are secured at Panagia Glyofilousa copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

There are always surprises behind the closed village doors. My daily dog walking takes me past many uninhabited and also crumbling houses, they are thought provoking.  Past lives stir my imagination and my curiosity pushes me towards any small opening for a peek. Just a glimpse is enough, but the opportunity to step over the threshold is never turned down. This particular house was a gem it had been left almost untouched. It was a friends mothers house and we were invited to tread the grapes from their annual harvest. They said it was important that we came as they wanted the grapes to be trodden by couples who loved each other. This would add to the quality of the wine. Mmmm……… hope we didn’t let the side down. The grapes were in plastic baby baths in the garden and Matthew and I took off our shoes, washed our feet and started treading. I was taking photos at the same time so relied on Matthew to hold me upright. The sensation of treading grapes is a rather wonderful one. I loved the feeling of the soft skins between my toes and the feeling of determination I  took on to squish every single grape to liquid. I took my camera around the house and loved the way it had remained after the death of my friends mother. The only real difference were the bottles of wine being stored  from previous years. The house was now a cellar.

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Patterns of lace panels hang in front of windows and old tin trays sit on top of fabric runners. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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Tin trays rest against the wall, it seems they have not been moved for years and years. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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The old newspaper gives us a sense of time. I love the two patterns chosen to sit side by side each other on this wall. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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A fabulous wooden panelled ceiling and a random piece of lace hang from a nail. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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This is my kind of lighting, I love the single clear bulb hanging from the twisted cord. I particularly love the connection between the cord and the bulb and the cord and the ceiling fitting. Grapes trodden by previous lovers lay waiting to be drunk. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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Chairs stacked up until next time. An embroidered hand made purse hangs open, when it was last used. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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Rotting shutters let in diffused afternoon light. I covert a curtain hook which is attached to the wooden window surrounds. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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A sad, single fallen curtain and some newer hats on the hat rack, reminding us that people still pass by. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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Patterns of slowly disintegrating fabric and paper. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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Electricity was not essential in this household. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

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You can feel the bannister in your hand and the photos give you faces to the story you have built up in your mind. copyright CLAIRE LLOYD 

 

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

 

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