In this week’s column, Maddie Grigg swaps rural Dorset for sunny Corfu . . .
WE’RE back in our Corfu village, although just for a fortnight. Arty is in kennels (she never wants to leave, as they let her jump up and frolic to her heart’s content) and we’re staying with our Corfiot neighbour, Spiros, in his daughter Marianna’s room.
Her window and balcony overlooks the house in which we spent a year. Now, the property is up for sale and is being rented by an English couple, who are planning retirement in the Ionian sun.
It’s a strange feeling, being within touching distance of the place but not inside it. But things change and time moves on.
The welcome we receive as we walk up into the village plateia is as warm as ever. There are toots on car and scooter horns, great smiles from people and a special hug from whitehaired Maria.
There is a big hug from Kiki in the kafenion who says both of us look younger than we did when she saw us briefly last year.
“Many people come after reading your book,” she says. “Many, many.”
“Well,” I tell her, “when it’s made into a film you will be played by Renée Zellweger.”
Kiki’s laugh tinkles like fairy bells in the still afternoon across the plateia.
There is a screech of brakes as Betty rides by on her scooter.
She’s busy these days, what with children and her work cleaning and managing holiday accommodation in the village, but there is always time for a quick chat.
She alights from her bike to give us a hug. Today she has some special news for us. Her daughter, MarieAngela, who is eight years old, has successfully auditioned for a part in the third series of the ITV series, “The Durrells”, much to the disdain of her older brother, who also wanted to be in it.
Marie-angela plays the young sister of a new character who appears in the next series. We are very excited, and look forward to seeing her on our television screen whenever it’s shown.
Just like the Durrells, when we lived on Corfu we were enveloped by the warmth of the climate and the island’s people.
It’s the same all across Greece – that genuine hospitality and kindness to strangers which has existed since ancient times.
On our way into Corfu Town, we stop the car at the side of a busy road and make our way along the shingle beach. There, poking above the sea wall, is the house where “The Durrells” is being filmed.
We get quite close to it before encountering security people who gesture politely for us to move back.
It’s interesting for me, having feet both in Corfu and west Dorset, that the two places I love the most have been the backdrops to two successful television series.
Only a few months ago, we had the final episode of “Broadchurch”, which is set mostly in West Bay, with those dramatic cliffs playing a central role.
Spiros has now just told us that “The Durrells” team will be filming in our own Greek village next month, up at the precariously placed mountain-top church which belongs to Betty’s mother-in-law.
Still dreaming of literary success at the ripe old age of fifty-five, I think about who will play Mr Grigg and me when (not if, obviously) my book is turned into a movie.
He settles for Ray Winstone for himself. I would have had Keeley Hawes if she had not been already taken for “The Durrells”, so I choose Joely Richardson.
Well, I can dream, can’t I? n
The house where “The Durrells” is filmed.