And it's goodnight from me - I'm closing The World From My Window for the last time

A Happy New Year to you all! Here's hoping that 2020 is peaceful, healthy, everything you hope for and full of blue sky bunting. After twelve happy years, I've decided to give up this blog. I wanted to say a big thanks for all your support. The World from my Window has opened many doors (and indeed windows) for me during that time, including an appearance on Channel 5's  The Gadget Show , and a weekly writing slot on the world's oldest weekly magazine for women, The People's Friend . I love sharing my stories with readers of my Maddie's World column and the People's Friend team are a joy to work with. Long may that continue! Through this blog, I've had a loyal host of followers from all over the globe, including particular champions in those dozen years. It's a huge boost and very humbling. Thank you. Since I was a young child, writing has been my thing. I started this blog during a creative writing course with The Open University in 2

Have a very merry Christmas

Looking around the house, the tree is up, the lights are twinkling and the cards are on display. We've come off one friend's Christmas card list, and not because they're saving paper. It's a bid sad, really, but if it's a small victory to them and makes them feel better, than I'm okay with that. I love Christmas cards and I love bumping into people in Lush Places dashing all over the village as they deliver their festive messages. Despite rancour and division, this is a time for goodwill to all. It's a time for kindness, happiness and being thankful for all we have. It's also a time to think - and do something about - those less fortunate than ourselves, whether it's in a hands-on way or something as simple as donating to Crisis at Christmas or giving your winter fuel allowance over to Dorset Community Foundation who will find someone who really needs it. The lights are on the trees outside, it'll be Midnight Mass this evening and, af

A message to you, Ruby

Christmas is just a week away and that sounds about right as a cough and cold has just descended on me like the Angel Gabriel. I've had the flu jab so it isn't a full-on thing, but it's annoying, nonetheless, and I hope it'll have burnt itself out by this time next week. The village square is looking very sparkly as are all roads leading to it. While walking the dogs just before dusk last night, a five-bar gate across someone's drive suddenly lit up as I went past, flashing and going as if Christmas was about to arrive, which indeed it is. Carol singing in church is done and dusted although, sadly, our vicar was unable to lead the service because she's ill. Still, it was a great way to start the festive season and the last minute choir practice in church accompanied by ringing bells was worthy of The Vicar of Dibley because none of us could hear ourselves think, let alone sing. Thankfully, there were no sniggers from the congregation when I read the sec

Batten down those hatches, it's recycling day

It's blowing a hooley out there.  The wind is lashing against the windows and the dogs are play fighting in front of the Aga before one of them goes too far and I have to break up the party. It's recycling day today and the wind knows it, whipping up through the street into the square and down the alleyway from the church to present the village with a soggy mess of paper, cereal packets and plastic all along the side of the road, a twice-monthly confetti for the marriage of consumerism and environmental guilt. You can tell a lot about people from what's in their rubbish. Forget about stealing ID, I'm talking about their character - where they shop, the type of people they are. A small, white bottle with a label denoting that it's  kefir,  a fermented milk drink good for the gut, rolls around my doorstep. It's not mine.  I pick it up to dispose of it and can feel there is still some miracle juice inside. It was clearly not to the user's l

Christmas preparations in my Dorset village

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Lush Places. The trees are up above our doors and the lights are due to go on officially this coming Saturday, although I've thrown caution to the wind and switched mine on already.  The lights are warm white, more's the pity. You see, I have once again bottled out of following my non-conformist heart and gone for coloured ones. My lights may be warm white but in an act of quiet rebellion I've already got them on, several days before they are supposed to be. On Saturday evening, the vicar will throw the switch of the giant tree on the village green and then all of us will sing  We Wish You a Merry Christmas  before scuttling out of the cold and into the pub for mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas carols. Meanwhile, my little tree, with its wispy tail of lights across the front of my house, will be saying triumphantly to the rest of the spruce bunch, 'well, I beat you to it. I've had a whole week to shin

An appointment with The People's Friend

I've just had the most delightful morning at Cricket St Thomas , speaking about Maddie's World to People's Friend readers who were on a five-day break at the Warner's leisure hotel in Somerset. Maddie's World is the one I inhabit in Lush Places and which I share news from each week in my column for the magazine. I was hoping to take Mr Grigg with me but he's busy in France, although currently tucking into a rather nice pizza in the bar just down the road. Pelly Sheepwash was otherwise engaged so I took The Angel of the North along for the ride as well as moral support. I introduced her several times as I got into my stride, telling my audience about myself and my family and pets, why I wanted to be a journalist (it was the film His Girl Friday and the character of Hildy Johnson played by Rosalind Russell. Who could resist her sense of style and wit?) and, then, what they really wanted to hear, all about Lush Places. The burning question was where exactl

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their parents, waiting in the shadows. The theory is that if we get any fancy-dressed callers, then Mr Grigg can deal with them while I'm out. I'm off to Dorchester to see Doctor Sleep , Stephen King's follow up to The Shining . I enjoyed the book but it's nowhere near as focused and tight as its predecessor, which I've also read, so I'm interested to see what the film is like. To be honest, I'm not a fan of horror movies. Why pay to be scared witless or to have sleepless nights for days to come? But it's only a 15 rating, so it can't be that bad. My brother and sister-in-law pick me up and we make our to way to Dorchester, the mist a-swirling and the rain a-drizzling, perfect conditions for the witching hour. We enjoy a great pizza from the wood-fired oven of Basilico , a new, unpretentious and independ