Inspiring Lives – Claire Lloyd My Greek Island Home

This summer I was lucky to meet the gorgeous Claire Lloyd (above) and her partner Matthew in Sydney. Over dinner with mutual friends on a little balcony overlooking Tamarama I tortured poor Claire about living on a Greek Island.

You see I have been in love with her life for years now ever since my publisher told me about a book she commissioned years earlier and I joked ‘that was the book I wanted to write and the life I want to live’!

Well gorgeous Claire did it and so beautifully and since I opened my copy of My Greek Island Home I haven’t stop dreaming of blue seas, fresh air and white painted floors.

Not only did she write My Greek Island Home but she photographed it too.

Who doesn’t dream of living on a Greek Island?

I certainly do in the midst of a cold winter, yearning for sunshine, the sea and a little garden. Claire has been kind enough to share her thoughts on her life, creativity, cats and living on a Greek Island and some of her favourite addresses on Lesvos.

What inspired you to move to Lesvos?

I definitely had a deep need somewhere inside me for a simpler life and a need to reconnect with my creativity. For many years I had been living a very full and hectic life in London, Art Directing and designing for brands, magazines and advertising agencies and I felt tired. It was a trip to my homeopath, Vicki, in London that encouraged me to change my direction. On that particular day I said to her I had lost my personal creativity and felt disconnected. Vicki held up her mobile phone with a photograph on it of, a basic stone house, in the middle of a field with a walnut tree. The house stood alone, solidly, under piercing blue skies. This visual image made an immediate impact on me. Vicki said, “perhaps this is your remedy, I have just bought a house in Lesvos, maybe you should go there and take a look.” I am impulsive, and so was there within a week.

How has your move enhanced your lifestyle? 

My lifestyle is much gentler and I have regained my personal creativity, I also have more time to observe and enjoy my surroundings.

I have many amusing anecdotes from my daily life to share.

What do you have more of living on an Island than living in a big city?

Cats and dogs………..I’ve never had a dog before and now we have as little as 2 or as many as 4 at one time. We try to re home strays. We always have lots of kitties to feed too.

You see more stars because there is little streetlight, in the village, and the skies are vast.

Being on an island the Aegean sea surrounds you and is nearly always in your sight.

We have more seasonal fruit and vegetables and, more time to speak to people and reflect on life.

How has photography allowed you to communicate with the locals? 

Photography has opened up communications big time. The Greeks are very social and generous people and they have welcomed my partner Matthew and I with open arms and with great warmth.

My camera has added another layer, it has given me more confidence to approach people and it has also given me something I can give back in my appreciation. Most people love getting an image of themselves and it’s also a lovely documentation of a village life. Last summer I hung up 250, A5 images that I printed out at home, on a bamboo fence outside one of the village café neas, the people loved it and they could take their photo away at the end of the evening.

It was Matthew who encouraged me to start taking photographs by buying me my first Cannon camera. It was a gift; a gift I never imagined would change my life so much.

What influences your style and how have you adapted this to creating your Greek Island home?

Light, simplicity and space influence me as well as an enormous amount of bright white paint.

These have always been my staples.

I had no difficultly adapting any of these elements to ‘My Greek Island Home’ as they are all part and parcel of Greece.

Style Icon? 

Georgia O’Keeffe, she was an original. Pure style in everything she did, her paintings, her living spaces and the way she dressed and looked. I admire her art, love of nature and her focus.

How do you feel waking up on a Greek Island every day? (Sounds amazing when you live in a big city)

I feel privileged, and really happy to be alive. 

What would you say to your friends thinking of swapping their lives in a big city for an island? Should we do it?

I am a great believer in change and I think any change is positive. I also believe people have dreams and life is short. So I think whatever your dream you owe it to yourself to explore it. I understand it’s easier for some of us to make changes and that circumstances can make it difficult. But I also believe any change small or large is worthwhile giving a go. So I’d say ‘go for it’.

Has Island life been good for your creativity?

Yes it has been amazing. It has given me so much. I feel I have just scratched the surface of my creativity and here I have found a place where it can evolve and develop. It’s great not knowing where it will take me.

Is there something you miss about your former life? 

I loved my former life and still get to dip in and out of both Sydney and London. I am lucky because I can visit the cinemas, my favorite restaurants and galleries when I’m there. I also love catching up with friends.

I miss my creative friends but they come and visit and there is the telephone and skype.

And it makes it even more special when I do get spend time with them.

Tell us 3 cool things about Lesvos that we don’t know?

Lesvos is the 3rd largest Greek Island and extremely close to Turkey, at one point there is only 5 kilometers of sea separating them.

The topography changes dramatically from one side of the island to the other. You can travel through deep green pine forests or be in the middle of a vast, arid, volcanic, and lunar like landscape.

This week we were told, by, the President of The Chamber of Commerce that Lesvos has been given a UNESCO listing.

I love that you look after all the local animals, how did this happen? 

I think we must have an invisible sign on the front gate that only animals can see. They all seem to know where to come instinctively. It started with Sweetie my special girl.

I was eating outside at a local taverna and this tiny kitten, way too young to be eating scraps appeared. She was begging. When she saw me she immediately, and with no encouragement, jumped on my knee and refused to get down. She was so pathetic looking and her eyes were gummy. It was suggested by the locals to take her home, so after my meal we headed off up the hill to the top of the village. She buried her head in the crookof my arm and shook. She must have known instinctively she was doing the right thing. Now she is big and has a gloriously, luxurious fur coat, better than any you would find in Fendi. Sweetie rules and yes, we love her big time.

What’s on the menu today?

Fish baked in the oven with lemon and a simple green salad, all bought from vans that pass through the village daily, selling fresh produce. In the summer I grow a small amount of salad in pots outside my kitchen door.

What has your reward been for your courage to switch lives so dramatically? 

My rewards have been many, warm friendships, serenity, creativity, unconditional love from animals, incredible beauty in the landscape that surrounds me and of course the opportunity to photograph, write and design my latest book “My Greek Island Home”. I am no doubt a very lucky girl! (woman) I have also been extremely lucky having Matthew to share it with.

The Local’s Hotlist 

Café

Travel north to Sikaminias. There is a small harbor port Skala Sikaminias, which has some great little restaurants. You can watch the local fishing boats arrive with their daily catch. Above the port is the main village, Sikaminias and in its small square there are a couple of café’s that are really worth sitting in and soaking up the local life. It’s a beautiful village so take a wander.

Eat

Fish cooked by Yiannis at Cavo Di Oro in Sigri.

Yiannis loves the Beatle’s and if you are lucky enough he will play you some of his favorite tracks.

Swim 

Find a way to the beach from the dirt coast road between Sigri and Eressos. The water is crystal clear and there is no one to be seen.

Taverna / restaurant

The Octapus in Molyvos  is right on the waters edge at the harbor, and you can see Molyvos Castle crowning the top of the town in the background.

Stay

Birds Bay This is a very quiet and beautiful spot, a place to forget the world and be at one with nature. It has superb sea views and a fabulous view of Molyvos at night, sparkling in the distance.

Shop

Shop at the Women’s co-op on the main road into Molyvos.

They make traditional and delicious home made preserves and biscuits.

My favorite thing, without a doubt, are the chocolate tarts. A tip, you must order them

Sunset drink

My terrace!!!!!!! 

Indulge in..

Just being there.

Don’t leave without

Visiting the monastery at Ipsilos. There are still monks living there, although you will only see one who sits in the little museum. It’s a fascinating little museum, with all sorts of religious items. The views from the monastery are superb.

All Photos Copyright Claire Lloyd

A huge thanks to the lovely Claire Lloyd for sharing a little of her inspiring life and for those of you who can’t get to a Greek Island soon I suggest you buy My Greek Island Home ,a beautiful book of  dreams and this is for anyone who has ever dreamt of changing their life and doing what they love.

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald

 

 

don’t forget to check out Claire’s beautiful videos

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41 Responses to Inspiring Lives – Claire Lloyd My Greek Island Home

  1. Katina Janakis says:

    Ohhhh my gosh Carla, Lesvos is my Island! The Island my parents are from, where I travel to often, and my children love. We still have lots of family there, so it’s a happy time when we return.

    Claire, your life is so beautiful, inspirational and you have done what so many of us have dreamt of.

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us, I look so forward to reading your book and seeing all the beautiful photos.
    I just had tears seeing the video hahaha, I feel so proud and get really emotional when I see anything from our Island. I hope our paths cross one day when I visit

    Yiasou Katina :-) x

  2. Carolyn says:

    What a beautiful and inspirational story. Can’t wait to buy Claire’s book!

  3. jann says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!! So looking forward to the release of this book. Thank you Carla, and congratulations, Claire!!!

  4. Design Chic says:

    I am completely enchanted…such an inspiring story – can’t wait for the book!!

  5. Karene says:

    I loved this interview and Claire’s pictures! Claire’s life sounds similar to yours, Carla, only you left your life in Sydney to run off to Italy. That sounds ideal to me! But I have been dreaming of running off to France, and taking my family with me :) .

    Ironically, my husband and I were at Newport Beach, Calif., yesterday–with blue skies and fluffy clouds–and then as we walked along the beach, we saw on the boardwalk a huge house that looked like it belonged in Greece. All white with blue tile roof. Seemed out of place among all the browns and beiges! But my eyes sure were drawn to it. And it was huge! Since we have such great weather here, you should come over and add it to your homes. (Weren’t you looking for a vacation house?) You just have to endure neighbors a few feet away on either side of you. And the annoying NB traffic on holidays and weekends, and summer. Oh well, at those times, you can fly to Paris or Italy :) .

    Ciao,
    Karene

  6. Janine says:

    Carla, I love what Claire says about her camera opening up communication with her new community. I can imagine so well how that would work. When you love a subject it shows in the images you create, especially in this case.

    A beautiful start to a new week. Just what I needed to read, so thank you! Jxx

    • Carla says:

      So happy to start your week off Janine with an inspiring interview. Isn’t that special communicating with her camera and then the looks on the locals faces in the video when they see there pics in the book so so touching…Carla x

  7. Carla! What a lovely story!

  8. Thank you,Carla for this wonderful post and this story from Claire is really inspirational,fantatsic!!!

    Such a very beautiful photos!:-)*

    Wish you lovely week,
    Hugs,
    ***Violetta***

  9. La Contessa says:

    OH GOSH!WHAT am I doing in Northern California??I will definatly buy her book!

  10. irene says:

    This post makes my day in this cold grey dark weather. Are you planning to move to a Greek Island?
    Please let us know.

    • Carla says:

      Irene thought it would put a lovely light on everyone day, I would love to be moving to a Greek island and do not worry when I know you will know xxx Carla

  11. I adore the 2 video’s at the end of your piece + the book looks so good. Must run out to get one. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

    • Carla says:

      I knew you would love this Peggy how special are the videos, made me cry and laugh the locals looking at their pics in the book. Carla x

  12. Catherine says:

    Truly beautiful work and so tempting to run away to an island. I’m sure the book is uplifting!

  13. Annette says:

    How wonderful – I love the photos and Claire’s story! Thank you for letting me know about her :)

  14. She’s certainly a lucky lady, to be able to live the lifestyle she wants and where she wants. If only everyone else was as fortunate, then there would be a lot more happier people in the world.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Goodness, those sparkling waters and cool interiors just make you want to move to Lesvos immediately. Always good to read about an Ozzie gal made good.

    I live in a pretty cool part of the world in Nelson, New Zealand, but I must say after seeing the images from your blog today I would be very happy to while away some time on this particular Greek Island…will put it on my list.

    Thanks for always sharing inspiring stories and even more fab photos. Always nice to see happy cats and dogs too!

    Cheers

    • Carla says:

      Definitely Jennifer feel like booking the ticket myself! Thank-you for your kind words I really appreciate your comments. and happy you enjoy my work Carla x

  16. Anya Jensen says:

    Dear Claire and Carla. How very inspirational to read and look at the amazing pictures, I adore it completely. I also love that you (guys) look after stray animals and help them – love the story of Sweetie.
    Thanks for sharing – and I’ll be looking for the book :)
    Happy day,
    Axx

  17. LatteLisa says:

    Carla, you have posted some wonderful things on your blog but I have to say that this post is one of my favourites. It was a pure delight reading that and I loved the video with the people viewing the book.

    Thank you so much for the introduction to Claire Lloyd and her book, which will find its way into my hands when it will be published.

    It is funny, today I was daydreaming about the Greek island Mykonos. Now I definitely have to check out Lesvos.

  18. So uplifting, just love this story and the photo’s! Must get Claire’s book.
    xxx

  19. Claire Lloyd says:

    I don’t know what to say…………………….
    A big THANK YOU CARLA ! And to all you who have enjoyed the piece and the book thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am priviliged to live this beautiful life with my partner Matthew Usmar Lauder. We have been so welcomed into a wonderful Greek community and we love all the new friendships this opportunity has given us. Thank you Lesvos and all the friends from My Greek Island Home xxx
    I have just arrived back in Sydney and am looking forward to the weeks ahead spending time with friends and family.

    • There is no need to thank us Claire we are so thrilled to have the privilege of escaping into your beautiful world a big heartfelt THANK-YOU for doing the interview on Inspiring Lives! Carla xx

  20. Beautiful interview and what an inspiration! My Greek Island Home is on my wishlist of books to drool over. I love Claire’s soft ethereal style of imagery- almost dreamlike. Lots of love and hugs Corrina Tough

  21. Thank you Carla – fabulous interview – makes me so homesick for my old life back on a Greek island – there is something so compelling about the islands and once bitten nothing is quite the same again. Her photos as so stunning and perfectly capture the light and simplicity that is Greece. Thank you for cheering up a damp weekend. Filakia F xx

  22. Liz Thomas says:

    Preordered the book on Amazon. I can hardly wait to see the images! What an ideal life! I also purchased your Italian Joy and am so loving the book! Thank you for all your tips!

  23. Kalimera – I moved from London to the Greek Island of Hydra (famous as home of Leonard Cohen) when I was 25. I bought a 212 year old monk’s house and did it up. I got married to a French artist there and we had a baby boy who was the only foreign child at school in Kaminia village. 25 years later, maybe I should write a book? have a look at my pics of life on Hydra and tell me what you think Carla? I am an academic, I write about Renaissance history, art and architecture; but writing about oneself… that seems difficult. http://pinterest.com/eikones/life-on-a-greek-island/

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