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Corfu honours Durrells

. . . We sped down a white road covered in a thick layer of silky dust that rose in a boiling cloud behind us, a road lined with prickly pears like a fence of green plates each cleverly balanced on another's edges, and splashed with knobs of scarlet fruit. We passed vineyards. . .At last we roared to the top of a hill, and Spiro crammed on his brakes and brought the car to a dust-misted halt.

'Theres you ares,' he said, pointing with a great stubby forefinger; 'thats the villa with the bathrooms, likes you wanted.'

Mother, who had kept her eyes firmly shut throughout the drive, now opened them cautiously and looked. Spiro was pointing at a gentle curve of hillside that rose from the glittering sea. The hill and the valleys around it were an eiderdown of olive-groves that shone with a fish-like gleam where the breeze touched the leaves. Half way up the slope, guarded by a group of tall, slim cypress-trees, nestled a small strawberry-pink villa, like some exotic fruit lying in the greenery. The cypress-trees undulated gently in the breeze, as if they were busily painting the sky a still brighter blue for our arrival.

So ends Gerald Durrell’s first chapter in My Family and Other Animals, a wonderful and hilarious memoir of the boy and his dog and family who fled the gloom of an English summer and settled in Corfu in a series of villas bursting with siblings, guests, the boy’s expanding collection of animals, his harassed and good-humoured mother, and his genial and acutely intelligent mentor, Dr. Theodore Stephanides.

Gerald’s affectionate, funny, and luminous evocation of Corfu entranced his readers, and brought shiploads of travellers to Corfu. Lawrence Durrell, Gerald’s older brother, contributed to Corfu’s mystique in Prospero’s Cell, an eccentric travel guide.

On Sunday, September 24th, fifty years after My Family was first published, Corfu will honour the two brothers who put Corfu “on the map” by naming public gardens after them. The GUARDIAN > has details.

The number of Brits who travelled far and wide, and fell in love with the places and people they encountered is staggering, as is the only slightly smaller number who wrote about their experiences.

For more about Gerald’s heroic work saving animals, you could look HERE >

For laughter, lovely and healing, it's enough just to read My Family. . .