Interview My Greek Island Home with Claire Lloyd.
I had the opportunity to interview Claire Lloyd of My Greek Island Home. Below is the interview. If you want to know more about Claire or connect with her, you can follow her on instagram @mygreekislandhome
Could you please tell us in a few words about your background and how you came to live in Lesvos?
I am originally from Australia. I left Australia in 1983 for London. Before I left Australia, I was working for Vogue Australia, which was a wonderful experience, however, I was young and was longing for adventure, I wanted to travel. I travelled to Europe on a holiday and when I returned back home to Sydney it wasn’t long before I left my job packed my bags and headed for London.
For 27 years I lived and worked in London and loved it. I worked in advertising agencies, design companies, and on various magazines before going out on my own. I art directed, styled, filmed, photographed and designed. Before I started my own business, my favourite job was at the World of Interiors magazine a magazine I had admired from afar when I was living in Australia. I loved all the different areas of London and its architecture. Later, I bought my first small flat in Fulham in the Kings Rd when I was working at the World of Interiors and this set me off on a new path, renovating. Soon, I realised I loved breathing new life into houses and apartments. This became a passion one that remains with me, one I never tire of.
My introduction to the island came as a surprise. London was great but I felt I needed something new. I visited my homeopath, in London, Victoria and expressed my concern of feeling I had had lost my creativity. She held her mobile in front of me with an image of a stone house next to a walnut tree under piercing blue skies and said ‘I’ve just bought a house on Lesvos, perhaps this could be your remedy’ Vicki said my face immediately changed and as soon as I could I bought a ticket. I phoned my friend, Domenica asked her if she fancied a trip to Lesvos and we set off the following week. No time wasted. We arrived around 6am on a beautiful morning in late May and as soon as my feet touched the ground it felt like I had come home. I knew immediately this was where I wanted to be.
Why were drawn to the island and why did you create my Greek island home and book; what was your inspiration in doing so?
There were so many things about the island I immediately loved; the size, its topography, its beauty, the delicious food and the divine locals. I loved its simplicity too. It just felt like the right place for me to be. My Greek Island Home started with documentation. I began photographing our village, our home, before and after the renovations and the local people and the surroundings. I printed the photos, portraits, landscapes and details as postcards and with my art directors eye began placing them in a small pink leather-bound book. Very quickly it was bursting at the seams, so to keep it together I tied it with a mauve ribbon. A friend in Sydney introduced me to Julie Gibbs, who at the time was the publisher of Penguin Lantern in Australia. She was so interested in my little pink book that she commissioned me to tell my story and write and photograph My Greek Island Home.
Are there any really special food destinations in Lesvos that you like to visit, that offer something unique that you wouldn’t find if you weren’t a local that you’d be willing to share with us?
There are so many wonderful places to find delicious food. I haven’t even found all of them. We have a woman’s co-operative in our village, Skalochori, a wonderful place where the local women gather together to make tradition delicious sweet treats. This is worth a visit and you won’t leave empty handed. I especially love the marzipan flowers they make for special occasions, weddings and christenings. They made these divine treats for my birthday party. These flowers were all individually wrapped in cellophane and given to all my guests.
One of our favourite places is a fabulous little shack near Avlaki beach, Petra called Caravan. You need to know where it is, a little hidden gem that is very special indeed. Filia and her husband Stelios have made this magic spot in a garden of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies that sits right on the waters edge. Filia cooks up the most delicious food whilst Stelios is the super host and make sure all runs smoothly. Both their mothers give a helping hand and keep the old family traditions going. The food is always amazing, super fresh and the location cannot be beaten, it has the perfect sunset view.
What are some of the culinary products that Lesvos is famous for?
Ouzo, olives and cheese. Ouzo is a big here. I’m not really an ouzo drinker but I believe the best on the island comes from Plomari. There are so many olive trees on the island and the olive oil here is like gold liquid. There are great sardines from the gulf of Kalloni to be enjoyed and also salt from the salt flats in the same area. Lesvos makes delicious feta, ladotiri which is a hard sheeps cheese. The local honey is amazing too. I love simple fresh food so I could not be in a better place.
Why should a traveller to Greece consider the island of Lesvos for a visit?
Because it’s a lovely authentic Island with dramatic landscapes. These change from one part of the island to the other. One minute you can be driving through pine forests, the next olive groves and then you can find yourself in the middle of what looks like a lunar landscape, formed millions of years before by volcanos.
The people are warm and friendly, and the food is fresh and delicious. It’s not overrun by tourists and you can always find special secret places to enjoy.
What would a stay at My Greek Island home look and feel like?
Staying here is like going back in time. You leave every worry behind and just relax and enjoy a much slower pace of life. You can spend your day exploring the island, swimming in the Aegean Sea, visiting Churches and Monasteries, eating in local tavernas, mixing with the village locals and at the end of the day watching amazing sunsets, perfection.