The Snow-White Villa: Cressida, Corfu

Home of the Durrell Family and Other Animals September 1937- 1939

.

.

"Perched on a hill-top among olive-trees, the new villa, white as snow, had a broad verandah running along one side, which was hung with a thick pelmet of grape-vine. In front of the house was a pocket-handkerchief sized garden, neatly walled, which was a solid tangle of wild flowers. The whole garden was overshadowed by a large magnolia tree, the glossy dark leaves of which cast a deep shadow. The rutted driveway wound away from the house, down the hillside through olive-groves, vineyards and orchards, before reaching the road. We had liked the villa the moment Spiro had shown it to us. It stood, decrepit, but immensely elegant, among drunken olives, and looked rather like an eighteenth-century  exquisite reclining among a congregation of charladies."

MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS © Gerald Durrell 1956

.

"Magically, time drifted by as it had a habit of doing in Corfu."

MARRYING OFF MOTHER © Gerald Durrell 1991

.

.

.

Snow White Villa

.

.

'Well, anyway,' said Larry as we moved down the veranda to the table, 'that boy's a menace, he's got beasts in his belfry.'

The guests were shown their places, there was a loud scraping as chairs were drawn out, and then everyone sat down and smiled at each other. The next moment two of the guests uttered yells of agony and soared out of their seats, like rockets.

'Oh, dear, now what's happened?' asked Mother in agitation.

'It's probably scorpions again,' said Larry, vacating his seat hurriedly.

'Something bit me... bit me in the leg!'

'There you are' exclaimed Larry, looking round triumphantly. 'Exactly what I said. You'll probably find a brace of bears under there.'

The only one not frozen with horror at the thought of some hidden menace lurking round his feet was Theodore, and he gravely bent down, lifted the cloth and poked his head under the table.

'Ah ha!' he said interestedly, his voice muffled.

'What is it?' asked Mother.

Theodore reappeared from under the cloth. 'It seems to be some sort of a ... some sort of a bird. A large black and white one.'

'It's that albatross!' said Larry excitedly.

'No, no,' corrected Theodore; 'it's some species of gull, I think.'

'Don't move..., keep quite still, unless you want your legs taken off at the knee' Larry informed the company.

As a statement calculated to quell alarm it left a lot to be desired. Everybody rose in a body and vacated the table. From beneath the cloth Alecko gave a long, menacing yarp; whether in dismay at losing his victims or protest at the noise, it was difficult to say. ..."

MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS © Gerald Durrell 1956

.

"The villa was one I described in the book I wrote  about my childhood in Corfu which I had called the Snow-White Villa. It lay in a large and ancient olive grove and was shaded by a huge magnolia tree, oleanders with pink and white flowers and a grape vine over the veranda that in season was heavy with bunches of white, banana shaped grapes. ...  Here was the veranda where, at one of our numerous parties, my various animals had caused havoc; my magpies escaping, getting drunk on spilt wine and then wrecking the carefully arranged table just before the guests arrived, while beneath the table lurked my fearsome gull, Alecko, who bit the guests’ legs as they sat down to eat.

This was the wall in which my favourite gecko, Geronimo, used to live who fought to the death on my bedroom wall the praying mantis twice his size.."

HOW TO SHOOT AN AMATEUR NATURALIST © Gerald Durrell and Lee Durrell 1982

"I did not discover what the Magenpies had been up to until Larry came back; I had missed the birds, but thought they had flown down the hill to steal some grapes. They were obviously well aware that they were doing wrong, for though normally loquacious they carried out their raid in silence and (according to Larry) took it in turns to do sentry duty on the window-sill. As he came up the hill he saw, to his horror, one of them sitting  on the window-sill, and shouted wrathfully at it. The bird gave a chuck of alarm  and the other one flew out of the room and joined it; they flapped off into the magnolia tree, chuckling hoarsely, like schoolboys caught raiding an orchard. Larry burst into the house, and swept up to his room, grabbing me en route. When he opened the door Larry uttered a moan like a soul in torment.   ... The Magenpies had been through his room as thoroughly as any Secret Service agent searching for missing plans. ...".

.MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS © Gerald Durrell 1956

.

Listen

.

  Click an endangered living world to go to ArkGallery Homepage  

Email us by clicking here  The@Arkgallery.org 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.