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Diane Victory Griffith [Di]'s Story > Storyteller Feature

Featuring: Diane Victory Griffith [Di]
Written by: Tamar Burris

"Nothing Left to Lose" 

Comments: 12 Published on: Oct 20, 2009 Views: 50,065

Category: World & Travel

Diane Griffith could no longer stand by watching her husband Tony sink deeper and deeper into depression. He’d been let go from his IT managerial position shortly before his 50th birthday and the couple who’d once enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle were now swimming near rock bottom. Turning toward Tony one day, the idea just sort of came to her.


“I know what we can do!” she said. Tony was reluctant at first. But, with a little persuasion he came around. After all, when you are at the bottom where else can you go but up?


The previous year, Diane and Tony had vacationed on the Greek island of Lefkas where they had met a wonderful family with two kids -- Kate was nine and Chris was an autistic seven-year-old who didn’t speak. While hanging out with the family, Diane and Tony had video-taped the kids playing in the sea and at a taverna with local children. When they’d returned home Diane had sent the tape off to the family who had sat down to watch it together when something miraculous happened -- Chris spoke! His parents, Lynne and Paul could not thank Diane and Tony enough for the video. It was as if the bright, sunny images, the music and the children’s laughter as they played with him on tape opened a window in his mind, they told their friends. And, there was Diane’s idea. It was 1991 and camcorders were still a relatively novel idea. Who wouldn’t want a professional video as a memento from a lovely holiday?


Preparing for their new “career” Diane and Tony signed up for an evening class to learn how to edit and make movies. Diane also made graphic designs of the names of places they intended to visit in glowing colors, putting things like “Welcome to Lefkas” onto a cassette so the duo could edit it onto their film when they were in Lefkas. They also sold Tony’s dream car, a new Mercedes he had bought himself for his last birthday, in favor of a practical workhorse. An advertisement led them to a 1974 VW Westphalia camper van. Parked on the side of the road in the pouring rain in Liverpool, the car was just begging to go to Greece!


“It was 1991 and camcorders were still a relatively novel idea. Who wouldn’t want a professional video as a memento from a lovely holiday?”




When they weren’t attending class or searching for the perfect traveling vehicle, Diane and her husband were planning their route. During the day it all seemed so exciting but at night the journey from their home in Cheshire looked daunting. They’d pour over the map spread out on the dining room table and have another scotch. Tony was worried about the old VW. What if it broke down? He knew nothing about engines…


Soon the dark cloud of gloom and fear lifted. They had a purpose, a goal, and a dream. On June 18, 1991, the two set off with 300 videocassette tapes, two video cameras, two video players, a portable TV, and a generator. Tony had constructed a wooden apparatus that held the two players and the TV so that they could make copies. Diane in turn had printed tons of posters advertising their video of the island, suggesting that people could have personal moments added if they’d like. Aiming for the small village of Agios Nikitas, they hoped they would be welcomed and helped with their venture by the people they had met there the year before. And just like that, they were on the road.


The last time they had flown to Lefkas it had taken four hours. This time the drive took four days. But Diane kept remembering the time they’d had there on holiday; and it was fabulous. The night they arrived they were met with an amazing surprise. There on the steps of the local Poseidon taverna stood little Chris! He and his family had flown in that day. What a wonderful evening they all had together! When the night’s end finally came, the family went back to their hotel and Diane and Tony stayed in their camper on a long stretch of sandy beach renowned for its beautiful sunsets. Not exactly the vacation they were used to, but it was the start of an exciting, new adventure.


Diane and Tony lived rough for three months, staying mostly in their camper van. They traveled around and made videos of the island sometimes adding personal moments for paying tourists. The two did all the video editing in the van in the sweltering heat, using their generator for power. But the work was fun and their lives had taken on a whole new meaning.


The first night they showed the video (on a portable TV placed above the sink in the VW van, facing a cobbled street) Diane and Tony caused an incredible sensation in the sleepy little village of Agios Nikitas. Something new and exciting had happened and both tourists and locals were amazed and enthralled. The professional video of a holiday, all put to music that captured the atmosphere of the beautiful island and the quirky local hospitality was something everyone appreciated. The children flocked around the video day after day, never tiring of seeing the same movie featuring their village. They laughed and pointed out various people they recognized, causing a happy commotion that helped sell the videos. Diane’s idea had worked and was looking pretty profitable indeed! But beyond that, something magical was happening to Tony and Diane themselves. They were remembering the ability to dream; they were reconnecting with the joy and playfulness in life.


As time passed, Diane began wondering if maybe she and Tony were actually the lucky ones. They were able to recognize the fact that the terrible blow to their comfortable lifestyle and circumstances was actually their chance to find a dream and follow it. At night they would lie beneath the stars looking across the distant silver sea and listen to children’s voicesas they sat around an open fire singing with the same enthusiasm young blackbirds have at dawn. They would awake to golden mornings when small birds twittered in the long, dry grass. They studied the fiery sky with quiet awe as the sun descended into the sea and the two worlds became as one: sea and sky. They talked about how the people who came on packaged holidays or stayed in expensive hotels and sipped champagne on luxurious yachts thought they were buying romance. Surely this, what they experienced every day free of charge, could be defined as romance!


When it came time to go home, Diane and Tony returned to Cheshire as different people. They felt they had left a little piece of their hearts on the island, entrusted to the inhabitants who had welcomed them into their contented way of life. Born out of their sadness, they had discovered a certain happiness that neither of them had ever felt before. When you have lost all things material, you have nothing left to lose. Then, if you are lucky and determined you can overcome all obstacles to find true happiness. But you have to have a dream!


As they traveled home, Diane spoke about her thoughts and feelings with her husband. "I wish that I could share all our experiences with other people. There must be other dreamers out there who would enjoy sharing it all,” she said.


He replied with, “Well, you could always write a book…”


With that, she did. And what about Tony? Well, the managing director of a company in Chester heard about Diane and Tony’s story from a friend. Incredibly impressed with their tenacity, he said, “This is the kind of man we want in this company.” So, in the end, Tony found a much better job than the one he had lost!


“Chasing Dreams in Lefkas” was published in October 2008 ( Diane has since written two other books and is currently working on her fourth. She and Tony now live in Cyprus.


Thank you Diane, for sharing your Story with us.


Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.
© 2009 by Tamar Burris and Story of My Life


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Member Since
Aug 2007
Antje Wilsch said:
posted on Oct 21, 2009

Cyprus is a stunning island. I'm quite jealous that you've moved there. I love that you were doing those videos in the early 1990's! Do you have any to share with us here too? We love watching the movies and I'll bet some of those older ones are pretty funny to watch :)

Member Since
Oct 2009
Henrietta Giseppe said:
posted on Oct 23, 2009

Great for you! I'm so glad you have the gumption to do what you LOVE :)

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Oct 23, 2009
Hello from Diane

Thank you for your comments. Diane

Member Since
Oct 2009
Henrietta Giseppe said:
posted on Oct 23, 2009

You should post a couple of your videos up... we'd love to see them

Member Since
Aug 2008
Adara Bernstein said:
posted on Oct 25, 2009

I'll bet you have terrific stories Diane :) 

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Oct 26, 2009
Hi Everyone

Hi nice to know that you read my story. My book: Chasing Dreams in Lefkas is proving very popular especialy with VW enthusiasts and people who want a 'fun read' either on their holiday or on cold winter days. It's nice to be transported to a sunny Greek island in your mind. Unfortunately we do not have any of the videos that we made there now, since we moved to Cyprus almost 6 years ago. They got lost. But there are lots of photos in my book. It's available on Amazon. I hope my book for young children: Granny's Magic Garden, will be as popular. It will be released in a couple of months. It's very exciting! Cheers, Diane :-)

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Oct 26, 2009
Chasing Dreams in Lefkas

I forgot to say there is a short intro. video on Utube. In fact there are two different ones. I like the one where a woman speaks best. Just incase anyone wants to look at it.
Yamas! :-) x

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Nov 06, 2009
Living in Cyprus

Hi Antji,
First I must tell you, I love your hat!
It is nice living here in Cyprus. It's pleasant to wake up to blue sky and sunshine every day. We do get rain around the end of October. Storms that are amazing to see! Fortunately they are usually at night, which is not too bad, and we do need the rain to fill the dams. By morning the sun is out and everywhere looks fresh.
We did not intend to live here permenently, but my 89 year old mother came to live with us as she is confined to a wheelchair. Now she is unable to travel except by car, so we had to choose to stay either in the UK or here. The sun won! We sold our home in the UK, but we have no regrets. I have had time to write three books since my first one: Chasing Dreams in Lefkas.
I am not writing any more. 4 books is enough! Yamas! Di :-)

Member Since
Jan 2009
Sam Henderson said:
posted on Nov 09, 2009
I'm a bit jealous

Of you living in Lefkas. I agree, living with your mom in the sun is a big thumbs up!

What made you decide to stop writing? Sounds like you've got a lot of great stories inside you still.

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Nov 09, 2009
Hello Sam

Hi, Sam,
I don't live in Lefkas. I live in Cyprus. We went to Lefkas in 1991 and lived rough for three months in an old VW camper, following a dream, which is what my book is about. I have not stopped witing. I have a book for young children coming out in a couple of months: Granny's Magic Garden. Stories I used to tell my grandchildren when they were very young, in the UK. I also have two novels to be released next year. Both based on true experiences in my life. It Mattered Yesterday & A Moment to Remember. I am excited about these three books because Amazon have a genre for them, whereas they placed Chasing Dreams in Lefkas with Travel Guides, which it was NOT. - It is a true adventure story and will bring a smile to whoever reads it. - I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be made into a film... That would be WONDERFUL! I love the photo of the child with the dog that you posted. I am trying to post photos , but I'm not very 'techie'! Diane :-)

Member Since
Jun 2012
Kenneth Dunning said:
posted on Jun 27, 2012

I really liked your story and was wondering it you would like to share it on our website also:

Member Since
Oct 2009
Diane Griffith said:
posted on Feb 24, 2013
I want to share my story

Hi, Kenneth. I have been try in to share my story on the website you gave me, but I am unable to register. Can you help me? I only recently saw your post. The website won't accept any username or password I have tried. :-( I'd be very pleased to hear from you, if you are still interested in my story.