Photo article: A no go zone at the Greek Hovel - I blame the Gruffalo

Tom Winnifrith Tuesday 18 April 2017


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Not withstanding my snake killing heroics of yesterday, I still live in dread of the vipers that slither around the Greek Hovel and across its fields. Irrationally, for I have never seen a snake there, there is one spot that holds particular dread. And it is all the fault of Julia Donaldson, the author of the children's classic, The Gruffalo.

Many moons ago folks were installing telephone poles across the hills around the hovel. God knows why as no-one lives up here but it probably seemed like a good idea in the general scheme of Greekenomics. Let's tarmac roads no-one uses and fix up telephone polls where there are no phones - more jobs for all paid for by a state with no money. What is not to like?.

But as you can see four of the poles were left on our land. As one drives up to the Hovel they sit there on your right by the first terrace of olive trees. It is now about fifteen years since I first read the Gruffalo to my daughter Olaf but the pictures, the images of the logs under which the snake lives are clear in my mind. He lives under the goddamn telephone poles taken from the hovel!

Then, the mouse continued his journey through the deep dark wood. A snake saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.

The hungry snake asked, “Where are you going to, little brown mouse? Come for a feast in my logpile house,”

“It’s kind of you, Snake, but no - I’m having a feast with a Gruffalo,” the clever mouse rejected. “A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?” asked the curious snake. The mouse played his trick again, “A gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know? His eyes are orange, his tongue is black, he has purple prickles all over his back”.

The snake started to get scared, he asked, “Where are you meeting him?”

"Here, by this lake and his favourite food is … scrambled snake,” replied the mouse. “Scrambled snake!! It’s time I hid!! Goodbye, little mouse,” and away the snake slid.

The mouse couldn’t’ help but laugh hysterically, “Silly old Snake! Doesn’t he know there’s no such thing as a gruffalo …hahaha!!!!!!!!!!"

I am not sure that Greek snakes know about the Gruffalo but the image from the book will not leave my mind. I am sure I hear rustlings whenever I pass the logs. I hurry on as fast as my legs can carry me for even a brave snake killer like myself does not seek out serpents.


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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