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The Greek Hovel August 2020: Day 7 sees a shock at Kitries & the wildlife diversity report

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 19 August 2020

As we neared the end of our first week, we thought we’d take our guest, Uncle Johnny who is in fact nobody’s Uncle, to Kitries as a treat. This tiny harbour is the closest to Kambos, about half an hour’s drive down a winding road, and has two restaurants at either end of the cove. A week later would have been the busiest weekend of a Greek August but this Friday would, in a normal year, have seen the seafront packed with well-oiled and, usually, overweight bodies. It was shocking.

Some Greeks from the Cities must still be frightened of Covid but the real absence was of foreigners. The only voices we heard were Greek ones and the place was half empty. We opted for the restaurant at the North end of the cove and took our choice of tables. I concede that it was late afternoon, a time when many Greeks are snoozing, but the place was almost empty with just a couple of tables finishing off what had been large and late lunches. By the time we left, it was getting pretty dark and while there was activity, there were still many empty tables.  

The waiters, with whom I had joked in prior years as at least one I know from Kambos, wore masks and were efficient rather than happy. It was good to give Johnny some seafood and, as he is a Shipman, he must be drowning in cash so it was agreed that he could pick up the tab. Dining out by the sea is twice as expensive as it is in Kambos. But the lack of people and the lack of joy meant Kitries was not quite Kitries. It was good but not good enough to justify a second trip this year.  At least Joshua had a good swim in the sea with Uncle Johnny so he was happy.

On the way home that night, we encountered the most exciting wildlife diversity of the trip. I should say, at this point, that not one snake was seen or heard all holiday. When working in the fields, pruning olive trees, or poisoning frigana, I sensed they were there but that is quite possibly because I am completely paranoid. I look everywhere for them but this time I saw none. There were lizards aplenty. Now that work has, largely, finished up at the Greek Hovel, they are returning but in nowhere near the numbers I met in my first year when the place swarmed with them.

We saw a rat scuttling across the road by the abandoned convent and another, more worryingly, in the bread oven underneath the stairs outside our front door. I bought a big pack of “sweeties” for it from the hardware store and left it a good few presents.  On the way back from a meal up in the mountains, we saw a very small fox and there were wild or stray cats everywhere. But the real excitement came that night as we came back from the sea at Kitries.

We were on the mud track which comes after snake hill and Slater slope and winds through the olive groves leading up to the hovel when, suddenly, in the headlights I saw a shape, then two and more. “Wild Boar” I shouted and the Mrs, Johnny and Joshua all looked on as a whole family came into view. I assume it was a family – there were certainly six or seven piglets which looked rather sweet and at least two bigger animals – but in the glades there may have been more we could not quite see in the half light.

A male boar charging the car would have been bad news for the car as they are powerful beasts but as the lights fell on the family they just trotted on towards the hovel. On the right hand side of the track, there are high stone walls so there was no escape that way and, after a while, as our car advanced slowly they suddenly broke left and we heard crashing as the whole family headed off into the bushes.

This is not a matter I mentioned in the village other than to the Guardian reading loons L&J. For I fear that if word got around among the Greeks, then men with guns (every house in Kambos bar mine has a gun) would take to the hills and hunt the boar down. They were magnificent creatures and although there is some evidence that they may have knocked down an old wire fence on the edge of our land, I bear them no malice.

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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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