Mistaken Identity – I saw no snake in my Garden at the Greek Hovel but welcome to Snake Hill

Tom Winnifrith Friday 5 September 2014


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Some weeks back I reported to you that I had seen a snake in the garden of The Greek Hovel. I have thought about this long and hard and have concluded that I did not.  Let me explain.

Firstly the garden is within the outer redoubt, the area protected by two snake repellent cans which emit a smell that snakes are meant to dislike. The locals swear by them and I hope that their faith is well placed.

Secondly I saw a foot long lizard in the garden the other day. It darted off to catch some poor bug and raised its head to digest. Its colour and head were on reflection identical to that of the “snake”. Perhaps most conclusively what I saw in my garden shot off in a straight line as would a lizard. Snakes can move rapidly but do so in S-shapes. I think I was so startled by my encounter with the wildlife diversity that I overlooked that little point.

And so I conclude that I have yet to see a snake but as I wade deeper and deeper into the frigana bushes with my strimmer, slashing madly, I sense that it is only a matter of time. For there are clearly snakes around. How do I now? Well for starters my guest saw one.

She was out running (silly girl) and started down from the hovel past where the track is muddy and flat and winds through olive trees and onto where it is stony - or in a few places concrete - but steep and surrounded by rocks and bushes. It is the steep part of the track as you head towards the spring on the valley floor.  And there she almost tripped over the serpent. That was enough for me, I have retired from running.

On what has now been rechristened “snake hill” the adder ( it was short and adder length) seemed more scared of a yuppie storming down the hill listening to nasty young people’s music than the yuppie was of it. Hence it slithered (in S-shape fashion) off into the bushes at a rate of knots.

Secondly it seems that in the village of Kambos the folks find it terribly amusing that a man who keeps buying various snake repellent devices and powders and who is clearly shit scared of snakes is living where I do. For in the village there are no snakes. But up in the hills? The locals make S-shaped patterns with their hands and tell me that the hills are crawling with them. “Why I killed two just last week” said the man from the Garden Centre as helped fix my strimmer.

That news did not make my day.

I fear my snake free run may be about to end any day.

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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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