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This time it really WAS a snake encountered at the Greek Hovel

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 14 September 2014

In my weekly video postcard HERE I revealed how I obsess about snakes while at the Greek Hovel but had not actually seen one. Bloody hell that was a bit of a jinx. Snakes were very much on my mind today as the section of frigana I am attacking right now is the densest on the property on a rocky hill near the gate on our drive. For drive read mud track. Put it this way, if I was a snake I’d hang out there.

I had mentally preserved this section for my brave Albanian pal Foti who is coming up to assist me next week. Foti is fearless and if he saw a snake would grab whatever was nearest to hand and smash it on the head. But I decided to man up and head into the bushes anyway.

Luckily I encountered no snakes and so, dripping in sweat after an hour’s solid cutting in the midday heat, I ambled back to the house and started to wander up the front steps and – fuck me – there was a snake, slithering over the snake veranda towards my front door. Naturally I retreated rapidly shouting to no-one in particular “it’s a fucking snake”.

Maybe it is my Irish genes? St Patrick rid our blessed land of snakes and so the thought of encountering one fills me with dread. What is more the bloody thing had slithered straight past my snake repellent canister and was inside the yellow sulphur line that surrounds my house because snakes won’t cross sulphur! Did no-one tell this bloody snake about that?

On reflection I thought it better to have another look and by my reckoning the snake was an Aeschylus snake, the same variety that we saw on our first visit here and which lead to the snake veranda getting its name. I may have got this wrong but it was not that long was brown and very thin so I reckon it was a relatively young Aeschylus and having checked it out on the internet last time I know that it might bite me but was not poisonous.

Emboldened by this identification – which may well have been completely wrong and this creature could well have been one of the nine varieties of adder that lives in Greece - I scuttled off to grab a spade and then advanced on the serpent banging the floor loudly. It slithered away rapidly. It was not to know that I was not a brave Albanian who would smash in its head without second thought. Who knows, had I got the chance I might have done just that.

I have now blocked the hole that makes access to the snake veranda that much easier and through which this serpent escaped. I had an early lunch/supper at wonderful Eleni’s taverna in Kambos so ensuring that I got back while it was still light. I very much doubt that I shall be venturing outside to use the eco-loo which sits on the snake veranda tonight. It is legs crossed time. Tomorrow morning I shall be stocking up on sulphur and adding to the outer defences while creating a new inner redoubt.

I told Eleni about the snake. In the village there are no snakes. They know to stay away. Eleni seemed sympathetic and sucked her teeth accordingly. Quite possibly she was thinking “this moron is terrified of snakes so buys a house not in the village but on Snake Mountain. All my other customers kill snakes with their bare hands. This guy is a total wuss.” But she did not let on, she too said that she was not very keen on snakes.

Suddenly the thought of returning to a nice terraced house on the edge of Bristol seems that little bit more attractive.

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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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