534 days ago
Last year the holly tree that sits half way up my vegetable patch overlooking the lane down to the Welsh Hovel was awash with red berries. But this year the birds have had almost the entire lot as you can see below. I have mentioned to the two cats that this is yet another massive failure on their part and that this will be brought up in their annual review.
703 days ago
Joshua insisted that we spend an extra day in Delphi and why not? It was an excuse to head once again to the village on the other side of Mount Kochran, Desfina. My father and I always disagreed about this.
703 days ago
I had explained about the Oracle to young Joshua, take to your wooden walls and all that. But what fascinated him about Delphi is the man he terms “my great, great Uncle” that is to say David Cochrane. I have covered his death in 1931 many times here and his portrait hangs in our kitchen back at the Welsh Hovel.
709 days ago
The pool is getting closer to blue here at the Greek Hovel but needs a couple more chemical dumps before myself and Joshua can use it and so while we wait, it is time to introduce him to the Vlachs: road trip!
811 days ago
Last night, I discovered two more boxes still unopened since our move to the Welsh Hovel two years ago. Within them, there is an old photo of the rev David Cochrane, my great great grandfather, looking very dour and stern as one would expect of a respectable cleric from Donegal. There was also a copy of The History of the Royal Military Canal by my Grandfather Sir John Winnifrith, signed and addressed with love to me. I tried to say how interesting that is as subject but the Mrs was not entirely convinced. I shall try again tonight, it is bound to put her into a good mood before bedtime.
836 days ago
Among those things I collected from the house of my late father in Shipston yesterday were some ancient photo albums and several boxes of family papers and documents. I have started reading but these things almost make me tearful.
849 days ago
We moved to the Welsh Hovel 21 months ago and still we have some things in cardboard packing boxes. Not a lot but enough. But as rooms are renovated, one by one, and furniture is added, gradually those boxes can be unpacked. In a month or so I shall also be picking up more furniture from my late father’s house in Shipston including two more Victorian bookcases and so this week I have been going through those cardboard boxes.
899 days ago
The kitchen should have been ready by November 8. It is not yet finished. But, as of a couple of days ago, it became usable and last night we cooked a meal on and in the Aga for the first time and then The work unit with the Belfast sink should be completed January 20 by when a few other remedial works should be done. But we are now, as you can see below, settled in for Christmas. I start with the newly exposed arch which was once the front door looking into the room from the main house. On the wall opposite is the Mrs, the Aga and the old bread oven from the 1600s.
1209 days ago
I have been contacted by an elderly academic who has written up the events of Virginia Woolf’s 1932 tour of Greece. She claims to have been in Delphi when they discovered the body of my great Uncle David Cochrane. I rather doubt it and discuss this a) because it fascinates me and b) to annoy No Gold. Then it is onto Predator Oil & Gas (PRD) – is it placing ahoy? Versarien (FRAUD), Eurasia (EUA), Ascent Resources (AST), Sound Energy (SOU) and James “Dracula” Parsons and finally uber dog Mosman (MSMN).
1730 days ago
The irony referred to has nothing to do with the new Head Master of Warwick, Dr Smith but is at the foot of this article. Following lunch with my father in Shipston, Joshua and I headed back to my alma mater to discuss the sadistic abuser Geoffrey Eve and other matters.
2096 days ago
I have written many times about my Great Uncle David Cochrane who, in 1931, died falling down the mountain now named after him, opposite Delphi in Greece. He was at the time a student at Trinity College Oxford. As my father seeks to de-clutter his house a few paintings have been offered to his children and step children and feeling a stronger Cochrane link than most I took these two below.
2246 days ago
When my Uncle Chris went on his first of his many honeymoons it was to the Mani where the Greek Hovel stands. Back in the early swinging sixties it took him more than a day to get here from Athens. That has all changed. There is a super fast Motorway linking the capital to this part of the world. But for as long as I can remember it has stopped just short of Kalamata adding another 20% to your travel time as you are forced to wind your way through suburbs and back streets. Yesterday I discovered that this has all changed.
2311 days ago
With the snow still blowing, I set off on the walk from Metsovo to Anelion not really believing that it would take only half an hour as the chap I met last night had told me. Perhaps it was because I took the scenic route through the lower terraces of Metsovo, following the signs marked with a bear print. Evil Knievil has emailed to suggest that we bears stick together and do not eat each other but, more importantly, as I headed lower I remembered that bears, like snakes, hibernate. So the bears of the Pindus will be sleeping, dreaming of honey and Rob Terry. The wolves on the other hand...
2312 days ago
Whenever I say to folks that I am off to Greece they always say "lucky you the weather will be so much nicer than in the UK". Au contraire. True, when I got to Athens airport at 4 AM (2 AM GMT) it was a balmy 9 degrees. I was so hot that i removed oone of my four layers of clothing. But as I headed North things started to change.
2329 days ago
In the high Pindus mountains of Northern Greece is a small village called Anelion, a place where we spent a number of childhood holidays. It was home to a man who was a friend of my father's, Mike the Vlach. It may still be, I have no idea if he is dead or alive. I was dreaming of Anelion last night and feel a very strong urge to go.
I am not sure how dad got to know Mike. I think that the first person to meet him was my father's mother Lesbia. This is a woman named after a Greek island and whose brother, David Cochrane, died falling down the mountain opposite Delphi. Greece is in the blood in our family. My grandmother had a real love of Greece and of languages and so it was she who introduced my father to the world of the vlachs.
2366 days ago
My father gave this watch to me some years ago and has now and again asked where it is. "Somewhere" I replied truthfully if evasively. I feared greatly that it had been stolen while my possessions were stored in London at the pizza place. I knew at least one of the staff was a thief so why not? This loss preyed on my conscience as when they found the body of my father's Uncle David in 1932 it was by his watch and passport that it was identifiable, having lain at the bottom of a Greek mountain for more than a year.
The story of the death of David Cochrane on the mountain opposite Delphi, now known as Kokranos mountain by the locals, is one that I followed up on the ground a couple of years ago as you can read HERE in a series of photo articles.
Dad and I are perhaps the only folks who really care what happened.
2554 days ago
I see from numerous congratulations messages from folks who I I do not know, sent via LinkedIn, that I am celebrating another anniversary. Having checked it out it appears that www.TomWinnifrith.com is four years old. It was a very strange birth indeed.
3034 days ago
Shame on Paul Scott and other folks for thinking Greece was hot in winter. It is freezing. In this podcast I cover the actuality of snowfall in Greece and a few stories of my father, my Great Uncle David Cochrane and my own travels - including today's trek from Athens to the Greek Hovel - in Greece.
The map below might assist you in following what I am talking about.
3345 days ago
I am sitting in a little café in Delphi and have found a 95 year old man to chat to. He offers up two more details on the death of my great uncle David Cochrane in 1931, one of which begs a question for my father.
The first is just on how the body was found in 1932 a year after the death. It seems as if the folks from Desfina were on the mountain collecting snails. It is not just the French who eat l’escargot. And it was on the snail hunt that they found the badly decayed body of David. The consensus here is that he was buried in Delphi in the North East part of the churchyard where there are a small number of protestant graves from the 40s onwards. But as I have described before bones are removed after a while and that appears to have been what happened to those of David. I have checked that part of the yard in detail.
The question for my father is what happened to David’s Camera? It was found with his body and like his other possessions returned to England. Did anyone ever develop the film which would undoubtedly have had footage of his last few days in Desfina and possibly of his last walk? Possibly he was shooting the sort of photos I took two days ago when he slipped and fell.
Over to you Tom Winnifrith Snr…
PS A Young man said that they guy at the town hall in Delphi, who I cannot thank enough for his help, has shared my video with him on facebook. He says “ah you are the man…” If anyone has any more details I guess they know how to get hold of me. For my father who terms the internet Beelzebub, you see..it has some purpose. I will explain to him later what facebook is.
3346 days ago
On my way back from ancient Delphi I climbed the seemingly endless steps to the Church and graveyard here for one last look at the small cluster of protestant stones in the corner. As last time, there was no David. But on my way back to my hotel I bumped into George, owner of the excellent Hotel Pitho and we spotted the priest…in a taverna.
He had been told about me and we chatted. No Church records would have been kept of a non-Orthodox burial and as David was a protestant that meant one dead end.
I am certain that having fallen down the Delphi (not Desfina) side of Mount kirthos/Cochrane he would have been buried here. A letter from the foreign office to the then Sir George Young states that my great grandparents wanted him buried “locally”.
Thus according to Greek tradition his bones would have been removed after a couple of decades but after a while the box in the charnel house would have contained nothing but dust. I asked the priest what happens then? “A hole” said he. So that is it, the last remains of David went down a hole with the dust that was one other residents of the Delphi graveyard. His dust now mingles with the Greek soil.
And so there is nothing to take back from Greece to England. Nothing physical anyway. The photos of Cochrane Mountain and tales of how he is remembered via the mountain, even if fewer and fewer folks know the full story, go back with me. I know that various family members have already seen the photos. This part of the story is now over. There is little more that can be discovered.
3347 days ago
My thanks to the officials in the Town Halls at Delphi and at Desfina today – both have gone out of the way to help me find out more about the death of my Great Uncle David Cochrane here in 1931.
There will be no grave to be found, of that I am now certain. But having a Mountain named after you is a pretty spectacular headstone. Today I stood on the spot from where he fell. And I learned of the last days of his life.
I relay that in the video below with pictures of my day also attached. The warmth and generosity of the Greeks in 1931/2 is matched by the warmth of the people of Delphi and Desfina today. I am keeping a bar owner up late sending this video back to London. But he says it is no problem. “It is an honour to meet a relative of Cochrane… a great man.” I am not sure that David was a great man but his name opens all sorts of doors for me here.
I reflect on some folks back in England in 1932 not with any great warmth.
The Cochrane Trail
The daisies that surround the top of Cochrane Mountain
The view of snow-capped Mount Parnassus from where David Fell
The view of Delphi from where David fell
Ilyas on the rock from where David fell
The drop again
The drop once more
The Cochrane Observatory
3348 days ago
I have not discovered the grave of my Great Uncle David Cochrane who died here in Greece in April 1931 and whose body was found a year later. But I have trekked up to the cemetery here in Delphi (that burned off a few calories) and have made headway.
And thanks to George, the charming owner of my hotel I have also discovered Cochrane Mountain. In death David is remembered.
All is explained in the video and I attach three pictures as well which I refer to in the video.
3357 days ago
A little bit of a misunderstanding with the Mrs and the alarm clock saw me still soundly asleep as the 4.47 AM pulled out of Bristol today. In the end I had a pleasant lie-in, worked in the morning and just after lunch (an apple) kissed goodbye to the cats and the Mrs and headed off. Now in London I will not see Bristol, or the cats, again for more than a month.
The Mrs is heading up later in the week for her Birthday and the UK Investor Show on Saturday where she will be personfully ( you see dearest, I can be PC if I try) looking after speakers in one of the breakout rooms and then wandering around with her parents who are also attending. Tes, the mother-in-law is coming to the show. Be very afraid. I am. I guess I won’t be swearing all day just in case she hears and gives me a scary and dirty look.
And then a few farewells and it is off to Greece on my own at first as I try to find the grave of my great uncle David. Thereafter the Mrs joins me as we spend a couple of weeks in the Mani where – I warn you – the internet connection can be patchy. It will be early May before I get back to Bristol, the cats, a new kitchen sort of designed by me with a lovely new Range Cooker. It seems like a long time away but I am sure that time will fly.
Anyhow my battered and well-travelled rucksack is packed and with me as we prepare to go hill walking in Greece once again. I really cannot wait.
3363 days ago
I was starting to panic. My journey to Greece starts next Wednesday when I leave Bristol and until this morning the passport I ordered a few weeks ago had not arrived. Worse still, when I used the Passport Office auto-tracking forms it appeared that our friends in Cardiff had no record of me at all. But the panic is over, a brand new passport has arrived, with no record of my visits to Israel or the USA and so I could now go to Kurdistan to meet Gulf Keystone (GKP) if I wanted to. I don’t.
And so in a week’s time I must kiss goodbye to the cats and head to London. The Mrs joins me on the 3rd for her birthday. Naturally I shall not reveal which birthday it is. But your clues are that it is a round number, she is younger than me and although I thought she was in her late twenties when she first chatted me up by showing me an interesting article in the Guardian, she appears younger than she is.
Then it is UK Investor Show on the 5th, a hangover on the 6th (and a day with the in-laws who are coming to London for the show), supper with Matt Suttcliffe on the 7th, a hangover on the 8th and on the 9th it is off to my beloved Hellas for three and a half weeks of walking, writing and searching for the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane. And if it is goat milking season I shall naturally be having another go at that too.
I cannot wait. Does anyone know if it is goat milking season or not?
3377 days ago
My video postcard this weekend covered my plans to go to Greece after the UK Investor Show to track down the graves of my two great Uncles: Francis and David Cochrane. I think we have now firmly established that Francis is buried in Egypt (contrary to a family myth) where he died on December 21st 1942 from wounds received fighting the Germans. For him the great mystery is the odd circumstances of his marriage.
He married a Diana Norman in Paddington in the late summer of 1938. Apparently the witness at the registry office was the taxi driver. However despite living in Chelsea, two miles from my grandparents and fifteen miles from his parents, he did not tell anyone of his marriage until the summer of 1942 (my Grandmother’s diary confirms this) when, before leaving for Egypt he visited relatives with his bride of four years.
This seems very odd behaviour. Almost as odd is that this is the last time Diana Norman is seen – she had absolutely no contact thereafter with my family. I can find no record of her death so can only assume that she is either still alive (she would now be 99), died abroad or re-married and has died under another name. Investigations continue. My father and I are on the case.
As for poor David, he is certainly buried in Greece. I have today received two items from my father. The first is a letter to the Times from Mr Caclamanos of the Greek Legation in London. It protests in the strongest terms about the actions of Sir George Young, grandfather of the current Leader of the House and of my step-mother, who had taken up the case of David, insisting that he had been killed by brigands or by shepherds who, according to Sir George, routinely killed anyone who tried to stop their dogs barking.
The Greek states that “I understand that the contents of the letter and other declarations of Sir George of this subject, sent out in Press telegrams, have caused an outburst of protests in Greece, and they are considered an unjust and unfair comment of a sad, fortuitous event, which could not in any way reflect upon the reputation of a country justly claiming to be safe for tourists and travellers as any other civilised country.”
To his eternal credit, Sir George worked tirelessly on this case because his wife was my Great Grandmother’s sister. My father is indeed married to his second cousin. The second item to arrive from Shipston is a rather sad letter from the Foreign Office to Sir George noting that, after a year missing, the remains of the body of poor David had been found in thick bushes with his passport, a cheque and his English money and gold watch. No brigands, no robbery, he simply fell down a ravine.
This letter confirms that following the wishes of David’s father, “regarding the burial locally of the remains have been communicated to his Majesty’s Minister.” It seems that no-one travelled out to Greece for the funeral but the grave is almost certainly in Delphi or nearby. And thus it is to Delphi that I will be heading in April.
4011 days ago
I am asked why am I so fascinated with Greece? In part it is a romantic thing – the idea of brave Hellas reasserting its independence and history – see my great hero pictured here. But it is more a family thing. My father’s family have been Helleno-nuts for 200 years. I shall touch on Lesbians, in that vein, below.