Personal and undiluted views
Kalamata

9 hours ago

Photo Article: The Greek Hovel August 2020 the last Day - 16

I got an email this morning from our friends the mad lefty Guardian reading champagne socialists L&G who live in a village up in the mountains behind Kambos, when not battling for the People’s Party back in England. We last saw them back in August as they settled in for another six weeks of Greek sun as we headed back to England. Thanks to travel restrictions it seems that they are still there having enjoyed 10 solid months in the Hellenic Republic.

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2 days ago

The Greek Hovel August 2020 - Day 14: Greek Hell

The last hours of day 14, the feast of Nicho the Communist get wrapped into day 15. That was one reason why I love Greece. The rest of the day is what can infuriate me.

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158 days ago

The Greek Hovel August 2020 - Day 13, business negotiations with Nicho the Communist & son

The big event of the day was the return visit of Guardian reading L&G to the Greek Hovel. Joshua is a big fan of L in particular and his excitement at the prospect of splashing him in the pool mounted all morning. Aware that our friends like a drink or two, I headed into Kambos for supplies.

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261 days ago

Photo Article from the Greek Hovel August 2020 - Day 9, completing a circle as Uncle Johnny, Joshua and I head to Mistras

Long term readers and classical scholars will know that while Constantinople fell to the infidel in 1453, a few outposts of the Byzantine empire held out a bit longer. Among them was Mistras in southern Greece, the Despotate of the Morea which held out until 1460. Its citadel is Mistras: a collection of old churches and abandoned houses on the slopes of a hill near Sparta with a ruined castle on its peak. Lower down, but within the old outer walls, there are monasteries.

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271 days ago

Photo article: The Greek Hovel August 2020 - Day 5 and then lovely Eleni had real double competition

You may remember that last year, lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna and the place once called Miranda’s briefly had competition from the accursed creperie. It was seen off and as the days started to draw in, it closed, never to return to Kambos. But this year it is worse. Far worse.

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279 days ago

The Greek Hovel August 2020: Day 3: I am invited to a meeting by Nicho the Communist & an enormous present for Joshua

After a meal at what was Miranda’s (19.5 Euro for a salad and two meat dishes plus half a litre of rosé), we headed to Eleni’s Kourounis taverna for Joshua’s treat of some ice cream. It has become a daily treat and is one of the reasons he loves being in Greece. But he also loves watermelon and so to try and wean him off the ice cream we bought the smallest one on sale at Eleni’s which is, as you can see below, enormous.

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282 days ago

The Greek Hovel August 2020: day 1 and it's Masks at Manchester

No not a reference to the former vocation of my Mancunian pal Dan. Instead the start of our trip to the Greek Hovel. The Mrs had booked a 7.45 AM flight which meant a 4.30 AM departure from the Welsh Hovel. The Mrs had an early night, I decided to stay up accompanied by Bradley Walsh, Suzanne Jones, John Thaw and David Suchet and to try and do a bit of work. I reckoned I’d catch up on my sleep on the flight. No-one had told me I was sitting next to Joshua.

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524 days ago

Nightmare at the Greek Hovel – car won’t start bus to catch

The drama is all over now. The final harvester to depart, heroic K, is on his bus to Athens and I am sitting in the Kourounis taverna back in Kambos waiting for an omlette and preparing to catch up on a work backlog in my last full day here in Greece. But an hour and a half ago it all felt so very different.

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529 days ago

Day Two of the 2019 Olive Harvest at the Greek Hovel – Thursday, Vreki & the Police pay a visit

An early start for myself and volunteer 1 K, who I really should hire out at commercial rates to my neighbours as he is a most excellent harvester, clambering up trees to saw off branches and using the twerker as if he was a veteran. After a good morning’s work, starting on the button at 7.30, we retired to Eleni’s Kourounis taverna for lunch. And then the skies darkened.

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885 days ago

My first visit to a Greek bank in three years, I'm half way to owning a gun!

You may remember, that at the height of the Greek Financial crisis I went to deposit 10 Euro in an account with the National Bank. As I entered the branch the queues at the withdrawal counters were endless. I went to the special assistance desk where there was just me and three completely senile peasants.

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888 days ago

The rabid Brexiteer holed up in Greece sneered the metropolitan elitist remainer

Yes I am a rabid Brexiteer. I want the country where, regrettably, I spend most of the year to be free to make its own laws, set its own taxes, control its own waters and chart its own destiny. I have faith that Britain can do that.  Yet for sneering metropolitan elitists like the twit who tweeted me last night, as you can see below, that is incompatible with liking your fellow Europeans. Au contraire..

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892 days ago

Photo report from the Olive harvest at the Greek Hovel Day 3: the Albanian cavalry arrive

I rather regretted that third jug of local rose the night before, when my alarm started ringing at 5.20 AM. For Thrasher Bell had to get back to London and that meant getting him to the bust station in Kalamata before 6.30. Feeling a bit groggy I drove him into town and dropped him off. Stopping off at an ATM on the way back to load up with cash to pay my Albanian troops I arrived back in Kambos in time for an early morning coffee at the Kourounis taverna owned by lovely Eleni. The news was bad...

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929 days ago

Photo article from the Greek Hovel Joshua says its "my bed" as workmen eff it up

As we headed to Kardamili on Thursday we got a call saying that workmen were arriving with bunk beds for the Rat room and would assemble them. I gave instructions. The Mrs insisted they needed no supervision. My heart sank. Natch I was right as you can see below.

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937 days ago

Photo article from the Greek Hovel - A Lizard enjoys the 23 degree heat

I am in a short sleeved short. Tomorrow it will be a T-shirt. I am not trying to make you jealous but though it is mid October it is jolly hot. As I drove along the Kalamata sea front earlier the beaches were well populated. Folks were swimming. It is lovely.

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975 days ago

One hour back in Britain and I am already jolly cross and want to head back to Greece

Penned at Gatwick airport on Saturday as I waited for a train. Some bald Northern prick was blocking the escalator on the walking side. I said “excuse me.” He said “It’s not bloody London.”  I suggested that rules about standing/walking up were national. “What’s your hurry you will only get stuck at passport control.” I pointed out it was my choice and rules were rules and as he moved aside I concluded my sentence “and you can fuck off” as I stormed on ahead to passport control where there was almost no queue.

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979 days ago

Photo Article - the Roma at the Court House in Kalamata and Greek indifference

This article may cause a bit of upset and I have no solutions to what is a problem for Greece and an unresolved human tragedy for an ancient people, the Roma. I merely observe and report. I remember the Mrs and I giving a lift to two elderly and rather smelly Greeks in the deep countryside a couple of years ago. Their English was more or less non existent but they pointed at her dark skin and said "Roma". They thought she was a gypsy and it is clear they were not big fans. I was glad to drop them off after a few miles.

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994 days ago

Photo article from the Greek Hovel – disaster averted

As you know, young Joshua, is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. The highlight of his year was meeting Thomas on the Watercress Line  with godfather Lucian Miers.  The Bard of the Boleyn gave him a plastic Percy which makes real noises and that goes everywhere. But for some reason his favourite train is bossy Gordon. He is also very fond of my Mother-in-law.

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999 days ago

Photo Article: Fear not Olaf & the Mrs: chairs arrive at the Greek Hovel

For the past few days I have been sitting at the Greek Hovel on a large box of books as I tap away at my laptop in the Bat Room. What's wrong with that? Why can't everyone make do thus? It seems as if the Mrs and daughter Olaf have different ideas and have demanded chairs and as you can see...

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1002 days ago

Photo article from the Greek Hovel: Doors and windows

Like a true imbecile I left the cable i use to connect my camera to my PC back in England so I head back from Kambos into Kalamata in a few minutes to buy a replacement. For I have spent a wonderful hour up at the hovel with George the Architect and it looks magnificent. That is not to say that it actually has any doors and windows bar those in the Bat Room where I shall sleep tonight but...

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1003 days ago

A great and exciting day looms – I move into the Greek Hovel tomorrow!

I started today at 4.30 AM GMT in Bristol. I did not have the rub of the green with logistics in Athens and thus I did not arrive at my posh Kalamata hotel until 6 PM GMT, 8 PM local time. I have checked my emails , enjoyed a Greek salad and am just about to order an ouzo. But the really good news comes from George the Architect…the Bat Room at the Greek Hovel is wildlife diversity secure, the power and water is still working and so tomorrow I move in….

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1013 days ago

Jesus Wept! The Greeks bring disaster upon themselves – snagaroo at the Hovel

You wonder why the Greek economy is such a trainwreck?  Of course there are all sorts of reasons: the scorched earth policies imposed on Greece by Germany, the EU  and IMF banksters; the debt Greece should never have been allowed to take on, the bloated public sector, corruption, they all play a part. But, as I discover again today as I try to rebuild the Greek Hovel, it is the smothering bureaucracy that kills enterprise. Take my marble, stuck at Kalamata.

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1027 days ago

Easyjet and the nasty food currency scam it inflicts on its customers

I travel Easyjet (EZY) often. In the winter it is Bristol to Athens and back, in the summer it is Gatwick to Kalamata and back.  Usually it is no worse and no better than any other budget airline. Not that I really care but I just want to point out a quite obvious scam it inflicts on its passengers.

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1031 days ago

Waiting for Godot, aka a Bulgarian xxxx at the Greek Hovel.

Today was the day that my books, a few pieces of furniture and wall hangings as well as four Belfast sinks were meant to arrive at the Greek Hovel after a van journey from Bristol, via Bulgaria.  Much to my surprise the Bulgarian chap in London called yesterday and said to expect delivery this afternoon.

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1033 days ago

Walking through the burning Greek Sun - not plain sailing

My 32 mile walk for Woodlarks with my fellow rogue blogger, Brokerman Dan, is now just two weeks away and I am conscious that most of my training has been on the flat. What better way to prepare for the Surrey hills than to walk up a Greek mountain in the burning summer heat? And so at 8.30 AM off I set....

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1035 days ago

Sweating for Woodlarks – Mad Dogs and all that, strolling in Greece

I have not kept up to date with my training for about a week and am conscious that my 32 mile charity walk for Woodlarks is now not that far away – July 28. I meant to have a quick six mile practice stroll along the coastal road out of Kalamata yesterday afternoon but IT snags caused a postponement. And so I headed off at noon today in the mid-day sun. I think it was about 34 degrees.

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1074 days ago

Farewell to the Greek Hovel & Kambos - 240 trees and out

I have just enjoyed a cracking lunch of beef in tomato sauce and peas at Miranda's in Kambos. Actually it is not called Miranda's any more as it has a new owner but I stick with the old name. The prices have not changed. That will be 5 Euro. 

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1084 days ago

Back at the Greek Hovel - snake report: two more corpses

When I am in England I do not think much about snakes. Okay, three times a week I pick Joshua up from his nursery and he says "snakes" so, on the way home, we pop into Pets At Home and go to see the snakes. They are tiny little creatures, corn snakes, which nearly always hide in their houses and only rarely peek out. When they do, Joshua gets very excited. Most of the time we see no snakes so Joshua just says "bye bye snakes" and we head on past the fish where Joshua says "fish," past the hamsters and gerbils where he says "mice", and to the rabbits where he says "By Bye Babbits" and we head home. And I think nothing of it.

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1093 days ago

Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - yes: the bat room now has a door, window and ceiling:

I will today book my ticket to Greece next week.I am not yet decided whether to fly direct to Kalamata and the hovel or go via Athens to shoot some videos outside Folli Follie HQ and at some of its bogus shops. I have not doorsteppoed a Greek fraud for a while. It has been too long. Back to the hovel and you can see we have two doors in the bat room: one for the eco loo and an external one. We have a window, so the room is snake proof, and a wooden ceiling. This week power points and the floor are being installed!

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1098 days ago

UK Investor Show 2018 Video - Harry Adams of Kefi Minerals

Harry has never been to Kalamata even though during the war of Independence that started in 1821 his family were fighters (for Greece natch) who lived near there. As I live near there now I have suggested he pay a visit. But not until he has created some real value for we shareholders in Kefi Minerals (KEFI). Here is Harry with his plan...

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1156 days ago

Hat Tip to Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren for taking me seriously as a customer

You may remember that in a podcast (HERE) on 4th March I recalled a horrific 22 hour trip from Kalamata, via Athens Airport, to Bristol made hellish not just by snow but by the behaviour of EasyJet (EZJ) staff who repeatedly lied to me and fellow passengers. last night I sent that podcast to EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren with a note:

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1167 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Beaufort, Big Sofa and whose bed will I sleep in tonight?

I leave Kalamata shortly but when I get to Athens will there be a flight to take me home to Bristol or will I be dossing down at the Sofitel until the next flight on Monday? As I ponder that matter I consider the great news for we shareholders from Big Sofa (BST) and the real import of today's shocking news that Beaufort Securities has gone tits up. Postscript from Kalamata bus station: Bristol flights have been cancelled. With frightening efficiency I have transferred to a Gatwick flight. I am now working out how to get from Gatwick to Bristol in the middle of the night.

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1173 days ago

For my father and I it was a great day as both our rugby teams won but its a history fail for the BBC

My father has been watching the rugby like a hawk. Here in Greece I have been unable to watch but have kept in touch via the internet and calling my father after each game. Now this may not go down well with England supporters but in an Irish supporting family it was a perfect team as both our favourite teams won.

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1175 days ago

Photo Article - the Dry River at the Greek Hovel is gushing and indeed another has appeared

I was woken this morning by the most almighty explosion of noise. For a moment I wondered if a ship had crashed into the quayside for my hotel in Kalamata is right on the harbourside. It had not. It was thunder. Yet again it was sheeting it down, making three days of torrential rain on the trot. Now the sun is shining but the effects of the downpour were evident as I made my way up to the Greek Hovel.

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1175 days ago

Photo article: A Spectacular view from the big ugly church in Kambos

There are at least five churches in the village of Kambos, the closest settlement to the Greek Hovel and a place with a population of 537. There might be more small churches hidden away somewhere that I have yet to find or have found but forgotten about. But the largest of the lot is the most modern and without a shadow of doubt the least pleasing to the eye.

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1177 days ago

A day of non appearances at the Greek Hovel and I fear I'm outed as a failed pyromaniac

I turned up as agreed with George the Architect at 11 AM to discuss progress at the Greek Hovel. Twenty four hours of solid rain with more coming down today has left the site a bit of a mudbath and I was not greatly surprised that there were no workers present. But I was rather expecting George. He was not answering his phone so I kicked my heels and tried to start the process of burning off the branches cut down from last year's olive harvest.

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1179 days ago

Photo article: from bikini clad women in the sea to snow covered mountains in half an hour

This being a family website, and since I am such a fecking feminist, I decline to bring you photos of the ladies in bikinis. but as I drove along the Kalamata seafront today they were there, on the beach and heading in to the water for a swim. Not many brave the sea at this time of year and, I grant you, those that do may be out on day release, but it is just about do-able. Down by the shore it is again in the high teens and I wander around in a T-shirt.

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1179 days ago

Photo article - "the alpine" Greece that so few Northern Europeans ever see

I think that I have published articles similar to this before but it is a point worth making again and again, there is a hidden Greece that so few of we Northern Europeans never see. for most of us Greece is a place we  only visit in the stifling hot summers. If we bother to leave the coastal strip we see grass burned brown by a constant sun, if not scorched black by the forest fires that happen all too often. But there is another Greece, the Greece of winter and spring.

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1256 days ago

Two views from my hotel window in Kalamata - 48 hours is a long time in weather terms

The first shot was today. The olive harvest ended, the sun promptly re-appeared, the sky was blue, the rocks of the Taygetos that dominate this City, reflected the light and it was 21 degrees. Two days ago I was harvesting, the mountains were draped in dark clouds, the rain was falling and it was barely into double figures.

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1257 days ago

Photo article: The Greece you don't see - the Kalamata seafront and Taygetos mountains in December

I realise that it is colder in the UK than here in this part of Greece, the Mani is the most Southern part of the mainland. But to those who keep saying that I hope I am enjoying the sun here are a few photos from Kalamata this afternoon.

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1262 days ago

The storm - no olive harvesting today

If I was Byron, seperated from Hobhouse at Zitsa, i would be dashing off some verse after last night. But I'm not. i sit alone in my Kalamta hotel looking out at roads that look like the infamous Japanese Grand Prix where Lauda retired gifting James Hunt the world championship. It all started last night with loud bangs which I worried might be a bomb or a ship crashing into the harbour next to the hotel.

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1268 days ago

Photo Article for Paul Roberts: Traffic Jam on Kambos High street

It is, perhaps, my favourite "office." Sitting in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos I tap away happily. Lovely Eleni keeps the coffee coming and every now and again I look up to watch the world go by, oh so slowly, on the main street in Kambos,, the village closest to the Greek Hovel.

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1346 days ago

Video - Joshua in action, why I could not write any articles yesterday

As you may know, I hit the keys on my computer so hard that after a while the figures on them wear off. Then they become so damaged that they stop working altogether or only if you hit them repeatedly very hard. At that point hipster Marxist, the pizza hardman Darren Atwater, says "why don't you get a new Mac costing loads of moolah from the money tree?"  and I go buy a new keyboard, which looks like what I have been using all my adult life, and plug it in. Joshua types like his Dad as you can see in the video below...

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1348 days ago

Fuck you Germanos - I lose my rag in Kalamata

No this is not the nation that took over Greece in the 1940s and again via the EU seventy years later, this is the biggest computer accessory chain in Greece. Its Kalamata store is right in the centre of town within yards of my bank and also the office of my lawyer here, the charming Natasha. I am a regular at Germanos and earlier this week wandered in asking for a lead to connect my camera to my PC to bring you photos of Greece.

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1348 days ago

Photo Article: My son and Heir, Joshua, in Greece

I am conscious of the phenomena of sharenting where folks flood social media with photos of their offspring to the interest of no-one but themselves. So feel free to ignore what follows but after a very trying day in Kalamata where my almost one year old son behaved like a total saint he posed, on his return, for three photos where he looks like an angel. The top photo was taken a week ago as his mother prepared him for his first sea swim. I am biased, I think he looks amazing. But all the other folks here at our hotel dote on him. They all say hello Joshua and he waves back. The two main waitresses blow kisses at him and he blows kisses back. Okay, judge for yourself.

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1353 days ago

Sitting in the Caribbean Beach Bar in Greece repels me and sends my blood pressure zooming

One day the Mrs will learn that me and the seaside really don't mix. She has booked us into a pleasant hotel, the Baywatch, which to her annoyance, is nowhere near the sea. It does, however, have a wonderful view of the bay of Kalamata, a pool which Joshua, the Mrs and I like and is relatively quiet. The guests are nearly all young couples so I am the oldest there and find the music at the bar mildly irritating. That is to say it is all post 1995 and thus, by definition, utterly crap. But the internet works so I can relax by tapping away while Joshua crawls around the floor, licks windows, pulls books apart and does all the other things that make him happy. The Mrs is reading a book on the philosophy of marriage and occasionally draws my attention to a passage which highlights one of my rare failings as a husband. 

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1355 days ago

I am having to boycott the new "creperie" in Kambos - this is appalling

I am afraid that I have lost a lead and so cannot upload photos just yet so you will have to bear with me as I describe the scene in the main square of Kambos, my home village here in Greece. I have returned after three months to discover that the creperie run by a French Greek woman has opened. Quelle horreur!

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1356 days ago

Off on a road trip with Joshua to see his inheritance and the snakes

It is the 50th birthday party of the sister of the Mrs today. The sister in law is married to a bubble and we are staying in their house in his family village about 90 minutes the other side of Kalamata from the Mani. The party is on a boat so Joshua is not invited and I am showing solidarity with my 11 month old son and we are going on a road trip together.

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1370 days ago

Photo Article Real Progress at the Greek Hovel but....

There is a snag. We have all the demolition permits but the building permit iss er. delayed. Yes that is the one we were promised by June 30. Now it is August so after eleven months of toil and endeavour the Greek State bureaucracy grinds to a halt. So the builders can do nothing until September. I head to Greece shortly and will be popping into the Kalamata planning department for words... However there is good news as you can see below.

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1397 days ago

Photo: Picking gooseberries in the glorious English Rain at Shipston - how I would miss our summer rains

In Greece the summer rains are violent. Dark clouds gather above the Taygetos Mountains above the Greek hovel or sometimes out to see in the bay of Kalamata. The wind starts to pick up and you can hear it unsettling the trees, after a while the rustling of the leaves is so loud it sends a clear warning of what is to come. Thunder booms loudly, you start to see lightning and before you know it the rain is pouring down. You can be drenched, a dripping rat, within a minute or so as the skies empty.

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1421 days ago

Photo Article: So I picked up a young woman and was shamed

I was driving on the road that heads up into the mountains heading from Kalamata to Kambos. Of course it does not end in Kambos, the nearest village the Greek Hovel. Kambos is just a settlement, of no particular historical significance, beauty or importance, sitting on the road as one heads to Kardamili, the ghastly tourist fleshpot of Stoupa or the regional capital Areopolis. But Kambos is as far as I usually go. 

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1430 days ago

Photo Article: Frigana slashing at the Greek Hovel part 2 - Lightning stops play

To be struck by lightning at the Greek Hovel once is, perhaps, understandable but twice would look like carelessness. You may remember how, six minutes into THIS PODCAST the hovel was indeed struck but I soldiered on anyway. However, I'd rather not repeat the experience.

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1440 days ago

The Vagina Monologues - red face for myself at the breakfast table

There was I sitting at breakfast at the excellent Messinian Bay hotel here in Kalamata. The tourist season has not yet started so there are few other guests. As ever, I grabbed a corner table well away from the herd so that I could tap away at my keyboard without disturbing folks. I checked my twitter feed and an Australian columnist who I admire greatly tweeted her shock at news that doctors had felt the need to warn millennial women that the new craze for putting a wasps nest in their underpants posed severe vaginal health risks.

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1442 days ago

Photo Article - back at the Greek Hovel - it is starting to look rather beautiful, but there is bad news

I headed pretty much straight from Kalamata airport up to Kambos for a Greek salad at the Korounis taverna. As i wandered in a couple of old men whose names I do not know raised their hands and said "Yas." Everyone in the village knows about the snake-phobic Englishman who lives surrounded by snakes up in the hills at Toumbia. After that it was up to the snakefields and the Greek Hovel where Gregori and his gang of Greek Albanians have really started to transform the place as you can see below.

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1442 days ago

Photo Article - another dead snake at the Greek Hovel: slight change of accommodation plans

In my absence my gang of Greek Albanian workmen have been busy at the Greek Hovel as you can see HERE. Arriving almost straight from the airport we discussed how work was going, what was next and then came to the main point of my visit, an update on the snake situation. As you may remember this gang got hired after its leader Gregori, pictured below, boasted that he killed snakes with his bare hands.

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1444 days ago

A nervous traveller to Kalamata caught between Scylla and Charybdis at Gatwick Airport

I have two great fears when travelling. The first is that I will miss my train or plane. This is hereditary. My grandmother Lesbia Winnifrith never missed a train in her life apart from once when she arrived so early that she caught the previous one in error. I like to travel with plenty of room for error. 

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1459 days ago

Diary of a diabetic day ..whatever: a disastrous week

I have not even bothered to test my blood sugar levels for the past few days. I know they are up. I can feel a couple of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes making a minor comeback. Last night, for instance, I felt the need to piss several times. Net result: no sleep. And it is all so predictable. I could kick myself. Or certain others.

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1463 days ago

In trouble with the Police again

Before any deranged share rampers start recycling fake stories of non crimes I did not commit seven years ago start to get too excited, my problems were once again with the Old Bill here in Greece. As regular readers know, I am all too familiar with the inside of Kardamili nick.

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1468 days ago

After three years...building work starts at the Greek Hovel. Laptop off!

I left Heathrow at midnight Greek time. Having picked up a stomach bug in London the flight and the bus journey from Athens that followed were less than comfortable. Wearing a jacket and winter coat from London I was feeling pretty awful by the time I arrived in 29 degree Kalamata at 10 AM.Thank heavens my hotel had a room ready for me to wash and dump my coat in. I headed straight to the Greek Hovel feeling extremely tired.

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1469 days ago

Can I be a victim too? Virtue signalling is such fun as I suffer a hate crime at Gatwick

I was wandering towards passport control from where my Easyjet flight from Kalamata had landed, that is to say bloody miles from anywhere, when I heard a woman's voice behind me. "Welcome to bloody Brexit land" she said sneeringly and loudly. Quick as a flash, I said equally loudly "Or as we call it these days, the newly free and independent United Kingdom."

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1479 days ago

Diary of a diabetic day 21: Trousers now a real issue - they are falling down

This is all great news if a tad embarrassing. Very healthy eating, lots of exercise and no booze is definitely helping me shed the pounds. As i wandered back into the hotel elevator yesterday evening I looked and with my trousers slipping down my boxers were clearly visible. However much I hitch up my 36 inch trousers they keep on falling down. What good news.

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1481 days ago

Photo article: Diary of a diabetic day 18 - a tale of two soups

Having explained to the nice lady who runs my favourite restaurant here in Kalamata why I had to turn down a free ouzo she expressed great sympathy about the plight of a man with type 2 diabetes. And thus, having finished my grilled octopus and black eyed peas and mountain greens, I was presented with a bowl of soup.

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1485 days ago

Diary of a diabetic Day 15 - Disastrous fishing and 6.8 on the bloods - far too low far too high

After my sedentary Easter Sunday I was determined to make amends with a perfect display of type 2 diabetes virtue on Bank Holiday Monday and thus having skipped breakfast I picked up my car and headed out to the Greek Hovel. There were wildlife encounters as I explain here and that must have seen me sweat off a few pounds. Indeed my 36 inch trousers are not very obviously starting to fall down. I must, every now and again, hitch them up to spare my blushes.

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1487 days ago

The Motorway reaches Kalamata - good news and bad

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.

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1543 days ago

Sitting in my favourite restaurant in Kalamata all alone with an ouzo - gosh I'm glad to be out of this game

For me this is a delight. I am in my favourite restaurant in Kalamata and I am the only customer. I have chatted to Amelia the owner and am half way through my first ouzo. Grilled octopus has just arrived with some greens, Amelia insists that I try some. I am not normally a rabbit food sort of person but they are splendid.

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1546 days ago

Photo Article: If this does not make my pal Evil Knievil salivate nothing will

As you know, one of the joys of being in Greece is in sending back photos of the amazing food on offer to my friend Evil Knievil (pictured) and then calling the Great Bear to describe in detail what I have just enjoyed. The photos of puddings dripping in honey from the Kourounis taverna in Kambos, owned by lovely Eleni, really got him going. But today's lunch will have him slobbering all over his keyboard.

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1547 days ago

The Bridge over the gorge - I date it and Dad & I work out why it is that old

Having visited murder gorge yesterday I showed my photos of the old bridge to the folks in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos and with lovely Eleni translating I asked just how old the stone structure below actually is?

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1548 days ago

Photo article: A new bridge is spotted under the double murder bridge near Kambos - I must investigate

You may remember that, some three years ago, one of my fellow residents of the Greek village of Kambos hooked up with a pal in Kalamata to murder two drug dealing body builders. I have viewed it as rather indelicate to enquire as to what has happened since but it was a clear cut case. The bodies were dumped from an old bridge that crosses the deep gorge on the road back towards Kalamata.

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1549 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: A tale of two podcasters, I met a sheep with its hind leg trapped in the fence today

Yes I did. It was on the way back from the mountain village of Kambos to Kalamata. Some podcasters might have salivated and regarded this as an opportunity. But I am not Justin the Clown, still smarting from rugby defeat for his beloved Wales at the weekend. But I thought it was my duty to help anyway. I digress from the main features of this podcast: Kefi (KEFI), Mila Resources (MILA) and the China fraud Jiasen (JSI). I also look at a share price of a stock where I am an insider - oh no not insider dealing on the AIM casino I hear you say. And then I update on the Dirty Dozen AIM Resource portfolio which I shall launch later today.

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1549 days ago

Photo Article: back at the Greek Hovel, a failed pyromaniac reports in

As I drove up the mountain road to Kambos and the Greek Hovel I could see smoke rising all around me. It is the season when you burn the branches you chopped down in the olive harvest, start pruning your trees and give them a bit of fertilizer. I bought a lighter in Kalamata and, having been trained by George the Albanian on how to start a fire with a few bits of dried grass I was determined to match my neighbours.

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1551 days ago

Photo article: My cunning plan turns out to be not so cunning after all - I now know what hell is

I had this really cunning plan. And the Mrs thought it was cunning too. What could possibly go wrong? God punished me for my conceit.

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1552 days ago

Photo article Mike the Vlach arrives and I meet his sister as well

My father's oldest Greek friend Mike the Vlach was due back at three. This being Greece he was bound to be late and so his wife Alega insisted I hang on as the day dragged on. Heck I had travelled by bus for nine hours to get to Metsovo and then walked for an hour and a half to get to Anelion to see Mike, I was not leaving. I could not explain this but I sat there drinking coffee and enjoying a lunch of lamb, rice and a lump of feta, I was going nowhere.

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1612 days ago

Photo Article: Olives are not the only Fruit

I have mentioned elsewhere that there are oranges growing everywhere here in Greece. The trees do need watering every day so we could not, for instance, have them at the Greek Hovel as we are not there all summer. But there are so many other trees that you can just pick your own as you walk along the street. The tree below is just along the side street where the Pharae Palace hotel in Kalamata is situated and where I am staying. 

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1612 days ago

Photo Article: The olive oil harvest at the Greek Hovel - I have a cunning plan

Each year I take 16 kg of the olive oil from the Greek Hovel back to the UK with me in a big can and sell the rest. But the can is just too big for my rucksack so means I have to pay both to put it in a special box (30 Euro) and also for an extra piece of hold luggage ( 25 Euro). It is still cheap oil but that rankles. But I have a cunning plan.

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1613 days ago

How much would my Greek Hovel lunch on Thursday have cost in London?

Lunch on Thursday at the Greek Hovel was provided by the wife of George the Albanian. At least I think it was his wife, it was one of his two female assistants. I pondered how much an Islington bistro would have stung me for, offering similar fare.

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1614 days ago

Sleep glorious sleep

For the past week I have been getting up at 5 AM Greek time ( 3 AM GMT) to do a couple of hours writing before heading off to the olive harvest at the Greek Hovel for an 8 AM start. Yesterday's harvest finished at 5 PM and I was shattered. I arrived back at my hotel at eight and after one glass of milk went straight to bed. I was vaguely aware that someone called (it was the Mrs) but I was oblivious to it. I dreamed of little olives of all colours falling through my seperating machine. 

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1615 days ago

Olive harvest at the Greek Hovel - day 7: They think it's all over...it is now!

Myself and the two women who work with George the Albanian finished work at 5 PM today, having started at 8 AM. It was dark at the end. I could not see what was an olive and what was a leaf as I worked the separating machine. I just bashed the twigs and leaves hard with a plastic paddle and pushed anything that felt like a olive through the grill. My hands are stained with olives and feel raw from pushing those twigs and olives across that grill all day.

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1618 days ago

Day Four of the Olive harvest at the Greek Hovel: into the lair of the snake

I am so tired. As soon as I press "publish" on this article i am off to bed. Today there was no break other than 20 minutes for lunch and so I did a solid six and a half hours. It is not that I am spectacularly unfit (cue jokes from health guru Paul Scott), it is just that I have to try to keep pace with hardened professionals, viz George the Albanian and his two female assistants. Boris Johnson likes riding bicycles but he would be some way off the pace in the Tour de France. It is similar here.

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1620 days ago

The Lady from the British Council said sod the Greek peasants "what about the environment?"

It is too cold to stay up at the Greek Hovel so I am in my bolt hole of choice, the most excellent Pharae Palace hotel in Kalamata. It is far from packed but there is some activity as the British Council is organising exams for bubbles who have been learning English. 

Over a healthy muesli breakfast, I chatted briefly to the two other people present, ladies a bit older than myself who were there to invigilate the exams. One complained that whenever the windows of her room opened she could smell olives and she did not like the smell. Hint Madam - don't come to Kalamata as you do know what it is famous for don't you?.

The obviously middle class lady, who struck me as one of life's utterly joyless Guardian readers,

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1621 days ago

Photo Article: day one of the olive harvest 2016 at the Greek Hovel

In 2014 we harvested 1.65 metric tonnes (1650 kg) at the Greek hovel which yielded 566 litres of olive oil. Last year was a disaster - 550 kg and I fell and ended up in hospital. So far 2016 has been a triumph. I did not fall. Albeit with a few breaks I lasted the full working day and we have already harvested 550 kg with only a fraction of the trees finished. It is a triumph but I am shattered.

The first thing of note is that we have new technology

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1623 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: the storm clouds cover the mountains where the Greek Hovel lies

Though I may have pneumonia thanks to Paul Scott, I am now safely in Kalamata looking up at the mountains where I live when in Greece and the storm clouds are ominous. So back to the stockmarket I look at Finnaust (FAM), Audioboom (BOOM), Avanti Communications (TOAST), Condor Gold (CNR), Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO), Webis (WEB) and Anglesey Mining (AYM) which is spouting bullshit today as it places.

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1623 days ago

Photo: The global warming falling hard in the Mani Greece this year

I noted yesterday that the rain clouds were so thick that from the Kalamata sea front I could not see the start of the taygetus mountain range which winds its way down the Mani peninsula. Later in the day as I drove east towards the mountains the cloud had lifted and I could see clearly that there was already a good covering of global warming directly ahead of me in the higher reaches. It got better.

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1625 days ago

Now at Athens Bus Station and freezing, I blame Paul Scott

I landed at the airport at one in the morning and was aware that the bus from the Athens coach station to Kalamata did not leave until 6.30 AM. And I remembered that the bus station was cold and among the grottiest places in town. And thus I settled in a comfortable arm chair in a coffee shop at the airport, got online and produced three articles and started to feel quite productive. But then share blogger Paul Scott started tweeting me.

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1773 days ago

Video - Do you understand why I love where I live in Greece now?

Sorry it is a poor quality video and yes that is Abba in the background. I shot it on the penepenultimate evening at the Greek Hovel. I was travelling down from Kambos to the sea at Kitries for a last meal of octopus. About two miles from where, just outside my home village, one leaves the main Kambos to Kalamata road, there is a small hamlet.

I stood above this hamlet looking down on its church in the sunset. Then I panned the camera around. I hope you can make out the 180 degree view starting at the Frankish castle above Kambos, moving down to the bay at Kitries and onwards to the church. And so why would one live anywhere else?

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1774 days ago

The EU immigrants living in fear and misery thanks to the lies of the liberal left

The charming woman next to me on the plane back from Kalamata was a Greek living in Cardiff. She said that she was frightened. So were her friends: Italians, Poles and other bubbles living in Britain. How could they plan for the future when it looked as if they would be booted out post Brexit?

I asked: Who said this was going to happen? Which of the leaders of the vote leave campaign: Boris, Gove, Priti Patel, Nigel Farage, Carswell, Gisela Stuart, who? 

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1779 days ago

Photo Article: the road to Mistras

You want photos of Mistras? You really should for it is truly an amazing place but patience dear friends, let me first tell you about our journey there. The Mrs was in charge of logistics....yes, I know, but I am a feminist so I did not kick up a fuss.

And so it was decided

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1791 days ago

The Mrs heads home from Greece - life without her is very different, I'm back at the Hovel

British Airways staff were again brilliant today. On Saturday I arrived at Kalamata airport with a barely mobile father and weak step mother. Within minutes a cute airline lady had helped me get a wheelchair for my father and i was told my job was over. The lady put them at the front of the line and I had nothing more to do. Today it was the turn of the Mrs. We arrived and the small departure lounge was again heaving with lobster pink Northern Europeans forming long lines to check in for flights to London and Paris.

I found a different cute airline lady and said that my wife was heavily pregnant, as she is, and within minutes she was again at the head of the queue leaving dozens of the lobster pink Brits and froggies fuming behind her. Then she was through passport control and was off and I headed back to town to face another three to four weeks at the Greek Hovel with just the snakes and rats for company.

When the Mrs is here I am on holiday so I only work 3-4 hours a day at my PC and I do no manual labour at all. I enjoy three meals a day and more than the odd drink. "After all we are on holiday" say I as I order another ouzo. I get to sleep on clean sheet in an air conditioned hotel and enjoy swims in luxury pools. The Mrs is paying and it is a treat. I enjoy my hols with the Mrs. We talk, we plan, we discuss. Life without the Mrs is very different.

Aware

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1804 days ago

Back at the Greek Hovel ...brown is the new green

Ten days ago I was, via lovely Eleni, telling the shepherd about the lush green grass up at the hovel and urging him to bring his flock up to graze lest they miss out. When I see him next I shall be begging him to bring his sheep up out of pity. The green grass has almost gone. Almost everything is brown.

Driving up the grass track to the house I was horrified. It was as if the whole area had been affected by a great heat. But as it happens that is exactly what has happened. Down by the sea at Kalamata today it is 33 degrees. Up at the hovel it is over thirty. It is wonderful weather to work in but the grass is burning away. 

The purple flowers, 

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1810 days ago

So I told Nicho the communist about my snake encounter

As you may remember, Nicho the Communist delighted in telling me upon my arrival in Kambos that the snake harvest had been excellent this year and that the fields around my house, the Greek Hovel, would be full of them. During the past few weeks he has several times asked after the snakes, managing to speak and laugh at the same time. And so having encountered one, I felt I should relay the news to him.

We were sitting, as you might expect, in the Kourounis taverna. I told him what had happened and he looked straight into my eyes and asked earnestly "Did you kill it?"

You and I know

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1816 days ago

A tale of two keys - late night panic at the Greek Hovel

I have two sets of keys with me and both lie on the table here at the Greek Hovel. One is my English keys, my house and the restaurant. The other a set of Greek keys, one of which opens the hovel's door the rest of which are there for decoration - God only knows what they open.

For once I left my laptop in the hovel last night having worked solidly all day. I took just a bit of cash, my phone, my passport and credit card down to the village for supper. Really that is all I need to get anywhere in the world so I always carry those things with me. I grabbed a set of keys, locked up and headed off for a Greek salad.

There was an almost full moon but on my return it was still very dark. I hope that the snake repellent canisters make the area around the hovel a safe zone but I always flash my torch nervously as I walk, slowly and with a deliberately heavy step, up the path. I reached in my pocket and all I could find were my English keys. Feck. I must have dropped the Greek keys somewhere. 

I headed back to Kambos to the Kourounis taverna and checked where I had been sitting. Nothing. It was by now almost eleven and I was panicking. I established that I had not - as I thought I had - given lovely Eleni a spare key. Where the feck was that spare key? 

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1827 days ago

Wildlife diversity report from the Greek Hovel - day 5

I was hoping that the canisters which are meant to keep the snakes away would have arrived in Kambos today. I was told they would. Naturally they have not. This is Greece. "They will be here on Wednesday" means "There is no chance at all that they will be here on Wednesday". I am bloody well not moving up to the hovel without them.

My friend Nicho the communist asked why I was not yet resident in the the village and I explained. "You really are frightened of them aren't you" he said while laughing loudly. Fecking hell isn't everybody? Nicho then explained to a gaggle of Greek old men sipping ouzos what was happening and they all laughed too. Ha bloody ha. They all live in the village where there are no snakes, I dare them 

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1829 days ago

Amazing news from Greece - we have a forestry permit for the Greek Hovel, next step... a bribe?

It was meant to take three months but took closer to a year but who cares? We now have a forestry permit received for the Greek Hovel. It seems that I failed to (illegally) cut down a few wild olive trees but most of my good works of the summer before last in clearing 2000 square metres of frigana have not been noticed and so we can now.....

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1970 days ago

Photo article: My first snow of the winter - in Greece 3 weeks ago

For most of my early December stay in Greece I was wearing a T-shirt all day although at night I needed a sweat shirt and coat as the temperatures plunged towards zero. But on the penultimate day it started to rain heavily both in Kalamata, where I was staying, and up in the village of Kambos in the foothills of the Taegessus Mountains. The photos below show what happened next.

Photo one is of an orange tree just off the main street in Kambos. As we worked in the fields picking olives in quite warm weather oranges were handed out by my friend George. They are just ripening for picking now.



The next two photos are from the Greek Hovel another 50 metres or so higher up into the Teagessus and three miles away from Kambos. Those who have seen the hovel in the summer will associate it with grass burned brown by hot sun. But, as you can see, it is now a lush green - this is the view looking back along the drive. The rains of October and November have left the place looking very much alive. The second photo

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1981 days ago

Tom Winnifrith: Its 3 AM & Ive just checked myself into Hospital

No David Lenigas it is not the loony bin but Kalamata General. After my fall while picking olives on Monday I thought that I was healing and managed four hours in the fields on Tuesday, albeit in some pain. But after three hours sleep on Tuesday night I awoke at two in absolute agony. The guy from the hotel reception came to my room, arranged everything and within 30 minutes I was at Kalamata Hospital.

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1986 days ago

Winter in Kalamata

In the summer, notwithstanding the little issues that Greece faces, Kalamata is bustling. Getting a hotel by the seafront can be something of a challenge. The beaches are packed and the restaurants bustling. God knows why. The regional capital is not exactly what you'd call pretty. For me it is where the Airport is before I head out to the joys of the Mani.

In winter it all changes in Kalamata. There is still the odd hardy soul who one sees venturing into the sea. I suppose its probably warmer than Whitby in summer but rather them than me. The hotels are mostly empty and I am paying less than 40 quid a night including breakfast to stay at one of the best places in town.

The seafront restaurants are shut for the winter. I dont particularly like them in summer

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1986 days ago

Most Certainly ouzo o'clock - George the Albanian is located at last

After a whole day spent at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos I have finally met up with George, the sprightly 60+ Albanian who leads our olive harvest. I called lovely Eleni at the hospital to see if she had any idea how to track him down. She gave birth to a baby girl yesterday and admitted to being a bit tired but knows she will be back in the kitchen by Sunday and so is gearing herself up. She offered up an idea of where to find George's number.

Lovely Eleni's younger sister, who is really very, very lovely too, called and at about seven tonight in wandered George. In great relief I hugged the man for I was starting to panic. As ever, I bought him a Tsipero and myself an ouzo. And we sat in silence as he speaks not a word of English and my Greek is er...rather weak. But lovely Eleni's very, very lovely younger sister 

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1990 days ago

Major problemo at the Greek Hovel... Hell's teeth

I fly tomorrow morning and will arrive in Kalamata so late that I shall enjoy one night of luxury in a hotel before heading off to the Greek Hovel for the olive harvest. George the sprightly 60 year old Albanian and his Mrs are ready to lead the harvest from Wednesday or Thursday and we are off. But there is a bit of a problem. I still speak no Greek and have hitherto relied on the lovely Eleni from the Kourounis taverana to assist. It is either her or Nikko the commie, no-one else speaks more English than I speak Greek in the village of Kambos.

In May I wondered if Eleni had put on a couple of pounds but did not like to say anything. By the time I arrived in August I 

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2136 days ago

Paying an Electric bill for a witch: Greece does not work anymore & never worked

It came as rather a shock earlier this year: I owed the electricity company 975 Euro for the Greek hovel she owns in the Mani region. In May the Mrs and I headed into Kalamata with our friend George the architect and established that in fact we owed 20 Euro. The former owner of the hovel, a witch called Athena, had not paid for three years and owed 955 Euro.

The electricity company should, of course, have cut her off but this is Greece and it did not. She had also not been cut off by the water despite not paying for two years but we had already forced her to pay that tab.

We paid our twenty Euro and the electricity company contacted Athena. She lied, cast some spell over the electricity folk and so we were told we would get cut off. Dam it. It is only 955 Euro, I do not wish to get cut off and I just never want to have to deal with Athena again.

My hero, Paddy Leigh Fermor famously noted in his book “The Mani” that nearly every Greek is generous, honest and hospitable in a way unmatched anywhere else. But just now and again you meet a total bastard who just serves as a reminder as to how wonderful his or her compatriots are. Athena is just such a bastard.

But

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2169 days ago

I sit where Where Greek Independence began in 1821 as the country prepares to go bust

In March 1821 the Greek war of independence began as the folk in the Mani launched an uprising against the accursed Turks. The Mani, where the Greek Hovel is situated, was always quasi independent anyway but its warlike folk started a fire that could not be supressed. The first major triumph was the storming of the Turk held fortress at Kalamata. No Maniots died but the entire Turkish garrison was slaughtered.

Right now I sit opposite that fortress, in Kalamata bus station having just purchased one more ouzo for the road, to Athens. Tomorrow

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2169 days ago

My cunning travel plan to get back to Bristol - yes it involves ouzo

The Mrs wants me back in Bristol by tomorrow afternoon and it is nice to be wanted. And so I embark on the journey back from the Greek hovel with a cunning plan given that there are only intermittent flights from Kalamata at this time of year.

First up, 

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2173 days ago

Witnessing the great bank run first hand as I deposit money in Greece

Jim Mellon says that the Greeks should build a statue in my honour as on Friday I opened a bank account in Greece and made a deposit. Okay it was only 10 Euro, I need to put in another 3,990 Euro to get my residency papers so I can buy a car, a bike and a gun, but it was a start. But the scenes at the National Bank in Kalamata were of chaos, you could smell the panic and they were being replicated at banks across Greece.

For tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here and if you are going to default on your debts/ switch from Euros to New Drachmas a bank holiday weekend is the best time to do it. And with debt repayments that cannot be met due on June 5 (next Friday) Greece is clearly in the merde. If it defaults all its banks go bust.

But I had to open an account and make a deposit. Outside the bank in the main street of Kalamata there are two ATMs. The lines at both were ten deep when I arrived and when I left an hour later. Inside I was directed to the two desks marked "Deposit". You go there to put in money, to open an account or if you are so senile that you cannot do basic admin of your account without assistance. As such it was me depositing cash and four octogenerians who had not got a clue about anything. Actually I lie. These folks may have been gaga but they were not so gaga that they were actually going to deposit cash, I was the sole depositer.

Friday was also the day

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2174 days ago

Happier Times at the Kardamili Police Station

I sit with my back to the door at the Kourounis taverna typing away, writing almost anything to avoid the torture of completing the subbing of Zak Mir's book. Is it too early for an ouzo to stiffen my resolve to face the torture that awaits?

The cop at the Kardamili police station, who lives in my home village of Kambos, has just wandered in and pats me on the back "yas Tom" says he and wanders to the bar. This reminds me that I visited the police station at Kardamili once again last week. You may remember that last summer I spent a couple of hours detained at the Kadamili nick thanks to a bent cop and bent hotelier and so my memories of the place were, shall we say, mixed.

But I am trying to get Greek residency so that I can buy a car, a motorbike and a gun for the Greek Hovel. And that means that I had to go to Kardamili police station to present my papers. I took my Greek speaking wife with me for protection. Would I meet the bent cop who incarcerated me last year? Would I meet his goon of an assistant who looks like the nasty gay character in Coronation Street? I was rather nervous.

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2185 days ago

A two snake day & the Mrs is on a plane struck by lightening

I was meant to pick the Mrs up at Kalamata airport in about thirty minutes but it appears that she is back at Gatwick. Her plane was struck by lightening and so had to turn back. Now her phone battery is dead so what to do? Sit in Kalamata and have an ouzo or two? Sounds like a plan.

Meanwhile it has been a two snake day.

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2192 days ago

Tom Winnifrith: No Bearcast today but my dedication to you dear reader knows no bounds

After just 10 days my PC has developed a fault. I blame that wanker Bill Gates as it was all to do with reconfiguring windows after installing updates. I loathe you Bill Gates. And so I ignored thunder clouds looming in the Taegessus mountains behind the Greek hovel and set off on my motorbike to Kalamata.

As the rain turned to hail I felt my back wheel losing its grip on the section of mountain road above the gorge where the double murders took place last year. I stopped at a small church for shelter.

As the rain lightened a bit I resumed my journey with the mountain road now a river. Such is my devotion to you dear readers

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2195 days ago

Suffering Head On Bike Crash in Greece – Feeling Bruised and stupid

In the end I could not get my head around a 200 cc bike with gears and so chickened out and hired another 150 cc automatic. But it felt great being on two wheels again as I whizzed up the mountain road from Kalamata to my home village of Kambos. It was warm but the wind was in my hair and as I swept down towards Kambos with the ruined castle looming in the background I just felt content and happy.

After dealing with the rat at the Greek hovel I headed into Kambos to do some work at my office, aka the Kourounis tavern. But for some reason they key in the bike was jammed and then broke. I could start the machine but not turn it off so I knew it had to be fixed or I’d have a dead battery by morning. Feeling really pissed off I headed back to Kalamata. I was so pissed off that I drove on the left hand side of the road.

Prang! At

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2322 days ago

In praise of Nicho, Papou in Kambos

On my first night at the Greek Hovel I wandered into town to watch the World Cup Final. As you may remember I was the only person present supporting the Krauts against the Argies and this drew particular disapproval from one man wearing the heavy moustache one would associate with a Maniot warrior of old.  That man was Nicho.

By the end of the summer we were firm friends. He speaks English and is the life and soul of the Kourounis tavern run by the lovely Eleni. The young men call him Papou (grandfather) but respect him as a chap who can drink them under the table, happily do a Greek dance – after half a bottle of whisky – but also be deadly serious.

As the only English speaker bar Eleni he is a conduit for me to wider world. His main job is with an organic food form headquartered in Athens. But he can work remotely and one imagines that business is not exactly booming and so he has plenty of time for more important things such as growing olives.

You will remember that an olive tree is viewed as a being like a beautiful woman who must be treasured and cared for. And Nicho owns a 500 year old specimen which in Kambos terms is like saying that you have Cheryl Cole waiting for you at home lying in a state of undress on your bed.

The Mani

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2340 days ago

The more I travel First Great Western the more I hate it

I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads for the 4.47 AM in good time but a bad mood. My driver at V cars had attempted to sting me with a £1.80 penalty for getting into his cab at 4.26 AM – six minutes after it was booked for. By the clock in his cab – which tallied with the clock on my phone - that meant he had managed the journey door to door in five minutes which is impossible. I queried him – as a V-Cars regular - and he relented at once. He was trying it on and knew that I knew that he was trying it on.

Instead of handing over a tenner and not asking for change as is my wont I dutifully counted out the now agreed £8.50 exactly and handed him a pocket full of change. He was grumpy and so was I.

Inside Temple Meads the ticket machines were today both not functioning properly. That is to say they were not taking cash. Since my battered old cashpoint card is not accepted by FGW ticket machines although it works in ATMs from Cork to Kalamata, I always use cash on the train. I wandered onto the concourse, explained and a big burly man said that it would be okay to pay on the train.

Sitting comfortable at 4.42 AM the “train manager” announces that this is a penalty fare zone” and that if any passenger does not have a ticket they must return to the machines in the ticket hall to buy one. The message is repeated in threatening tones.

But there’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza, there’s a hole in my fucking bucket why is it that the ticket machines at Bristol Temple Meads never ever work properly you bastards. And so I sit here tapping away awaiting my fate.

Postscript: The Ticket collector was most understanding and I seem to have escaped the “penalty fare zone.” FGW is not all bad.

 

 

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2347 days ago

Delayed at the Greek hovel ...but I work with Vangelis - the man in the pink shirt

I posted videos earlier showing the dreadful weather here in Kambos. That delayed the completion of the olive harvest as did the very Greek way we settle up accounts and so my return from the Greek hovel to England has been postponed. I should now be flying first thing Wednesday which means leaving Kambos tomorrow. Taking a bus from Kalamata to Athens and sleeping at a hotel by the airport for a crack of dawn flight.

I will leave Kambos with a cheque for 1779 Euro in my pocket thanks to the olive harvest. Obtaining the cheque was a bit of a kerfuffle. I fished out my Greek tax number – I am a loyal supporter of the Greek state in its hour of need – and wandered into the olive factory. Easy…

Hmmm. 

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2350 days ago

I need not have feared, lovely Eleni was right – I have power but the Vreki!

As I ride towards the deserted monastery/convent on my way back from Kambos to the Greek Hovel I can normally see lights twinkling on the far side of the valley where I live. On my hill there is the hovel. On the hill behind it and one fold higher as you get into the mountains is my neighbour Charon. And there are a few other houses on the next ridge along. But as I rode tonight there were no lights. I rather feared that for once lovely Eleni was wrong and that the electricity had not been fixed.

But at least it was a clear night. There is a full moon and so riding up snake hill and through the olive groves it was far lighter than in recent days when this part of the journey has been managed in pitch darkness with only the light on my bike to guide me.

As I arrived at the hovel I imagined a night stumbling around with only a torch to guide me. Inevitably the battery would have died. But the moonlight lit the path making my torch almost academic and I strode up the steps in a way that I would have not considered this summer when the wildlife diversity was not in hibernation. Flinging open the door, I flicked the switch and…

How could I have ever doubted Eleni?

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2353 days ago

Tom Winnifrith's BearCast 2nd December - New China AIM POS Revealed

Rain delayed play on the olive harvest but is now back underway again but without me for this afternoon as I have business to attend to in Kalamata and you, my dear listeners, to satisfy with the revelation of a NEW China AIM stock capitalised at £88 million which shouts out red flag. I also comment on Forbidden Technology, Tyratech and growth stocks that stumble, on Ortac Resources, Beacon Hill Resources and raise a few points about the fraud souffle that is Quindell

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2418 days ago

I was dragged to the Police station in Kardamili and bullied, Greece in context

I preface this all with some comments of Paddy Leigh Fermor in his book the Mani. Paddy has just been ripped off by a mule owner who had acted like a total bastard. Paddy reflects that this happens just now and again in Greece but is made all the more memorable because 99% of the time the hospitality of the people of Greece, their honesty and generosity is unmatched. Paddy puts it rather more eloquently but is correct. And with that preface…

The Mrs decided that during her stay with me this summer we should take some time out from the Greek hovel and enjoy a bit of luxury in Kardamili. We could not leave my guest alone at the hovel with the snakes and so she was booked into one hotel in the centre of town while the Mrs and I stayed at a wonderful place the Meletsina Village at the far end of the beach road which leads away north from the town

I cannot speak too highly of the Canadian Greek family who ran our place. It was there that Julie Despy and Ethan Hawke had stayed while filming “Before Midnight” in the town and it gets a thumbs up on all counts.

My guest was not so lucky. On the first night in town she took her laptop out to work in a restaurant and was promptly followed back to where she was staying, the Papanestoras Apartments run by the loathsome Valia Papanestoros.

After waiting for her to start snoring (which she does), those who had followed her entered her room – she had unwisely not locked her door – and stole her computer and wallet (later retrieved minus 70 euro in cash).

By 5 AM my guest was reporting this to Kardamili police who at once pointed the finger at their usual suspects…Albanians. Whilst this might seem a bit unfair I am afraid that 99% of burglaries in the Mani happen in the tourist towns and are indeed perpetrated by Albanian criminal gangs. In the non-tourist villages, burglaries are less common as the Maniots have less to steal and will have guns with which they will shoot you.

In the days that followed my guest, understandably felt angry – having lost much of the book she was writing – and violated. I wish I could say that the Old Bill bust a gut for her but I cannot.

At first the owner of the hotel was sympathetic and said that my guest could leave early and pay only for the days she had stayed. My guest took her up on that and flew back to London but because the hotel had no working credit card machine had to assure her that I would pay her in cash.

And so just a few hours after my guest left, I heard a loud knock and opened the door of my hotel room. The Mrs was sunning herself on the beach. Standing in front of me was the hotelier and an enormous and menacing looking man. 

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2422 days ago

Paddy Leigh Fermor, The Mani and Kambos

Back in the 1960s my uncle visited the Mani on his first honeymoon. Oddly he and his wife were joined by another couple and within months his wife had run off with the other man. That is an aside. It took my uncle more than two days to get from Athens to the Mani so remote and cut off was the region. 

Here in Kambos the dirt track to Kardamili became a road back in 1965 (two years after that fateful honeymoon), roads south from there were built later. The man who brought this peninsular to the attention of the wider world was Paddy Leigh Fermor, a truly amazing man once described as a mixture of Indiana Jones, James Bond and Gerald Durrell.

Though incredibly clever, Paddy was no academic and so after being expelled from school (issues with a young lady) in 1933 he walked through Europe to Greece. Along the way he noticed that something was not quite right in Germany. When war broken out he signed up immediately and was sent into Greece since he spoke the language fluently. His most heroic exploit was in Crete where – with the partisans – he captured a German general on the North of the island and transported him across Crete to the South where he was lifted off by British Destroyer. The film, based on the episode, has Leigh Fermor played by Dirk Bogarde

In the war Paddy’s code name was Michalis. After the war he stayed on in Greece fighting with the Royalists in the Civil war. He refers to this in his two classic books on Greece

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2424 days ago

My First Hangover at the Greek Hovel – getting to know the locals in Kambos

I had planned to stay sober until my return but I fear that I have been led astray. I blame OTE Telecom. I still cannot get on the interwebby at The Greek Hovel so spent all Sunday working from the Kouronis taverna in Kambos, run by lovely Eleni. At about 10 O’clock Greek Time I was done writing and asked for my bill. But instead I was summoned to the bar and asked to sit with four men.

Either side of me were two Gentlemen who spoke English. The younger (George) was a relative newcomer to the area, the elder (Nikos) is a greying stocky man with a walrus moustache. It was he who had cross words with me on my second day here when I supported the Krauts rather than the Argies in the football. Since then we have exchanged nothing but pleasantries. Behind Nikos was the man in the pink polo shirt (Vangelis) and behind George was another George, a Greek only speaking builder.

I was told “it is not will you have a drink but what are you drinking”. They were on the hard stuff and so I opted for ouzo. Nikos told me that they had decided they needed to know me better as I was now their neighbour.

They refused to let me pay and four hours later I was rather the worse for wear. Nikos was concerned about me biking home. He offered to drive me several times but since he was also a tad unsteady on his feet I declined

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2440 days ago

The Double Murder in Kambos – the nearest village to the Greek Hovel

It is a twenty five minute walk from the Greek Hovel down snake hill to the spring and up past the deserted monastery and a stretch of olive groves to the village of Kambos. But it is where my nearest neighbours live and I now know enough folks to say yassas to many of them as I bike in, although no-one other than wonderful Eleni, the taverna owner speaks any English. One of the joys of Kambos is that absolutely nothing ever happens there. Me falling off my motorbike at 3 MPH in front of Eleni’s taverna was the big news of the summer. That was until we had the murders.

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2442 days ago

How to get back to the UK from Greece – Jihadists and Ebola concern me

I am a nervous traveller at the best of times. But right now the thought of flying into London really scares me. The Mrs left today. I had to drive her half way across the Peloponnese so that she could catch a ferry to Zakynthos to get a direct flight to Bristol. But it was cheaper than a flight from Kalamata, my local airport here in the Mani, and her plane did not land at Gatwick.

Bristol gets mostly domestic, Western European and holiday flights. The Mrs can pick me up from the airport and the passport line is not three hours long.

Gatwick is a schlepp of a bus/train trek away from Bristol and I am convinced that my flight will land just between one directly in from Sierra Leone and another from Turkey packed with British born men with beards who have just spent a few months in Syria and Northern Iraq. I thus face being stuck in the passport queue with a mixture of returning Jihadists - just looking for a chap with an Israeli army T-shirt on to behead - and highly contagious Ebola virus carriers.

It is s 35 minute cab ride from The Greek Hovel to Kalamata. It is an additional five hour bus, taxi, ferry, taxi ride to Zakynthos. But the idea is growing on me.

PS The Mrs suggests that just in case there are any Quindell Moron type jihadists reading this I should not publicise my final travel plans until I have landed. As ever she is a wise woman.

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2483 days ago

At last...I have a real fan!

You might think if you read Quindell Bulletin Boards that I have no admirers at all. But I can reveal that without doubt I now have one really great fan.  There may be more but there is one at least.

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2483 days ago

Transport Issues at the Greek Hovel – Luckily I am Steve Frigging McQueen

I had planned to be the owner of a 24 year old jeep today. I thought I had my paperwork in order as I trotted along to Kardimili police station to get my residents permit. Sadly not. I did not have that blue card which means that I am entitled to go into the execution rooms – that is to say Greek hospitals – should I fall sick.

If I do fall sick I am heading back to London. I may be ill but I do not want a minor sickness o turn into automatic death – I will take my chances with the NHS thank you. And as such I saw no reason to have this EI imposed commie state health care civil liberties infringing ID card. But now I do. One has been ordered in the UK and will be fedexed out.

And that left me sans transport. Being stuck in the hovel three miles from the nearest human being without transport struck me as imprudent but horror of all horrors there was not one car to rent in the whole of Kalamata. Hmmmm. Aged 46 ½ I have never ridden a motorbike in my life. But what better place to learn than here.

Hairpin bends, mountain roads, every driver either insane (Greek) or drunk (Northern European). What could be better?

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2577 days ago

Easter Day Goat in Greece

Easter Sunday was spent with the in-laws of the Mrs who live in a tiny village south of Kalamata and naturally for lunch (for 16 of us) it was goat. With vegetables aplenty and an amazing lentil and feta salad it was a true feast. But at the centre of it all was goat.

So here is a before shot….all say aaaaaaagh.

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