264 days ago
Regular readers will know that in August, Kardamili, the town where my hero, Paddy Leigh Fermor, made his home, becomes Islington on Sea. I dislike its new visitors as a breed and go there under sufferance. But as Uncle Johnny aspires to be a member of the metropolitan liberal elite and, as a now qualified Shipman, can afford to buy into the lifestyle we took him for a visit.
678 days ago
In today’s bearcast I discuss how and why the word bugger come from Bulgaria, at least according to my hero Paddy Leigh Fermor. I look at Versarien (VRS) and why it will end in tears, report that Anglo African Oil & Gas (AAOG) is trying to raise £9 million at 5p and or via a death spiral, look at Hurricane (HUR), Prospex (PXOG), Grand Vision Media Holdings (GVMH) – as per my prescient piece HERE - Condor (CNR) and uber dog Premier African Minerals (PREM)
884 days ago
As you may have gathered Paddy Leigh Fermor is a bit of a hero of mine although I am the only member of my family never to have met him. It is because of him that Joshua was given his middle name. His house in Kardamili has been under renovation for a number of years and although entrance is impossible I popped down to see it the other day and peaked over the wall, as you can see below.
978 days ago
So on Sunday as the Mrs sought a few hours to catch up on her important work, Joshua and I set off exploring with my young son on my back. Part two, the climb to Zarnata castle, I have already recorded HERE. part one was to head off around the back streets of Kambos and the pictures pain a mixed picture as you can see below.
988 days ago
As you may know, the house my hero, Paddy Leigh Fermor, built in Kardamili is being renovated as some sort of writer's retreat. The area is taped off with do not enter signs and others warning of "danger" but would paddy have been put off? Of course not. I nipped up the path at the side of the house and snapped a few photos as you can see below.
991 days ago
And so daughter Olaf has survived her first night at the Greek Hovel. She slept in the Rat Room, I slept in the Bat Room. She is even using the eco-loo without complaint. Meanwhile building work continues at pace as you can see below.
1005 days ago
In today's podcast I recount last night's suffering HERE but have a revenge on a millennial daughter involving Paddy Leigh Fermor planned for tonight. I look at House of Fraser going into administration, assisted by the Government, and what it means. I discuss the latest Tesla news, the issue of all sorts of market abuse and why nothing happens, Oilex (OEX) and ProPhotonix (PPIX) which really should not be on AIM at all.
1032 days ago
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....
1174 days ago
When building his house at Kardamili, 20 miles down the road from the Greek Hovel, all round superhero Paddy Leigh Fermor decided that he needed to go back to England for some literary business. On his return, some months later, he decided that the builders, though following plans, were building his house the wrong way round. Thus he instructed them to tear it down and start again.
1254 days ago
George the architect is a modernist. I am a traditionalist. And thus at every stage of the design and reconstruction of the Greek Hovel he has an idea, my heart sinks, we discuss it and we reach my conclusion. And so last week we took a trip to a windows, shutters and door factory in the neighbouring village. I say factory, it was a big shed with - as far as I could see - the boss and just one employee.
1352 days ago
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.
1425 days ago
After quizzing George the architect, it appears that it is just one of my neighbours who is asking for 900 Euro compensation for chopping off branches on his olive trees to make way for the heavy machinery needed to renovate the Greek Hovel. In fact it is even better than that...
1464 days ago
As I tap out a few words on my laptop next to the bright blue sea it is about 27 degrees. It is T-shirt weather and the Mrs is forcing myself and Joshua to go for a swim in an unheated pool a bit later. It is hot here in Kardamili. But as you can see in the two photos below, in the higher points of the taygetos mountains behind us, the last remnants of the winter snow still cling on. These are not the highest points of the range but Al Gore would be mortified to see global warming still on the ground in the sourthnmost part of Europe in May. The computer models, global warming nutjobs like George Monbiot and the entire population of Canada, plus 99% of peer group approved scientists all predicted desertification not this.
1486 days ago
I have remarked many times before on Paddy Leigh Fermor's good Greek bad Greek thesis. 99% of Greeks are generous, honest, good folks. The other 1% are such complete and utter bastards that their actions serve as a stark reminder of how incredibly good their fellow countrymen are. The lying traitor of a PM, Alex Tsipras is firmly among the 1%. So too, are more than a few taxi drivers in Athens.
1546 days ago
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?
1546 days ago
I published a piece earlier about how I had spotted a very old bridge underneath the old bridge where the bodies from the Kambos double murder of 2014 were dumped. Feeling a bit nervous I trekked down to the very old bridge today clutching a camera and a phone in case of emergency. God knows if it would have worked at the bottom of the gorge.
1547 days ago
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.
1759 days ago
I sit here now in Shipston with my father, trying to persuade him to come to Greece for the olive harvest in December. It is not that he would be much good in terms of picking olives. I suppose he might lean against a tree up at the Greek Hovel and bash the branches with his walking stick. But I think his role should be more concerned with drinking ouzo with the older men of Kambos so that my liver is preserved and I can play a full part in the harvest working with George the Albanian and his family.
1784 days ago
And so our party finally made it through the large blue door which marks the entrance to the house that Paddy built in Kardamili. Turning right along a terrace open on one side we found ourselves with the rest of the group in the library. This was all rather different from the Greek Hovel.
1789 days ago
The excitement mounts - we are soon off to vist the house of superhero Paddy Leigh Fermor as I explain HERE. Ahead of that I look at: Ascent Resources (AST), Volex (VLX), Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO), African Potash (AFPO), Blenheim Natural Resources (BNR), Fastjet (FJET). Aureus Mining (AUE) and China New Energy (CNEL).
1794 days ago
Much to the chagrin of the patrician twit who did not want a scruffy bearded fellow like me to gain admittance to the house of Paddy Leigh Fermor here in Kardamili, after much huffing and puffing my father made his way up a gentle slope and we passed through a large blue door and were in. We all headed straight for the library where most of the other folks on the tour were assembled.
1796 days ago
Rather foolishly no-one took exact directions to the house of Paddy Leigh Fermor which is about three quarters of a mile outside the main area of Kardamili. My father sat in the other front seat and my step mother and wife sat in the back as I drove along the main road reliant on the fact that the Old Man had been there before. That was an error, Not for nothing does my father make regular donations to the Alzheimer's society.
Indeed, on occasion he manages a real triumph by sending a cheque to the society in an envelope addressed to one of my siblings while sending to the Alzheimer's folks a long, rambling and illegible letter in which he makes rude observations about a range of family members exempting - on this occasion only - the intended recipient.
As such the satnav skills of my father were rather lacking. He being almost totally immobile, my very pregnant wife not much better, it was thus down to my step mother and I to find a native and get directions. I take my hat off to my step mum who took directions in Greek and thanks to here we, somehow, arrived albeit rather rather late.
The house is open at certain hours and you have to get on the list to visit as part of a large group. Chez Leigh Fermor is
1797 days ago
I have written before about the war hero and writer Paddy Leigh Fermor. He was an all round superhero and also Mr Mani, not just for writing the book "Mani" but because he built his house here in Kardamili. There are plans to turn it into some sort of writers retreat. Those who have seen the Before Sunset trilogy with the lovely Julie Dlspy will know Paddy's house well from the final film set here in Kardamili, Before Midnight. The scene below sees Paddy ( played by an actor not the man himself) holding court.
1818 days ago
War hero, author, all round superhero Paddy Leigh Fermor lived down the road from where I am in the Mani and is the man who made this area famous with his book "The Mani". Today in my email in box I receive a copy of issue 5 of The Philhellene, the newsletter of the Paddy Leigh Fermor Society and there is an article in it by Tom Winnifrith - not me but my father. Just to prove that one member of the family can write properly and without swearing here you are...
2134 days ago
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.
2172 days ago
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.
2174 days ago
Kardamili has no sandy beaches and so is not a family resort. It has no bars and cafes serving fish and chips, burgers and cheap lager. Folks seeking sun, sea, sand and burgers and a pint of Fosters head to Stoupa down the road. Kardamili is an oasis of gentility which the Mrs rather prefers - for reasons I cannot understand - to The Greek Hovel and life in Kambos. And so last week I swapped the hovel for six days in a luxury hotel. It's a hard life.
A fortnight ago Kardamili hosted a Norwegian jazz festival.
2417 days ago
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.
2420 days ago
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
2445 days ago
As one leaves the small Mani town of Kardamili the road starts to climb steeply. On the edge of town there are a couple of fish restaurants, some slightly newer housing including the house that Paddy Leigh Fermor built for himself. My family stayed there once as my father knew Paddy – it just happened that this was the one family break to Greece that I did not go on.
Paddy left his house to the Greek State to turn into some sort of writing school. You would have thought that after a lifetime here he would have known better. It is slowly decaying, neglected by a State that, although bankrupt, can still afford to give anyone with a couple of olive trees an annual grant of 500 Euro.
The first of the fish restaurants as one heads up the hill is the favourite of the Mrs and I. The food is great, the wine flows, the waiters are friendly and efficient and the view over the cove below is magnificent.
On one side of the cove is a small working harbour used by fisherman. At night you can see the lights on the boats as they chug slowly home. A jetty provides a breakwater for the waves although nothing much happens o it other than bridal parties posing for photos. At the far end of the cove is a concrete jetty which is totally empty. If you have seen the film Before Midnight the final scene was filmed there as it became a seaside bar for just one night.
And so the other day we wandered down to the cove along a small road with not a human in sight.