2 days ago
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.
3 days ago
Though most folks were not masked and though Kambos is not a tourist village and there had not been any covid cases for miles bar one German about ten miles away, and we all know what my neighbours think about the Hun, the Covid crises had somewhat dulled the spirits of all. And thus what could be better than a party in the village square organised by my good friends Vangelis and Nicho the Communist to raise funds for their new youth club and to cheer everyone up. Being British we arrived early on that Friday evening. well, we thought eight o’clock was quite late but almost nobody was there so it was early.
4 days ago
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.
18 days ago
As ever, my training walks for Rogue Bloggers for Woodlarks start the same way. I am aware that the actual walk is now just five weeks away and it will be a gruelling 34 miles with a 6 AM kick off at Winchester Cathedral. But I must finish the walk and ensure my fellow rogue bloggers finish too. Woodlarks urgently needs us to raise £50,000 to ensure its survival and so please do donate HERE.
32 days ago
“I am here from the Council” said the young lady wearing fishnet stockings and a short skirt. “Hello…Oh yes” said I in my best Leslie Phillips accent, wondering why she wanted to see me. The awful truth is that someone here in the last village in Wales, has snitched to the planning department about lorry loads of rubble and earth coming down the lane to the Welsh Hovel, suggesting I may be threatening the flood plain. And so, I was honoured with a site visit.
51 days ago
We were all told that if we got the vaccine we’d be safe so could go on our hols. That seemed a bit harsh but I played along and got the jab and promptly booked a flight to go and spend the summer at the luxury eco palace formerly known as the Greek Hovel. Then the Tories said that if I went on hols I would be fined £5,000. Yet another reason to vote Plaid Cymru in May thought I, as I cursed Boris Johnson and the evil Tories. Or maybe not.
85 days ago
I am not wildly happy about having the jab. It has not been tested on folks who, like me, have had Covid. We also do not know if there are any serious long term side effects on all sorts of patients – yes, I know that all vaccines can produce some side effects. And having already had covid, all the evidence suggests that God has already vaccinated me and so there is no need for a second dose organised by the stupidest man in the Western world, Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford. But…
95 days ago
Within 48 hours of placing an order with Amazon, my new toy had arrived. I have one just like it at the Greek Hovel but it was needed for a specific task, the long term plan to dismantle the hideous shed, made in good part from asbestos, at the edge of the area formerly known as the jungle. I set to work at once.
131 days ago
I mentioned this in yesterday’s bearcast, but to bring it to a wider audience, Colin, the winner of the 2020 Readers share tips contest has donated his prize to a better cause, Woodlarks. He is a gent. So here’s the deal, an auction is underway for a half litre of Greek Hovel olive oil signed by myself, currently the top bid is £100. Nope , make that £150. The catch…
131 days ago
The hereditary TV presenter Dan Snow, aka thehistoryguy, claimed yesterday that the EU had brought peace to Europe and Brexit threatened it. So nothing to do with NATO and the American defensive shield then? And what about the genocide at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war when EU peacekeeping troops stood idly by as 8,000 folks were massacred? Snow was talking nonsense as many of us pointed out. But rallying to his defence was my good friend, the arch Euro loon Jonathan Price, who insisted that the EU had ended war in Europe since all the previous wars were started by either France or Germany. Like the hereditary TV presenter, I fear that even Bath Spa would fail that answer.
160 days ago
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.
161 days ago
This has made me laugh. You may remember that I have spent far too much of the past few years battling the accursed frigana plants at the Greek Hovel. I’ve tried poison, a strimmer but nothing will ever truly rid me of these beasts which can grow to 20 foot high.
165 days ago
You may remember that at Manchester Airport we met up with our friends from the Mani, the Guardian-reading, lunatic, mask jihadists L&G. They assured us that when arriving in Greece, they would be isolating in order not to spread any British germs to the Mani and so it was a while before we saw them, in a socially distanced manner, in the Kambos restaurant formerly known as Mirandas. They are a thirsty couple and, even from a distance, conversation flows freely.
170 days ago
I have yet to complete my diaries from the Greek Hovel 2020 so you may not be aware that I am now in business with Nicho the Communist and his son but I am am and on that matter I spoke to both the son and also to lovely Eleni at the Kourounis Taverna today. How I wish I was back in warm Kambos rather than wet Wales. Or do I? A lot has changed.
240 days ago
And so Uncle Johnny was set to fly back to Covid Britain. His departure was uneventful; we waved goodbye to him as he donned his face nappy outside Kalamata’s small airport and our thoughts turned to our own return a week later.
253 days ago
It was Uncle Johnny’s last full day with us and after the trek to and from Mistras the previous day it was agreed we would do nothing all day. Nothing all day at the Greek Hovel used to mean wandering around snake spotting. These days it means dipping into the library of books out at the hovel or just dipping into the swimming pool which, notwithstanding the water shortage affecting us and the whole village of Kambos, was full at all times. Yes, I do know what you are thinking!
263 days ago
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.
266 days ago
Those who have read my musings from the Greek Hovel, since it was purchased six long years ago, will remember that a constant feature is my battle with frigana (the bush which is a cross between an oak and holly and which can grow from an inch to 20 foot high). In my first year, I cut down more than 2,000 square metres of the stuff which had covered an eighth of our land. There were snake encounters, blood, sweat, and eventually tears of joy when the task was completed. It was great for the figure!
266 days ago
Thanks to Google search engines this website will have a few new readers. Sorry you dirty bastards, I fear you may be disappointed by what follows. For starters the pussy below is English.
267 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.
268 days ago
As we neared the end of our first week, we thought we’d take our guest, Uncle Johnny who is in fact nobody’s Uncle, to Kitries as a treat. This tiny harbour is the closest to Kambos, about half an hour’s drive down a winding road, and has two restaurants at either end of the cove. A week later would have been the busiest weekend of a Greek August but this Friday would, in a normal year, have seen the seafront packed with well-oiled and, usually, overweight bodies. It was shocking.
268 days ago
I am travelling today back from the Greek Hovel to the Welsh Hovel so this is an unusual bearcast. I called it for Trump last time when the entire media said otherwise. I look at the latest polls in detail and beneath the headlines and flag up the 4 great uncertainties. The answer is that Trump can indeed win but I am not calling it right now. You just cannot. As to whether it matters….
270 days ago
I start by explaining what an awful day I have had and why. Can’t I just sit in the pool at the Greek Hovel with Joshua and relax? Then it is onto two companies run by Tory Grandees: Verditek (VDTK) and Westminster (WSG). Then a third bunch of scumbags, Novum Securities. Finally a warning about Reach4Entertainment (R4E). That is it from me… now the pool and the start of a weekend celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary.
271 days ago
You might just remember that at the time of the last olive harvest, the great Greek smoking ban, driven by the EU, came into play. Reactions were mixed. In Miranda’s, there was a robust defiance and the air was full of nicotine, even when the Old Bill arrived to “nobble” my friend Vangelis. In the Kourounis taverna, Eleni was strict and ashtrays were allowed only outside.
273 days ago
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.
275 days ago
He is not in fact anyone’s Uncle. In India, an older man is always termed an uncle so Joshua has lots of uncles including both his godfathers, Johnny and Lucian Miers, Uncle Brokerman Dan and the list of unsuitable and disreputable “uncles” goes on and on. However, this uncle is in fact a relation. He is something like the third cousin of the Mrs but for historic reasons, these distant families were quite close.
281 days ago
My first article about the Greek Hovel 2020 is now up and there are a stack more to follow. In today’s podast, I look at Bluebird Merchant Ventures (BMV), Hammerson (HMSO), Versarien (VRS), and Purplebricks (PURP).
281 days ago
I will start writing up my Greek diary tomorrow when I feel a bit more rested after the travel. But in this podcast, I give you a taster of a few of my thoughts and of life here in Kambos where I shook a man’s hand for the first time in months yesterday. I also look at the latest Covid madness from bonkers Boris and at BP (BP.) and the question of its dividend. Of course it should be slashed and if it is, I’d expect the shares to bounce.
281 days ago
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.
282 days ago
Feeling rather sleep deprived after our early Saturday morning flight to Greece, Sunday saw a collective lie-in at the Greek Hovel. Even the pest himself, my son Joshua, was snoring until well after ten. Then a morning swim. The pool is full and wonderful. Whatever time you get in the temperature seems just perfect. I am not sure how George the architect managed to fill it as there seems to be a bit of a water shortage. Now before you say global warming as some readers have already been quick to suggest, here are the facts.
282 days ago
My wife’s young cousin – L – and her young man will arrive shortly to our house to cat sit and the Mrs, Joshua, and I can head to the Greek Hovel. I wonder what Covid restrictions there are in Greece and how they will be applied? Here in the UK, BoJo has new rules and I ponder if they will mean the death of Cineworld (CINE). On the subject of death, I discuss Versarien (VRS) and also its moronic shareholders and why ADVFN (AFN) scores an own goal in not banning them. I look at Coro Energy (DOG) and also International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), British Airways as was.
283 days ago
No this is not, as a former Indian girlfriend would have said, the Mrs announcing that she bats for Pakistan. This is about generating a photo for her Facebook page which shows that she is pregnant. Well there you go… 25 weeks now. Apparently some folks did not know! I digress. Rather than head up to the hovel, our first stop in Greece – after the snake repellant store in Kalamata – was at the Kourounis taverna run by lovely Eleni. There is bad news in that there is another new restaurant in town to tempt away trade already impacted by Coronavirus but that story can wait for another day.
284 days ago
The bread oven underneath the stairs to the main door and next to the entrance to the Rat Room has been cleared out and is providing a home for a lizard which is about six or seven inches long (although much of that is tail). There are not as many lizards here as when I first arrived. In that first year, the place was crawling with them. I guess the workmen scared many away. But there are a good few and this one is a magnificent specimen.
284 days ago
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.
321 days ago
There are some good jokes in the latest spoof version of Monopoly. It is not as good as Wokeopoly and the references to ShareProphets and the Greek Hovel I do not quite understand, but it is very well presented. Enjoy.
445 days ago
Having said goodbye to one harvester on the Monday, T1, we were down to three, we merry band of harvesters. And volunteer T2 ( to whom I still owe a litre of oil which i will send on a quiet day) was set to leave at midday. So the diminished group started work on the top terrace on the mountain side early on. We worked well, so well that mid morning I fet in need of a rest and sat on a rock. SNAKE!!!! I screamed noticing what was sitting besides me, as I leapt into the air.
474 days ago
This should be easy, I invite you to answer the following question in fewer than 150 words. Bath Spa students need to find a safe space room if their human rights are breached by being asked to pen more than 150 words a term. The deadline for entries is Sunday at midnight and the best entry wins a bottle of Greek Hovel 2019 olive Oil. This question is sponsored by Ms Alison Rose of RBS.
502 days ago
Firstly, an apology to those owed olive oil from the Greek Hovel. Logistics, spillage, the sofa, less trhan domestic bliss, you get my drift. Anyhow I have found new containers and will be posting out this week. You may remember that as well as bringing back 15 litres of oil from my trees at the Greek Hovel I also brought back 35 edible olives.
507 days ago
Day 6, of the harvest was to be our last day as a full team, volunteer T1 was heading off at midday Tuesday. So we tried to make the most of it, finishing off the trees on the top plateau and starting to head back along the terraces on the side of the hovel facing the Mountains rather than the abandoned convent.
511 days ago
There are times when I feel just why isn’t Uncle Chris here to chat. He would have loved the Panorama show in October as he generously shared in my minor triumphs. The death of Bob Willis, the General Election farce. The ghastly Greta Thunberg show. The joke that is the Impeachment of Donald Trump. Anna Soubry losing her deposit. I should have been chatting to him. When I arrived at the Greek Hovel for the olive harvest in late November I would always report to him on how much global warming already lay on the high Taygetos behind us. Those were mountains he knew well and which we had planned to climb together.
512 days ago
Fear not those promised Greek Hovel olive oil, including my fellow harvesters T1 & T2, I am on the case. As you can see below I am decanting from one 5 litre can (one of three I lugged home) into smaller jars. These will all be posted within 24 hours…
513 days ago
Well that made my day. Lovely Eleni from the Kourounis taverna in Kambos called to wish my family a Merry Christmas and to say thank you for the books for her two kids which arrived today. I am not sure what her son will make of Tin Tin but if it helps his English a bit all is good. Eleni asks how I am? Cold say I.
517 days ago
On Sunday I offered a prize contest (1/2 litre of Greek Hovel olive oil) for election day – this being to guess how many ‘bad news reports’ from UK-listed companies were to attempt to be buried on the day and, as a tiebreaker, the number of seats the Tories would win. The result which has been reached is…
520 days ago
We harvested 1.15 tonnes of olives for olive oil up at the Greek Hovel last week. These are the small olives you might see in a tree at your local garden centre, perhaps a centimetre in length. But there are three or four trees on our land which we do not harvest for they produce much larger, black, edible olives and, as you can see below, I brought 35 of them back to the Welsh Hovel.
522 days ago
On today’s podcast I have to say that Justin the Clown is being a coward. Tweet him at @sharepickers (the boy does irony well) and tell him not to be such a chicken and do the podcast with me on whether the Vox Markets accounts he signed off on are a total joke and is his company a worthless POS? I urge you to enter the Greek Hovel olive oil contest HERE - the deadline is midnight. Then I look at Bidstack (BIDS), Versarien (VRS), Tullow (TLW), Open Orphan (ORPH) and Integumen (SKIN).
522 days ago
Bright and early, notwithstanding another alcohol fuelled supper the night before at Miranda’s, the team of four assembled for Sunday’s harvest. Heroic K was resplendent in his red overalls and new boy T2 wore blue overalls which, he insisted, were on their last outing. T1 wore the sort of short long trousers of a length I’d associate with the Hitler Youth, which prompted me to observe that the snakes were probably all asleep so he was not that vulnerable to a bite. It turns out that T1 was terrified of snakes.
522 days ago
We started the day with three harvesters: myself and Shareprophets readers K and T1 and we started pretty much on time, the person normally latest to rise – myself – having been off the sauce the previous night – held no-one back. Then it was coffee and our usual healthy cereals and we were off to work. There were, however, concerns about the cat.
522 days ago
The penultimate day of the Greek Hovel olive harvest saw the three remaining harvesters slaving away until it was almost completely dark. One more day to go and then I shall be free to write a bit more. Pro tem I have a few thoughts on the Quindell (QPP) fraud and also on IMC Exploration (IMC) a dog that should be taken out and shot at once. Its sampling news today was utterly risible.
526 days ago
Day six of the olive harvest at the Greek Hovel and a few words on that before I look at UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) and its latest placing, Techfinancials (TECH) and the latest news from Block Commodities (BLCC)
526 days ago
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.
531 days ago
As we had arranged after the Police raid, my friend Vangelis was waiting at the Kourounis taverna with his pick up truck at 8 AM Friday. I pitched up and when the owner of the hardware store arrived, late, we picked up my new boy toy, a portable olive sieve, loaded it onto his truck and took it to the Greek Hovel.
531 days ago
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.
533 days ago
Volunteer harvester K texted me on Tuesday night to say he was on the 7.30 express bus out of Athens and so at around 10.30 I pitched up at Kalamata bus station and asked the ticket officer how long until the Athens bus arrived? 5 minutes he said.
533 days ago
Popping into the hardware store in Kambos I could not help but notice this prominent advert for an electronic olive twerker. Of course I already have one and apparently the one advertised does not come with the worker attached. I think that in the unlikely event of this company trying to sell olive twerkers in the UK, it would not be allowed to run a promotion like the one below. I somehow doubt this young lady is as good an olive harvester as Shareprophets reader K who is a master twerker. But with no offence to K she has other qualities.
534 days ago
I still have not worked out what it is called these days but other than the name nothing changes.
535 days ago
I have now arrived at the Greek Hovel, photos here. In today’s podcast I discuss the pitiful way Sam Smith of FinnCrap (FCAP) blames Neil Woodford for the state of AIM. For once I defend the disgraced fund manager. I look at Eurasia Mining (EUA), I3 Energy (I3E) and also at Fastjet (FJET), a company that uses journalist smearing Citigate to polish its turds. The Eurasia podcast I refer to which should now be looked at by AIM Regulation is HERE
535 days ago
At last, two and a half days after leaving the Welsh Hovel I have arrived at the Greek Hovel. Can I top last night’s views of the Acropolis? Yes I can!
537 days ago
On my last bearcast before I flee to the Greek Hovel (cue calls from Bulletin Board Morons that I live in a hovel as I am a peasant and that I am evading justice for some crime or another), I discuss today’s chapter of retail-aggedon (Clarkes), the Neil Woodford Rutherford International (RUTH) £32.5 million black hole and why Amigo (AMGO) is almost certainly not on a PE of 3 and almost certainly not cheap.
561 days ago
So far five folks have indicated that they are up for assisting with the olive harvest at the Greek Hovel. But before finalising dates I thought it worth checking whether there was any point harvesting after the near washout of last year.
639 days ago
I have been a bad boy this year, doing very little olive pruning. But I have done a bit, using my axe to take off shoots coming from the base of some trees. For shoots on upper branches I have taken advice from George the Architect and not removed all the shoots, leaving a few of the biggest ones as they will be the olive bearing branches of 2020. But what will the 2019 harvest be like?
640 days ago
No fear not i have not abandoned my Republican principles. Nor has Her Majesty suggested that I am worthy of some corrupt bauble. Instead…
640 days ago
This was Monday morning. Just two steps to go and the swimming pool fills at a step a day. By Monday evening when the Mrs and I went for a swim with Joshua, the little fellow was still able to walk in the shallow end but the water was neck high, the Mrs – who is very short – was out of her depth at the deep end and I was up to my neck at the same place. I am just set to go for an afternoon dip shortly and see that the pool is now just one small step from being full.
644 days ago
The pool filled up a bit more overnight although the water pressure in the pipes coming up the mountain is still low. But the water which does come out has been heated in metal pipes for three miles and is lovely and warm. My lodger here back in 2014 when we had just one habitable room and used to shower under a hosepipe rigged up on a trellis, used to say that the experience of that water was “better than sex”.
644 days ago
We started filling the swimming pool with two hosepipes on Tuesday at 8 PM. This was the pool at 10 AM Thursday. The problem is that the water has to come up the mountain in pipes and the pressure is low. This is frustrating. At this point the deep end was about 80 cm deep.
645 days ago
There are dramatic events today at the Greek Hovel. More on that elsewhere and later. In the podcast I look at IQE (IQE) and Equitites First Holdings, at Iconic Labs (ICON), the SVS fallout, Vela (VELA) and Tertiary Minerals (TYM) and at Sirius Minerals (SXX). And also at share options in general and why I oppose them in all cases.
647 days ago
Poor Olaf, for whom the swimming pool at the Greek Hovel was built. Tonight we start to add water on the advice of the head of construction. This morning Olaf flew back to Britain. And there is another disappointment of timing. For the whole week she was hear there were frequent conversations “do we want to see a snake?” The conclusion was that we did but from the safety of the car. No snake was seen…
649 days ago
This was the scene at 10 AM as I headed out for a day of culture. Will daughter Olaf get a swim before she flies on Tuesday? It is touch and go…
650 days ago
In today’s bearcast i shut the windows at the Greek Hovel to cut out the noise of the cricket circus. I really could stay here for good and not come back to the UK. The Mrs is not so sure but she is warming to the idea. In the podcast I look at St James House (SJH) a POS handing me a bit of a triumph as accounts restated, Big Dish (DISH)
which I expose for lying and mugging poor old Malcolm Stacey HERE have some folks no shame? I also look at Kier (KIE) and Thomas Cook (TCG).
650 days ago
And then at 7.30 AM today (only 2 weeks late) the tiles arrived as did workmen and now the pool is being tiled. I doubt it will be finished by the time poor Olaf goes home but they are working hard at it. By the side of the pool, Gregori the snake killer and his team of sone masons are completing the surrounding wall. we will get there…
662 days ago
The photos from George the Architect show men hard at work at the Greek Hovel. I am assured that the infinity pool will be ready by next weekend which is good news as daughter Olaf arrives the week after having been promised a pool as a condition of visiting us. Me, I expect it to be finished in many avrios time.
681 days ago
A true giant of post war journalism died the night before last with his two sons at his bed side. Much will written elsewhere about his achievements: Co-founder of Private Eye, scriptwriter at TW3, Campaigning Journalist of the Year (opposing awful inner City redevelopment), Telegraph columnist for 60 years, the Godfather of Euroscepticism. The Guardian, if true to form, will have nasty words about that and about his exposing the global warming hoax.
684 days ago
As you may remember, daughter Olaf has only agreed to visit the Greek Hovel thus summer if we build a swimming pool. Her wish is my command. George the Architect has been in tough with photographic evidence of progress and questions about what colour and type of tiles we require. The pool will look out on the valley towards the abandoned convent on the other side. This week the concrete will be poured and tiles should start being added from next week as will the wall around it designed as part of the snake defences.
756 days ago
In today’s podcast I explain what happened with Mrs Chav’s pussy and also about how the move to Wales and the Grim North went and why this is now a bigger project than the Greek Hovel. I cover Bould (BOU) and systemic market abuse, Telit (TCM) and its dire results and the threats to Nigel Wray and myself from Julie Meyer. I gather the Times has also been threatened and it is standing its ground. How do you think I will respond ahead of a 5PM deadline? Meanwhile we are now at 25% of our £40,000 rogue bloggers for Woodlarks target and i urge you to check out the rioll call of heros ( even if you are a dripping lefty who thinks my world view stinks) and join them HERE.
766 days ago
George the Architect sends over photos from the Greek Hovel where there is good news and bad.
787 days ago
Don't the skies look glorious above the Greek Hovel? How I wish I was there to see the little snakes emerge after their winter sleep. The weather is improving and thus a digger has made it up the track and so work on the swimming pool for daughter Olaf is, as you can see, accelerating. George the Architect assures me that the olive trees we had to move, about seven, are being watered every day and are recovering well. All is good...
791 days ago
I say start. Bad weather has hampered the workmen with the rains causing walls on the track above Slater slope on the way to the hovel to collapse so making them impassable for lorries and the excavator. But now the work is, as you can see, underway.
812 days ago
George the architect has made it up to the Greek Hovel for the start of the spring campaign to completion. He will take a few days out in March to come to England/Wales to help draw up plans for the Welsh hovel. But for now it is full steam ahead in Greece. Or rather not.
882 days ago
For the first time I tasted the oil from the 2018 harvest. It is peppery and just plain fabulous. This stuff is for drinking or eating with bread not for wasting on salads or in frying. The remnants from 2017 will do for that. Joshua and I bought a stack of jars from Dunelm yesterday and today we decanted most of my first, of three, 5 litre cans. As you can see below it is a classic lime green. Perfect in colour as well as taste.
887 days ago
I cannot say that 290 Euro is going to make that much of a difference to my net wealth but a few days after the dire news came in about my 2018 Greek Hovel olive harvest I was at a loose end and in Central Kambos.I was not quite ready for an ouzo and supper so wandered into the press to ask about my money.
887 days ago
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.
888 days ago
In a couple of days time I head back to the Mrs, in Bristol, and so I thought it prudent to start washing my clothes and that it might earn me major brownie points if I washed the bed linen as well. And we now have a washing machine up at the hovel. Prudently I handwashed a pair of underpants and a pair of jeans and put them outside to dry. But all of my socks and much else besides was put into the washing machine with some detergent in the right place. Problemo.
888 days ago
During the week that he was here, ShareProphets reader Bernard from the Grim North of England, c/o Donegal tried manfully to get my new wood burning stove going. It is jolly chilly at night. He failed. Over to the maestro.
888 days ago
When the Mrs and I first came to see the Greek hovel in 2014 ( or was it 2013) it had been abandoned for many many years. And those who remember my early photos will remember why. You just could not live up here. So today we have a groundbreaking first as you can see below.
889 days ago
Of course I have no neighbours up at the Greek Hovel but across the hills you can see folks burning off branches of olive trees hacked away during the harvest. My own harvest may not have been a spectacular success but just to show them that I too can play the game...
889 days ago
I have been sitting on this account of the final day of the 2018 olive harvest for some days as I am rather cross. I know the sums involved are trivial but none the less….
889 days ago
I start with a few Greek ramblings, The Iliad and the Greek Hovel, going to a bank, etc. Then I look at the wider stockmarket woes and then onto TrakM8 (TRAK), Versarien (VRS), BlueJay (JAY), FinnCrap (FCAP) and the resigning analyst and finally I have grave questions about the statement made on November 15 by Neil Woodford dog Eve Sleep (EVE). Surely there must be a steward's?
894 days ago
A delayed bearcast as it is all go at the Greek Hovel with the olive harvest. Comrade Andrew Bell has departed but the Albanian cavalry has arrived. More on that on my own website later, with photos. In today's podcast i start with the explosive news about how wretched Theresa May has misled MPs and the nation over Brexit. Surely she must go now. And I ponder events in France. Do we really want to be in bed with that sort of place. Then onto Telit (TCM) where the Sunday Times has big news. This could be a zero by tomorrow. I discuss in detail. I also comment on another fraud, MySquar (MYSQ)
894 days ago
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...
894 days ago
The brother of the infamous carpenter was as good as his word, coming back on Friday and Saturday of last week to finish the shelving in the master bedroom, the downstairs of the new wing. First up were three deep shelves underneath the stairs leading to the living room. These could have been installed earlier but he arrived with wood of the wrong colour so had to be sent back.
894 days ago
And so to day two of the olive harvest. We merry band of three all have our jobs. As you can see below, Shareprophets reader Bernard really is wearing shorts and a T shirt as, during the day it is hot enough to do so. He trained as an engineer and so, naturally, he is the twerker specialist.
896 days ago
10 AM Greek Time: We merry band of three are now sitting in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos having a late breakfast but the harvest, is as you can see below, underway. So far two trees have been harvested but we will pick up the pace shortly.
898 days ago
You may remember that two olive trees had to be moved to allow the hovel to be extended. One perished quickly. The other one appeared to be at death's door by the summer. Thus I applied the sort of fertilizer only a man can apply at every opportunity and as you can see below... it is a sea of green. It has made it. I am not sure if it will bear any olives next year but the fightback has begun.
898 days ago
As I write the sun has just emerged. That is handy as the workers have also emerged and appear to have cut off the power. But for 24 hours the weather has been awful. Thunder kept me awake most of the night and continued well into the morning. And as for the rain.. put it this way, the drive down the mud track towards snake hill and onto Kambos will be a hoot. This is the view from outside of the Bat Room a couple of hours ago.
899 days ago
Okay so i am a big girl's blouse. But you too would have been shocked by what happened.
899 days ago
As you may remember, there is a dry river bed at the bottom of the valley beneath the abandoned convent and before the climb up snake hill and on to the Greek Hovel. It has been raining here for several days and is still raining heavily. So the dry river is filling up rapidly and will soon start to cross the track. The photo below is of the growing pool and after that the view up to the convent.
899 days ago
I am back at the Greek Hovel and the noise outside is quite unbelievably torrential rain. I discuss the weather and how stunning the Hovel now looks. Photos are starting to go up HERE on TomWinnifrith.com. I look at Optibiotix (OPTI) and today's stunning news. Cynical Bear needs to get ready to send me another bottle of ouzo. I look at Xeros (XSG), Thomas Cook (TCG) and Telit (TCM) where the clock is ticking ever louder. I have a few more words on the IPO of FinnCrap.
899 days ago
It is unbelievably wet at the Greek Hovel. The rain is still sheeting it down making the track up here ever more reminiscent of a WW1 battlefield. But although the heating is not yet working thanks to the electricity company not upgrading my meter, the thick stone walls keep it warm inside. And there is real progress to show you as you can see below.
920 days ago
I have just booked my next flight back to Greece. It was cheaper than a super off peak train ticket to London. By late on 26th November I should be in Kalamata and the next day I shall pick up a car and head up to the Greek Hovel where I sincerely hope all will be ready. For I have a guest, a volunteer to assist myself and George the Albanian with this year’s olive harvest. Step forward a Woodlarks walker, Mr Andrew Bell, chairman of AIM listed Red Rock Resources. I am not sure how skilled Mr Bell is at olive harvesting but we will soon find out.
926 days ago
There you go, we leave and finally the veranda outside of the kitchen and over the entrance to the Bat Room is completed with the addition of Joshua proof railings. All it needs now is a table and what better place could you want for a summer lunch. Unless you want shade in which case the table beneath would be ideal...
927 days ago
And thus on the final evening in Greece, Joshua and I set off on the walk up to the house of Charon my closest, in fact I think, only neighbour for several miles.
927 days ago
And so on the final afternoon at the Greek Hovel we invited over the elderly lefties from the village up in the mountains. They were rather scared of the track so I had to go fetch them from Kambos and drive them up.
927 days ago
On our last day in Greece, The Mrs, Joshua and I showed the Greek Hovel to an elderly British couple, diehard lefties from a village up in the mountains above Kambos. The highlight of their visit was ornithological of which more later but what I really picked up on was a throw-away comment that the area around the hovel might be one of the “seven Cities.” My father and I discussed this in Shipston on Sunday and have been chatting by phone ever since.
929 days ago
I start by referring you to a video just up of my labour of love, the Greek Hovel, which you can see HERE. Then I take apart the bullish nonsense about the stockmarket Malcolm Stacey served up yesterday HERE. Finally I look at IPOs planned for the next few weeks such as that of Sam Smith's FinnCrap and broker AJ Bell. Why oh why go now? Surely they are both either mad or desperate? I discuss in detail why both should be avoided like the plague, referring also to the Funding Circle IPO debacle.
930 days ago
It was more than four years ago when the Mrs bought the Greek Hovel, an abandoned farmhouse with one (barely) habitable and certainly not wildlife proof room set in 16,000 square metres of olive trees in the foothills of the Taygetos Mountains. Today the hovel is almost complete as an eco palace, the video below shows you all, inside and out.
931 days ago
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.
931 days ago
You may remember my joy this summer when my old friend the black and white cat, to whom I had given milk as a kitten, wandered by with her two kittens. Brace yourself this is not a happy tale.
932 days ago
I refer not to the AIM Listed company Big Sofa run by the incompetent wanker Simon Liddington but to a real four metre long Big Sofa which has arrived at the Greek Hovel. God only knows how the big trucks make it up here but they do and this is our first real bit of furniture - a landmark and a great way to enjoy the views from the living area out towards the deserted convent on the other side of the valley.
933 days ago
Today's bearcast is recorded outside the Greek hovel as Joshua does not seem to understand why hard working folks here in Greece have an afternoon sleep. In the podcast I look at Yu Group (YU) in detail, Challenger Acquistions (CHAL) and MX Oil (MXO) en passant and, in real detail, Totally (TLY) where either CEO Wendy Lawrence or scumbag, low life, morally bankrupt PR Yellow Jersey, or both, must think investors are truly stupid to swallow the horse in today's trading statement.
933 days ago
I am not sure folks will understand the point of the veranda until it is completed. But weather permitting that will be by Friday so here is a progress photo with the carpenter who has featured here so often, in action.
933 days ago
A quiet day in Kambos and at the Greek Hovel for both the Mrs and I have deadlines and important work to do. Right now Joshua is watching some moronic rubbish on his mother's smart phone up at the hovel while the Mrs and I tap away like dervishes. This morning the Mrs, whose deadline is more pressing than mine, got to work in lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna, while Joshua and i went on a tough walk which he deemed to be "exciting" largely as I kept falling down.
936 days ago
My best friend in Kambos, bar lovely Eleni, that is to say Nicho the communist said that he would, this weekend, give his verdict on my olives – will the harvest be good, bad or indifferent? He is by nature a pessimistic fellow and so, though I was filled with modest optimism, I was braced for a more downbeat assessment.
938 days ago
You may remember that in extending the Greek Hovel I had to move two olive trees. One perished quickly, the other just about survived. But it is a battle. I have done my bit, providing fertiliser in a way that a man finds easier than a woman, one cycling champion excepted, but it looks touch and go as you can see below.
938 days ago
As I noted yesterday the olive harvest will be pretty good and the first photo below is evidence of that. But the second shows that it could have been even better, a true bumper crop.
938 days ago
The carpenter and his assistant were hard at it again today. This time, as you can see below, building steps from the second floor kitchen up to the living area. They asked what I thought. Cala said I, lying.
939 days ago
In this podcast recorded in my car in a side street of Kambos I discuss my journey to the Greek Hovel and being recognised by a man at Gatwick. Fame! Not! Then I look at Versarien (VRS), Asiamet (ARS), First Derivatives (FDP), UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) and the most terrifying stat of all from the Chinese bubble - a warning for you all.
939 days ago
I run these photo articles every autumn for you folks who only come to Greece in the summer and know it as a country of burnt brown grass and vegetation. Right now with autumn rains kicking in the area around the hovel is bursting into life. The patches of green are expanding rapidly and the brown is in full scale retreat. Meanwhile, everywhere, you see reds, blues, whites, purples as little flowers spring to life. It is almost alpine. All we need now is snow on the Taygetos mountains behind us. It will be here by Christmas.
939 days ago
I left here six weeks ago and was promised that the workmen would remain on the case. Guess what?
939 days ago
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.
939 days ago
Nicho the Communist is sitting with me in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos and says that his harvest this year will be so so. Pride comes before a fall but I think mine is, all things considered, looking good. Nicho says he will come and inspect this weekend which may be a reality check.
955 days ago
I am beginning to think that God is not pleased with my restoration work at the Greek Hovel and is punishing me with an annual plague of my poor olives. Last year it was the hail storm ten days before harvest that destroyed the crop almost entirely, leaving my field carpeted with rotting berries and my neighbours crying into their ouzo and facing economic misery.
970 days ago
George the Architect has been in touch and has sent more photos of the progress being made in turning the Greek Hovel into an eco palace. Boy I wish I was there rather than in Bristol. I bet Joshua does too. All we need is for Priti Patel to sweep to power, shut down the "university" where the Mrs teaches and another 50 odd joke left wing madrassas for future Tesco shelf stackers, and we could all move right away. Pro tem I can just dream.
977 days ago
Lovely Eleni was the first person the Mrs and I met in Kambos, the village closest, bit not close, to the Greek Hovel. We had landed at Athens at 4 AM and were driving to the Mani before we had even seen the Greek Hovel or thought of the idea. We stopped off at this taverna in a village whose name we did not know and asked if there was anything they could create for breakfast.
979 days ago
As I pack my last things at the Greek Hovel, prepare to empty the eco loo, one last time and head to the airport the Mrs sends me a few photos of me walking here in Greece this summer with Joshua on my back, wearing either his hat or hers. Happy, if rather tiring at the time, memories....
980 days ago
In this podcast, my last from the Greek Hovel for some weeks, I discuss the delusions of David Lenigas, Tesla pot head Elon Musk and our own in-house Bulletin Board Moron Wildes in a tag team combo with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Who is most deluded? I have the answer and explain why.
981 days ago
Recorded at the bottom of the valley underneath the abandoned convent, to avoid the noise of hard at work labourers at the Greek Hovel, this is my last full day in Greece. In today's bearcast I look at IQE with reference to the growing short; at Tekcapital (TEK) and getting a new broker; RM2 (RM2 and at Gear4Music (G4M) which is surely massively overvalued?
981 days ago
George Cawkwell is the greatest living scholar on the subject of ancient Greece. His son, my friend, the philistine Simon, aka Evil Knievil. refuses to come to the Hellenic Republic on the grounds that the wine is all awful. He is wrong and I intend to prove it to him and lure him out here to open up his mind. My father attended George's lectures I must educate Simon.
981 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.
982 days ago
I start with a few thoughts on just how wonderful it is up here at the Greek Hovel, truly it is peaceful and heavenly. Then a thank you for your kind emails and comments on poor Oakley. Then this podcast takes an in depth look at Telit (TCM), run by insider dealer Yosi Fait, after its interims yesterday and at Tesla (TSLA) run by nutso market abuser Elon Musk after his latest outburst.
982 days ago
The easy way to go to Zarnata castle which overlooks Kambos is to head to the next village, Stavropiglio, drive up past the church and clamber the last 400 yards up a very rough track, almost a non track. I did that the other day with the Mrs, daughter Olaf and Joshua on my back as you can see here - the views from the top are amazing, you can almost see the Greek Hovel. But there is a tougher way.
983 days ago
As if the Mrs has not suffered enough during the past five years, today she has the unenviable task of explaining to our, almost, two year old son Joshua why, when they arrive back in Bristol there will be no Oakley to greet them. For yesterday afternoon, Oakley went to a better place.
985 days ago
It is Sunday and our shutters were left open so we were a bit surprised and alarmed that about 8.30 there were sounds outside the Greek Hovel. Surely even the hard working tilers would not be labouring on the Lord’s day? We left the tilers to it and started to prepare Joshua for a day of walking with his father.
986 days ago
The big jobs remaining at the eco-palace are the second floor floorboards and the first floor ceiling for the new wing. That needs the unreliable windows man to get his fat arse back up to the Greek Hovel. As such I have declined to pay his most recent bill for 14,000 Euro. In the past I have paid him in advance. He gave me his word he'd be back up here today...he was not. So the bill is on hold until he pitches up again. I am playing hard ball... Meanwhile the tilers have almost finished their work as you can see below.
986 days ago
The Mrs and I got married five years ago today. I salute her patience, tolerance and good humour in lasting half a decade. I am a lucky man. And, in fact, very lucky for we are today back up at the Greek Hovel and she took me and Joshua for an anniversary lunch at Miranda's in Kambos as you can see below.
988 days ago
Right now I am in a luxury hotel organised by the Mrs for daughter Olaf's last night in Greece and for me to recover in after a ten hour road trip to drop Miss W off at Athens airport."Baywatch" has a great view, a lovely pool, ouzo is on tap, the internet works allowing Joshua to sit like a moron watching Thomas the Tank Engine without interruption and the Mrs is lolling happily. And there is no wildlife diversity to report. Not so back at the Greek Hovel. Let us start with the scorpion.
991 days ago
Behind me is a pile of earth and rubble, largely what was excavated from the old floor of the Bat Room as we dug it out. I sit on the area in front of the Bat Room, now concrete but by Wednesday covered in terracotta tiles. Coffee, a phone, an internet link and a laptop, my study is complete
991 days ago
The ruined Frankish castle of Zarnata sits on top of the hill overlooking Kambos and on its nearer side the village of Stavropiglio. I often sit staring up at it, in awe at the largely still standing outer wall which threads its way around the hill, when enjoying an ouzo in Miranda's or from the tables outside the Kourounis taverna run by lovely Eleni. In an attempt to inject a bit of culture to the holiday of Godless daughter Olaf, I led the family on a trek up that hill yesterday, with young Joshua on my back.
992 days ago
Okay, I am biased,m but surely you would agree that my son, two in just over three week's time, is pretty good looking. takes after his mum natch. Here he is borrowing her hat at a posh restaurant in Kardamil,i as we took time out from the Greek Hovel to allow daughter Olaf to go and breathe the same elitist air as her Islington kith and kin who tend to swamp this particular town.
992 days ago
This church is in the middle of nowhere on the long climb up from the sea at Kitries towards Stavropigio, the next village to my home one of Kambos. We drove up that road today after a day by the shore. I remember driving past this church with my father and late step mother on her last holiday before she passed away. She was clearly very ill at that point. We stopped the car and myself and Helen went inside. There was barely enough room for the two of us and the small lizard we found there.
992 days ago
As I am not poisoning frigana I leave the big iron gates at the end of the Greek Hovel open to all. It saves time for me, the builders and for any shepherd who wishes to use my land. Not that many do right now so brown is the grass.
992 days ago
Shall we start with the good news, the bad news or more good news? Well let’s start with Oakley, my once morbidly obese but now painfully think three legged cat who is back in Bristol. While we are away we have a professional cat minder Tim , a bearded young man who sends us photos of him and Oakley nuzzling up together and looking happy, hence his name, the “cat molester.”
995 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.
995 days ago
At 4 AM I picked up daughter Olaf at Athens airport and by 5.30 AM we were peering down from a bridge over the Corinth canal, at the isthmus. It was light enough to see that the drop was a mile and while Olaf peered, I, suffering from vertigo, gripped the back rail and pretended to peer.
995 days ago
And as a bonus, daughter Olaf and the Mrs will be able to get hot water for their showers. Those of us who remember the, post rugby, freezing showers we were forced to take at Warwick School with some old master perving at us all in the pretence that he had to ensure that we went home clean for our parents, do not need hot water. By the time the stuff has arrived up at the hovel in largely metal pipes it is already a lot warmer than those Warwick showers of old.
996 days ago
They all know that daughter Olaf will be here tomorrow morning and that she is a terribly frightening creature. Actually that is a lie but one I have spun consistently and thus the workmen are slogging away as you can see below. There is real progress.
996 days ago
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.
997 days ago
George the Architect said that the doors and windows man would arrive this afternoon to ensure that his work was complete before Thursday when daughter Olaf arrives. Mr Window swore on his mother's life. I have bad news for his mother.
1000 days ago
Just in case you think that I am suffering in 33 degree heat every day...
1001 days ago
It really is the 17th, I may have said it was the 16th at the start of this bearcast as I have spent a frantic day trying to make the Bat Room at the Greek hovel a bit less untidy ahead of the arrival of the Mrs and Joshua tomorrow. In the podcast I discuss BlueJay Mining (JAY), red flags, SP Angel and MySquar (MYSQ)
1001 days ago
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...
1001 days ago
As you can see below, the little room in the Bat Room, the eco-loo room is almost ready. Fear not, there is a sliding door which locks in any odours as well as an extractor fan. As you can see there is plenty of reading material. Euro loon Jonathan Price will no doubt approve of the positioning of "Castle of Lies" the definitive history of the EU, by Uncle Chris Booker, next to the loo roll. But we are not quite there yet.
1002 days ago
If you head to a seaside settlement in the Mani right now whether it be Islington-sur-Mer (kardamili) or the Costa-del-Stoupa they will be packed with people. Head there in the winter and they are semi-deserted. Up here in the lower reaches of the Taygetos mountains, in unfashionable old Kambos, the population barely changes throughout the year. The faces I see when harvesting olives in November are, essentially, those I see now in the burning heat of August.
1003 days ago
I suspect George the Architect is still a bit cross about me using marble from Fox Marble (FOX) in Kosovo rather than local marble at the Greek Hovel. But I am a shareholder, get a discount, and want to show my support.
1003 days ago
On the steps up to the front door of the Greek Hovel in the side of the bread oven there is a small hole in which a curious, rusting, metal object, pictured below, has always sat. I have always wondered what it is. George the Architect says it is a World War One bomb which would have been dropped from planes, minus of course the fuse and the head. Well maybe, but that begs other questions...
1003 days ago
George the Architect says he is proud of his work at the hovel. And so he should be. For four years we have worked on plans, tweaked, re-tweaked, waded through layers of Greek bureaucracy and now we are almost there as the photos below show. I am proud too. I know I am not an easy client and so I have had walls pulled down and rebuilt and made big changes as we went along but they have worked.
1003 days ago
My memories of sleeping at the Greek Hovel are of bedding down in the room above the Bat Room, terrified about what form of wildlife diversity would creep in, twitching at every noise outside and sweating in insufferable heat. as such I approached my first night in the bat Room with some trepidation leaving the light on before I headed into Kambos to guide me back in in case my torch failed.
1004 days ago
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...
1005 days ago
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….
1015 days ago
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.
1018 days ago
Six more photos have arrived of the work cracking on apace at the Greek Hovel, c/o George the Architect. The first three are of the kitchen, formerly the only habitable room - if you did not mind the rats - in the whole house. It used to have a flat concrete roof but now enjoys an arched wooden roof and the stone walls have been plastered.
1019 days ago
Just a few more photos which arrived late last week from the Greek Hovel. We start with the inside of the roof above the new wing once again. Then it is the plastering on the extension of the rat room leading down to the new stone wall at the end encompassing"the rock". Finally more on the tiling of that roof. Eta Greece 16 days! Bring it on.
1022 days ago
A few more photos of the new roof at the Greek Hovel have arrived from George the Architect. The first three are internal and in the new wing. The third giving an idea of how the second floor of that wing will lead seemlessly into the new area above the rat room. The final one show that on the area above the kitchen the tiles are now actually going on!
1025 days ago
Okay the tiles are not yet on but the timbers are and, though I say it myself, they look splendid. The first two photos are of the long balcony outside the room above the rat room and the new wing second floor. The roof extends over this providing summer shade and winter rain protection as you star up at the Taygetos mountains. Photo three looks through the kitchen to what will be the front door. Photo four is from the new wing up into the room above the bat room which flows without wall into the second floor of the new wing whose magnificent high ceiling appears in photo five. Most excellent.
1028 days ago
This is from Wednesday and is self explanatory. While work continues on the bathroom in the main bedroom below, the roofers have started to create the roof at the Greek Hovel. They are working quickly and I hope to have another progress photo early next week.
1028 days ago
About a yard and a half from the edge of the rat room of the Greek Hovel as was stood a very large rock. It was so large that it was just impossible to move. How it got there I have no idea but it seemed wrong after so many thousands of years to whitewash it from history...
1028 days ago
It was my penultimate day in Greece and my last time at the Greek Hovel until I return next month. Driving down my side of the mountain towards the valley floor, I stopped briefly on snake hill to take in the view.
1029 days ago
As I discussed here, on Monday, a sweaty and inbred Bulgar refused to drive his ford transit van from the valley floor up snake hill and onto the Greek Hovel. The road, the lying xxxx, was not good enough. On Tuesday a lorry twice the size of his van and many time heavier brought, as you can see below, the wood for my roof right to the front door.
1030 days ago
I explained a couple of days ago how a sweating, lying, wretched Bulgarian xxxx was too much of a pooftah to do as he was paid to do and bring a van load of goods from Bristol right to my front door at the Greek Hovel But we made it thanks to my heroic Greek workmen as you can see below.
1030 days ago
Okay my labouring in the snake fields is not a fraction as hard as the work the chaps rebuilding the Greek Hovel do but they are used to it and I am not so I reckon our suffering is equal. And here is how we keep going.
1030 days ago
As is my wont, when in Kambos, I walked into the restaurant formerly known as Miranda’s and headed for the small cooking area at the back. The new supremo, the new Miranda, explained what was on offer and after due consideration I went for small pieces of pork in a wine sauce with a side helping of zucchinis and okra. That will end up costing me six euro.
1031 days ago
As I arrived at the Greek Hovel on Sunday I was surprised to find the two elderly men employed by Gregori the snake killer hard at work. They sat under the shade of a large olive tree hammering away at stones to make them the right size and shape for use. Following my "ban the shiny modern bricks" edict those stones are now being used to build the bathroom in the master bedroom, the bottom floor of the new wing.
1031 days ago
Of course there is not a door there yet or a roof, nor have the walls of the kitchen been plastered and it does not have any windows but....
1032 days ago
In Asterix the Gaul there are bouts of frenzied activity, hostilities and then, after the Romans are sent packing, the little Gallic village gets back to normal with everyone eating, drinking and doing nothing much in the way of work. I am reminded of this as I stare out of the restaurant formerly known as Miranda's where I will soon pay six Euro for a superb home cooked lunch. In case you wonder: park in a wine sauce with Okra.
1032 days ago
Fear not daughter Olaf, I have now laid down the snake repellent at the Greek Hovel. Two canisters, as you can see below, 10 yards away from opposite corners of the house now emit a smell which snakes are meant to regard as foul and so will keep the hovel, if not the snake-fields, free from serpents for three months until Autumn hibernation. Well in theory.
1032 days ago
When I visit my dad, he urges me to take away one or two of the zillions of books in his house. Naturally I want to please him and do as requested but I am equally conscious that the Mrs reckons that our house in Bristol has too many books and that my suggestion that she bin her sociology books to make way for more of mine is not a runner. And now Joshua is collecting book after book as well...
1033 days ago
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.
1037 days ago
Once before I arrived at the Greek Hovel to find workmen proudly admiring a construction made of brand new shiny bricks. Much to their pleasure I had it torn down, an extra days work for them. I rather assumed that the message had got through. You can imagine my horror when arriving at the hovel yesterday to find piles of shiny new bricks in the new wing and the rat room. Cripes!
1038 days ago
Progress on the hovel has been a bit slower than planned but we had an "all parties meeting" today and the riot act was read. We are, sort of on track. Ahead of the meeting I took a few photos from inside the new wing I have added onto the house. I hope they, perhaps for the first time, start to show what we have created and why we chose this spot.
1038 days ago
This is good news for those, such as Andrew Bell ,who have volunteered to come to Greece as unpaid slave labourers on this year's olive harvest. My babies up at the Greek Hovel are looking good. It must have been the pruning I did a couple of months ago. As you can see below the olives are of a good size already and while the trees are not dripping with fruit, as they would in a great year, most trees have a good amount and some are dripping.
1040 days ago
As you can see HERE, I have spent the morning loading a white van as boxes of my stuff heads out to the Greek Hovel which might just have a roof by the weekend! Yesterday i was in Manchester and braving its slums albeit with Brokerman Dan providing security was heroic. For that, if not for the planned 32 mile walk with Dan how about you give a tenner to Woodlarks HERE. On the podcast I cover Optibiotix (OPTI), another victim of Julie "lingerie on expenses" Meyer MBE on the phone, Stobart (STOB), FairFx (FFX), Mothercare (MTC) and - with not too much sniggering - the flop at me-too Viagra play N4 Pharma (N4P)
1040 days ago
The Mrs is delighted. Boxes and boxes of my books, my artwork, my Morse and Sweeney DVDs, and furniture is off. Lifting four Belfast sinks was a two man job and the Bulgarian driver sweated heavily. But the van is loaded and starts its journey today. I shall meet it in Kambos a week today, by when the Greek Hovel might have at least part of a roof under which to store the cargo from England.
1042 days ago
By noon London time on Tuesday I shall be up at the Greek Hovel to survey progress. I gather that the polished concrete floors, a very smooth white surface, in the rat room and the new wing have been laid and expect to post photos before I go. Next week the roof really does start to go up, something the Mrs and daughter Olaf - who arrive in 40 days view as important. Pedants.
1063 days ago
Business partner Darren is still obsessing about the dead snake and rat photo and unable to focus on the real progress made at the Greek Hovel. Okay, he is not the only one. But as you can see below, the pointing of the walls is now almost complete - in one shot you can see a completed wall next to an undone one. Next up are the roof and floorboards and having just whizzed a large sum out to Greece that should start next week. Doors and windows have also been ordered. The last major work will be the floors on the ground floor of the new wing and in the rat room and then it is on to power points, installing a range cooker, a woodburning stove, lighting etc. We are getting there...
1064 days ago
The headline really does reflect the photos so if you are squeamish do not look any further. This trio of pictorial horrors arrived this morning in an email from George the Architect. Chief builder Gregori the snake killer has been at work.
Most snakes of this type of adder, the most poisonous of the nine Greek species that are poisonous, are 20-30 centimetres long. This one was forty centimetres in length. You may wonder what it is hanging out of its mouth…
1076 days ago
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.
1077 days ago
As you can see below, the main job of Gregori the snake killer and his team, the building of the walls at the Greek Hovel is now done. The last bit was the balcony with views up into the Taygetos mountains and it is done. Next up is grouting, pointing, or whatever it is called. In the second photo you can see that the stone of the hovel are held together with concrete. But that is now to be scraped out and replaced with a coloured mortar. I was offered a choice of colours and went for the one you can see, a very pale yellow.
1077 days ago
I am under instructions from David Bick not to complain about the weather here in Kambos. And I should say that it is 30 degrees right now and I am dripping with sweat having pruned another thirty olive trees up at the Greek Hovel. I am on my second litre of water as I enjoy a late lunch at Miranda's in Kambos and recover from my labours. Yesterday I was in the same place at the same time having completed my manual labour for the day and the heavens opened. This was the view....
1079 days ago
Okay I know I said one more day and the Greek Hovel would be ready for a roof but I was wrong. But now it really is one more day! As you can see below...
1080 days ago
I have grossly underestimated the number of olive trees that sit on the land at the Greek Hovel. Yesterday and today I upped my quota to thirty so I have now pruned 160 which is what I thought we had. I was very wrong. But i now enter what I deem the land of the snake.
1080 days ago
As you can see below, Gregori the snake killer and his team have been working hard and now have just one last bit of work to do and the external walls will be complete. I am heading up into the mountains shortly and it may already be done. Next up..the roof!
1084 days ago
As you may have gathered, both the Mrs and daughter Olaf have suggested that lavatories are a bit of an issue at the Greek Hovel. Both are unconvinced about my solution of eco-loos. Well girls, prepare to be shocked. The first eco-loo, made by the same chap who crafts the doors and the Bat Room Bed which has also arrived, has landed as you can see below.
1084 days ago
I am horrified by how much pruning is needed on some of our olive trees. It is as if they have not been "cleaned, as they say here, for years. But this is just one season's growth. Maybe I have Alzheimer's but I really do not remember it being this hard other than in year one when Foti the Albanian and I tackled trees that had not been pruned in eons.
1084 days ago
It may have escaped your attention in the photo below but the external and internal walls are almost complete. Assuming the weather holds - and that is a safe enough bet - snake killer Gregori and his team will have the job done by the end of next week. And thus George the Architect tells me that it is time to install a roof. Cripes, we are ahead of schedule.
1085 days ago
Damn. It was a near miss but I failed to kill it. The serpent was not in the olive groves where I trod carefully today as, armed with my new axe pruned 20 trees. I start with the highest yielders, the ones nearest the house which have always enjoyed my tender care. Those in the long grass on the further reaches of our land I save to the end as I know what will be lurking in that grass.
1086 days ago
Forgive the late bearcast. Blame it on Greek Hovel business. In today's podcast I look at Folli Follie, shares in which are slumping again as I warned you the other day HERE - tomorrow might be D (for Death) Day. I then take up Andrew Monk on AIQ (AIQ), Petra Diamonds (PDL) and the idea of consolidating brokers and Nomads via M&A. It makes no sense Andrew. Then I look at the GoTech (GOT) shambles - its now a dope play but frankly you must be a dope to own this stock. Then I cover Optibiotix (OPTI) again with a point folks like Cynical Bear have missed. Finally its i3 Energy (I3E). Thanks to those who have sponsored me as I suffer the dual agonies of walking 30 miles and having to listen to Brokerman Dan drone on all day, but 99% of bearcast listeners have not yet donated a tenner. Please do so HERE
1086 days ago
Finally I hope the photos below show the scale of the rebuild, turning the small Greek Hovel into an eco palace. I was shocked at the, rapid, progress made since February and my last visit. The scale of what is being undertaken is only now dawning on me. We start with the shutters and door to the bat room which used to have open gaps and an earth and rock floor - it was where the animals ( both domesticated and wild) lived.
1086 days ago
With the one room at the Greek Hovel that was used to store goods out of action for re-flooring my possessions - such as they are - are scattered around the plot. After a bit of a search my saw was located. It had been used to stir concrete and so, rather sheepishly, on of the builders did his best to clean it. It is usable. My small axe (about a foot long) which one uses for taking away sprouts of new growth at the base of an olive tree could not be found. I have just bought a new one from Vangelis in Kambos.
1086 days ago
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.
1090 days ago
Daughter Olaf has agreed to join me at the Greek Hovel in late August but only after making detailed enquiries about sanitation. As you can seem the bat room now has a ceiling, a door to keep out the snakes and a shower! What more could a young Lady want? I shall be in The Mani by next weekend so more photos soon.
1095 days ago
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!
1102 days ago
George the Architect sends more photos. You can see that the bat room now has a polished concrete floor and the dividing walls for the eco-loo and the shower are up with a stand waiting for a sink to arrive from Bristol. The door into the rat room is bricked up pro tem to allow me to sleep there in a wildlife free zone when I head over in a few weeks time. Elsewhere progress is rapid with the rat room now appearing to be semi roofed and progress on the upper floor rapid.
1105 days ago
As you can see there is real progress at the Greek Hovel. The new extension is now up to two floors and in the bat room the walls are plastered and the floor installed. All we need now is the shower, eco-loo, sink and a bed and I am off. I hope to be in the Mani within two and a bit weeks and at this rate I might actually be sleeping on site.
1127 days ago
You cannot see it below, but one room from the old house, the bat room, is now completely renovated and habitable with power,lights, water, the works. But the real progress is on the whole new wing of the house which will double its floor space, creating a new master bedroom and above it a living area which will extend into a second floor built above the rat room from the old house and on into the kitchen.The Greek Albanians are hard at it and an August finish date is looking ever more likely.
1137 days ago
As you can see below, the Greek hovel sits beneath blue skies and te sun is shining in the taygetos mountains of the Mani. And real progress is being made. The first photos are of the bat room where a new floor is being laid and which will be ready for habitation by the Greek Easter in two weeks time. Elswhere you can see that the lengthward extension of the rat room is complete and the new wing which will help to double the size of the hovel is now being built up to above the first floor. Real progress is being made, as the hovel becomes an eco-palace.
1151 days ago
George the Architect has been in touch with an update on progress at the Greek Hovel and, as you can below, see there really has been progress. The rat room extension walls are underway and the new wing of the house which will double the floor space is now also starting to take shape. George says the door to the bat room is on its way and it will be habitable within two weeks. The rest of the hovel is still on track to be finished by September, after just 51 months!
1166 days ago
Further evidence of my skills as a pyromaniac will come later but just a brief shot showing how I burned off more olive branches on the, by then, rain sodden, site of my first triumph at the Greek Hovel. Flames leapt into the sky, high enough for my neighbours to see, so further restoring my reputation as a real man.
1166 days ago
It was my penultimate day in Kambos, the nearest village to the Greek Hovel. I had parked in the small side street that leads off the main road up and past the newest and biggest of the, at least, five churches in out settlement with a population of 537 (when I am there). I enjoyed a lunch at Miranda's - pork in a wine sauce, oven cooked potatoes and an ouzo for seven Euro. I left eight, headed back to my car and drove up to the turning square opposite the Church.
1172 days ago
For some reason I could not sleep a wink last night and thus my excuse for not returning to the Greek hovel for more failed bonfire lighting is that I am just so dog tired that I fear that I may fall asleep at the wheel. That is not something you wish to do on a Mountain road. Hence I content myself in my hotel wish washing my socks, admin matters and writing like a dervish. And trying to catch up on some sleep. If I manage all of that I may treat myself to a slap up meal at Katelanos tonight: Mountain greens, octopus and ouzo.
1172 days ago
For thousands of years the enormous rock below has sat in the ground at the Greek Hovel, situated about a yard and a half from where the rat room used to end. It was almost a feature.But as as we seek to extend the rat room by two yards it had to go. But there would be something wrong about hacking it to pieces and discarding it don't you think?
1177 days ago
You know that I am a feminist. Child care, nappy changing, shopping, washing, cooking, I dxo more than my fair share. But there are some things that only women can do. Breast feeding for example. And there are some things we men do: snake killing, ouzo drinking and.. lighting fires. My repeated failure to burn off the olive branches and frigana I cut down last year at the Greek Hovel has thus been somewhat emasculating. And it got far worse yesterday before it got better.
1177 days ago
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.
1177 days ago
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.
1177 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.
1179 days ago
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.
1181 days ago
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.
1181 days ago
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.
1181 days ago
Driving down snake hill as I headed back from the Greek Hovel towards the village of Kambos all was quiet. I could hear nothing at all. Bliss! Can God please have words with the Mrs about retiring and us living here all year round.
1181 days ago
I headed back to the Greek Hovel expecting to find an empty building site and no signs of progress. I take it all back. It may be Sunday but three hard working Greeks were on site with a mini bulldozer, hard at work. How could I have ever doubted the work ethic of the citizens of the mighty Hellenic Republic?
1220 days ago
A kind reader in Australia has twigged that, despite rebuilding the Greek Hovel in an area teeming with snakes, I have a, perfectly rational, fear of the little critters and has thus taken to sending me photos and stories about them on a regular basis. Today's really is the stuff of nightmare and comes with photos.
1253 days ago
In my final days in Greece there really was progress up at the Greek Hovel as a large concrete mixing lorry somehow found its way up the long and winding track and got to work, as you can see below.
1256 days ago
I was originally meant to present this at an evening organised by brokers Turner Pope. But the compliance officer kicked off in an episode which fills me with despair so Turner Pope said put the video up on ShareProphets and we will give your speaker fee to Woodlarks anyway as it is a good cause. Good chaps. Seriously, TP get to do some good placings, notably of late Sosandar (SOS) where it was almost impossible to get stock anywhere else, So you should have an account with them just in case - you can call them on 0203 621 4121 to get the forms. Now to the video...enjoy.
1256 days ago
Why turn your olives into oil? Why not eat them? A reader asks. Let me explain with some photos. Of the c160 trees at the Greek hovel all bar about six yield small olives which we crush for oil. You can see some that I harvested below.The fruit average about 1 cm cubed.
1257 days ago
I accept that we hacked branches off about 30 olive trees that stood by the side of the track up to the Greek Hovel in order to allow the builders to get their bigger trucks up. We also appear to have damaged the dry stone walls in places. Its a given. My bonkers neighbour ( he lives two miles away but is my closest neighbour) Charon has not asked for any compensation. He is a good guy. But then there are two cousins who want more. I met with them in my hotel this week with George the Architect there to translate.
1258 days ago
I have not reported back on the Greek Hovel olive harvest as after each day's labours I have been just too dog tired to do anything. What can I say other than on many of the trees it was hunt the olives so bad had been the storm and it was very hard, boring work. But by Saturday noon I had three sacks filled to a greater or lesser extent with tens of thousands of tiny olives all harvested by myself. Enough is enough thought I, surely this is 80 kg and the 15 litres of oil I'd like to take back to the Mrs.
1258 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.
1259 days ago
This may all be Greek to you but my neighbours in the village closest to the Greek Hovel will understand.
1264 days ago
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.
1266 days ago
This podcast was interrupted by the sight of my friend the feral cat. Three years ago I gave a black and white feral kitten who had wandered up to the hovel some milk. I am not sure if it is the same creature but now and again a black and white cat stalks the hovel in search of snakes and rats to eat. I hope its the same cat. Anyhow I am excited to see him again and got a picture as you can see below despite him, being feral, not being that friendly. The podcast itself covers Adam Reynolds and the Adam Reynolds stocks many of which we own. I do this in response to Cynical Bear's ill informed mud slinging of earlier.
1266 days ago
My best friend in Kambos said it in the nicest possible way and I should admit that i am beginning to doubt my own sanity. After day three of my harvest i now have just over half a 50kg sack of olives. As i wandered into the Kourounis taverna in Kambos, Nicho had asked how I was and i replied that i was a bit tired after harvesting. He said "you are working with the Albanians?"
1267 days ago
Being a UK work day I started my harvesting a lot later than planned and finished a bit earlier. Well that is my excuse anyway. It won't wash tomorrow. But by late morning I had arrived at the hovel with my 5*10 metre mat and my olive tree basher. I was ready to go.
1268 days ago
Having been told by George the Albanian that it was uneconomic to do a commercial harvest this year after the storms he loaned me four sacks as I said I wanted to go it alone. I had meant to start "avrio" but something made me haed up to the hovel. I think it was frustration with certain aspects of work back in the UK. It has been one of those days when I really just wanted to pack it all in and spend my life writing about life here in Kambos.
1268 days ago
I cannot say that I expected dramatic progress in the rebuilding of the Greek Hovel. And my expectations were matched. No. They were exceeded. Eventually I extracted from George the architect the admission that the builders had enjoyed a long break as they awaited permits and then as the weather turned against them In fact they had only restarted work again 24 hours before my arrival. But now they are hard at it.
1268 days ago
At 7.30 sharp I met George the Albanian up at the Greek Hovel. He skipped and jumped across the terraces like a young goat. In his sixties he puts me to shame. But it did not take him long to reach his verdict. I don't speak Greek but I understood. He is an honest chap. We retired to the village and went to see Vangelis, at the recently relocated hardware store. a man who speaks English.
1269 days ago
Shortly after the Mrs agreed to buy the Greek Hovel we got an email from the most excellent estate agent Susan Shimmin of the Real Mani suggesting that there was a small lake at the bottom of the valley which one must cross before climbing snake hill. At once I had visions of stocking it with trout like the one from Metsovo I enjoyed with the amazing baker of Zitsa. Then reality kicked in.
1270 days ago
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.
1270 days ago
I wandered up to the Greek Hovel this morning and saw, at once, that something was not quite right. Yes there were olives on the trees as you can see below but not vast numbers.
1295 days ago
It seems that Easyjet has started direct flights from Bristol to Athens and I am booked in. It is now just over three weeks to D-Day and a trip to the mighty Hellenic Republic. I can't wait.
1296 days ago
After I pick up my one year old son Joshua from nursery we allow ourselves a little treat - a vist to Pets at Home. Later on we look at the tanks of fishes and go visit the rabbits and guinea pigs. Joshua knows what they all are and makes appropriate noises at each point of the store.
1305 days ago
It has only taken three and a bit years but the final planning consent has now arrived. We can now start putting a roof on the Greek Hovel and extending it to more than double its original size. George the architect has been in touch and it is all systems go. However, there are, Greece being Greece, a few minor issues.
1339 days ago
We were told, when we bought the Greek Hovel in 2014, that it was 100 years old and had been substantially rebuilt after the commies burned down in the Civil War of the late forties. Perhaps we might date it a bit more accurately now.
1339 days ago
I have written many times about my Great Uncle David Cochrane who, in 1931, died falling down the mountain now named after him, opposite Delphi in Greece. He was at the time a student at Trinity College Oxford. As my father seeks to de-clutter his house a few paintings have been offered to his children and step children and feeling a stronger Cochrane link than most I took these two below.
1347 days ago
With a day to kill before flying back from Greece to what the Mrs calls home but I call Britain, there was time for one last lunch in my "home village" of Kambos. First a brief stop off at Joshua's inheritance, the Greek hovel, where a bulldozer had arrived and great progress has been made. I have photos of that, of my olives and also of my prickley pears but they can wait. For the main event, in a village whose great attraction is that nothing ever happens, was lunch in the main square.
1351 days ago
A meeting with George the Architect at the Greek Hovel went well. Joshua inspected his inheritance. The Mrs fretted about where to put the washing machine. For a house that is half built with no doors windows, roof and, in the case of two and a half rooms, walls, I reckon she may be getting ahead of herself.
1355 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.
1358 days ago
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.
1364 days ago
Work continues on remodelling the existing structures at the Greek Hovel as we await final planning permission for adding new structures, including a roof. And so I bring you the new main doorway which is now almost complete as the photos below show.
1372 days ago
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.
1399 days ago
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.
1403 days ago
In England life is so clinical and clean and removed from nature. Our food is covered in plastic. Seeing your cat wander through the cat flap counts as a wildlife encounter. How different life is for me in Kambos, Greece.
1406 days ago
For a couple of weeks, the Mrs and I were wondering why the widely advertised event in this part of Bristol was called SPRINGfest. After all it is July. Perhaps it is that unfashionable old Brislington is just a bit behind the times? It turns out that this is the festival of the For a couple of weeks, the Mrs and I were wondering why the widely advertised event in this part of Bristol was called SPRINGfest. After all it is July. Perhaps it is that unfashionable old Brislington is just a bit behind the times? It turns out that this is the festival of the Sandy Park Road Improvement Neighbourhood Group. It is a bit out a mouthful but the main thoroughfare in this part of the world sure does need improving.. It is a bit out a mouthful but the main thoroughfare in this part of the world sure does need improving.
1417 days ago
There seems some scepticism from, inter alia, daughter Olaf, that any progress at all is being made in turning the Greek Hovel, our 100 year old farmhouse, into a habitable palace. Ye of little faith! Let me show you three photos.
1418 days ago
Gosh I am brave and show it my devotion to you dear readers. The other day I was working in the fields at the Greek Hovel in an area where the grass is long and the frigana slashing involves wading through that grass. I trod carefully and heavily as I have had wildlife diversity encounters in that area before.
1422 days ago
It has been troubling me deeply that in the plans for the Greek Hovel, the room known as the bat room will not be connected to any other part of the house. Since this bedroom will be for daughter Olaf, who will be 16 in exactly one week's time, I worry what happens if she gets scared by a noise at night or sees a snake? Heading out through her front door into the dark is hardly practicable. So I have changed the plans.
1422 days ago
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.
1423 days ago
The shock is for any google pervs out there who have alighted on this page and though the photos are wonderful will be rather disappointed by their nature, The Miranda's I refer to is, of course, the restaurant next to the Kourounis taverna on the square where the road through Kambos makes a sharp right angle as it heads off to Kardamili.
1427 days ago
I think the last dripping in sweat, post frigana chopping selfie photo was not very flattering. Apparently some of you think that i have multiple chins. Au contraire. That was just the angle. I have not commented on my trouser size for a while but since we are on the subject...
1427 days ago
I am meant to test my blood sugars twice daily and be in a range of 5-7 whatever that means.Almost two months ago I was 15.3 but these days an almost zero carb, almost zero alcohol, low stress and modest daily exercise lifestyle plus five pills a day has seen me happily in "normal" territory for someone tackling type 2 diabetes, for some days. But I just tested myself and it was 9.6. WTF!
1429 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...
1429 days ago
I really do not understand this type 2 diabetes. There was I celebrating several days within a normal range of 5-7 and I woke up in the sevens. That was bad enough to prompt me into leading a very blameless day with a normal breakfast of a bit of bacon and eggs and a very modest lunch of fried zucchini. I then worked up a great sweat with hard manual labour chopping frigana at the Greek Hovel. And thus by eight PM, pre-swim my blood sugar reading had plunged to ...WTF?
1431 days ago
You will remember that back in early April my blood sugars measured 15.3 and I was told that my type 2 diabetes was raging out of control. It has been a long slog since then as I have aimed to get into a target range of 5 to 7. Whatever that means.
1431 days ago
I wonder how long the road up from the bottom of the valley to the Greek Hovel has remained unchanged? The house is 100 years old so there will have been a mud track up to it for a century. In the 1970s, I think, the stretch known as snake hill, was concreted over. The biggest pot hole in that part is so large that you need to partially go off road to avoid your car wheel getting jammed inside. Smaller pot holes litter the road but these days I know how to navigate around them. But from the top of snake hill as one winds through the olive groves it is almost entirely just baked mud.
1432 days ago
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.
1432 days ago
The Greek Albanian building crew are making cracking progress at the Hovel. There are now so many ways to get into the room in which I used to sleep that even the stupidest snake in Christendom can find its way in.
1432 days ago
Two years ago I would do four or five 45 minute frigana slashing sessions a day at the Greek Hovel. Somehow I forgot how I needed a good break between each one as both myself and my machine cooled down. I also forgot that I built up to that level of work over three months. And so heading up there today I convinced myself that I would do a good two hours before a lettuce salad lunch at the Kourounis taverna. Yeah right.
1432 days ago
As I have noted many times, killing frigana is very therapeutic. To date this year, the weapon of choice has been poison and as you can see below, that has worked in places to very good effect. This is a patch I sprayed about a week ago and it is already on its way out. Leaves that were a shiny green are now visibly browning and pretty soon this whole patch will be a golden brown. But sadly that is not the whole story.
1434 days ago
I always carry my camera with me as I wander round the Greek Hovel. This is because of the snakes. If I meet one my first instinct is to flee. My second instinct is also to flee. Just conceivably, if I am carrying a pick axe I might go on the offense. But I have nightmares about snakes and, on balance, I know that I am told that they are more afraid of me than I am of them but I think that is bollocks. Though an official snake killer these days I am still shit scared. And I also recognise that I might just tread on one by accident. Hence the camera.
1434 days ago
Amid a general feeling of despondenc and uncertainty, the one constant joy is my blood sugar levels as I tackle type 2 diabetes. It is eleven days since I got back to Greece and I continue my regime of moderate exercise and avoiding booze and carbohydrates at all cost. Well almost.
1436 days ago
We are almost there in removing the ghastly modern additions made to the 100 year old Greek Hovel by its former owner vile Athena. I was up there today pruning my olive trees at an incredible pace and almost the last legacy has gone.
1436 days ago
The Mrs claims that she has put up a Labour poster in our house back in Bristol. The shame of it. What will our god fearing, hard working, tax paying white van driving neighbours think of us. They will have no idea that I am not, like the Mrs, a deluded Guardian reading lefty. The Mrs also made it clear that My Tory poster would be used as litter by Oakley or ripped up by Joshua in my absence. So I have brought it to Greece and as you can see it is now up on display ay the Greek Hovel.
1437 days ago
Please do not read into this that I am enjoying a day of gorging on baklava or downing gallons of retsina. far from it. As it happens I have not had a drink for more than ten days and I am really enjoying being sober every day. It is not that I have had so much to drink that I have had a hangover for months and months. I really do not enjoy that sort of drinking any more. But I actually feel better for not drinking at all.
1438 days ago
What a delight it was to be among the olive trees yesterday. the first treat was to go an investigate two new trees that no-one has seen for years. They were enclosed in a patch of dense frigana bushes with some large frigana trees there for good measure. Previous owner vile Athena had chucked a stack of wire into this mess meaning that I have never been able to tackle it with my strimmer. It was too dense to poison and anyhow I was convinced it was home to numerous snakes so I gave it a wide berth.
1439 days ago
The snake patio is not to be confused with the snake veranda. The latter was the flat surface on the (illegally constructed) concrete roof above the rat room. It was surrounded by (illegally constructed) concrete blocks which have now gone. We did meet a snake there on our second visit to the hovel hence the name. It was where i killed an adder a few weeks ago.
1440 days ago
Just a very quick note on my blood sugar levels as I battle type 2 diabetes. Yesterday i reported how the trend was my friend as i re-started the fightback. After a day of hard olive pruning, swimming, no booze and healthy eating more dramatic progress has been made.
1441 days ago
As you may remember when I was joined in Greece my by wife and her family my type 2 diabetes control went badly off the rails. In the ten days i spent in England there were days when I almost gave up. I was not dreadful, I ate no chocolate and I did take some exercise but not a lot. But I had a few drinks and some days I skipped my medication. I was angry with myself and depressed. But my flight back to Greece on Tuesday marked a new beginning. So we start the clock again.
1443 days ago
It may sound silly but I find that killing frigana - the horrid thorn bush in which snakes hide - is really the most relaxing thing that I can do. Whether it be with poison or with my strimmer I become the grim reaper and could not be happier.
1444 days ago
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.
1444 days ago
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.
1447 days ago
The plants the Mrs and I have planted in our back garden have almost all suffered death by cat defecation. That is to say my fat, though no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley hads shat them into oblivion. And so during my brief UK visit I have led a drive to re-plant. To complete that task the Mrs, Joshua and I headed to a garden centre here in Bristol today. Before stopping to pick up a few herbs (me0 and some flowers (the Mrs) we sat enjoying an expensive coffee and watched the masses head by.
1450 days ago
I am back in Bristol for a few days and was wandering back from lunch with Joshua when we happened to pass the Conservative Club. The door was open and i was conscious that I needed to renew my father's membership. Though not a Tory, or indeed a Bristol resident, he likes the idea of being able to access cheep beer at a place not far from our house.
1454 days ago
It has been agreed with the Mrs that Joshua is to inherit the Greek Hovel on condition that any other family member can use it at no cost. And so the lad was taken to see his inheritance. Unlike his mother, also in the picture, he made no complaints about eco-loos, the lack of a shower, rats or snakes. I feel the place will be in good hands.
1454 days ago
If you have not spent time in Greece you may not be familiar with the restaurant cats. Every place, bar the smartest establishments in Athens and Salonika has them. In the winter, at the tourist resorts, although not at places such as Miranda's in Kambos, the poor creatures starve as custom disappears.
1455 days ago
I have been pruning olive trees at the Greek Hovel for four years now. But there is one tree that has almost entirely escaped my attention until now, the one that lies within the outer ring of stones of the abandoned ruin on our property, a.k.a. the snake house.
1455 days ago
Okay you come to Greece to star at the sea. There is no sea up in Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel where I live. As you sit in Miranda's you stare up at the castle, you see cars, lorries or flocks of sheep wind their way along the road, and you see like in Kambos progress at its slow place.
1456 days ago
At the Greek Hovel, about half way along our land on top of the hill, there is an old ruined house. It was almost entirely covered by frigana but over four years I have cut and poisoned that away. As I have have done that I have repeatedly heard rustlings inside. Last year as I ventured in a snake made a clear exit in the other direction. I saw not the snake but the snake shape curving its way through the long grass. In a way that was more frightening.
1459 days ago
I am now, once again, doing regular resting of my blood sugar levels. And after a break of a few days I am again taking my medication. Being by myself since Sunday lunchtime has assisted in a no alcohol diet and a meal schedule which is regular and healthy. I wonder could I spin out a diet based on two Greek Salads a day plus raw oats into a 30,000 word diet best-seller? Probably not.
1460 days ago
There are two hardware stores in the village of Kambos (pop 537 including me) providing everything that we peasant farmers need: poisons, fertilisers, tools, plants. You name it we can buy it here. There is one store on the Square where Miranda's and lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna provide two of the other borders. It has suffered a grave misfortune.
1460 days ago
I have been updating you on progress on what was known as the bat room but is now know as Olaf's bedroom at the Greek Hovel. The initial task was to dig out the earth and rock floor so that there was 7 foot of headroom rather than 5-6 foot in what was once where the animals lived. I should say that my almost 16 year old Islington dwelling daughter did not respond with great excitement to the first photos HERE. Fear not Olaf, things are looking better.
1460 days ago
As you may be gathering, I am really getting quite fond of the lizards at the Greek Hovel. that is good news as they are everywhere and I shall be moving up to live there full time in about ten days. And so here is another very sweet little chappie, or chappess. I still can't "sex them" but he/she was about three inches long and seemed relatively fearless, sitting less than two foot away from me for several minutes before wandering off in search of an insect for his/her lunch.
1461 days ago
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.
1462 days ago
The bravery I show on your behalf, dear readers, knows no bounds. I wrote an article the other day about how the last pond in the rapidly drying out, and now almost dry, river that crosses the road up to the Greek Hovel, contained certain shapes. I maintained that they were snakes. One reader suggested that they were in fact eels, that I should wade in and capture a few for lovely Eleni to cook for me for my supper at the Kourounis taverna. I can only conclude that this reader wishes me ill. Today I ventured closer to the rapidly shrinking pond and bring you two new photos.
1463 days ago
My almost sixteen year old daughter Olaf has so far declined to visit the Greek Hovel. It was something about the homemade eco-loo. Or was it the hosepipe that is my shower. Or perhaps it was the snakes, rats or scorpions. Honestly, kids today. No gumption at all. But Olaf will be delighted to see how much progress has been made on what will be her bedroom when she stays, what is currently known as the bat room.
1463 days ago
An hours olive pruning each day is good for the olives and good for me. For starters it is some exercise to keep the type 2 diabetes at bay. Reach up, saw, reach down, axe, reach up axe, look around to check for snakes, hear a noise, panic, discover its not a snake, stop panicking, walk over the rocks and bushes to the next tree, check there are no snakes. Repeat. Repeat again. If I could do this every day the pounds would roll off.
1463 days ago
As we walked out of the restuarant last night here in Kardamili, my eight month old son Joshua made eye contact with two ladies who, I guess, were about a decade younger than I am. He started smiling, they started smiling and soon conversation broke out. Joshua is a great ice-breaker whether you want him to be or not.
1465 days ago
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.
1466 days ago
There was I sitting in the Kourounis Taverna in Kambos having taken the Mrs and Joshua up to see his inheritance, that is to say the Greek Hovel. The Mrs and I were enjoying a Greek salad prepared by Nicho the Magician, that is to say Eleni's other half and Joshua was enjoying a few bits of bread and smiling at all passers by. A lady came up and introduced herself.
1467 days ago
The Mrs, myself, Joshua and my parents in law are staying about 15 miles South of the Greek Hovel in a nice hotel by the sea. As I mention here, I have very mixed feelings about Kardamili and would really rather be back in Kambos. But this break is not about me. Today, we escaped the in-laws and took Joshua to see his inheritance, that is to say the Greek Hovel. The Mrs has not visited for almost a year and was keen to see how the building was going. I was just delighted to be out of Kardamili and able to do some manual labour.
1469 days ago
As you may remember, work was delayed on the rebuilding of the Greek Hovel after the authorities insisted we needed a permit to demolish bricks put up without a permit by the previous owners. This is Greece after all. that permit has arrived and so the demolition starts, and phase one is the snake veranda.
1470 days ago
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.
1472 days ago
There was i just dozing off gently as the "Cathedrals Express," which I had caught at Moreton in the Marsh, pulled slowly past Didcot. Then my phone rang. It was a Greek number but not one that I recognised. It was Nicho the Communist on a land line.
1474 days ago
I arrived at the Greek Hovel at 9 AM sharp for the delayed day two of the frigana poisoning. I parked outside the gates. I could not be bothered to open them, close them and almost certainly have to open and close them again when my comrade in Labour, Nicho the Communist turned up. For I had a feeling that once again he would not. Yesterday it was God's fault...
1475 days ago
I arrived at the Greek Hovel bang on time at 9 AM for day two of the frigana poisoning. Not to my great surprise, Nicho the Communist and The Albanian were nowhere to be seen. I sat there watching lizards for three quarters of an hour.
I am not sure whether the large number of lizards around the hovel is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, I am pretty sure that my old saying "where there are lizards there are snakes" is valid. The conditions are perfect for all sorts of wildlife diversity. But on the other hand, lizards are not daft.
1476 days ago
You may remember that George the Architect is a little nervous about chopping down non olive trees which the forestry survey may have identified at the Greek Hovel. On the other hand Nicho the Communist regards these snake shelters as an obstruction to the basic human right of every Greek to plant as many olive trees as possible on his land. I am with Nicho.
1476 days ago
As he had promised my friend Nicho the Communist returned to the Kourounis taverna after half an hour and so shortly before eleven, two hours after we planned, we were ready to start poisoning the frigana, the ghastly snake hiding thorn bushes, that blight the Greek Hovel. Shall we go in my car I asked?
1476 days ago
A reader asks how do I ensure that, when the land around the Greek Hovel has been poisoned, the various herds of goats and flocks of sheep that wander the foothills of the Taygetos do not roll on by for a fatal meal. The land will be pretty bad for their health for at least a week. Its a fair question with a three part answer.
1476 days ago
I had agreed to meet Nicho the Communist at 9 AM sharp to poison the frigana at the Greek Hovel. Lovely Eleni had promised to keep him sober on the Friday and although I tarried a bit over my breakfast coffee I arrived at the track leading to the Greek Hovel by 9 AM and was at the house by seven minutes past. No Nicho. Perhaps he was celebrating International Labour Day early with some breakfast tsipero? I contented myself with some gentle olive tree pruning.
1477 days ago
My strips for my English meter should have arrived by Fedex yesterday. They have not. And so i am still on the Greek meter where my readings are all over the shop. Overall the trend seems down and yesterday post run I scored a reading of 106 which I gather is 5.9 in proper money. Okay vigorous exercise really spoofs the meter but three weeks ago I could have run a marathon and still not got anywhere near that level. Okay that is a lie.
1480 days ago
Fourth time lucky. At the agreed time, Nicho the Communist wandered into the Kourounis taverna in Kambos for our trip to inspect the olives at the Greek Hovel. I had left him the previous day five hours into his binge with George, George and anyone else he could find as he celebrated St George's Day. He confessed that he had continued celebrating until late at night on a taverna crawl round Kambos - there are four places to drink in our village of 536 souls.He had that look, that I remember from my own days of heavy drinking, that says "I am never going to touch alcohol again." But of course you always do. Having not touched the demon drink for almost ten days I am feeling a little smug. Excuse my smugness.
1481 days ago
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.
1482 days ago
On the first day that Nicho the Communist and I were due to inspect the wild olives at the Greek Hovel to see about turning them into yielding trees he forgot our appointment. Yesterday it was raining so we postponed until 3 PM today. After a morning scribbling away and a good session at the hotel gym, I arrived on time to find my friend, rather worse for wear, at Miranda's the establishment next to the Kourounis taverna of lovely Eleni.
1483 days ago
Back in early December when I arrived at the Greek Hovel for the olive harvest, the Taygettos mountains behind me were already covered with thick snow which you might think a bit odd. After all we are at the Southernmost edge of Europe and Al Gore and the global warming loons were telling us twenty years ago that this area would be almost a desert by now. Well guess what?
1483 days ago
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.
1485 days ago
I arranged to meet architects George and Sofia at the Greek Hovel at 11 AM. I arrived twenty minutes late but no-one was there. This is Greece so eleven sharp means any time before twelve and at about twenty to twelve my friends arrived. They brought with them the head builder, an ethnic Greek from Albania, so a man my father will approve of big time. I got down to the main point quickly. I showed them the snake I had killed and asked the builder how he felt about snakes. "I kill them with my bare hands" he said. I like him a lot and said that "you can have the next one."
1487 days ago
Not withstanding my snake killing heroics of yesterday, I still live in dread of the vipers that slither around the Greek Hovel and across its fields. Irrationally, for I have never seen a snake there, there is one spot that holds particular dread. And it is all the fault of Julia Donaldson, the author of the children's classic, The Gruffalo.
1487 days ago
This day goes down in history. I am terrified of snakes. Everyone in the village of Kambos knows it and laughs at the idea of the weird Englishman from Toumbia living in a hovel in the snake fields at the top of snake hill. But I need to do manual labour and so this afternoon headed to the hovel. Retrieving my pick axe from the rat room, or spare bat room as it is now known, I went onto the illegally constructed level above it, the snake veranda.
1487 days ago
Arriving back at the Greek Hovel I am always terrified as to what forms of wildlife diversity have camped out there while I have been away. I turn up whatever crap music I can pick up on a car radio here in the lower levels of the mountains, open the car windows and try to warn all of God's creations that I am back and they should flee. Of course they know that I am not a hard Greek or Albanian who will kill them all but a total wuss so nothing flees.
1487 days ago
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.
1488 days ago
In fact I have only been away for about ten weeks since the February burning & olive fertilising season so it is not exactly long time no see. But even had it been ten years not ten weeks I doubt that much would have changed in Kambos, the village nearest to the Greek hovel.
1539 days ago
George the Albanian said to be there at 8 AM and I, more or less, was. No one in Greece is ever on time and so I operate on the "when in Rome" principle. Having showed that I was a hopeless pryomaniac a few days earlier I was preparing for humiliation. I got it.
1545 days ago
Just over a third of the way between the Hovel and the far end of the land lies an old ruin. I think it was a house once and in a sense it still is. For inside the ruins there lived a snake all of last summer and the summers before. I heard it many times as I rushed on by. When foolish enough to prune the olive tree at its edge last summer I saw a snake shape disappearing into the grass. This is Mr snake's house. But not for much longer.
1545 days ago
I have been reluctant to enter the rat room at the Greek Hovel. Its light is broken and it is dark. I bravely ventured in once to leave my axe and saw but did not enjoy it, as the room contains a great pile of logs I put there a year ago to burn in the fire when this place is finally habitable.
1545 days ago
Fear not there are not any pictures of my fertilizing olive trees as only a man can do. Although I have assisted a few of my little darlings in this way over the past few days. This is the formal process with George the Albanian, his Mrs and myself in a team of three.
1546 days ago
Charlatan Darren Winters coughing up nearly all the cash he owed us after his latest court thrashing was a good reason to celebrate. And thus, I headed to my favourite restaurant here in Kalamata and started with an ouzo. Sadly the fresh octopus was not available. Hmmmmmmm. how to tease my friend the bear raider Evil Knievil with pictures of what treats lay in store? Could I top the honey soaked puddings at the Kourounis Taverna in Kambos (prop. lovely Eleni) or the fresh octopus at this place?
1546 days ago
I am reluctant to draw a map of the route to the Greek Hovel pointing out all the landmarks that I refer to in my writings. Maybe you want to see exactly how Monastery Hill links to snake hill? Well tough, I enjoy the safety that comes with folks finding it bloody hard to find me.
1547 days ago
I will produce a detailed photo article on my manual labours today on the fields at the Greek Hovel later today but I am rapidly concluding that I am getting a bit old for this manual labour malarky. No doubt six months on a building site over the summer will knock me into shape. In terms of the markets Steve Moore is a nice guy. He needs to learn to be a total bastard like me. I comment on Brave Bison (BBSN) where young Steve was just far too nice - someone at Brave should be doing a per walk. In a similar vein I comment on Milestone Group (MSG). Then it is onto the much ramped Frontera Resources (FRR), ditto China Africa (CAF) and then onto Inmarsat (ISAT) and Avanti Communications (AVN). Oh and I have chatted to Colin Bird of Xtract Resources (XTR).
1547 days ago
I have noted before that at this time of year the fields around Kambos and at the Greek Hovel are not the straw brown you associate with a Greek summer but pure green albeit daisies are everywhere so there are spots of white dotting the field. But as I wandered around burning old olive branches today (gosh I smell like a bonfire) there were other colours, other flowers just growing on their own here and there as you can see below..
1548 days ago
I do not normally pay much attention to what folks on neighbouring tables say when watching the world go by in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel where I hope to spend most of the rest of my life. I just tap away at my keyboard or think about olives. But today I exploded as a fat and smug German explained to a couple of timorous Brits why hard Brexit would screw England and thus why we should "obey orders" and fall into line with what Germany, sorry the EU, wanted. I exploded.
1550 days ago
I hope the picture below conveys the sheer beauty of the taygetos mountains which tower above the Greek Hovel. I caught this shot of the snow capped peaks as I headed up for a spot of olive tree pruning earlier this afternoon.
1550 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.
1551 days ago
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.
1551 days ago
Yesterday I served up a picture of the snow capped mountains of the Northern Peloponnese to show that it is not just in the far North of Greece that global warming falls each year. I am now in the Southern Peloponnese, in fact the Mani, where the Greek Hovel is located, is the most southerly part of mainland Greece. And guess what?
1553 days ago
I gather from my father, Darren and the Mrs that it snowed a bit in Shipston, London and Bristol today. It was snowing in Metsovo this morning and the fields on the Anelion side of the vallet were all white. But in case you think that the snow falls only in the Northern Pindus mountains, have a butchers at this photo taken from the Northern side of the Gulf of Corinth at Patras. The bridge across the gulf is pretty spectacular but look on the other side. That is the Pelopponese.
1562 days ago
I know. I know. I have made minimal progress at all with learning Greek or with the novel based out in Greece so why start a third project? Well I shall make progress on both of my major tasks this summer as I take six months away from full time writing to work on a building site, that is to say the Greek Hovel. So before I get Alzheimers...
1564 days ago
The Mrs asked me to put the bins out today. According to the complex glossy grid posted to us by cash strapped Bristol City Council, it is a 4 bin day. I am still not sure what the difference is between the green box and the black box but they together with the big black bin and the brown food bin must all go outside by 7 AM and if you are caught putting the wrong stuff in the wrong box you are publicly stoned to death in a multi cultural ceremony to demonstrate Bristol's commitment to diversity as well as saving the planet.
1582 days ago
If you are preparing for a five hour journey to work along snow covered roads or your pipes have just burst you may think that I am talking utter rubbish. But the lack of snow here in Bristol is really starting to annoy me.
Over in Greece there is lots of the white stuff on the mountains above the Greek Hovel and in fact far lower down as well. The Express tells us on a daily basis that Britain is braced for a deluge of global warming. Channel 4 News
1584 days ago
The Mrs has a new best friend, the Greek consul in Birmingham. Once again she is trekking her way up to the frozen grim Northern post industrial wastelands in order to get more official forms stamped. Such is life in Greece. There are rules governing everything and always forms to fill in. Native bubbles rarely bother with many of them but some, such as this latest one which allows us to submit a building permit for the Greek Hovel cannot be avoided. Hence the trip to Birmingham.
1594 days ago
I did okay in 2016. The notable win being quitting smoking although that was not something I started until February 15. So I guess I don't need to start my 2017 resolutions right away. that is jolly useful as we still have a bit of Christmas cake and an excellent cheddar cheese from Uncle Chris to finish off. That brings me to resolution one.
1600 days ago
On Christmas Day I chatted to Uncle Chris Booker. A wide ranging chat but we cannot help but conclude that at a geo-political level the world is going ever more badly wrong. Price Charles this populism is a real danger and must be fought. Quite right you unelected hereditary multi millionaire, lets pursue policies that favour the 1% and screw the masses. Let's stick with policies that, for a reason that a patrician fool might not grasp, are not popular in any way. As a life long republican I really do hope that the Queen lives forever.
1603 days ago
The photos below are self explanatory. One five kg tin has been changed into ten presents. Eight were posted yesterday, after 2 hours was spent at the Post Office wrapping them in the prescribed manner. I know that it worked as the first has just landed in London. Two more remain for hand delivery or post Christmas sendings.
1613 days ago
What follows shows how the olives from the Greek Hovel (2.681 tonnes) became 450 kg of olive oil. Having revisited ny 2014 results that is a tiny fall in olives but a steep fall in oil. But I got a better price so have walked away with roughly the same cash - 1650 Euro, against labour costs of 770 Euro now that I do my pruning myself.
1614 days ago
Before I gert any snotty lawyers letters from fascist law firm Web Sheriff which acts for celebs who drone on about promoting safe sex and AIDS awareness while not practising what they preach, the picture I furnish you with below is not actually an olive oil bath. But it could be. It is in fact a tank into which the oil from the Greek Hovel is actually pouring as this photo is being taken. We produced 449 litres which would fill this up to about three quarters full. That would easily be enough for a cosy bath for two, but maybe it would get a bit tight with three. What do you think?
1614 days ago
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.
1614 days ago
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.
1615 days ago
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.
1616 days ago
It was in the summer of 2015, I think, that I made the acquaintance of a feral kitten at the Greek Hovel. The timid little thing was terrified of humans but I managed to persuade it to take a few saucers of milk. I did so because I love cats and who cannot love a sweet little kitten? I also thought how much it looked like Kitosh, pictured, the cat I owned before Oakley. And there was self interest at play as well.
1616 days ago
I imagine that you are all thinking of large black specimens. Think again, the olives here are mainly green with some turning a shade of purple while others are indeed black. But they are also very small, think of a small marble and then think a bit smaller. The photos below should give you some idea. The reference point is my hand.
1616 days ago
And so we entered what George the Albanian said would be the final day of the 2016 olive harvest at the Greek Hovel. The final trees were those around the house which had received special care from me in the summer and so I hoped for a good day. But it started badly with George, his women and me trooping off to the far corners of the hovel to collect sacks full of olives.
1616 days ago
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.
1617 days ago
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.
1618 days ago
Adam Reynolds and the Mrs are in my good books for returning phone calls and thus giving me phone breaks today. Peter Greensmith of Peterhouse did not and so ensured more toil and torture for me. Bad man Peter. Anyhow the sun shone all day and we toiled away as ever.
1619 days ago
Arriving at the Greek Hovel this morning it was damp underfoot. There had been overnight rain and the puddles in the dry river are growing and threatening to link up to form a vibrant stream, but the skies looked clear enough. I wandered down to the other side of the ruin, the lair of the snake, to trees that have gone from zeros to heros in the space of a year. George the Albanian was hard at work as was one of his women. But only one. Hell's teeth: what could have gone wrong?
1620 days ago
Greek is one of those languages where folks sound animated even if they discussing the weather or when the next bus arrives. But the conversations that break out between George the Albanian and his two female assistants, as we harvest the olives up at the Greek hovel, seem very animated indeed. I have no idea what they are on about.
1620 days ago
I shall be saying another prayer at the little church on the way to my Greek Hovel tomorrow morning. It will be a prayer asking God not only to show strength to my source on the kerboom emails for one AIM stock but also to make Lord Peter Hain see the light about his involvement with the fraud African Potash (AFPO) as it prepares to see its shares suspended this Wednesday. Lord Hain is no doubt familiar with the book of Mark, chapter 10 verses 20-24. King James version natch:
1620 days ago
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.
1621 days ago
At about 2.30 this afternoon George the Albanian wandered over carrying the electric olive harvesting rod which I think is called a twerker. Battery kaput he said and looked unhappy. I endeavoured to look sad too but internally I was delighted because surely this meant that we could knock off early. Bar a 40 minute break to upload my Advanced Oncotherapy bombshell article and 20 minutes at lunchtime when I devoured a hunk of bread dripping in olive oil, a small piece of feta and a tomato all provided by George, I had been working hard since just after eight. And I was aching all over.
Sadly my inner joy was short-lived.
1622 days ago
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,
1622 days ago
You find me sitting in the Kourounis taverna of lovely Eleni in my Greek "home village" of Kambos. Idle bastard, I hear you say, it is only 9.30 AM Greek time why isn't the slacker off harvesting olives. Au contraire mes amis, I have completed my second day of harvesting without injuries and honour intact. The truth is that rain (vreki) has stopped play for all of us hardworking labourers.
Almost from the moment I arrived I could hear the thunder claps.
1623 days ago
I have had some emails read out to me and they are dynamite. I hope they will land in my in-box soon. I shall pop into the small church on the way to the Greek Hovel tonight to say a prayer for their safe arrival as if they arrive some folks are in deep deep merde and it will certainly be an ouzo o'clock moment. Please join me in my prayers. Elsewhere I look at Boohoo.com (BOO), Avanti Communications (AVN), Cloudtag (CTAG), Mosman Oil & Gas (SHITE), African Potash (FRAUD), 88 Energy (HYPE) and with that I wish you all a happy weekend.
1623 days ago
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
1625 days ago
The recent rains means that my friend George the Albanian cannot start work until Saturday on our olive harvest but I went up to the Greek Hovel to do a preliminary investigation and it looks as if we have a pretty good crop. It has been a wet years and I like to think that my aggressive pruning and work on fertilising the trees has paid off. As you can see, the trees are just dripping in olives.
1625 days ago
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.
1627 days ago
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.
1638 days ago
I know the area at the bottom end of Fleet Street, where it turns into Ludgate Hill and you wander up to St Pauls, like the back of my hand. Twenty years ago I worked around there at the Chronic Investor and used to walk home Eastwards. For two decades, at Christmas I would go to midnight mass at the journalists' church, St Brides. The area has changed a lot over the twenty five years that we have been acquainted. Unlike me, it has smartened itself up. But it is still familiar territory.
1639 days ago
Last year the olive harvest at the Greek Hovel was dire and I fell and ended up in hospital. I am hoping that things got far better on both counts in 2016. And thus yesterday I found myself calling the Kourounis Taverna, owned by lovely Eleni one of the two English speakers in Kambos, the nearest village to our place. Sadly it was her husband Nicko who answered and thus I struggled in Greek. Is it calinichta or calispera? God only knows. I tried both and then said "Its Tom". Aha cala? he said. Cala said I. And he called Eleni for our conversation had just about reached its limits.
1643 days ago
You are meant to make your Christmas puddings six weeks before Christmas to allow them to age and mature and so, leaving it to the last possible moment I have now just done that. The recipe is from a cookbook from the Queen of Irish cooking the amazing Darina Allen although she says that it is from her mother in law Myrtle, the founder of Ballymaloe. I think that Myrtle is still with us though she must be 92 by now and I am lucky enough to have visited the famed cooking school near Cork several times.
1652 days ago
A process that was meant to take just four weeks has taken four months but heck this is Greece we are talking about, the Scotland of the South. A third of adults in Greece work for the Government but nothing ever gets done. But today we have learned that the Architects Council has okayed our plans to redevelop the Greek Hovel. Phew.
1669 days ago
The Mrs and I bought the Greek Hovel about 28 months ago. Naively we rather assumed that by now it would have been renovated and we could both head over to enjoy the forthcoming olive harvest in comfort. Au contraire. If there was an Olympic gold for bureaucracy then the Hellenic Republic would be winning it every year. But there is good news today.
1695 days ago
It is a bit off the radar screens of the mainstream media right now but life in Greece grows ever more miserable. Nothing works. The poor are getting poorer and hope has just gone. But of course PM Alex Tspiras, a man reminiscent of Tony Blair in all the worst ways, will accept none of the blame.
1697 days ago
I have had an on off battle with my weight for forty years. 2016 has not been my best year. The scores on the doors as we head through September are Fat 8 TW 1. Giving up smoking on February 15th was a great thing to do but I put on a few pounds in the Spring. In May and June I worked hard in the fields at the Greek hovel and managed to shed much of the post smoking gain. Since then, comfort eating, and the odd cider, with a bereaved father and with a pregnant wife has been bad news indeed. But enough is enough. The fight back is underway.
1714 days ago
Given that she is due to give birth to our son in nine days time I might just forgive her but the Mrs is pushing her luck.
Among the very few possessions of mine that are allowed in the house as opposed to the garage are a signed and framed Mark Cavendish shirt which, given what team it is from, is actually quite rare and a framed and signed Geoff Hurst 1966
1746 days ago
Our friend M popped by last night for an amazing supper prepared by yours truly. The roast chicken stuffed with lemon and ginger really was superb. I would be modest about my culinary skills but it is hard to find anything to be modest about. The strawberry and dessert gooseberry crumble was almost magical. It was almost a perfect 10. I digress. M has in the space of seven days become addicted to Pokemon.
1762 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.
1762 days ago
It was my last evening in Greece. I felt sad both to be returning to Britain and because of the reason that I was returning early. having been blown out on my hot date with the amazing woman, I drove from the abandoned monastery not back to the hovel but to the village one last time for supper. Having problems parking in the Centre of kambos I continued on the main road out of the village seeking a place to turn.
1762 days ago
It is one of the charms of Greece that if one makes an appointment for 7.30 PM on Friday in really means any time between Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. It was in that spirit that I prepared for my date with the most amazing woman to be shown around the deserted monastery, actually a convent, which sits on the other side of the valley from the Greek Hovel. As the crow flies it is actually my nearest neighbour and, as you can see, it is a pretty impressive building.
1775 days ago
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?
1776 days ago
Back in the UK I sit at my desk looking out on a quiet surburban road. It is all very different to the view from the rough table at which I write at the Greek Hovel. I see people, cars and neat brick walls rather than olive trees, sheep, the abandoned monastery and the wild of the Mani countryside. Here in Bristol, I also spot in a magazine rack next to my desk a copy of Grazia magazine.
1778 days ago
As I go to sleep in the Greek Hovel I drown out the sounds of the wildlife diversity with a bit of music. Right now this is playing, I suspect the quiet valley has never heard SLF before.
1778 days ago
I am not sure if my date will turn up but I am counting down the hours anyway to my trip with the most amazing woman to the abandoned monastery, which was actually a convent. I try to imagine what is inside the buildings which I pass every day on my travels from the Greek Hovel into Kambos, but only time will tell. Or won't.
Meanwhile I have solved another mystery.
1778 days ago
Lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna has still not reopened. But the hardcore clientele led by Nicho the communist and Vangelis in his pink shirt still sit resolutely on its outside tables, using its internet link and chatting with the wider Eleni family. Rather naughtily I have discovered that I can use the Kourounis wi-fi while sitting in Miranda's next door and did that as i tucked into a last meal of Mani sausage and courgettes.
And then I said farewell to Miranda explaining, in Greek, that I was going to England tomorrow. Yes you heard that correctly I spoke a few words of fucking Greek. And then back to Elenis where I explained why I was leaving. I showed them all the picture of the Mrs at Mistras and they understood...
Vangelis talked of drinking.
1778 days ago
It is my last full day at the Greek Hovel and I shall miss my life here badly. It is just after three in the afternoon and I sit in the shade in the centre of Kambos typping away with a glass of ouzo to hand (celebrating vengeance after eleven years) watching the world go by. As ever the A Board on the main street of Kambos advertises all sorts of delight at Miranda's little taverna. Fish, grilled meats, toasted kangaroo, the list goes on. Actually I made up that bit about the kangaroo but it might as well have been on the public menu becaase the actual menu is...what is on top the oven today which is chicken and spaghetti.
Miranda gets me
1779 days ago
After yesterday's encounter with an adder I was not exactly gagging to go frigana cutting today. The only real patches left are thick bushes whrere the shoots can be up to six foot tall and where, one imagines, snakes regard it as an ideal place to sit around waiting for prey. Or me. So I procastinated, swapping emails with David Lenigas, and writing a long piece on Tony Baldry, a loathsome scumbag former Tory MP who makes your avereage adder seem like a nice piece of work.
But I was conscious that I had enjoyed a few ouzos the night before and so needed to spend some time toiling in the heat to burn off those calories and so, in the end, plucked up courage and headed off to the fields.
Full of petrol
1780 days ago
I decided that it was time to tackle the frigana bushes that sit just outside the fence on the mountain side of the land at the Greek Hovel. Access is easy as the fence runs alongside a paved road used by the shepherd and, as far as I can see, nobody else at all.
I approached the first bush which sat on a rock and slashed away the grass in front of it so that nothing mide jump out at me. So far so good. I then started hacking away at what was a ha5rdy old bush with every sprout intertwined with grass and other green things. Fuck!
1780 days ago
Some people are just good at languages. The Mrs speaks perfect English (for a Northerner), very good Swedish and very acceptable Greek. Some of us are bad at languages. Other than English I speak poor French and a smattering of Greek, Latin and German - all poorly. And some of us are bad at languages but think we are rather better than bad. I think of my father.
1781 days ago
The meeting with the most amazing woman from last week is still something I am thinking about almost daily. Prompted by a couple of let-downs, I almost sent an email firing nearly all of those working with me today. That was a direct result of that meeting.
I have known for a while
1781 days ago
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
1781 days ago
With some sadness I contacted British Airways today to move my flight forward and by Saturday evening I shall be back in the UK. I don't say back home because I feel more and more that my home will be out here at the Greek Hovel. I leave a lot of thoughts and ideas behind here in the mountains above Kambos. But I also leave something more tangible. It is with great regret that I shall not be here in mid August when the grapes below which trail from vines either side of the hovel, are large, ripe and tasting fantastic. Drat!
1781 days ago
Who would believe that the fine cat below is the same species as my morbidly obese three legged moggie Oakley. The latter, for some reason, has a deep aversion to the working classes and so when middle class folk arrive he is uber-friendly. When tradesman arrive it is rather different. Right now plumbers are installing a new bathroom for the Mrs and Oakley is spending his entire working day cowering under the duvet in the top bedroom.
Back here in the Greek mountains
1784 days ago
I mentioned earlier that the weather was turning for the worse at the Greek Hovel. I should cocoa. As I drove back from a very late lunch in Kambos, Mark Slater called. I parked almost at the top of Snake Hill and we talked but then it started raining. After a good chat I had to hang up as the rain was hitting the car roof so hard that I could barely hear a word. I made it home and saw a small man holding an umbrella walking towards me from the side of my house and waving.
Who on earth could be up here in this weather - what a lunatic.
1784 days ago
There was I having a late afternoon doze in the Greek Hovel when I awoke to a sound which seemed right outside my window, the sound of sheep. For those living the other side of Offa's Dyke this might sound like the climax of a wet dream but for me it was reality as I went onto my balcony on the Monastery facing side of the hovel and, you can see what I saw right beneath me.
1784 days ago
I was woken today by the sound of heavy thunder in the tall hills to my far right and in front of me. There was no lightening and it has now abated but in those hills dark clouds still loom, indeed a fog of rain clouds are now covering those slopes directly in front of me obscuring my view. Behind me, and to my left, in the Taygetos mountains there are also dark rain clouds evident. After day after day of 40 degree heat or worse this is such a break.
1786 days ago
Today I plunged into the wildest parts of the land at the Greek Hovel. In the far corner the olive trees are immersed in frigana, long grass and bushes. If I was a snake that is where I'd live. No question. Tentatively I plunged in to prune but I looked nervously around me every step of the way. There are some areas where the plants are just so dense that I don't dare head in. I will need to call fearless George the Albanian to "assist me" with those. Or maybe I tackle them in December when the snakes are hibernating? Anyhow, as I pruned I thought of all those AIM CEOs sitting at their desks in London, earning vast salaries for shuffling paper around.
1787 days ago
After a long hard day at my desk and labouring in the olive groves I left the Greek Hovel as it was already getting dark and headed through the olive groves, down snake hill to the valley floor and then up past the deserted monastery and into the bright lights of Kambos. I could not wait for another excellent healthy Greek salad from Miranda, whose offerings I had sampled for the first time just eight hours previously.
1787 days ago
I was feeling a little weak. It is just so bloody hot and this one meal a day regime is not helping. My pruning is done and my frigana chopper needed a tweak down in Kambos and so I left the Greek Hovel and, being brave, made my first visit to Miranda's, the taverna in between the Kourounis taverna and the snake repellent/frigana chopper ,mending store.
I think that this is Miranda's. I have translated the sign from Greek lettering so I would not bet the ranch on that but henceforth I shall refer to it as Miranda's. The taverna itself
1787 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.
1790 days ago
My daughter calls to wish me a happy father's day. Sadly she has not been tracking my whereabouts and so this serves as a just past midnight wake up call. It is not as if I can sleep anyway. The fan is broken and the heat inside the Greek Hovel is unbearable. I dare not open a window for fear of what might come and join me, although the night air is cool.
Now and again I venture onto the small balcony outside my prison cell which looks over the valley towards the deserted monastery. I stand there in just my underpants for
1790 days ago
For the reasons explained in the Tomograph and bearcast I sense that my visit here will be cut short and thus there is a mad scramble to complete my olive pruning. I had reckoned that I had three days work left. I blitzed it today, doing two sessions in which I worked till I felt feint and I think I am now just a day from completion.
It is hot and after each session as I trudge slowly back to the Greek Hovel, for the last trees are in the far reaches of our land, my mouth is parched and my limbs ache. I arrive back and dive for the little tap on the side of the house which is where we get all our water from here. I splash it on sweating arms and my face. I gulp greedily. I am drinking
1790 days ago
It was towards the end of the visit by the Mrs to Greece that we drove up to Mistra, a place that I had never visited before. I shall do a three part photo series on the trip shortly - as i while away my evenings at the Greek Hovel - but on the off chance you are planning a trip to Greece soon ensure that you visit this incredible place. Meanwhile here is the Mrs offering a side profile which now reminds me of East Anglia. She looks amazing don't you think?
1792 days ago
It was eight days ago that my father and I popped over to Kambos to visit the Greek Hovel and to meet a friend of mine from the neighbouring village. We will come to him and his village, the Feta village, in due course. He did not show up. Perhaps, as we had both had vast amounts of ouzo when we made this plan, he had forghotten. Worse was to come, we arrived to see that the Kourounis taverna was shut. Eleni's husband Nicho said "ten days, no coffee, no Greek Salad, no ouzo" And with that Dad & I sloped off to the ouzerie opposite, a place frequented only by very old men.
It was my first visit there and we had a couple of ouzos. The owner - with whom I crossed swords regarding parking a couple of years ago - brought
1793 days ago
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.
1797 days ago
It is not just the olives that are getting bigger and bigger but also the grapes. A rather untrained vine winds its way across a random set of wires either side of the Greek Hovel. One day I shall have a trained vine and lots of grapes but, for the time being, I fertilise this feral creature in a way that only a man can do and watch with delight as the fruit grow and grow. I fear that when the grapes are ready in early August I shall not be there to enjoy them as they are large, sweet and incredibly "more-ish".
They will instead provide nourishment for large wasps
1797 days ago
I see from numerous congratulations messages from folks who I I do not know, sent via LinkedIn, that I am celebrating another anniversary. Having checked it out it appears that www.TomWinnifrith.com is four years old. It was a very strange birth indeed.
1799 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
1800 days ago
Winnifrith males have loud voices and we like to tease each other and also anyone unfortunate enough to join us, in the case of supper last night that meant my dear wife. And thus as the wine flowed we found ourselves discussing the output of our various universities.
My father is, of course, a full on elitist but knowing that his deluded lefty wife who forces him to read the Guardian may disapprove sometimes finds himself having to pretend otherwise. And thus as we discuss the Brexit vote, I note that John Stuart Mill raised in "On Democracy" the idea that more intelligent folks should get more votes. Why not, I suggest give 10 votes to those of us who went to Oxbridge (my father and I), 5 to Russell Group graduates, 2 to those who attended other old universities, 1 to those with no degree and minus 1 to those who attended the former Polytechnics. Thus my wife would get 2 votes and her students would all get minus 1 votes. On reflection having lectured ti them, make that minus five votes.
I am joking but with this wheeze get a double tease. My wife is naturally appalled
1800 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.
1801 days ago
I gather that back in the UK you have all had a spot of bother with thunderstorms and tornados. Has David Cameron managed to blame a surge in support for Brexit yet? Just watch out little people, if you back Boris and Priti you are all going to drown and here are a list of 100 experts who support that claim. Okay 98 of them are on the EU payroll in some way, shape or form but they are frigging experts and you are little people who cant be trusted to make your own minds up. So either start building an ark or vote the right way!
As it happens the mountains above Kardamili are also covered in dark clouds
1802 days ago
I am sure that many of you reading this believe that olives like all other food come from Tesco wrapped in clean plastic packets and therefore may scream "yuk" as you read what follows. Yes, my dear sweet wife I am thinking about you and all the other latte drinking townies out there. Those of us who grew up in the boonies know that producing food is a hell of a lot easier if you have loads of shit ( i.e manure) to boost the process. I have no manure yet although my first batch of humanure from the eco-loo should be ready next year. But I have something even better...wee wee.
1803 days ago
When the Mrs bought the Greek Hovel we were told that there were around 120-150 olive trees here. A few are wild so bear no fruit but still we had a lot of trees. I am now convinced that the number is far greater as I navigate the far reaches of the land. I do so more conscious than ever, after yesterday, that I am not alone as I work.
1803 days ago
For some reason I awoke early this morning. It is probably the knowledge that the Mrs lands at 11.30 Greek Time and so I have a fair bit of scribbling to do to ensure that you get your daily dose of golden prose and poisonous malice. As is my wont I threw open the front door ahead of doing to an olive tree what only a man can do. With a speed my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley could not even contemplate a small cat shot past me.
1803 days ago
It is now 30 degrees or more day in and day out at the Greek Hovel. And I am up in the mountains, down by the sea it is warmer still. But that constant sunshine now leaves the fields and hills looking ever browner as you can see below.
1804 days ago
He is back. In the space between the window at the far end of the room from my bed and the shutter sits a smallish rat. It is where the rats always sit. I thought that I had driven them all away with generous helpings of rat "sweeties", the little blue pills which help send them to a "better place".
1804 days ago
I've been nicotine clean now for three months and three weeks exactly and the urge to have "just one" cigarette is now really pretty rare. But I must admit to having such an urge just now.
1805 days ago
Last time it was the slowdown in house prices. Today it is the fact that UK equities are not rocketing that Malcolm Stacey is blaming on Brexit fears. His fellow Guardian reading Euro loons blame Brexit for slowing UK economic growth while Dodgy Dave blames it for an increased chance of World War Three. Maybe it is Brexit that is causing Cheryl Cole not to head out to the Greek Hovel for a night of passion with me?.Bloody Boris, you bastard: it is all your fault that I am not playing jiggy wiggy with the UK's leading chanteuse tonight.
1805 days ago
In today's podcast I start with a few words on Greece as I head up to the Greek Hovel and the snakes. Then I move through TrakM8 (TRAK), Avanti Communications (AVN) and onto Boxhill (BOX). Lord Razzall: we will give you the day off to compose a resignation (in disgrace) letter, there are two more bombshells for you but they can wait until the weekend. I look at Bushveld (BMN), Jupiter Energy (JPRL) - and what its crisis says about oil companies in general - and finally I spend a good time taking apart Mayair Group (MAYA)
1805 days ago
That is it. I have written a stack of articles. I have done two very hard and sweaty sessions of frigana slashing and I shall do a stint on the olive pruning and then I am off. Ive served my time in the fields of the Greek Hovel, I've penned my golden prose and apart from anything else, having been drenched in sweat, I smell less than perfumed.
Because of the wildlife diversity I wear thick black jeans when wading into the frigana bushes. Given that it is 30 degrees plus even up at the hovel that is less than comfortable and I have spent all day dreaming of wading into the sea. All work no play makes Tom a dull - and in this case smelly - boy. Off to the sea I go.
1805 days ago
I have somehow lost the only torch that actually works. And that means that the eight yard walk from where I park my car to the front door of the Greek Hovel must be made in complete darkness. Well almost. I always leave the light on at the hovel to guide me. Except that last night I also forgot to do that.
And so, after a long phone call from a fellow member of the Banstead Athletic supporters club, taken in Kambos last night I made it back to the hovel just after midnight and the skies were black. I shone my car headlights at the bat room and had the music blaring from the car radio. I hoped that the wildlife diversity was listening and fleeing.
In theory the path to the house should be safe from you know whats as
1806 days ago
The forestry permit was meant to take three months but took seven. Our architects - who one imagines are not exactly rushed off their feet with new projects - then took another two and a half months getting ready plans which were meant to have been ready when Forestry came through. But last week I was told that we will submit for a Building permit next week.
No-one answered my emails since then and so
1806 days ago
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,
1812 days ago
A final farewell to Kambos...well for a week only. Having escorted my father back to Kalamata next Thursday I shall be back at the Greek Hovel in a week's time. A final farewell means popping into the Kourounis taverna for an ouzo with the owner Nicho, the husband of lovely Eleni. Farewell say I to Eleni, who wishes me "good travels." I remind you that she is the best English speaker in the village. In her arms, as you can see below, the only person in Kambos whose Greek is worse than mine.
1812 days ago
I leave Greece for a few days with, I think, almost 80% of the olive trees now pruned. my hands are covered in scratches and cuts and I am not sure that I shall win any prizes for my pruning but I think I am getting there.
The tools of the trade are below. The shaving foam canister is just there to show you how small my axe and saw are. I wield one in each hand. One of the few advantages of my Victorian era primary school teacher forcing me to start writing with my right hand when I was a natural "leftie" is
1812 days ago
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
1813 days ago
I had seen them earlier as I had driven in. They were dressed in walking clothes so I knew they were westerners and were, for some reason, trekking along the road from Kambos to the Greek hovel, a road to pretty much nowhere. Whatever.
Two hours later and I am tapping away at my PC in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos. There is a half eaten Greek salad on my table and an ouzo.I know that it is only lunchtime but after today's latest major vindication of my work as a fraud buster I felt I was entitled to a small celebration.
I guess I have picked up a bit of a tan since I arrived but the Brits wandered up to me and speaking very slowly in English tried to order a fanta from me. Nicho the owner
1816 days ago
I can hear a loud chirping noise from outside as I prepare to go to sleep at night. Surely it cannot be a bird? I hear nothing in the day. Tonight all has been explained. Beneath the one room that is habitable at the Greek Hovel is the bat room, named after the dominant species of inhabitant when I arrived. Behind me but a level down, underneath the snake veranda, is the rat room, the veranda and the room both named for similar reasons. The latter has been cleansed of rats and it is where I store wood for the winter.
1816 days ago
There is a reason that the Greeks, or rather the Albanians the Greeks hire to do manual labour, start at 8 AM and finish at 3 PM. The reason, I think, is snakes. That is to say the snakes are at their least active in the morning. During the day they sunbathe and so by dusk they are really quite frisky. I have hitherto been working to a different schedule. Silly me.
You see when I awake I start writing articles for you my dear readers. By the time you open up your PC at seven I have already been generating golden prose for at least ninety minutes. As such by the time I had finished generating golden prose and had my lunch (Greek salad) in Kambos today and got back for olive pruning it was 4.40 PM.
And so I headed straight for that part of the property which, when I first arrived, was a thick frigana jungle. I was convinced then that it was the sort of place that snakes really would want to hang out in but
1816 days ago
I was on the phone to the Mrs who had some good news to relay when I heard the unmistakable voice of my neighbour Charon outside. Then he banged on the door saying "Tom, Tom." I had no choice. He knew I was there. I could not hide. I opened the door.
When I say neighbour it is not as if he is just round the corner. As the crow flies his place is about another mile up the mountain. By road it is a two mile trek and Charon had walked over and was there on my doorstep topless and sweating.
It is not that I dont like him, it is just that he insists on speaking English to me. His English is better than my Greek but not a lot better. And so we have long exchanges of words which really cant be described as conversations. Sometimes I get out my Greek English dictionary and try speaking Greek words. However we go about it it is painful.
The one bond we used to have was the common language of cigarettes.
1818 days ago
Finally, the grass cutters have arrived at the Greek Hovel and I have a couple of pictures to delight Paul Roberts of Stockomendation, Justin the Clown and other Welsh listeners. Then I move onto why I am bearish about shares, it's about earnings but also debt.
1818 days ago
You guys think that I am wandering around in a T-shirt and shorts. Boy you could not be more wrong. For starters, when I am up at the hovel I always wear sturdy black jeans and long boots. You never know what is going to slither out of the bushes and bite you. I want some protection.
1818 days ago
A reader tells me not to count my chickens. Just because our 150 trees are heaving with flowers that means nothing I am told, I must see evidence of flowers becoming olives. Okay, here you go. It is happening right now, across all the trees as the photos below demonstrate.
1818 days ago
I like lizards. They do no harm to me and eat little creepy crawlies. There is one which has lost its tail and is about an inch and a half long that sleeps on the wall at the far side of the one habitable room here in the Greek Hovel. I say good night to it as I switch the lights out. It seems to have accepted my presence and no longer runs if I approach its end of the room for whatever reason.
1818 days ago
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?
1820 days ago
I once read a short story but for the life of me cannot remember its title or author but it comes to mind as I toil in the fields at the Greek Hovel, slashing away with my frigana cutter below.
1823 days ago
This was recorded before the summer truce and so that really is it from me on Big Dave. He can site on his luxury yacht checking out the birds in Monaco, I shall sit in my Greek Hovel, clocking the snakes and rats and not having to meet another human all day. I think we can safely say that neither of us would want to swap! I hope we both have a relaxing and stress free summer. Anyhow here's the video from the show. Enjoy.
1825 days ago
After three days of manual labour at the Greek hovel I was conscious that I did not exactly smell like a male model doused in perfume and thus it was time to rig up the shower as you can see below.
1825 days ago
I know I have been banging on about this all week but today I wake up having not smoked for three months and I am fecking proud of myself. It did it via cold turkey so there is no legacy nicotine in my body from vaping, gum or patches.
It was playing soccer with a range of nephews and nieces aged 7 to 16 on St Valentine's Day that made me quit. My lungs were burning after just a few minutes. I wanted to run but could not. Being outpaced by a 7 year old is just not on. Enough was enough.
And so today
1826 days ago
The way that the rat "sweeties" were disappearing made me pretty sure that relatives of the rats that I had killed off with poison last summer, were making a comeback at the hovel. And so I have laid down more and more sweeties in the gap between one of the windows and a shutter which is their favoured run. The rats can't enter the hovel but can just look in through the glass.
My pal Dave Paxton grew up in Zim and said that the best way to get rid of rats is to get more snakes on your land. No doubt if he was here, Dave
1826 days ago
Snake hill is a stretch of, very rough and multi-potholed, concrete that tracks down from the quiet olive groves on my side of the valley to the valley floor. It ends at the dry river where the track once again turns to mud for a couple of hundred yards before one takes a sharp left to head up the concreted track next to the deserted monastery where, when driving at night, I still imagine the presence of ghostly phantom monks.
Snake hill got its name two years ago when my guest that summer made the grave mistake of going for a run in the midday heat and encountered a serpent sitting on the hill. She sidestepped the viper but the hill got its name.
Ever since then I have been waiting to see another snake there. I have seen plenty of lizards and heard lots of rustling in the bushes on either side of the road but not seen a snake. But today: two!
1827 days ago
With the snake repellent canisters laid down yesterday I had no excuse and have returned to the Greek Hovel. It is now 11 PM my time, outside is just miles and miles of darkness. I don't mind that too much, my torch guided me to the front door from the car. I could see in the car headlights that there were bats flying around the rat room. But bats here are not rabid and they wont bother me.
I left the light on before I left and so I did not walk into a dark room. But its not the dark that spooks me it is the noises. Out in the fields, on the windowsill and outside my door the wildlife diversity is in full cry. I just dread to think.
But, in a stroke of genius, I have
1828 days ago
And so I tracked down a shop in Kalamata which sells canisters of Herpotex, cans that emit a smell snakes find noxious and which will keep them away for three months. In theory at least. The guide says I only need two to be placed 10 yards from two diagonally opposed corners of the hovel. Fecking hell, we are talking snakes here. I asked for four, one for each corner. The lady said "they are 30 euros each."
I thought that the price had gone up quite a bit since last year. Perhaps the fantastic "snake harvest" referred to by Nicho the communist means that demand is outstripping supply and that Herpotex snake repellent is the one item in Greece seeing real inflation? But this is snakes so I found 120
1829 days ago
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
1829 days ago
I end with a summary of the wildlife diversity encountered today at the Greek hovel as I start pruning the olive trees. I start with Iofina (IOF) where the numbers are ghastly, this is a ramp built on sand. I also cover China Africa (CAF), Opera (OPRA), Bango (BGO) and Optibiotix (OPTI). But my mind is really on the manual labour that lies ahead here in the mountains of Greece
1830 days ago
Having checked out the hovel on Sunday I drove back into the village of Kambos. There have been a few more potholes mended on the two or three mile track from the house into the village. But for every one mended another has appeared including a quite giant crater at the base of snake hill. Somehow I manage to wiggle past it and am soon sitting in on a quiet lunchtime in the Kourounis taverna owned by lovely Eleni.
I wander in with my laptop and sit in my normal seat. At the bar are
1831 days ago
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.....
1831 days ago
In three days I shall be at the Greek Hovel with the snakes, losing weight as I engage in manual labour, leaving Steve in charge. Today I deal with silly emails from Brokerman Dan Levi. Plus ca change. In today's podcast I look at Metal Tiger (MTR) and Conroy Gold (CGNR), a company that really needs Metal's Midas touch. I look at Marechale capital (MAC), Fitbug (FITB), Arian Silver (AGQ), Wishbone (WSBN) and in detail Servision (SEV). And I have had a complaint to the FRC rejected. Drat.
1881 days ago
Sadly in late June I shall not be in Bristol but will instead be working hard to rebuild the Greek Hovel. Even if planning consent is not quite in by then, I am free to start preparatory work such as digging out the stone floor of the bat room and demolishing the illegal construct on top of the rat room, the area known as the snake veranda.
The Mrs was set to join me but is now altering her travel plans. Tom Winnifrith just cannot compete with Deacon Claybourne, Gunner, Scarlett and Will Lexington. Nashville fans will know exactly what I mean. If you are not a fan of this must-watch TV series you do not know what you are missing.
We caught Gunner in action at a Country show last year in London. Rather suprisingly the actor who plays Texan born Gunner is in fact a Brit and is an accomplished singer songwriter as well as an actor. Gunner used to date Scarlett who is the neice of recovering alcoholic Deacon, now back with his sweetheart the star of the show Rayna. Deacon may or may not be dead, that is the cliffhanger at the end of series three. Well actually there was no way that Deacon who is the star of the show could be killed off, and as American viewers who are already well into Series 4 know, Deacon is alive but his ghastly sister Beverley is not doing so well.
At least for British viewers, Will is back as Gunner's housemate following the collapse of his faux marriage because he is in fact a closet homosexual. It
1972 days 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
1973 days ago
Today I was posting bottles of olive oil brought back from the Greek hovel to a few lucky folks like PR bird foxy Bex.It was a poor harves - 179 litres of oil this year - last year it was 574 litres. You always have a bad year followed by a good year and so on. You can mitigate that greatly if you are around in the summer to water the trees.
Indeed I "water" the four trees closest to the house personally several times a day
1980 days ago
Yes I have indeed done just that, or I think I have. The olive harvest saga continues and the snow has started on the mountains above the Greek Hovel, pictures later. In this podcast I look at Jabba The Hutt ramping Afriag (AFRI) and warn you what will happen next. Then a comment on LGO Energy (LGO) before heading onto PeerTV (PTV) and - in an unusual manner - I cover ValiRx (VAL). You see Satu I am a man of my word, Halosource (HALO) gets "the treatment" as does Gary Newman for buying into corporate bullshit speak. Then it is onto Photosntar Led (PSL), Fitbug (FITB) and finally InternetQ (INTQ).
PS I see that Evocutis (EVO), a David Lenigas related dog out of cash is off by 10% at 0.09p. Placing ahoy!
PPS: Warning, the pain killers are working brilliantly...extreme bad language alert.
1983 days ago
Even without my, pretty pathetic, assistance, George and his team completed the olive harvest today as I sat in the hospital. Last year it took us 5-6 days, this year it was just three. The sacks now lie at the village press whose boss greeted me like an old friend, forgetting that my Greek is somewhat weak but gabbling away happily. Tomorrow afternoon we press.
I shall take 16 litres in a can back to England for Christmas presents (Foxy Bex I have not forgotten) and personal use for the next 12 months. The rest I shall sell and that will cover George's wages, a bus fare back to Athens and maybe my flights. That is not really the point. Unless
1988 days ago
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
1992 days ago
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
2057 days ago
It I all very well sitting in my garage in Bristol or in the Greek Hovel writing about companies but it would be fascinating to actually go visit a few of them on the ground with a video camera in hand to report from the coalface. Right now that is not an option for personal reasons you know too well but next year I’ll need to clear my head and already two road trips are sort of planned.
I shall have family reasons to visit the Pindus Mountains of Northern Greece at some point. It would be great to pop in to see The Baker of Zitsa and have a glass of sparkling red wine and read some Byron while I am there. But from Zitsa it was just a horse ride for Byron and Hobhouse to Albania and would be a short drive for me to Kosovo and Macedonia (the ex-Yugoslav Republic).
2091 days ago
I had consoled myself as I contemplated snakes, bats, rats and scorpions at the Greek Hovel that at least there were no poisonous spiders in Greece. Phew. We may have more types of snakes than any other country in Europe and the hills around the Greek Hovel may be infested with them but at least I felt sure, having – I thought – read it somewhere that there was no spider issue. Spiders eat Mosquitos. We like spiders right?
2091 days ago
There, as you may remember, is just one habitable room at the Greek Hovel and its windows are sealed with masking tape, holes in the wall are now filled in, I fact it is almost impenetrable for the local wildlife diversity. But in summer that also makes it unbelievably hot at night. Without a fan I would be sitting here drenched in sweat as I type and unable to sleep afterwards in what becomes a sauna.
And so last year I bought a fan.
2091 days ago
The owner of one of the two hardware stores in Kambos sold me another bag of rat sweeties, the blue pills which he promises will kill Roland within a day. These supplemented my existing stocks and they were duly placed between the windows and the shutters around the house with a particular concentration on the one window where rats have been spotted every day.
The initial six in that window disappeared within a day and instead when I returned to the house I was greeted by a large rat grinning at me from behind that window. Thus I carefully remove two or three sweeties from other locations to ensure that the rat window is fully stocked each time I leave the Greek Hovel.
And coming back today, as has been the case every day
2095 days ago
And so yesterday lunchtime I drove back into Kambos and first stop was the hardware store number 1 where I buy canisters of snake repellent. “I am sorry we are out of stock” said my friend the owner who then assured me that the snakes season is well over and that they are all starting to hibernate. He always does that, promising me that whenever I turn up there are no snakes around as he explians his lack of stock.
I was not born yesterday and with the temperature now in the mid-thirties I was fully aware that the land around the hovel is crawling with serpents. I bought a can of chippings which my friend swore would form a protective ring around my house and headed off to see lovely Eleni at the Kourounis taverna who reassured me that the area around the hovel – where she owns some olive trees – is indeed crawling with snakes. How they must laugh in Kambos, the man who is terrified of snakes is heading back to the serpents paradise.
Rather gingerly I headed up to the hovel and was delighted to see no snakes and no signs of rats. There were however bats in both the rat room and the bat room which I have now chased away. Having happily surrounded the place with the snake magic dust I headed back to a hotel in Kalamata with a swimming pool for one last night of decadence.
2138 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.
2171 days ago
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.
2171 days ago
My last bearcast from the Greek Hovel starts with the UK Oil & Gas and Horse Hill mob suspensions. Then onto Rosslyn Data and a warning for Charles Clark, but it is not about his career in porn. Then I look at the profits warning from Scicys and what it means for others and then a discussion about running open ended funds and the problems Dave Newton has at Heliium, this covers Coms, Verdes, Optibiotix and Gable.
2172 days ago
A morning pouring poison on the frigana at the Greek Hovel leaves me a sweaty wreck. I have one more load to dump then some olive pruning and I'll call it quits. I'll do more in August. So for light relief in this podcast I explain exactly how an AIM listed China fraud works with reference to today's trading statement from Jiasen. Then it is onto serial business failure Piers Linney and his Outsourcery POS, Arria NLG and Kuala Ltd (well done Jim Mellon) then back to Ferrum Crescent.
2173 days ago
Having spent a morning dumping gallons of poison at the Greek Hovel on the accursed frigana plants, a pestilent species that serves no purpose in life and just annoys everyone I turn naturally to Conrad Windham, as I take a brief lunch break. The serial crony capitalist of the ISDX markets has walked the plank with immediate effect at All Star Minerals (ASMO).
Conman set up All Star nine years ago. Nine years later Conrad walks on a day when it says it is not going ahead with a project termed "The Big One" and that is Aussie partner may sue it for A$140,000. Oh dear.
2173 days ago
As I write there are six customers in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos. Including me four are English. This is a little unusual. Normally Kambos is a haven of Greeks but as summer approaches a few Brits arrive. It is all very middle class. We are all using the wifi and naturally not saying a word to each other. The only noise comes from a couple of noisy children who have wandered in.
Anyhow after a hard day in the fields poisoning frigana I am too tired to talk anyway.
2173 days ago
I have been toiling in the fields since before you lot got up and so need a break. With the internet mended at the Greek Hovel that means a bearcast covering the madness of filthylucre, Plus500, Tungsten, SeaEnergy, Northbridge Industrial, Golden Saint Resources, Optibiotix and Gable.
2174 days ago
So how is the sabbatical going? Hmmmm. Not quite so restful. when at the Greek hovel I live on English time so I work late and get up not quite at the crack of dawn. Other than today when my nearest neighbour - he lives a mile and a half away - Charon knocked on my door at 6 am GMT. I answered in my underpants in a rather sleepy fashion but that did not phase him.
2176 days ago
I invested in another big can of frigana poison this morning but also in a new boy toy, a 12 Euro olive axe. It is about 18 inches long and used for pruning becuase I must prune all 150 trees before I leave. Cripes it is hard work.
On days like today, when dark clouds hover on the Taegessus mountains above the Greek hovel it is an olive pruning day. The last thing you want is the rain washing the poison off the frigana plants and so your choice is made. In one hand I carry my hand saw in the other my sharp new axe (the blunt old one I found on the property broke yesterday).
Like most of you reading, I am not used to manual labour, still less work that involves you cutting and hacking with your arms above head height. I managed about twenty trees this afternoon and my arms ache. Vangelis - the man in the pink shirt - thinks I should get a power saw and that it is ather funny that I do it the old way.
Though I was taught how to prune by Foti the Albanian last summer, I sense that my work is not quite up to scratch. The axe does not always hit its target. The villagers in Kambos regard their trees as like beautiful women, to be cherished and treasured. They prune with a skill that I shall only learn with time. I rather hope that my handiwork is not inspected as it may be viewed as the olive tree equivalent of wife beating. Anyhow
2178 days ago
I was just planning to return to the Greek Hovel after an hour of subbing Zak Mir's golden prose. I had forgotten just how appalling is the way that he mangles the English language and am feeling pretty shell shocked. It has taken two ouzos to get this far and my task is only 30% done.
And at that point I heard a cry from the bar at the Kourounis taverna "Tom, ouzo".
2178 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.
2178 days ago
After a hard day at the PC and in the field, braving the snakes to poison frigana, I plan to spend a relaxing evening at the Kourounis taverna in my home village of Kambos. Lovely Eleni has made me a Greek salad covered with herbs and drizzled with home produced olive oil and so far it is just coke zeros but I may allow myself an ouzo later. In the village where we have no tourists it is just me and the regulars. They chat. I tap away on my PC and say Yassas and Kale-nichta as required.
But an English couple has just walked in.
2180 days ago
Another mellow, okay not entirely mellow podcast from Greece. Naturally there is mention of snakes in the introduction and then a few words on how Zak Mir simply is not dominating this website but even though charting is palpable nonsense we aim to please. Then onto a detailed look at why markets are being driven higher by crony capitalists using other folks cash and HAVE to retrace sharply. Then there is another see you in Court bitchez challenge - to a lying scumbag from Lombard Risk, and a few comments on the dog Tungsten.
The podcast was recorded on 21st may but I was then beset by IT snags. The odd thing is that the fastest internet connection in the Mani is in the Greek Hovel. In luxury Kardamili where I am staying with the Mrs connections break or are slow, then break. So on Friday morning I have headed back to the hovel where I am sharing my milk with a feral cat to upload this.
2182 days ago
A morning at the Greek Hovel working on frigana poisoning, lunch by the sea at Kitries and then a leisurely drive over the mountain roads back to Kardamili. That was the order of the day for the Mrs and myself. I write from the bar of the wonderful Meletsina Village hotel - my top tip for staying in Karadmili - with a Gin & Tonic looking out over the sea in the late afternoon sun. But I am frustrated.
As we drove over the mountains, the Mrs cried "there's a snake". Sure enough there was indeed a snake slithering towards safety on the other side of the road. These days I think Greek so without hesitating I swerved sharply, not thinking of what might be heading the other way around the next bend, and drove over the middle of the snake. Kill! Thought I.
But much to my dismay
2187 days ago
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.
2187 days ago
Yes, this time it was at the Greek Hovel less than 15 yards from the building. And I was just 3 or 4 foot away. Cripes. I really do not like snakes which brings me on to Philip Crawford on Lombard Risk and Nomad Charles Stanley which today signed off on an OUTRIGHT LIE of an RNS penned by Crawford. I have a 14 year old score to settle with the tosser Crawford and so accuse him of lying to investors today. Is that not against AIM rules? Elsewhere I look at Tungsten, Plus 500, Sefton, Coms and Rose Petroleum which are all sells. Events at Rose have moved fast since the bearcast vindicating me (see HERE)
2188 days ago
I am sitting happily tapping away at my computer loading a bit of blockbusting copy for ShareProphets in the morning. The Kourounis taverna in Kambos is pretty full with little groups here and there chatting away happily. The doors are flung wide open as it is a warm night. Outside at one of the tables my friend Nicho the Communist is holding Court. Behind me I can hear lovely Eleni chatting and laughing loudly. How do I know it is her? Well there are only four women in the taverna and the other three are sitting in front of me.
As I tapped away an old man reminding me of the Asterix character Geriatrix hobbled over propped up by a stick and stared at my screen. He looked hard for a couple of minutes.
2189 days ago
On the way back through the olive groves at the top of snake hill tonight I found myself tracking a fox. It did not seem too scared and eventually trotted off into the bushes. But that was not the real wildlife diversity news today - I met a snake.
I was travelling into the village in the early evening for a salad. Roadworks yesterday on abandoned monastery hill meant that I have been forced to discover a new way to get from the bottom of the valley into the village. It is a side track, not in that bad a condition, which winds its way all the way up to the top of the village past a little abandoned church coming out above our new big church. So from the top of that track you actually go downhill again to the Kourounis taverna. One day I shall draw a map for you all.
I was biking along thinking about nothing in particular when I heard a crunch under the wheels. I pulled up and looked back and about five yards behind me was a small snake. It is the small snakes that are the dangerous ones, the nine poisonous types of adder here in Greece.
There were three scenarios.
2189 days ago
Last summer, with a bit of assistance from a man called Vangelis, I chopped down 2000 Square metres of the vile thOrny frigana bushes at the Greek Hovel. In Febuary I came back to burn off the roots and now I am tramping across the property poisoning the fresh shoots that are appearing and some bushes that seem to have suervived the onslaught of 2014.
Frigana can grow to be a 15 foot plus high tree. It is a horrid plant and as I poisoned all the little shoots and bushes I came across what looked like a rather big bush. F**k me
2189 days ago
In a fairly long postcard from the Greek Hovel I cover a number of issues and start with the migrants in the Med and the ISIL threat - as ever the howling right wing British press has got this wrong. Then to the battle for the soul of the deserving working class: Labour vs UKIP vs The Tories - I have a few ideas for George Osborne.
2189 days ago
I was standing on the horrible concrete balcony which I look forward to demolishing. But it has wonderful views out over the valley and something caught my eye - movement in the long grass by the prickly pear plants. I looked more closely and it was moving really quite fast seeking sanctuary in the big bowl where we collect water. Yes it was a tortoise. They roam wild here in Greece but are rather shy so by the time I had got down there with my camera it had scuttled into a hole. I am beginning to feel a bit like Gerald Durrell.
2190 days ago
I was just riding into Kambos from the Greek Hovel and as I turned to go up deserted monastery hill I encountered a shocking member of the wildlife diversity community. More on that later. Meanwhile in today's bearcast I look at MoPowered,Tungster, Brammer, Tribal Group, Coms, Atlantic Coal and have an apology for Falanx.
2191 days ago
There was I motor biking from the Greek Hovel into Kambos when suddenly I saw it. I had just turned left after the dry river and started the climb up the hill next to the abandoned monastery (or was it a convent, one day I shall find out) when it appeared just sitting in the middle of the road.. a crab, potamon potiamos to give it its full name.
You and I might think
2194 days ago
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
2194 days ago
I thought that I had driven the live rat from the Greek Hovel but as I returned tonight I heard a distinct scuttling noise. A year ago I would have panicked but these days I am just not scared of the little critters any more. And so I picked uo the mini spade I use to clear ash from the fireplace and headed towards the noise.
I saw the rat dart under a pile of rugs. I lifted them ine by one and at rug five there stood the rat - a small thing about three inches long excluding tail - blinking in the light.
Thwack. I missed.
2196 days ago
It is a lovely old tree. It offers shade both for me and also for various members of the wildlife diversity. But it must come down. Its roots are now getting under the floor of the bat room and have already cracked up most of the pavement on the snake patio so giving accursed frigana plants a footing. And so it must come down and I have been thinking how for a while.
2196 days ago
My mother was a bit of a hippy self-sufficiency nut in the early 1970s. I spent a happy holiday on a commune in Wales not fully taking in why the dreamers who lived there were so doomed to failure. I wonder what she would think of the Greek Hovel?
At one level I am sure she’d support the idea of eco-loos, ultimate plans to be self-supporting with solar energy and to grow or catch more and more of my own food. But would she be proud of me today as I head out to spray lethal chemicals on the land?
You see the frigana (little thorns that can turn into trees) is back. Last year
2197 days ago
Slightly gingerly I got on my new bike and rode back to the Greek Hovel tonight. I encountered no wildlife diversity on the way home and, even better, none inside the hovel. Things are actually working quite well here. For starters the electricity has not been cut off despite there being an outstanding bill of 900 Euro. We think this is a bit of a misunderstanding and George the architect has played a blinder in keeping us in power. I sense we are not the only household in Greece not paying the bills. But we will do once the little misunderstanding is cleared up.
The water is also flowing. My guest last summer described the hosepipe shower as better than sex. That of course depends on who you are having sex with
2197 days ago
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.
2197 days ago
When I left in February I tried to buy two cans of snake repellent to keep the 27 varieties of Greek serpent away from the Greek hovel. The man at the hardware store said “there is no point as they are asleep, when are you back?” I said May. He said, do not worry they do not wake up till June. What he meant was “I have none in stock.”
2198 days ago
My first visit to the Greek Hovel prompts a wildlife diversity report which will appear on www.TomWinnifrith.com later. Meanwhile I explain why the Tories ARE the party of social justice and look at New World Oil & Gas, Insetco, Daniel Stewart, China Chaintek, Independent Resources, Falanx and Just Eat. Postscript...
After hours on a day when we are all kanckered and so NO-ONE IS WATCHING Daniel Stewart has announced a) a profits warning b) that it now needs to raise an additional £1 million and c) that Beaumont Cornish has agreed to be its Nomad so shares can resume trading ( and will slump) but only:
2210 days ago
News that the Moors Murderer Ian Brady is backing UKIP must delight Nigel Farage. Will he now admit that at least one of his supporters really is a fruitcake? But that is not the theme of this week's poscard it is Greece and the challenges I face this summer - starting in less than two weeks - and the challenges Greece faces. Mine are physical at the Greek Hovel. The country's challenges are financial and - I sense - coming to an uncertain head.
2231 days ago
After yesterday's podcast, it was put to me by a Euro loving loon (but good man) on twitter that Greece defaulting on its debts and leaving the Euro would be bad news for me, as my wife owns a small property in Greece – the Greek Hovel. He is correct: anyone with Greek assets would take an immediate hit after Grexit. But here is why I support the move anyway.
The hit the Mrs will take is twofold. Firstly the Hovel will now be valued in drachmas which will be a weak currency compared even to the failing Euro. As such the Sterling value of the property will plunge. She has probably lost 10% already and she’d lose another 25% overnight.
Secondly when the Greek banks are nationalised they
2254 days ago
Gone are the days when I could start my working day at 3.30 AM on Monday, down two bottles of wine during the day, work through the night and a full day Tuesday, stay up all night fretting about a Court case, suffer a High Court ordeal, down a pint of champagne and feel totally on top form on the Wednesday evening. I guess I am getting old. And so by the time I arrived at Paddington for the 7 PM to Bristol Temple Meads I felt like death warmed up and just wanted to get home to the cats and my bed. The Mrs is still with her mother.
I sat in my seat, wrapped up warm and tried to sleep. But life is not always easy and the first part of my journey just made me feel like even more of a grumpy old man who wants to leave this rotten country and sit on my Greek mountain away from everything that is ghastly abut Britain today.
Being the first off peak train it was crammed and the vague smell of cheap fast food wafted through the corridors since many of my fellow passengers had grabbed some junk to gorge upon as they rushed to get home.
In the seats behind me a kid was doing maths with his mum. 19 + 19 is 28 he insisted. The generation that will look after mine in retirement is not only thick as two short planks but also shows no deference or respect to its parents. The mother was simply wrong, the kid insisted as his voice rose. But I guess like all the other morons he will grow up to be a wannebee celeb so his stupidity won’t be an issue.
A drunk gave me a long gaze as our eyes met. I’m a nice drunk. He was not a nice drunk. I shifted my eyes rather glad that there was an older gentleman sitting between me and the drunk who promptly collapsed and spent most of the time between London and Swindon lying prostrate in the aisle or trying to do the sort of pointless exercises that only the totally inebriated consider demonstrate that they are half sober. I and the other passengers exchanged embarrassed smiles at his antics.
First Great Western apologised in a blundering, we really do not give a fuck, but pretend we care way as the fast train turned out to be a very slow train indeed, all the way to Reading. As we crawled into the City where Wilde was jailed I thought lovingly of life at the Greek Hovel and my friends in Kambos and contemplated booking a flight next week and just not coming back.
Pulling into Didcot I saw that the older gentleman next to me was interested in shares. His mobile thingy device had messages from Hargreaves Lansdowne and so I piped up “I see you are interested in shares”. We started talking. We will gloss over his ownership of Afren which I warned him was not perhaps the wisest investment, something 100% vindicated today. He has a very prudent and sensible approach to creating a balanced portfolio weighted towards collectives. He knew his onions.
The chap is a social worker but not, I think, the sort that steals your kids if you vote UKIP, but what was truly fascinating is that he was and is a real punk rocker.
2259 days ago
I used to use AutoUnion at Athens airport but for some reason switched to Europcar a couple of years ago. It is very cheap and they pick you up at the airport and take you to a compound in the middle of nowhere. And they let you drive away however hammered you may be so all in all it seems like a fair deal. The drawback? The compound is in the middle of nowhere so when you try to return the car you have to allow an hour for getting lost.
Natch when I picked the car up on my last trip to the Greek hovel it had a few scratches but I did not care. It was 4.15 AM and I wanted to get through Athens and off to the Mani before rush hour. Anyhow it was snowing and I was not going to hang around freezing my nuts off arguing about the odd scratch.
Wind forward 12 days and I returned the car and having duly spent an hour getting lost was getting a little flustered about checking in. The man looked at the car and detected some small new scratches in four places. Driving up to the Greek hovel you go through bushes and other fauna and so I imagined he’d get a spray can and fill in the small scratches.
That will be an extra 400 Euro said the man. I should charge you 480 Euro, 120 Euro to respray each panel but I can offer you a bulk discount. WTF!
2265 days ago
The man at the hardware store in Kambos said there was no need to buy snake repellent canisters as they will not wake up till June and I’m back in May. I am not so sure about that as I distinctly remember meeting a snake on what is known as the snake veranda on my first visit to the hovel in April. But I did not argue, I said efharisto and shook his hand warmly.
2267 days ago
Those who visited the Greek Hovel last summer will remember the enormous pile of frigana built at the end of the garden. We all rather feared what wildlife diversity lived underneath it. It is no more.
I arrived on Friday with the rain tipping down so there was no George. Vreki = no burning. But sod it, I thought I'd have a go myself. With a small dose of petrol from my frigana cutter and a broken seat from an old chair I got the blaze going. What is that recipe from The Gruffalo? Baked snake? No apparely Nigel Somerville says that it is scrambled snake. Anyhow the great pile is no more and I burned it myself while rain stopped play for the locals. A triumph Indeed.
2267 days ago
From morning through to night you can hear gunfire everywhere in the Mani right now. Yes it is the Albanian hunting season. Only kidding. What the folks shoot are little birds – anything with wings. In the old days Thrush was considered a delicacy and at least some of the carnage was eaten. These days the dead birds are just left to rot. This is all done in the name of “fun”
The area around the Greek Hovel is deemed a good killing field and so
2269 days ago
I shall try to drive up to the snow covered peaks of the high Taygetus at the weekend. For now I just gaze up at them from the Greek Hovel. While we enjoy bouts of heavy rain and intermittent sunshine in the foothills of the Taygetus the high peaks are covered in snow.
The first photo is from the Greek Hovel itself and the far peaks are a bit covered in cloud but you can just make out the snow.
2270 days ago
George the olive picker is back in my life and there is no end to his talents. I tried to set frigana on fire and failed abjectly. George gathers a pile of dried frigana – the stuff I slashed last summer – or olive branches from the harvest and whoosh! We have a bonfire. In fact he must have started about 25 as we moved up and down the terraces.
2271 days ago
I spent the morning starting fires at the Greek Hovel burning off some of the frigana I cut last summer. Photos of myself and George in action will be on TomWinnifrith.com later - but that brings me to a very good reason to attend the UK Investor Show - there are stacks of reasons - as I explian in the podcast. The show is now 75% sold out but you can book your tickets today HERE. Meanwhile I look at Quindell, the shoddy outfit that is Cenkos, Sefton Resources, New World Oil & Gas, Tungsten and Fitbug.
2271 days ago
As predicted, by Monday mornng as the heavy rains on Sunday washed down from the Taygetus mountains, the dry river at the bottom of the valley that lies between the Greek Hovel and the village of Kambos was, er, not so dry.
Two photos, one upstream and one showing where the river flows over the road and downstream show what I mean. It is not exactly life threatening but having driven over a parched and dry river bed all summer it makes an interesting change.
2273 days ago
Not only is it freezing cold but it is pissing it down in the Mani today. So in a rather cowardly fashion I have extended my stay in my nice warm hotel in Kalamata rather than catching pneumonia at the Greek Hovel. But I have popped over to make sure that I can work online here as tomorrow I am multi-tasking: writing and burning frigana. But boy is it wet.
Photo one is of a puddle – one of many I drove through – this one is at the bottom of the valley.
The next two photos look upstream and downstream at the dry river. As you can see it is not so dry and is now starting to flow across the track. Heaven knows what it will be like by tomorrow.
2273 days ago
I am greatly confused. I record from the Greek Hovel and the noise outside is a storm blowing. There is a large statue in the centre of Kambos. Tonight we celebrate the start of lent. Is it no more meat or the start of cheese week? Why dont we have paper phalluses in the Mani? I try to explain all.
2276 days ago
In my snowcast earlier I described my journey today to the Greek hovel. At Athens airport there were small flakes of snow but as I drove up into the mountains of the Peloponnese the snow thickened. The short video below was shot at 6 AM my time (four yours) in the dark of a service station 10 miles shy of Tripoli and only 60 miles North of Kalamata where I crashed into a hotel bed at 7.30 AM my time.
2281 days ago
And so the FA Cup dream is over after we were thrashed 4-0 by West Brom at The Hawthorns. Fat Sam Allardyce is quoted as admitting that we were “second best” on the day. No shit Sherlock. FOUR NIL you might justifiably say that we were second best. Put another way we played like shite.
But I must admit that I played my part on our downfall. I did not watch the game. That would have made it six nil. I did not even think about it. However I allowed myself to dream.
I shall be heading back to the Greek Hovel in early May in order to avoid the General Election and to start a five month sabbatical working on a non-finance project. But the other day I thought “what about the FA Cup Final?” I decided that were we win it I would fly back, take out a second mortgage and get a seat for myself and my daughter. Yes, I made those plans and that ensured that we would not get anywhere near Wembley.
I apologise to all West Ham supporters for my part in our 2015 downfall.
Looking on the bright side we are on 38 points. By my reckoning that is one win and two draws and we are safe from relegation. When was the last time you can remember us going into March contemplating the fact that we were certain NOT to go down?
2282 days ago
In five days time I shall be landing in mighty Hellas. Within six days I should be back among my friends in the little village of Kambos. The weather forecast says that it will be minus 7 tonight at the Greek Hovel. I imagine that the Taygetus mountains that stetch out behind the Hovel are capped with snow.
On the bright side, I spoke to lovely Eleni from the Kourounis taverna yesterday. I called and said in my best Greek "kale-nichta" at which point she laughed and said "oh, hello Tom." I guess there are not many folks who call who speak Greek as badly as I do. Anyhow plans are underway for frigana burning with George the olive picker.
Also on the bright side, at minus seven the snakes are still going to be very much asleep.
On the minus side I sense that the hovel might be a little on the nippy side. We shall brush over the matter of my Greek lessons, I have promised the Mrs I will do some revision before she returns from the Grim North tomorrow. So don't call me in the morning even if you are Quindell whistleblower. Meanwhile I am doing a spot of revision with Despina.
2294 days ago
This is easy. All you have to do is name the odd one out and why. The deadline for entries is noon on Monday 2nd. Simply post your answer in the comments section below. The prize is a bittle of Greek Hovel olive oil.
So which is the odd one out and why? (hint the picture is a clue)
Voltaire, Peter Tatchell, Schillings the lawyers, Mark Steyn, David Cameron, James Beckwith, Guy Aldred.
2295 days ago
I have no pictures of Charon. That is because he always pops up by surprise. If you arrange to meet he is never there. He just turns up and then disappears.
His house is the nearest one to the Greek Hovel. The long and winding road from Kambos does not end at the hovel but turns back on itself and up the next hill. I really had no idea where it headed but one day curiosity got the better of me and I turned my bike around and headed on up. After about a mile and a half you arrive at a ramshackle but clearly inhabited set of buildings, the house of Charon. He is one hill higher up than me. The next range of hills behind him leads straight into the mountains.
Charon is not his real name. It is Nikko but since half the village is called Nikko I stick with the name I gave him when we first met. The poor man was returning from a walk into the village to buy cigarettes. It was a blazing hot day and not being the fittest fellow on this planet he was dripping with sweat. His greying hair is longer than mine and with the sweat pouring off him my mind sprang to Virgil’s description of the ferryman to the underworld. Nikko’s rather long face always looks a little sad even when he is smiling.
There is only one thing worse that trying to chat to someone who speaks only Greek when you speak only English. And that is trying to chat to someone who speaks just enough English to think that he can communicate but in fact cannot. And thus
2309 days ago
After spending a total of four months at the Greek Hovel and holidaying in mighty Hellas perhaps twenty times in my life I still speak almost no Greek. It is shameful. But that ends tomorrow.
For my birthday the Mrs, who speaks good Greek and fluent Swedish as well as Northern English, has bought me five lessons. The teacher is recommended by none other than the ex wife of Red Trousers, the buffoonish money treee worshipping Mayor of Bristol. Lesson one is on skype and starts at 10.30 AM.
To the folks in Kambos...I am going to shock you all on my return on 18 Febuary.
2322 days ago
The normal routine at the Greek Hovel this summer was that I would go for a short run first. Not being the fittest of fellows the run would indeed be short. At best I would make it to the bottom of snake hill, have a brief rest staring at the pond at the bottom of the valley and then walk back up snake hill – bitterly regretting having gone down the steep slope in the first place as I looked our carefully for wildlife diversity. I would then jog back along the olive groves and arrive back at the hovel a sweaty and topless wreck.
My guest would make no comment on the brevity of my run in distance terms. For I had been away a good while and so she naturally assumed that I had managed a reasonable distance. She would then trot off spending about the same time away but managing to make it to the village of Kambos and back. That means climbing two steep hills and covering twice the distance. By the time she returned I would have had time for a restorative cigarette or three and for a naked shower. I would then hide inside the hovel while she showered.
You will remember that my shower at the Greek Hovel is a hosepipe draped over the vine. The water has come up the hill in metal pipes and so is just the right temperature. It is the best shower in the world in summer. My guest said that the shower is “better than sex”. Well it is good but not that good. I suppose that it depends with whom you are having sex with.
But one day my guest went running first.
2323 days ago
In the summer I used to drive past this old shed on the main street of Kambos every day. I was told that it was the olive oil factory but it looked deserted as if, like so much of Greece, it was a relic of times gone by when folks actually had jobs. But how wrong I was. By mid-November this place is a hive of activity. It is positively humming.
From late morning until well into the evening there is a constant queue outside of pick up tracks, of trailers pulled by tractors or just of ordinary vans and cars each bringing in bag after back of olives for pressing. Some folks deposit just a couple of bags, a trailer behind a tractor might disgorge fifty or sixty.
My seventy five bags arrived in three trips made by George the chief olive picker at the Greek Hovel in his battered blue pickup.
2324 days ago
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.
2334 days ago
You may well say that this is largely all Greek to you..,a video message from my dad and I to the folk in Kambos the village in the Mani where the Greek Hovel is located.
2342 days ago
I do not speak Greek. And I cannot understand it. But given that virtually no-one in my home village of Kambos speaks English, I am exposed to it whenever I wander into town and I am now starting to “hear it.”
I was sitting opposite the olive factory with George the chief olive picker at the Greek Hovel as we waited out turn to drop off some olives. A little old lady, her back arched and curved and dressed in widows black opened the front door of her tiny house opposite, pulled out a chair and just watched the bags go in and out. She asked a question of George while looking at me and George replied. She nodded knowingly.
Whilst I did not understand the question I can guess what it was since the answer was “He is the Englishman who lives in Toumbia.” The lady’s response indicates that folks in Kambos know that there is an Englishman in Toumbia, that is to say me.
Toumbia is not actually a place.
2343 days ago
The Mrs and I have put up our Christmas tree. It is a bit small but it is part of some environmentally friendly scheme here in Bristol which I cannot quite get my head around. But to humour the little woman I have played along with the green nonsense.
Anyhow here is the prize competition. To win a bottle of olive oil, made by my own fair hand, from the Greek Hovel all youhave to do is look at the decorations and name which countries they come from. For the avoidance of doubt I count England and Wales as seperate and the angel at the top was made by my daughter many years ago and she counts herself as Welsh. Your clues include that contributions come from four continents and I have bought all the decorations personally.
Post your guesses below with a deadline of Friday
2349 days ago
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…
2349 days ago
Last night the mud track from the top of snake hill to the Greek Hovel was almost entirely flooded. The dry river is flowing strongly. Somehow my bike made it through all the water and I did not fall off at any point. I then sat in the hovel with a fire blazing listening to the rain hammering down all night, to the thunder and to a stiff gale blowing through the trees. And the vreki continues today. Looking up at the mountains behind me and listening to the loud thunder claps and seeing the sheet lightening flash across the sky, I suspect there will be little olive harvesting going on today in Kambos.
To give you an idea of what it looks like I have shot you three videos, one yesterday and two today.
2350 days ago
I look back on three weeks at the Greek Hovel, on life in Kambos and on the conclusion of the olive harvest. Rain stopped me recording since I need light to film and the vreki is heavy - so my thoughts are by audio
My weekly financial video postcard is by audio as well and looks at Quindell and can be listened to HERE
2351 days ago
As you may remember my experiences of the Police Station at Kardamili have not been universally enjoyable. But there is one friendly face, the Sergeant who lives here in Kambos the village closest to the Greek hovel. He sits in the Kourounis taverna with the rest of us. He enjoys a drink like the rest of us and he does not bat an eyelid as I drive off sans helmet or as folks reach for their car keys having had one, two or twelve too many. Rules are for tourists. Otherwise this is a libertarian paradise.
He is our policeman. He bought me a drink the other day and it is now a regular Yassas Tom.
Apart from the odd double murder there is not much going on to concern the law here in Kambos. It is the foreigners who get burgled (as they have possessions worth stealing and don’t have guns). Up here – other than the murders - life is crime free.
2352 days ago
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?
2352 days ago
I am rather dreading heading back to the Greek Hovel tonight. I left at 3 PM as the electricity had gone again. I fled naturally to the Kourounis taverna where lovely Eleni assured me at 4 that it was back on. I sha;l find out shortly but have my torch ready just in case. But I postpone the trip back with another ouzo.
I hung around in Kambos because at 5 PM George the head olive picker arrived with the first 25 sacks from the Greek Hovel. We deposited them at the Olive Oil factory in the centre of the village and I now have a yellow slip saying that I have deposited 1033 kg ( just over a tonne) of olives. There is at least another half a tonne to arrive tomorrow as we finish up the harvest. Bags are stacked at the hovel and the only trees left to harvest are on the flat area next to the house. We are almost done.
So tomorrow we finish. It is Christmas pudding with Nikko, Vangelis and the others, steamed by Eleni. And we are done. And I had a Quindell whistleblower on the phone as a bonus. That job is almost done too. More on that tomorrow.
2353 days ago
The river bed, at the bottom of the valley between the deserted monastery/convent and the start of the climb up snake hill to the Greek Hovel, sits dry all summer. It is parched and it is hard to think that it ever sees water. Even as I arrived in Kambos two weeks ago it was dry as a bone. Puddles formed on the track but the river bed was like dust. That all changed with the storm.
The ford is a ford for a good reason. The ground had been raised with concrete and across it the water was perhaps only an inch deep. Pas de problem for my magnificent motorbike.
But looking upstream the water was rather deeper,
2353 days ago
As I biked home last night the puddles on the mud track were alarmingly deep. Somehow I ploughed through. At least it was not that dark thanks to a constant backdrop of sheet lightening. As I reached the hovel I was greeted by a thunderclap which made me think that a massive bomb had just gone off in the olive groves. I gathered some firewood and was jolly glad to light a fire lock the door and go to sleep. Now it is the morning after….
The sky is a clear blue and it is almost hot. My olive pickers are making good progress but …I have no power. No light. No coffee. My phone is dead and cannot recharge. And so naturally I have to abandon the harvest and head off to Kambos to seek the assistance of the lovely Eleni.
The ground is so wet that my bike has slipped over but it works. Thank heavens for small mercies and I head off down the track. Now the puddles are ginormous but the heroic machine ploughs through them. By the time I reach snake hill which is gravel and concrete the sun is doing its best to dry the slope and I speed off towards the bottom of the valley. Cripes!
The dry river is not dry anymore.
2354 days ago
Occasionally I have fallen off the motorbikes I use when in Kambos as a result of Nikko and Vangelis leading me astray at the Kourounis taverna owned by lovely Eleni. It is hard enough getting back up the track from the village to the hovel in the dark when sober but after a refreshing evening it is very hard. But today I had a bit of a tumble at a bit of speed (15 kmh) and when stone cold sober.
This time around I have moved up from a 50 cc machine to a 150 cc bike. It is not a lust for speed or a desire to impress the birds, simply the knowledge that in winter getting up the track to the Greek hovel was always going to be tough. This machine has power and normally I feel pretty much in control.
But it rained heavily overnight
2355 days ago
An email today from Jamie the architect, business partner of the daughter of lovely Susan Shimmin of The Real Mani. - still to collect her Christmas pudding I brought out for her.jamie has seen the weather forecast (vreki – rain) for tomorrow and thinks it may be “safer” to visit the Greek Hovel on Thursday rather than tomorrow. Jeepers – this bloke is from Scotland so a bit of rain?
It goes without saying that I shall be on my motorbike up and down the two mile track from the Greek Hovel, down snake hill, over the dry (or not so dry) river and past the abandoned ghost filled monastery/convent and into Kambos tomorrow. I live in the hovel. I have assured him that it is all perfectly safe. What a Jessie.
2356 days ago
And so we are off. At 8 AM on the button George and his team arrived to start the Olive harvest at the Greek hovel. They took half an hour off for lunch and worked solidly until the sun started to set at 4 PM. I am full of admiration for harvesting olives is not easy. I chipped in but admit that I am not fit enough and am put to shame by these folks. So let me try to explain what happens. We start with a tree full of olives.
2356 days ago
Right now George and his team of two women ( sister, wife, both wives, I know what) are unloading their pick up truck. A ladder,a sort of mini-threshing machine, the strange forks they use for prodding trees and the mats have all been laid out on the ground. The great day has started..the olive harvest has begin at the Greek Hovel. Now I hear a loud noise...
George has started his chain saw becuase part of the pricess involves cutting off branches. I am not sure I quote get the hang of this yet but they are beavering away. I shall join them in a few minutes after quickly completing early morning ShareProphets duties.
Two wives? Is it Greek or is it Vlach but there is a word I remember from childhood holidays in Northern Epirus, "Mericlis" - which means the man with two wives. Perhaps they dont allow that sort of thing any more. Political correctness gone mad say I. How on earth can you do an olive harvest while still looking after the goats without it eating into your coffee drinking time unless you have two wives slaving away?
2357 days ago
You think Greeks are lazy. That is because all you see is folks in Athens sipping coffees all day. Out here in the Mani life is hard and folks do both a main job but also work the land. So my pal Vangelis is a delivery driver for Dixons but has – I think – 600 olive trees. Nikko and Eleni at the Kourounis taverna also own trees up near the Greek Hovel – they start their harvest tomorrow. And so do I!
The lovely Eleni has put me in touch with a new group of workers. Another chap called Foti, George and his son. I met up again with George today and we start on the olive harvest at 8 AM. So no ouzo for me tonight. To give you an idea of what lies in store for me here are some photos I took last week of a man harvesting trees on the road/track up to the Greek Hovel, just above snake hill. It seems to me that it looks like rather hard work.
2357 days ago
You may remember that my shower arrangements at the Greek Hovel are somewhat rudimentary. I attach a picture of the shower, aka a hose pipe dropping down from the vine on the "snake terrace."
2359 days ago
First up or rather not up, Foti. Despite all the promises my Albanian olive harvesters did not show up yet again. The lovely Eleni has a replacement team and we start work Monday, possibly Sunday. I am assured that they are reliable. Fingers crossed.
Second up my Internet is down. And third up my motorbike has a flat battery as well as a punctured tyre. And so at 9 AM I strolled from the Greek hovel into Kambos to spend the day working at the Kourounis taverna run by the lovely Eleni. So far not so bad.
Mid-morning I called John the bike man to see if he could pop over to assist. “I am in Athens my friend – I will come over on Saturday morning.” Yikes. In case this happened I brought a torch but now face a 30 minute down dale up dale walk back to the hovel in pitch darkness. It is not a prospect that I relish greatly and am putting off the grim moment as long as I can. But that only makes it worse.
2360 days ago
My main Albanian Foti is playing cards in the taverna across the street from that of the lovely Eleni. It is a bit of an old man’s dive unlike the Kourounis taverna where women and young folks are welcome and which has wi-fi. Anyhow I wandered across and was told that today’s no show was down to the vreki (rain) and that he’d come on a rain free day, perhaps Saturday. Hmmmm.
I went back to Eleni’s and together we checked the 10 day weather forecast. Yikes tomorrow is rain free. So I pick up the laptop and stormed across the road. I think that it is the first time that the Old man’s taverna of Kambos has seen a laptop. I might as well have wandered in wearing a space suit. But I showed Foti and his friends the weather forecast and we agreed “Ohki vreki avrio – elias octo ore! (excuse the phonetic Greek). He nodded. Maybe the great harvest will finally get underway at the Greek hovel!
Watch this space.
PS. My Greek is improving. I now must know at least 25 words although avrio (tomorrow) seems to be the one I find myself using and hearing most often
2361 days ago
On top of my fireplace at the Greek Hovel in a picture I published the other day is a large bag of white powder. At once the self-styled Northern Barons my good pals Doc Holiday and Brokerman Dan were tweeting in a frenzy that I had a large stash of coke with me. Dan reckoned I was going to dose my Albanian workers tomorrow and get the olives harvested at record speed. I am sorry to disappoint the Northern gits.
For behind the bag is a box marked Tide. This is a product called “washing powder” which in the South of England we use to wash our clothes. In the North I guess they just hang their shell suits out in the rain until they are marginally less grubby and then leave them to dry next to the pigeon loft. The next time that my good friends trek down from the welfare addicted wastelands of the Grim North I will try to explain to them what this is all about.
The picture below is of the washing powder but also a larger bag of yellow powder which is Sulphur which I use on the edge of the garden to keep snakes away. For readers in the Grim North who might not understand what a snake is it is a bit like a Quindell shareholder. That is to say it has a small brain but some varieties are poisonous and no-one likes any of them. The only difference is that snakes can be worth a bit of money.
2362 days ago
It was Nikko who was celebrating his Birthday in lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna in Kambos on Saturday. That led to an interesting ride back to the Greek Hovel. My harvest may not have started but my friend is already well progressed and what you see if some of the first oil off the press. It will be heading back to Bristol for the Mrs along with rather larger volumes of my own oil after we start harvesting later this week.
2362 days ago
In my last days at the Greek Hovel this summer I showed unusual foresight in pondering how I would keep warm on my return for the Olive harvest. Hence I gathered firewood, stored it in the rat room and surrounded it with sulphur to ensure that no snakes viewed it as a des res winter home. And thus on my first night back I lit a fire.
Fire lighting is a macho sort of thing and I am pretty proud of my ability to get a good blaze going with just a couple of pieces of paper. Firelighters are for jessies. And so within minutes I had a roaring blaze going. And about two minutes later the room was filled with smoke. Perhaps there was some trick I had missed?
I fiddled with two bricks that cover little holes in the fireplace but to no avail. The smoke was by now overpowering and so I had to open all windows and the door. I am not so worried about the wildlife entering – why on earth would they rush into a smoke filled building. It was the cold. The Greek Hovel is in the foothills of the mountains and while it is shirt-sleeves hot in the morning and until about three it then start to get very cold indeed. I reckon that we are not that far above zero every night.
As such my first night was a cold one. As the fire died
2362 days ago
The Albanians led by Foti did not show up at 8 AM as promised. Bad news for me and bad news for Quindell, Fitbug, etc as I had more time to write and record a sizzling Bearcast (sense the anger). Actually it is jolly cold up on the mountain at the Greek Hovel so a bit of me is relieved to have postponed the outdoor manual labour – I plan to work alongside my team as part of my learning curve.
And so I find myself sitting in lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna which is a bit warmer than the hovel, catching up on work. We have racked down Foti and the harvest now starts on Thursday. By when it is bound to be even colder. But for now, warmth, writing and Eleni’s home cooking beckon here in Kambos.
2364 days ago
I start this week's video postcard with a couple of comments on life at the Greek Hovel. Pictures will follow. But the main focus is on the Rochester fallout. UKIP and immigration is a mess and I explain why. Equally the comments of Emily Thornberry, the snobbish Labour prig from Islington are a symptom of an out of touch and despised political class.
2365 days ago
As I was wandering in a semi sober manner out of the Kourouni's taverna owned by the lovely Eleni in Kambos tonight this song came on to play. I sort of view this as the song of The Greek Hovel. Even though it is French.
Indila hit No 2 in Frogland with this amazing track. In the UK it was off the radar but in Greece 2013 it went straight to No 1. Greeks have taste. I spent happy times in Paris a few years ago and so the video brings back memories but for me this song is Greece 2013. Enjoy
2365 days ago
I arrived at Athens airport at midnight Greek time on Tuesday. 24 hours after the Real Man Christmas party I was still feeling a little fragile and so walked zombie like to the hotel airport and wet to my room to crash. The bed swallowed me up and I was asleep. So far so good.
I made it to Athens bus station the next day and caught my bus to Kalamata where I went to the best hotel overlooking the sea front. In summer all the hotels in town are booked out months in advance. But it is November, and the town is dead. 50 Euros including breakfast and I was ready to get back to work and immediately called John the bike man, a venerable source of information on local brothels and much else.
A deal was struck. I have a new bike of which more later but it has real power! The next morning as agreed I met up with John and I drive the bike to Kambos. He was to follow in a car to meet me at The Greek Hovel with my bags and coats. Easy, 1.30 at the hovel.
Driving up into the mountains my head was simply flooded with happiness.
2365 days ago
It is a Saturday night and the Mrs is out on the lash in Bristol and I am here in lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna in Kambos. My neighbour Charon popped up at the Greek Hovel earlier and so with him sitting behind me we drove slowly into the village on my new bike. Charon is not his real name but we will come to that another time.
The place is buzzing. My friend Nikko – who has promised to kill anyone who comes to the village asking for me – is 59. And so the drinking has started. Vangelis, the Police Sergeant from Kardamili who lives in Kambos and all the others are here. We have already exchanged a “round of drinks”. I think you all know what happens next and it will not be the Sergeant warning us all about the dangers of drink driving.
A lot has happened since I came back to what I increasingly view as my home. More on that tomorrow..perhaps not right at the crack of dawn
2371 days ago
On Monday I head off to London for the 3rd Real Man Christmas party. I reflect upon those who attended two years ago and how the list has grown. And then I am off to Greece to return to the Greek Hovel and I think about my hopes, my concerns, my worries and my excitement about that trip: snakes, motorbikes, the lovely Eleni and all that lies in Kambos.
In my weekly financial video postcard I forgive the Quindell shareholders who have threatened and abused me during the past six months. They have my sympathies as they face wipeout and I have a few words of advice, even for the folks who sent me death threats. That video can be watched HERE
2381 days ago
And it is done. The 2014 Christmas puddings have been prepared and steamed and now sit in a dark room awaiting their fate. It might seem a bit early but while most of these puddings are for the restaurant others have to travel. Three head off to Canada for a family gathering of pizza hardman Darren Atwater, four head off to Greece with me for Susan Shimmin at The Real Mani but also for lovely Eleni at Kourounis tavern, for Foti the Albanian and for my neighbours at the Greek Hovel in Kambos for our post olive harvest meal. A few are earmarked for gifts.
But the rest will be served at Real Man either as Christmas pudding on our Christmas menu HERE or as Christmas pudding Calzone – a festive desert pizza. It sounds odd but it tastes great!
As is now a ritual Darren and I made the puddings and then all staff members on duty had a stir and made a wish – five pictures five wishes:
2381 days ago
The leaves are now turning yellow on the fig tree that dominates our garden in Bristol. We have a fig tree in Greece too at the Greek Hovel and it was yielding fruit in the summer that was ripe and wonderful. The UK offering has been a little bit less ripe but I was determined not to get it go to waste and so as a family treat we harvested some of the figs and …hey presto we have a perfect fig chutney.
Three smaller pots have already been handed out as presents and the Mrs and I are working our way through a large pot at home. I reckon it might just last until Christmas.
My only regret is that I did not start this earlier and make more chutney on an industrial scale. The figs start dropping in early September and a good number now lie squashed on the paving. As the leaves fall from the tree I can see another batch of fruit that was hitherto hidden and looks pretty perfect for use.
As ever I shall resolve to be more organised next year and make twice as much. Sadly, with such small volumes produced this year, this product is not available at Real Man Pizza Company although it would be fantastic with our Yarg led cheese board. Maybe in 2015.
When I was kid, autumn was a time for boiling and preserving on an industrial scale. The aspiration of my parents – mainly my mother
2415 days ago
The Bristol vine harvest was completed last weekend. About enough liquid for ten to fifteen bottles now sits fermenting in a bucket. We have added sugar and yeast and must just wait for a week before straining and decanting into a demi-john. I may try to make grappa with what’s left as an experiment.
Our Bristol grapes were red but small and of varying degrees of sweetness. They were not the lush bunches of grapes you’d expect at a Roman orgy. Nor the lush bunches of sweet grapes that hang around the Greek Hovel.
My guest this summer gave me firm instructions as to how I must assist the vine for next year by pissing against it. As a woman she was not able to assist but urine is a great source of nitrogen and so I followed her instructions every day. I am not sure that I saw any immediate response from the gnarled trunk. But I guess we will find out next summer.
It is the end of my first working week back in the UK. Right now my friends in Kambos are gathering at lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna. It is starting to get dark. I would at this point be tapping away for another couple of hours before Vangelis – the man in the pink polo shirt – said in Greek, it is not if you are drinking but what are you drinking. And we’d be off. Back in Bristol I prepare to cook supper for the Mrs instead and to learn more about life in the Grim North by catching up on this week’s episodes of Coronation Street. It is a life of contrasts.
2420 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
I write this on the train from Reading to Bristol. A journey of bike, car, plane, train, train is almost over. I am back in the UK. I am back in a land of folks with horrible tattoos, of fat people swilling beer in concreted pub gardens, of nasty, smelly and expensive takeaway food. I am back in a land of surveillance cameras where there are far too many people jostling each other to get ahead. I am back in a Country that is just emerging on another illegal war, where jingoism and English or Scottish patriotism combine for a poisonous mix.
On the other hand I cannot wait to see the Mrs who will pick me up at Temple Meads, to give the cats an enormous hug and to catch up on last week’s Downton Abbey. I am really looking forward to a mug of tea, to sitting in my back garden looking at the grapes which we will harvest tomorrow to turn into wine. The Mrs has videod the start of the new season of Dallas and the episode of Corrie when Ken returned to the Street. I am sure the Mrs will cook me a wonderful supper. But I can’t but help think about my friends in Kambos who will be gathering right now at the Korounis taverna, run by lovely Eleni, to chat, watch the football and look out on the stars in a clear sky.
As I rode into Kambos on Friday night it was one of those splendid Greek evenings. The sun was going down but it was warm and as I headed down snake hill the valley opened up before me. The – I think – deserted monastery or convent stood solid in front of me, up the hill above the spring. Further along the valley is a small house where the village baker lives. Why would anyone leave?
To Eleni’s to load videos and upload articles and to enjoy one last portion of her meatballs. Knowing that it was my last night Vangelis (the man in the pink short, not the man from the frigana chopper/snake repellent shop or the Vangelis who will win an Olympic gold in frigana chopping) bought me an ouzo. Naturally I reciprocated and I was soon sitting there with both George’s, Nikos (the football man) and a new pal Dimitris.
2422 days ago
Why do I trek down from the Greek Hovel to the Kourounis taverna in Kambos? Cheap and well prepared food? Cheap booze or diet coke of café frappes? The folks here? It’s a combination of all three. The clientele is overwhelmingly male as Greek women know that their place is in the home - please note The Mrs, none of your strident feminism here. So maybe it is the charm of lovely Eleni that draws us here. This place is known as “Eleni’s.”
But this is the evening, during the day there is a different clientele and for some of them it is not Eleni but the magician of Kambos they come to visit.
2422 days ago
Dominating Kambos on the other side of the Village from the Greek Hovel, is a once great fortress. As you head towards Stavropoula (home to the lovely Susan Shimmin of Real Mani) it is at the top of a steep climb to your right. Naturally I am too lazy to climb up that hill so I take the easy road to Zarnata Castle, by heading through the village of Stavropoula.
As with Kambos, the tourist passing through will see modern buildings on a main road and probably speed on towards Kardamili. But as with Kambos the back streets contain some gorgeous old stone Mani houses. There are also a couple of old churches of note. At this point I got totally lost and found myself way down a dusty track but an old man gave me directions in Greek in response to the question “pu eni castro?”
Having asked the question in Greek I then tried to explain that I did not speak any Greek at all. And so
2422 days ago
It was my last afternoon and so, having done my washing and tidied up the Greek Hovel (I do hope the Mrs is reading) it was time for a bit of sightseeing in the cultural quarter of Kambos. Quarter…I exaggerate a bit. However.
As one drives out of Kambos on the looping toad up the hill towards Stavropoula ( home to the lovely Susan Shimmin of Real Mani) on your right there are two monuments of note, one visible, the other hidden in olive groves.
From the road you can see a ruined Tower House. In the Mani of old the local gentry would build these constructions as they prepared for blood feuds, war, with other families of a similar status. Those in the lower orders were roped in to serve their local gentry. In some villages there are numerous Tower Houses as they were blessed with several families vying for power in that village.
There was always a race to build higher and higher towers so that you could dominate and shoot down on your enemies. Blood feuding was only halted when the Maniots joined together to fight the common enemy, i.e. the evil Turks.
In Kambos there is just one tower house and it is ruined. I am not sure when or why it was destroyed. The statue at the front is clearly of a Maniot with the traditional village people style bushy moustache. His dates are given as 1813-1877
2422 days ago
The Mrs no doubt expects me to arrive back in Bristol with a rucksack full of dirty washing. Au contraire…here at the Greek Hovel I maintain high standards and my full range of shorts, T-shirts and socks enjoyed a though hand wash today. So there! And here is the evidence. NB I have also swept the floor and will dump the rubbish down in Kambos at the tip shortly. Brownie points for the Sheriff!
2423 days ago
I am conscious that when I return to the Greek Hovel for the Olive harvest and frigana burning in late November it will be a tad nippy at night. Luckily the main room has an open fire with its own little tripod should I wish to cook my own baked beans rather than trek down to see the lovely Eleni at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos. For when the rains start the track to the hovel will be a tough ride even though I shall be hiring a more powerful motorbike.
As such I spent a happy afternoon collecting firewood and storing it in the rat room. The old owners had left all sorts of trash and the planks, broken tables etc. will burn nicely, There are plenty of old olive branches pruned and discarded years ago that were collected and – as a real treat – some of the thicker frigana branches will give me enormous pleasure to send up in smoke.
Mindful that snakes will be looking for a winter home, you will note the thick yellow ring around the woodpile. That is sulphur which snakes are not meant to cross. Before I go I shall be sprinkling it liberally around the place. It is not my job to provide a winter residence for the wildlife diversity.
2423 days ago
As promised I bring you a summer’s work, the destruction of 2,000 square metres of frigana, a bright green holly/thorn bush that scarred the land around the Greek Hovel and was a great home for snakes. It is all gone.
The first picture is some of the first frigana cut, the bushes that covered the wall that surrounds the garden. It is now a deep golden brown, ready for a dose of petrol and a match in November.
It sits in an area which is surrounded by a stone circle. One visitor suggested that it had once been a threshing circle. The stones were covered by frigana but have now emerged blinking into the sunlight.
Moving past the circle here is a 150 yard slope down to the edge of the property. It was thick with frigana but it was chopped last week, the leaves are now a light green and heading for brown. This area I feared to be snake infested as the bushes were once thick. Now old paths have emerged and you can walk down among the rocks.
2423 days ago
It is now a couple of weeks since I visited the magnificent Town Hall in Kambos to ask if the road to the Greek Hovel could be repaired. Unfamiliar with Greekonomics I feared that the three full time staff there serving our village (population c500) might be a little over-stretched.
I should not have worried. I turned up to day to find that the three ladies had a male colleague who had been on holiday last time. Now that they are fully staffed they have looked into the matter and said that the steamroller needed to flatten out the road is broken.
But fear not. It should be mended in a few weeks and I am right at the top of the list. We shall see.
2424 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
2424 days ago
I saved the last of the frigana for after lunch. Two sessions in the morning left me with one last patch to clear. But first a major problem: My bike was leaking oil. The man at the garage said “go to Kalamata tomorrow” as I bought my second bottle of the day. But I am a changed man.
Three months ago I would have phoned John the bike man in a panic. Today once back at the hovel I got underneath the bike and diagnosed the problem. Tubing had come loose. And I fixed it. Triumph one.
Triumph two came just before dusk as I finally removed the last frigana bush on the property. 2000
2425 days ago
I have slightly cheated and brought in a local to assist me with the frigana cutting. He has a few advantages over me. He is fit and young. He is fearless, wading into bushes not worrying about what wildlife diversity might be hiding there. His big advantage is that he has an ultra-powerful frigana cutter. In motorbike terms he has a 500 cc cutter, I have a 125 cc cutter. But he is also an artist. Watching him weld his frigana cutter is a pleasure, he twists and turns, stabs and swipes and the evil bushes just disappear.
My guess is that by Thursday at noon, 2000 square metres of frigana will be no more. His last patch is in the far corner of the property and is dense and old. Some of the frigana bushes have become trees and for them a saw is needed.
My last patches are one half terrace on the Kambos facing side, a small patch next to the entrance the sheep use to get on the land and then the outside fences on the two tracks either side of the land. I managed five forty-five minute sessions today, after each one I was drenched in sweat and breathless. Even my 125 cc type frigana cutter is heavy and to tackle the plant at floor level and then on walls above head height uses every muscle in your arms. Five more sessions tomorrow and my bit is done.
The whole property is now covered in cut frigana branches. The oldest
2426 days ago
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
2426 days ago
Every evening and most days a rather large man sits at the bar of the Kourounis taverna in Kambos run by lovely Eleni. He always wears a pink polo shirt. I am not sure if he has a large collection of such shirts or if he has been wearing the same one all summer. He laughs, he smiles, he drinks and smokes and taps away at his laptop. What on earth is he doing?
2427 days ago
The pictures from my weekly videos say it all...
2427 days ago
Yesterday evening I was doing a bit of frigana chopping at the Greek Hovel and I heard a rustling in the bush I was approaching. I know enough by now to realise what was making the noise and beat a hasty retreat. But the stench of corruption on AIM tells me where the real snakes operate. It is a cesspit for crooks and crony capitalists who systematically transfer wealth from the many (mug investors) to the few (themselves). I have had enough of this for one day and am heading back to the fields to face real snakes. They are less loathsome. There is a solution but the London Stock Exchange does nothing. It is guilty of abetting financial crime by its inaction.
2427 days ago
This is my last video postcard from Greece for a while and in it I reflect on what I feel that I have achieved at the Greek Hovel since I arrived and also what I have not achieved. Too much.
2428 days ago
It was just after the turning by the petrol station/post office in Kambos where one leaves the main road and starts up the road/track to the Greek Hovel where I met the nun. This has been bugging, if not haunting, me for two days.
The first fifty yards of the track to the hovel is well lit as you head towards a tiny little church which, as far as I can see, is never used. Thereafter the street lights disappear and all around you it is black. You can see the stars and eventually as you hit the brow of the hill you can see twinkling lights of a few isolated houses (mine included) on the other site of the valley. But otherwise it is just dark. You can hear the wildlife diversity in the bushes and trees around you but can see nothing.
And so as I rode back in the dark just before the church a small figure stepped out of the dark.
2429 days ago
My shorts are packed away, the (just 33 inch!) jeans and a fleece are now the daily norm. There is a chill in the air. The skies over the mountains behind the Greek Hovel are now dark with cloud pregnant with rain. There have been spits and spots periodically for two days but no downpour. It is only a matter of time.
The daily shower at the hovel is less of a laugh these days. You may remember that it is simply a hosepipe draped from the frame on which our vine trails. Just a few weeks ago the water arrived heated by the sun burning down on the metal pipes which connect my house to the village. The water is rather less hot these days and though I am drenched in sweat from labouring in the fields the temptation to skip the odd shower is very real. The Mrs is no longer here, no one is going to mind if I am a bit smelly are they?
In the village the preparations for winter are being made. Biking in to Kambos through the olive groves above snake hill the other day I was thinking about nothing in particular and so was rather startled when a woman’s voice shouted out “Hello Tom”. Which nymph of the woods, was calling?
2431 days ago
I was sitting in lovely Eleni’s Kourounis tavern in Kambos when on the screen I suddenly see pictures of a bunch of loons waving Saltire’s and some other loons waving Union flags. Eleni looks a bit puzzled as the commentator tries to explain to a Greek audience what is going on.
Eleni asks me about Scotland. I tell her that it is a bit like Greece. Very high unemployment, the Government spends more than it takes and the politicians are all corrupt. But it is a lot colder. She says she understands why Scotland is the Greece of the North and we return to serious matters of discussing Greekeconomics – the Kambos Town Hall.
I am one of perhaps 500 people in our village of Kambos where The Greek Hovel is located. But we have a Town Hall and a Mayor. We also have three full time employees who work in one of the largest buildings in Kambos. Doing what? I have no idea.
The village of Kambos is obliged to mend my road by law. But it has no money to do so. I have another meeting there tomorrow to discuss. That’s Greekeconomics for you.
2434 days ago
In my weekly video postcard HERE I revealed how I obsess about snakes while at the Greek Hovel but had not actually seen one. Bloody hell that was a bit of a jinx. Snakes were very much on my mind today as the section of frigana I am attacking right now is the densest on the property on a rocky hill near the gate on our drive. For drive read mud track. Put it this way, if I was a snake I’d hang out there.
I had mentally preserved this section for my brave Albanian pal Foti who is coming up to assist me next week. Foti is fearless and if he saw a snake would grab whatever was nearest to hand and smash it on the head. But I decided to man up and head into the bushes anyway.
Luckily I encountered no snakes and so, dripping in sweat after an hour’s solid cutting in the midday heat, I ambled back to the house and started to wander up the front steps and – fuck me – there was a snake, slithering over the snake veranda towards my front door. Naturally I retreated rapidly shouting to no-one in particular “it’s a fucking snake”.
Maybe it is my Irish genes?
2434 days ago
This is my penultimate video postcard from Greece until I return November for the olive harvest. Forgive my lack of writing, I have been busy preparing for UK Investor Show on April 18 2015 and also obsessing about snakes and frigana.
I discuss both snakes and frigana in great detail.
I then go on to say why I disagree with Paddy Leigh Fermour and have fallen in love with Kambos, the village nearest to the Greek Hovel.
Details of the show are at www.UKInvestorShow.com – book your seat now!
My financial video postcard this week covers the issues of shares that appear to be uber cheap (PE of less than 3 etc). It is the “It’s too good to be true” edition and can be viewed HERE
2441 days ago
After a morning hacking away frigana at the Greek Hovel, Tom’s message from the Greece of the South is for the Greece of the North – Scotland.
The independence debate is marked by delusion – on both sides. Tom suggests you watch former oil analyst Andrew Bell explain why the SNP oil numbers are all wrong HERE.
The reality is that Scotland has become a welfare addicted big Government economic failure. It is united with a Country with a different value set and approach to life. For its own sake Scotland needs independence so that its people can again learn the idea of self-reliance.
And English taxpayers have no moral obligation to fund a failed system of Government and economics. Speaking as an English taxpayer Tom is praying for a Yes vote.
2441 days ago
The summer is drawing to a close at the Greek Hovel. My summer lasts for just another three weeks and then I must return to Britain. I shall miss this place badly. But the physical summer is also drawing to its close. Nature is changing.
The grapes that used to sit in great bunches hanging from the vines that surround this house are all gone. I had my fair share but so too did some incredibly large wasps who after a day’s gorging would buzz around inebriated and stuffed. The wasps have gone and are now preparing, unknowingly, for death.
Meanwhile I start to gather firewood whenever I find it. Not in an organised fashion but on an ad hoc basis. There is plenty kicking around and it is now being stored in the rat room. I will need it for the fire when I come back in November and December for the olive harvest and frigana burning. By then it will be only 22 degrees during the day and at night it will be a tad chilly.
In the evenings as I head down to Eleni’s most excellent Kourounis taverna in Kambos for a Greek salad I now wear jeans and a shirt. By the time I head back there is a chill in the air. The weather is slowly turning. Do not get me wrong, it is 3 PM now and I sit in shorts only - the afternoon heat is still intense, just not quite what it was.
And so with no grapes to snack on I am now onto prickly pears which grow on two giant cactus like plants just behind the hovel.
2442 days ago
For the past few nights I have heard this very strange animal noise outside The Greek Hovel at night. At first I thought it was some sort of bird but it would have been a very strange bird. Tonight the noise sounder closer than ever and so I bravely opened the door and shone my torch…it is a gorgeous little black and white cat. It cannot be much out of kittendhood.
I tried to tempt it in but the creature is obviously feral. It has no interest in getting close to humans. And so it just sat there on the entrance to the snake veranda blinking in my torchlight. I rather hope it hangs around inside the snake exclusion zone happily attacking any other members of the wildlife diversity community that dare to approach. It could start with the bats, two of whom have returned to the bat room below where I sleep.
2442 days ago
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.
2443 days ago
For the past four weeks the Mosquitos at the Greek Hovel have left me alone. Offered the choice of nicotine tasting blood from an older man or sweet younger blood from either my guest or the Mrs (or on two nights both) they have shown impeccable taste and left me along completely. The women complained and I said “what’s the problem? Nothing bit me!”
I now accept there is a bit of a problem. Faced with a choice of just me I have been bitten with a vengeance by these vile bugs. From above my right nipple, over my shoulder and down the right part of my back there is now a row of itchy bumps each the size of a medium sized marble, if a bit flatter. Just as the Greek islands appear as outcrops in a flat sea in a God created chain, so the mosquito bites have appeared on my body.
Luckily the women invested heavily in anti Mozzie devices during their stays and as such I have rummaged around and found electric deterrents and coils aplenty. Tonight I fight back.
2443 days ago
Some weeks back I reported to you that I had seen a snake in the garden of The Greek Hovel. I have thought about this long and hard and have concluded that I did not. Let me explain.
Firstly the garden is within the outer redoubt, the area protected by two snake repellent cans which emit a smell that snakes are meant to dislike. The locals swear by them and I hope that their faith is well placed.
Secondly I saw a foot long lizard in the garden the other day. It darted off to catch some poor bug and raised its head to digest. Its colour and head were on reflection identical to that of the “snake”. Perhaps most conclusively what I saw in my garden shot off in a straight line as would a lizard. Snakes can move rapidly but do so in S-shapes. I think I was so startled by my encounter with the wildlife diversity that I overlooked that little point.
And so I conclude that I have yet to see a snake but as I wade deeper and deeper into the frigana bushes with my strimmer, slashing madly, I sense that it is only a matter of time. For there are clearly snakes around. How do I now? Well for starters my guest saw one.
She was out running (silly girl) and
2444 days ago
The Mrs is back in Bristol already sending me photos of our cats Oakley (three legs) and Tara (four) who she is no doubt hugging to death and spoiling quite outrageously. I am sure that I shall do the same when I head back in a few weeks’ time.
I was delighted when the Mrs was here but it had two drawbacks. Without her I have slipped once again into my no alcohol and one or two Greek salads a day diet. With her I was drinking and eating rather more. And so my weight loss was arrested, in fact reversed a bit. Now I am in overdrive as I have just over three weeks to finish the frigana cutting and so am upping my manual labour rate accordingly.
The other drawback is that whilst my commercial writings (shares) continued almost every day, with the Mrs here I have no time for my personal writings. I enjoy my musings on life at The Greek Hovel far more than financial writing but know that those articles don’t pay the bills. And so I have an awful lot to catch up including two murders in our village of Kambos and my own detention at Kardimili police station. And
2444 days ago
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.
2447 days ago
A year ago today at a house owned by the family of the great Hellenophile Lord Byron the woman formerly known as The Deluded Lefty became The Mrs. Right now she is outside tapping away at a paper for her sociology work on why capitalism causes cancer, global warming and is a construct for patriarchal hegemony for white men. Okay I think I might have got the subject a bit wrong but I am probably not far off.
I’m off to chop down some more frigana at The Greek Hovel where we are staying and then it’s switch off time. Unless there is a Quinnovation Group emergency this is a day off. Thank you to the Mrs for 365 wonderful days, it is time to down tools.
2448 days ago
I have sent in my latest video postcard and start with my new obsession chopping down the frigana at the Greek Hovel, It is all going very well and golden browning piles of the stuff now litter the property.
I move onto Quindell (QPP) where I make it clear that the evidence of fraudulent accounting in the 2011 accounts is now explicit as I explained HERE. The question is what happens next?
Finally to the Islamofascists of ISIS and I explain why – although it may be appealing to go for the “bomb the shit out of them” option it would be a grave long term error on the part of the West.
2449 days ago
You thought Quindell (QPP) had gagged me with its threats? You misjudge me badly. When Quindell’s lawyers have read this please would they remember to ask your clients “did TMC contribute 41% of 2011 Quindell Turnover?” Think disclosure and bring on the legals, bitchez! Tomorrow I shall comment on the interims and then my wife arrives at the Greek hovel for our wedding anniversary week and I largely down tools until September. But for now I have started looking at Quindell’s biggest acquisition Himex. By way of background…
Himex was started in 2012 by Hassan Sadiq and his Mrs, Elizabeth Dawson, with a mysterious backer DCD Holdings. They invested less than £10,000 to start it up. DCD invested £4000 and its stake at the time Quindell bought out the final Himex shares was valued at £60 million
2461 days ago
Had we needed to get to Kambos in an emergency last night my guest and I would have been in trouble for both bikes were out of action. And so first thing today we called the bike man in Kalamata who said he’d be over in an hour or so. But this is Greece… seven hours later he arrived.
My bike had a simple problem, a puncture. I now have some magic spray which I blow into the tyre and that will allow me to drive into Kalamata tomorrow to get a new tyre. Easy.
My guest seemed to have a more serious problem. For her bike would not start last night. She insisted that she had tried everything. The bike man looked at her bike long and hard. He twiddled with a few knobs and then in a solemn fashion told me he had diagnosed the problem. Her fuel tank was empty. How girly can you get?
I felt rather embarrassed and so said “women.” He agreed. Petrol is now in the tank and pro tem we ride pillion except on the steep slopes back to the hovel where she (being the Health Nazi) gets off and walks and I ride on slowly behind.
Women and motors…I ask you.
2463 days ago
For once I combine my financial and non-financial weekly video postcard into one. Recorded at the Greek hovel I am turning into a home I shows off my new toy but do not say whom I thinks of as I slash away at the Frigana (I explain what that is too). But I am sure you can guess.
The subject is free speech. Starting with John Stuart Mill I cover how it is society rather than draconian laws that threaten free speech in the UK.
I relate this both to threats made to the livelihood of an Israel supporting twitter acquaintance (see HERE) but also to my own livelihood and life and why Society rather than that state needs to change to protect free speech in its responsible manner and what responsible free speech is.
2466 days ago
And so it has arrived, my new toy for boys as my guest so kindly puts it. It is wicked. You just stick it into the frigana bush and with a pole long enough to keep you out of harm’s way should any wildlife leap out, off it goes. You swing it too and fro and the stalks are cut back to the base with violence and speed.
The next job is for my guest to rake them away and apply poison to the stems to kill the roots. As an added bonus I gather that the poison also works on reducing all sorts of local wildlife diversity.
2467 days ago
I wonder if I am getting a little tedious on this weight loss issue? It was another good day. Just one salmon salad to eat and a good bit of manual labour and a run to boot. I am partly inspired by my guest who insists that she needs to lose 15 lbs. I think that would officially make her a stick insect but there is now a competitive battle.
She went on a far longer run. But then she ate two salads today and a frozen yoghurt! Sin. So I reckon I edged it today as I also want to lose another 15 lbs which would officially make me normal weight.
She can rabbit on for ages about any subject under the sun so I feel that I am justified in mentioning more than occasionally how loose my 34 inch jeans feel. But they really do! I am now 99% confident that I would fit into 32 inch jeans – fighting London Irish waist size – quite comfortably. I can see that a shopping trip to Kalamata looms on Saturday.
I also feel less embarrassed about my body. Do I sound like a real girl here? My guest says that I was developing a bit of a farmer’s tan (elbows downwards) and so I now wander around the hovel topless. Sadly my guest has not followed sit but that is another matter.
My point is that although I am aware that my stomach is still too large – it is the last flab to go – I do not feel embarrassed by it as I would have at higher weights. And I know that slowly it is shrinking. And tomorrow the really hard manual labour starts at the Greek Hovel – the pounds must surely just fall away for both of us?
2467 days ago
Tomorrow’s excitement at the Greek Hovel is the arrival of a diesel powered machine for dealing with the frigana – the horribly prickly bushes which are dotted across the property. At the edge of the garden are a row of very large bushes which I suspect of being home to a wide selection of unpleasant wildlife diversity. Of course my new thin yellow line prevents them encroaching closer to the house but none the less I want them gone.
The much larger task is clearing the olive groves of this accursed plant. Due to Greek Forest Fire laws all that my guest I can do is hack the bushes down (they can be anything from 2 inches to ten foot tall) and them cover the stems with a vile poison to kill the roots. When I come back nearer Christmas there will be a good spot of burning to do lest the wildlife diversity things it has a new home.
Pro tem I have been busy clearing the area around the hovel of more than a decade of leaf mulch which the snakes find very pleasant to slither through.
2467 days ago
I have already shown you photos of my self-built eco-loo at the Greek Hovel. Now for part two the Humanure pit. Sadly someone half-inched the two posts I had purchased to corner this up so I shall now have to buy four posts at some stage soon. But the base pit is sufficient for now.
It has been built entirely out of wood found on the property (of which I am proud) and is located just outside the outer snake free redoubt. However one of the snake repellent canisters is nearby so it should be in a relatively safe zone.
The theory is simple. You deposit a bucket of humanure – that is human waste plus loo paper, plus the flowers we throw in after use to remove odours. On top of that
2467 days ago
My weekend encounter with a snake has sparked me into action at the Greek Hovel. I scuttled off yesterday to buy more snake repellent canisters although the weekend evidence suggested that they were not that effective. Sadly my friend at the plant store had none in stock but pushed a bag of yellow powder my way and swore by it stating happily that there were lots of snakes up where I live. That seems to be a constant and cheering message for me in the village of Kambos.
It is sulphur and snakes will apparently not cross it. How much is that I said? 1 Euro. In that case I shall have two please.
There now exists a yellow line round the edge of the garden and encircling the house. It is, an outer redoubt, against the wildlife diversity (of the snake variety). Fingers crossed it holds. However tomorrow the bush cutting machine arrives and my guest and I sally forth outside the redoubt to start bush clearance. We move into enemy territory…
2468 days ago
After almost one month I had yet to see a snake at the Greek Hovel…until yesterday. I arrived back at the Hovel at 9 AM feeling rather tired after a night at Athens Airport and as we got out of the car my guest says “so where are the snakes then?”
As I entered the garden I was about to reply “not seen one yet” when I heard a whoosh and something shot through the grass, starting about three yards from where I stood rooted to the spot. I peered closely at where it was now resting, five yards away. Er….”over there” I said.
In defence of the snake
2470 days ago
Sitting on my newly constructed eco-loo in The Greek Hovel, I reflect on how my way of life is about to change with the arrival of a female guest. I am, as it happens, tapping this out at a service station near Athens Airport as I wait to meet her.
Natch I have spent the past 24 hours on an intense hovel tidying.
I reflect on my way of life here, there are so many plus points and it will be hard to go back. I could work from here, it is cheap to live and doing wonders for my figure. Feel free to send emails congratulating me on this.
Tom Winnifrith has just published his new e-book, The 49 Golden Rules of Making Money from oil, gas and mining shares. You can buy it on Amazon for £6.25 or you can order a FREE copy HERE
2475 days ago
I think that with hindsight it was a mistake to try to ride back from Kambos carrying two pots of lavender on the motorbike. But I did, I tried to turn in the main road and I fell of my bike. At 5 miles an hour it was not too painful. Folks rushed from Eleni’s taverna to help pick me and the lavender pots up. I got back on an increasingly battered bike and moved off gingerly.
Biking back along the dirt track to the Greek Hovel is never easy but carrying two lavender pots (in plastic bags), with my confidence dented and with blood trickling from my knee and elbow it was harder than usual.
On the plus side I have given them something to talk about in Eleni’s Kouronis taverna – not a lot happens in Kambos. My reputation as a bit of an odd and clumsy stranger will be enhanced and I suppose seeping blood has to be good for weight loss? Please tell me that is true.
2476 days ago
I am very proud of myself. Not only have I constructed an eco-loo but I have been uber- environmentally friendly in using 80% recycled materials. For a man who came 127 out of 127 with 27% in the U4 Warwick School woodwork exam I think I have done well.
The box case is an old trunk. I took off the top with my early Christmas present to myself (an electric screwdriver) and cut a piece of hardboard (not recycled into shape). That was then reattached to the hinges and thus to the chest.
The bucket is kept in place
2480 days ago
There are different forms of guilt that I feel as I sit in the Greek Hovel. The worst is as I peer outside and see the sun shining on a glorious day. Yet I will be heading back inside soon to finish another article on shares, on Quindell or whatever.
In side of me something associate sun and the smell of a Greek hillside with holidays. What on earth am I doing spending holiday time hammering away at my PC? The Mrs makes that point every time we go on holiday and it is a fair one.
I have not fully made the mental leap that this is not a holiday. The Mrs has bought a house which is one of our two homes. The nature of my work means that sometimes I will live in Bristol and sometimes I live here in the Mani, Greece. This is my home and just as in Bristol I am working from home. And so gradually the feelings of guilt about now being down at the beach or just lazing around doing nothing are going.
As it happens
2480 days ago
Well it is payday. That is one reason to celebrate of course. But there are a few other things bubbling away in the world of shares.
2481 days ago
As I detailed yesterday this was also pretty much run number two of the past two years. My joints felt a little stiff this morning and so I waited until the early evening before setting off.
It was the same route as before. I guess it is about a mile from the hove down to the spring. I ran that happily enough and had a breather at the bottom. It is heading back up the hill I have problems with. This time I managed 200 yards up before the slope got the better of me.
That is about twice as far as yesterday. I walked the next 500 yards of steep slope and then ran the rest – a gentle rise back to the hovel where I bumped into my gardeners and the shepherd.
I sense that he is not a jogging man
2481 days ago
The light shines out through my glass and heavily gated door at the Greek Hovel. The moths just cannot resist and are drawn to it and what follows is a wholesale slaughter every night.
As I sit here there are four lizards on my door just sitting there waiting for the next moth. When it lands on the door they slowly creep towards it and …pounce. I can see them grab and eat the poor little things through the glass.
Right now there are no moths and so the lizards just wait…
2482 days ago
I am sorry for the delay in sending this over. Challenges? Dealing with Greece’s OTE. I pay the bastards for internet access, my account at the hovel shows I have credit but ….er OTE will not let me use it. Bastards. So I took the afternoon off.
The video is really about the challenges I face here at the Greek Hovel. Aged 46 I have done sod all carpentry since gaining 27% and coming 127/127 in the U4th woodwork exam. I have never ridden a bike. Never barricaded a room against rats, dealt with snakes, showered with a hosepipe, coped with living in a land where I don’t speak the language, the list goes on and on.
But I am enjoying he challenges while getting on with my working life. I also cover the fact that many of the liberal idiots who support Hamas appear to have no knowledge of the history of the region.
PS Having watched this you are now meant to email me and congratulate me on the weight loss!
2482 days ago
Hitherto I have showered at the Greek Hovel – that is to say stood under a hosepipe perched on my vine trellis – wearing my increasingly loose red swimming trunks. It was I suppose an effort to preserve modesty.
But as I stripped off today following my run and about an hour of manual labour it struck me that my shower is more or less obscured by trees at the edge of the garden and by the olive groves. The nearest house (the monastery) is at least a mile and a half away and so unless the one monk there is sitting with binoculars that can see through trees I can do or wear what I want.
I do not think that I will be going in for public displays of nudity on the sort of beaches where that happens. Apart from anything else, having sat naked on the snake veranda trying to get a bit of a tan, I am still conscious that my tummy is rather too large for me to want to show it to anyone else and that by bum is also a bit too big.
But given the drawbacks of living in the middle of nowhere, one advantage is not having to worry about what you wear or indeed if you are wearing anything at all.
2482 days ago
The first person to join me at the Greek Hovel arrives in two weeks and has already warned that our morning routine for the three weeks that follow will commence with a jog or was it a run. Either way I have rather tried to put this to the back of my mind but it struck me today that I have just two weeks without this ordeal left.
For the past two years the closest I have come to this form of masochism is shuffling quickly to the newsagents to get a pack of Marlboro Lights before the newsagent shuts. But I used to be able to do a decent run.
In my London Irish days I could do six miles in an hour on the treadmill (on a gradient) and used to run back from work in Shoreditch to Swiss Cottage. And then go to the gym. But that was a long time ago.
But what the hell.
2484 days ago
As ponder who I am going to fire on Monday, I tried an experiment – putting on the 34 inch jeans. Heck – they are comfortable. And so the 36 inch jeans (tight before I left but now uncomfortably loose to the point of falling down) are officially “retired). As a reminder of the timeline
Peak waist size – 44 inches . Disgrace 19 stone 6 llbs. Fat Bastard.
Waist size two years ago and also fighting weight (London Irish Wild Geese) 32 inches
Waist size at 17 30 inches
Waist size before I left ( very tight 36 inches)
Waist size now a comfortable 34 inches
Target waist size August 10th 32 inches ( will give a normal Body Mass Index, BMI, reading)
Target waist size on return to UK 30 inches ( will give a well into normal BMI)
When you see this week’s video postcard all supportive comments and encouragement will be much appreciated!
Sod Quindell now I have something to really get obsessive about
2485 days ago
When I record my videos each week you are meant to email me to say “Tom you have lost weight – well done!” I should not have to prompt anyone (especially the Mrs). But I have lost weight. Well I can’t measure it since, as I noted two years ago, there are virtually no scales in the whole of Greece but I can do the trouser test!
At my shameful 19 stone 6 pounds peak my waist was a disgraceful 44 inches. At my fighting weight (hooker for London Irish Wild Geese) I was a 32 inch waist. Two years ago in Greece I almost got down to 32 inches. I was within spitting distance.
Back in the UK – and blaming the Mrs for leading me astray - my waist expanded again. On leaving I was in 36 inch jeans and they felt tight. Within a few days my Ireland rugby shorts (from a post London Irish age) were so obviously falling down that they had to be retired. But they do not really count – they come from a plump (Clontarf veterans) era.
However, as their replacement – red swimming shorts - went from tight to comfortably loose I tried the trouser test.
2485 days ago
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.
2485 days ago
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?
2488 days ago
I am trying to buy a motor in Greece. I think that I have found a second hand jeep which can handle to road up to the Greek Hovel as well as taking me on longer trips. Sadly it’s not open top but it has plenty of space n the back for taking junk away. All I need now is the documents that allow me to buy in Greece.
First stop is getting a tax number. I have no intention of paying tax here. You know, when in Rome etc. etc. Well actually I am not going to be channelling any income out here as the tax rates are a joke. Lessons for lefties: if you have high tax rates people cheat the system and the take goes down.
So I took my documents to an accountant. Sadly because my Wedding Certificate is not translated she said “So you are not married in the eyes of Greece and the tax man”. Great: “what are you doing this evening I asked her?” She pretended not to understand and we tootled off to the tax office which was – oddly enough – not crowded. I counted about ten staff and three folks trying to pay tax. I think you can say that sums up Greek Government finances in a nutshell.
After a bit of chit chat I now have a tax number. Now I need a residency permit which involves a trip to see the Old Bill in Kardamili tomorrow and I am off. Mr Toad on the Road in his jeep. Toot Toot.
2490 days ago
I am not sure that the Mrs will approve of this but sending a message to the wildlife diversity outside the hovel about what I have laid down for them the song of choice right now is Poison by Alice Cooper. I have navigated the OTE page and am back on line. What a great old rocker Alice is serving up not only a classic anthem but an overtly sexist video. 1989…I am showing my age.
My apologies to the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty but blocking out the noises from the dark outside the redoubt needs a song like this. Next up Guns ‘n Roses and November Rain.
2490 days ago
And so I replied to a Quindell (QPP) shareholder who tweeted the constructive suggestion that I was a bit of a fatty. Fair cop I am. I have put on a few pounds over the past two years since hitting fighting weight in the summer of 2012. I blame married life, owning a restaurant with great food, having to drink with Zak Mir etc., etc.
However, I am now back in Greece and on a truly Spartan regime. There is the weight loss caused by manual labour in the sun at the Greek Hovel I cannot say that in the UK I do much manual labour in the sun or otherwise. There are the pounds shed as I pace the one secure room in the hovel late at night wander what on earth is making all those noises outside.
I have not had a drink in ten days
2491 days ago
Greetings from Greece. As you can see I am now feeling a bit more relaxed in the Greek Hovel. I seem to have curbed the wildlife diversity (touch wood) and explain why I can now wander around barefoot.
A lot has been achieved whatever comrade Dan Levi might suggest on twitter. But there is a lot of work still to do so a summer of sweat and graft still lies ahead.
Moving on from the hovel I turn to Gaza, You know where I stand - #IstandwithIsrael – but I explain again why Israel and Hamas
2491 days ago
I popped into Kambos to meet a nice couple from Somerset who first bought here seven years ago and who had a few handy hints on dealing with our Greek friends. We chatted about the locals about olive grove tending – to water or not to water and about other matters. As I was in the village I thought I’d use the Kourouni taverna wi-fi to send videos back to London. But it seems as if a storm is brewing.
The sky is dark and it is just five O’Clock. The air feels fresher having been stifling all day and the thunder is rolling in. I can see flashes of lightening. How long before it breaks and we are deluged with rain? How will that affect the track back to the hovel? But will the roof leak if I am inside the Greek hovel? I guess the conversation about watering the olives is now a little redundant. On balance I shall sit it out in the taverna as I have a stonking new Quindell piece to complete before tomorrow.
2492 days ago
Darren you would be proud of me. I have tonight managed to get the Mi-Fi system working. That means that at any one time I can now run four computers at The Greek Hovel. Not only that but I have signed up to Skype and am now waiting for the Mrs to awake from her early evening slumber after a hard way watching her students graduate so that we can chat.
As I wait I hear a noise at the door and per through the glass and grill to see that it is a small lizard seeking entry to the wildlife diversity free redoubt. Piss off critter in here wildlife gets killed. As two (no make that three) bugs have found out to their cost in the past twenty minutes.
The arrival of the World Wide Web at The Hovel will be a body blow to Eleni's lovely Kouronis Taverna in Kambos
2493 days ago
As I was leaving the Greek Hovel this morning at around 9.30 the gardeners arrived. Before Dan Levi tweets out abuse from the Manchester slums about how I am outsourcing hard work, let me explain.
2493 days ago
I have some great showers in my time. It would be indiscreet to go into details but today’s shower, my first at the Greek hovel was right up there with the best. Not that I was accompanied by anyone it was just great to feel clean again.
It is not a luxury power shower. I merely linked up a hosepipe I bought to one Foti had left and loped it through the trellis for the vine on the snake patio and turned the water on. The water is fresh and clean and felt a lot warmer than that in my early morning sea dip a couple of days ago. It was a joy for my body to meet soap again and to emerge with clean hair. Afterwards I just sat in the sun to dry off.
2493 days ago
My new best friend Foti and I had a temporary falling out today. He asked to be paid for five days work at the hovel – 350 Euro for him and his assistant. Hmmmm. It seems as if his hourly rate has doubled and hang on…that is five days…he has only worked two for me.
It seems as if the old owner Athena told Foti that I had asked him to do three days’ work and that I would pay. This was of course a total lie. I have told my lawyer and lovely Susan Shimmin from Real Mani who explained this all to Foti and it is agreed that everyone, including the local Notary, will harass the bitch Athena and make her pay.
The doubling of the hourly rate ( albeit to only 5 Euro per hour per man) is because Foti has decided that he will be my business partner from January – i.e. for next year’s olive cycle when the yield will double thanks to our TLC, and until the he will charge me. Part of me thinks this is rather sharp and I should find another Albanian and get a better deal.
2493 days ago
I am pondering what to name the Greek Hovel. It really does not matter as all post in Kambos is left at the garage for us to collect, but I was pondering putting up a name board in Greek “Write Minds” – it’s a pun geddit?
Lovely Susan Shimmin from The Real Mani is not perfect. She is, I fear, a bit of a deluded lefty like The Mrs and has already twigged that I see the world in a rather different way to her. And so she was delighted to reveal to me that The Hovel, although more than a century old, was – according to our sales contract largely burned down in the 1940s during the Greek Civil war.
It seems that the inhabitants of The Hovel at the time were Royalists
2493 days ago
What in nature scared me a few days ago? Snakes? Yes big time. But also rats, bats. scorpions and the dark. I also have a great fear of heights but that has not been an issue to date as I settle into the Greek hovel. But the rest of my phobias have come in spades.
2495 days ago
Oh dear, I thought that I was making progress on eradicating wildlife diversity at The Greek Hovel but it just got worse. I am sure that it is just a temporary blip.
My new best friend, and business partner in the olive business, Foti and a friend of his were clearing out the two first floor rooms again this evening. Another truck load of rubbish has now gone and still we are not finished.
However in the room under the snake veranda we discovered not one but two rats. This time I did not run, my fear of these creatures is diminishing. But Foti was more proactive, grabbing a broom and thrashing wildly.
2495 days ago
I have yet to fix up my hosepipe based shower – that is a job for this evening. And as such after three days in the hovel I arrived at the conclusion that I must be rather dirty, not to say smelly. As such, noting that a sign just outside Kambos says beach 5.5 kilometres I ventured off for an early morning swim.
A Greek kilometre is rather different to a standard kilometre, that is to say 1000 metres. When the sign says 5.5 kilometres that means anything between 3 kilometres and nine kilometres. Just treat what the sign says as a very rough guide. And thus after about nine kilometres I hit the sea and removed my West Ham 2005-2006 “We are Premiership” T-shirt, celebrating Bobby Zamora’s magnificent 57th minute winner against Preston in the play-off final. I then dipped my toes in.
2496 days ago
According to my new best friend Foti the Greek Hovel yields about half a tonne of olives a year. But we have plans to expand that greatly. There are a couple of very low yielding trees that will perish once we reach the burning season and post-harvest, in December. And there are some gaps where we can plant new trees.
But more importantly the trees have been neglected for years and need some TLC. That means applying manure in December post the harvest and pruning them back now. And so at 8 AM this morning Foti and a friend arrived for work and I insisted that I joined them. The friend headed off in one direction with a saw on a long pole and Foti grabbed a small handsaw and olive axe (a small axe about a foot long) and strode off in the other direction. I followed Foti glad that any snakes disturbed would meet him first.
Given that Foti speaks no English and me very little Greek communication is an issue. He speaks to me in Greek and I reply in English with neither of us gaining great knowledge from the conversation but in a strange way we understand each other completely. And so I watched the master to learn the science of olive tree pruning.
2496 days ago
Sunday may be a day of rest for some but not for myself or my new best friend, Foti the Albanian. Foti is also my new business partner. We have agreed that the net proceeds from the olive trees will be split 50/50 on the basis that he does the work. I have insisted that I be allowed to do my part as you will see.
Foti speaks not a word of English. And I speak almost no Greek. So he speaks to me in Greek which I do not understand. I reply in English which he does not understand. On that basis we muddle along fine.
And so Sunday evening saw Foti and his pal arrive in a pickup truck to remove years and tears of rubbish. Broken chairs, rusted bed frames, empty drums and tins and piping: I have got the lot in the two first floor rooms: Grandpa’s bedroom (earth floor, broken window, rat friendly door) and the one below the snake veranda.
I am not asking too many questions about where the rubbish is going but am assured that it will remain in a safe place until October when we can once again light fires here legally. We piled the truck high as you can see. I reckon there are now only about five more loads to go. One day at a time…
2496 days ago
I snuck out last night to watch the World Cup. The longer it lasted the more I could put off driving back along the long and windy road in the dark to the Greek Hovel. And even worse, to getting out of the car, walking ten yards through the grass to the Greek Hovel wondering what wildlife was lurking in the grass or inside the hovel. As it happens it was a wildlife free experience. Even Mr Rat seems to have “taken his medicine” and disappeared.
The taverna was packed and it soon became clear that I was the only person not supporting the Argies. As the Argies “scored” the taverna rose as one. As the linesman raised his flag for offside one fist punched the air. It was then that the dirty looks started.
How I wished I spoke Greek and could have explained that I too loathe the krauts but that the Argies are for Falkland’s related reasons even worse. But I spoke no Greek and so the loud cheers and increasingly timid punches from me continued. And then the Belgrano moment…The Argies sunk by a sub. The Taverna was not happy. I was rather hoping that it would go to penalties so postponing my encounter with wildlife diversity back at the hovel but on balance was delighted.
Watching Germans celebrate and Angela Merkel smile and clap with joy caused me no great pleasure but
2497 days ago
I have no internet at The Greek Hovel. And I am damned if I will drive back there in the dark from the local taverna along the long and winding road. And so I must miss the Germany vs Argentina World Cup Final. Shucks. Do I care who wins?
No. I’d like both teams to lose. The Argies are a conceited and dirty side and have not worked out that the Falklands are not called the Malvinas. As for the Krauts? They are also arrogant. There is the little matter of two contests at their National Sport during the last Century and a German win will undoubtedly see the Evil Empire claiming that “The World Cup has been won by the EU”. So I’d like both sides to lose.
Accepting that this cannot happen, I conclude that the Argies really are dirty cheats. And our contest with them at the National Sport of Germany was more recent than our bouts with the Hun. And so thinking of the Falklands if I care at all I rather hope that the Krauts scrape a win.
2497 days ago
Greetings from the Greek Hovel. Actually it is not too bad. The Mrs says that it looks quite clean from my photos. Well that is the one habitable room anyway.
I am yet to fit a shower (you might call it a hosepipe and sprinkler attachment) – that is a Monday job so pro tem I am not exactly in pristine condition. I start with a discussion of my first night in the hovel listening to the wildlife trying to get in.
I then move onto the relationship between Church and State here in Greece. As EU taxpayers are bankrolling this country perhaps we should demand that a quite ludicrous arrangement comes to an end?
My weekly financial video postcard discusses how one should revisit your perceptions of a given stock in light of new information coming to light. It can be viewed HERE
2498 days ago
I procrastinated and procrastinated as I dreaded what I would find when I arrived at the Rat Room – aka my bedroom for the next three months. So I bought a spade to bash rats with and to dig out the “estate” at the Greek hovel. For tomorrow I start work on my eco-loo and humanure system. Then I bought a few vegetables for supper, rather forgetting that I have no knives or forks although the previous owner has left me a fine collection of quite amazingly horrible plates as well as a can of warm beer, which I have binned. On this trip I plan to stay dry.
Then I had a coffee in the local taverna where I sit once again this evening having failed miserably to get my mi-fi internet connection working.
But in the end I had no choice and started the drive along the long and winding road. As I passed through the gates I turned the car music up to 11 determined to show the wildlife that I had arrived and they better scram. With spade in hand I wandered up to the building and peered nervously over the ledge of the snake veranda. Maybe the snake repellent had worked for it was deserted.
And so I unlocked the door of the Rat Room and raised my spade.
2498 days ago
By now you might have wondered quite what possessed the Mrs to snap up falling down our Greek hovel in the middle of nowhere and which is teaming with rats and snakes. Hmmm. Good question. And I have not even started on the works I need to do on the grounds or of the sanitation, er…..issue. But let me show you the view.
2498 days ago
I spare you photos of the Rat Room, aka my bedroom for the next three months. I would not wish to scare the Mrs so will tidy it up a bit first. But it is by far and away the smartest room at the hovel. In fact it is the only one not completely littered with junk and totally unfit for human habitation. It is on the top floor next to the snake veranda. Here are both from the outside.
2498 days ago
And so we arrive at the Greek hovel that the Mrs has snapped up. Before I can contemplate the enormity of the task at hand there is the little matter of the rats and snakes to deal with. We have visited the village hardware store where – rather worryingly – about 40% of the product lines seem to be associated with dealing with, er…rats and snakes. Susan Shimmin and I are now armed.
2498 days ago
I had forgotten just how remote our new Greek hovel was. Leaving the small village of Kambos (three tavernas, three food stores and a place that sells snake repellent) myself and Susan Shimmin from the Real Mani drive our respective cars past a small church. The road as we head downhill is, at first, pretty good. That is because the first building on it – and my nearest neighbour – is a monastery. At this point there are only a few potholes to deal with.
I shall return to the subject of my neighbour, the monk, later. And also to the relationship between State and Church here in Greece. Suffice to say that in an enormous building there is now just one resident. I plan to pop in and say hello at some stage next week.
As we pass the monastery the road deteriorates rapidly. While the Greek Sate must ensure that the Church is not put out in any way, caring for the needs of its ordinary citizens is no longer affordable. At this point the pot holes become cavernous and the tarmac disappears as we head to the bottom of the valley. I am in first gear and driving at five miles an hour.
At the bottom of the valley there is a river in winter which flows over the road. It is now totally dry but a pond still exists hidden behind the trees. I guess there must be a spring there. That is something else for me to investigate at some point. But now we start the steep climb up the other side of the valley.
Susan pushes on in her battered van
2498 days ago
As you know I am this summer starting the reconstruction of a Greek hovel snapped up by the Mrs. Please do not regard this as an investment. There is more chance of making money from Quindell (QPP) shares than from buying hovels in Greece. Actually that’s a lie. There is zero chance on both counts.
I shall post updates all summer of my progress but I start with the news I received two days before arrival. That is to say that our lovely estate agent Susan from The Real Mani ( who - as her name suggests comes fro an Isle of Man family) reported back on Tuesday that when visiting the hovel she had encounter a rat in the only room that is (vaguely) habitable – the room henceforth known as my bedroom for the summer.
Hmmmmm. I try to look on the bright side. If there are live rats in my bedroom at least it means that the snakes have not managed to penetrate that part of the building. Things can only get better from here.