362 days ago
At last the olive trees I smuggled back from Greece in the bottom of the car, have a new home here in Wales. My friend R whizzed his tractor round the edge of the upper field that borders the churechard two weeks ago. The jury is out on the chestnut and mulberry trees I planted at the far end and bottom last year. There are signs of life but not many. That hot summer when I was away in Greece, so could not water them, may have proved fatal. If so I shall try again next year.
739 days ago
On the side of the new raised lawn and Ha Ha at the Welsh Hovel which faces the River Dee, the grass is now almost three weeks old and the slope looks even greener than when I showed you pictures last week. But now, something of a miracle, that is to say a couple of days of dry weather here in Wales, has allowed us to almost complete the works as you can see below.
767 days ago
Kept awake by the sort of irritating, minor and temporary but painful condition that a gentlemen does not discuss on the internet, I find myself, as is often the case, considering the idea of my last day at work.
837 days ago
I kid you not. This is the best ice cream I have ever tasted. Substituting home-made elderflower cordial for 5/6 of the milk added to the cream, sugar and vanilla essence I then added in some elderflowers, parted from their stalks by Joshua, and into the ice cream maker it went. In the freezer overnight, what Joshua and I tasted for breakfast was simply divine as you can see below. Perfect for taste and texture with that added crunch from the soft flowers.
843 days ago
Here you are – the first produce from our new toy. Joshua and I sampled it for breakfast after a night in the freezer. Taste: perfect. Texture: perfect. Colour: perfect. Welcome to Welsh hovel home-made chocolate ice cream. Next up will be strawberry ice cream and then we will start to experiment with other fruits from our own orchard and vegetable patch later in the summer when we get back from Greece. Of course, the ultimate goal is to make it really home-made using goats milk and cream when we get goats. But that is a 2023, slipping into retirement, project. So far..so good
848 days ago
The couple who run the Greek/South African restaurant here had another present for me today but there was so much of it I was told that Joshua and I would need to collect it in a wheelbarrow.
851 days ago
When we arrived here two years ago, the grass, ferns and nettles were more than six foot high in bits of the small field above the barns. You could not see the gate fence and chicken shed at the end of the field which separated it from our upper meadow which goes all the way to the churchyard. The glass-filled ruins of an ancient shed just before the chicken shed were hidden from view. I had no idea it existed. What a difference two years makes. This is the field onto which five of our neighbours must look at from their houses and it was one of them who made my week by saying thank you a couple of days ago. So what does it look like now?
862 days ago
The main, listed, barns at the Welsh hovel form an enormous upside down L covering two sides of the farmyard. The house is on a third side and at the bottom is a separate barn and a garage and behind them the old apple orchard and then the river. The main barns have all been re-slated and now work starts on repointing them and also the house. That work started today and will last for at least a month and a half. We start with the one storey barns at the top of the L and at the start of its spine. These will be the chicken and goat sheds at some point and do not actually need much internal work at all.
933 days ago
I thought that Robert and his team, who do the big jobs on the land here at the Welsh Hovel, would laugh at my idea of creating a huge lawn and Ha Ha. But I had been kept awake at night working out in my head how it could be done. And to my surprise they did not laugh. It was viewed as creative. Objection after objection of logistic issues were raised but each one was dealt with so we will go ahead. You may ask what is a Ha Ha? The Mrs did.
1007 days ago
The day is looming when I must consider my New Year’s Resolutions. It is no great shock in that my top few are all to do with being a little bit, no a lot more, healthy. Spending those last couple of weeks with Dad and his death, covid, the second big lockdown here in Wales, the new baby and now Christmas have not been good for my health. The large Christmas jumper given to me by my mother in law is a little tight. I am all too aware of what needs doing. I am 53 in two weeks time and I have a one month old baby so I need to up my game in the healthy living department. It is all very well me considering plans for wind down and retirement but you have to live long enough to get to spend more time with your children and goats.
1372 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.
1471 days ago
Tomorrow is Tuesday so it means a whole day with Joshua my son who turns three today. And term having started Tuesday means an Under 5s group here in the village where the Welsh Hovel is located. Suffice to say Joshua is the only under 5 who brings his dad not his mum.
1715 days ago
My two year old son Joshua has a tendency, these days, to say that everything belongs to him. So it is "my house", "my car" and pictured below is "my goat." Of course it is not.
1807 days ago
The final part of Tuesday night's Nigel Wray UK Investor City forum was a debate on bitcoin, blockchain and goats between myself and Dominic Frisby. I think I had the best jokes though Dominic is the comedian. Anyhow it was fun and, I hope, informative. The next Wray City Forum is on December 3rd so put the date in your diary now.
1831 days ago
Come home to a real fire...buy a second home in Wales. You remember the sketch. Anyhow, the Mrs and i are looking and pondering because, as you know, she wants to pursue her career and I want to rear goats. The exercise, however, throws up very real questions about house prices. Moving on I look at Bushveld Minerals (BMN), Optibiotix (OPTI), Avanti Communications (AVN), Imaginatik (IMTK), Redhall (RHL) and Mitie (MTO) another company whose former boss helps to make Jeremy Corbyn's quite insane policies seem almost desirable.
2019 days ago
One of the big lies that our children are told in school and university and which the liberal media ram down our throats is that public sector workers are paid less than we folks in the productive sector and have had lower pay rises over the past few years. Those lies are exposed as lies with hard data as I did in my, Bath Spa lecture HERE, the "what happened next" story of which I will relay one day and which will horrify you. But the lie has worked. If enough folks repeat a lie often enough it becomes an Orwellian truth.
2050 days ago
I am still a bit confused as to why it was Carnival day all on Sunday but all over Greece folks were celebrating. I watched on TV as in Naxos they paraded through the streets dressed, I think, as ghouls. Somewhere else, a name containing absolutely all those Greek letters I can't pronounce and just give up on - they were dressed as sheep or was it goats, but they had bells on. With the carnival over Lent has now begun which means that the devout will eat no meat although it will still be served everwhere for Godless souls such as me and the Albanians.
2140 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.
2333 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.
2346 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.
2350 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.
2421 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.
3212 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.
3366 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.
3381 days ago
No prizes for last week’s contest as the standard of entry too low. Jon Pickles where for art thou? To be honest my mind is a bit of a blank. As I describe in the Tomograph this week I am a bit frazzled as I work 28 hours a day ahead of a summer clearing trees and installing basic sanitation in the hovel in Greece that the Mrs has bought. And so my mind wanders to three months sitting in the hovel pondering how to get the eco-loo and humanure system up and running and watching the world go by at a Greek pace of life.
I shall naturally relay the full details of how a humanure system works to you all exclusively on this website. It will be gripping reading I assure you.
And so in that vein, I invite you to post suitable captions for the picture below in the comments section beneath this article. The deadline is next Friday night.
For what it is worth my mind is so frazzled that the best I can come up with is a rather predictable:
“Hey we are goats not sheep, the Quindell AGM is in the next field.”
3476 days ago
I was starting to panic. My journey to Greece starts next Wednesday when I leave Bristol and until this morning the passport I ordered a few weeks ago had not arrived. Worse still, when I used the Passport Office auto-tracking forms it appeared that our friends in Cardiff had no record of me at all. But the panic is over, a brand new passport has arrived, with no record of my visits to Israel or the USA and so I could now go to Kurdistan to meet Gulf Keystone (GKP) if I wanted to. I don’t.
And so in a week’s time I must kiss goodbye to the cats and head to London. The Mrs joins me on the 3rd for her birthday. Naturally I shall not reveal which birthday it is. But your clues are that it is a round number, she is younger than me and although I thought she was in her late twenties when she first chatted me up by showing me an interesting article in the Guardian, she appears younger than she is.
Then it is UK Investor Show on the 5th, a hangover on the 6th (and a day with the in-laws who are coming to London for the show), supper with Matt Suttcliffe on the 7th, a hangover on the 8th and on the 9th it is off to my beloved Hellas for three and a half weeks of walking, writing and searching for the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane. And if it is goat milking season I shall naturally be having another go at that too.
I cannot wait. Does anyone know if it is goat milking season or not?
3725 days ago
Sadly I arrived a day late for the Onion harvest at the home of Stavros and Stavroula in the Peloponnese. Shucks, the back breaking work of extracting the onions from soil watered the night before to make it less rock hard was done by others. The onions are then laid out to dry in the sun for a month or so before being stored in the cool cellar for year round consumption. Anyhow here are the onions from the garden of Stavros.
I have described earlier and shown videos of the goat milking process. They can be found here. Do not laugh too much at my efforts.
One thing that I forgot to mention was how all the goats had been sent the week before to meet a Ram for "servicing." However,
3726 days ago
I see that on the ADVFN Bulletin Board one poster has spotted that I was planning to milk a goat and comments “I hope that a member of the paparazzi catches him engaged in this degrading act.” I really do not know where to start.
Firstly, I doubt the paparazzi has any interest in me at all. Secondly I ensured that the whole thing was captured on film anyway – I will load it up later - and thirdly why is it in any way degrading?
At one level, you should try everything once except incest and folk dancing. Heck, how narrow minded is this creature that he would not wish to seek out a challenge? But more importantly as we do our jobs in the Great Western cities, shuffling paper around to no great end, I sit back and contemplate the life of Stavros and Stavroula, the seventy year old parents of my partner’s brother in law.
3727 days ago
This came out yesterday but this story is, as they say, developing. There is more to follow. I shall be online solidaly within a day or so. Internet connection here is dire. But there is more to come...
I am staying in a Greek village where tomorrow I learn how to milk goats. There is no internet. But I have a phone and today I received a call from Gary Dillabaugh, the former company secretary of AIM Cesspit listed Sefton Resources (SER) which exposes Sefton boss Jim Ellerton as a chancer and a rogue.
I have been tracking down Dillabaugh for weeks and so getting that call is a moment I have looked forward to for some time. Hence, I have made my way to the seaside, borrowed a laptop and now reveal all. Just because I am on holiday the AIM bad guys should not sleep soundly.
What follows should be enough to question whether Ellerton is fit to run a public company.
3728 days ago
My father can take a joke on most matters but is a little sensitive on the subject of the tomatoes he grows in Shipston on Stour. They have a tendency to be small and green. Perhaps if he and my deluded lefty step mother are right then global warming will rectify that. I am not holding my breath.