42 days ago
The last guests of the year arrive at the Greek Hovel today. It is October but the sun has kept the pool warm and it stays open until the end of the month. Then it shuts down until April. But you can still swim in the sea in November and it will be a lot warmer than Whitby in August. In fact, the best time to visit Greece is about now. For starters, everything from air flights to hotels (and hovels) are so much cheaper.
102 days ago
Veteran olive harvesters will look at the photos below and know that the 2022 harvest will not be a very good one. It will not be terrible as things stand though there is still time for an act of God intervention such as a severe windstorm. But it will not be great. Thus it is uneconomic to hire Albanians to assist with the harvest. So how do you, dear readers, fancy being an Albanian. Here’s the deal.
118 days ago
The Mrs and I have worked hard this summer on upgrading the our luxury Greek mountain retreat with pool but a late cancellation means that it is still free to rent for three weeks between now and the end of the swimming pool season. Full pictures and booking via AirBnB can be found HERE but as a reader of this website if you want to book contact me direct and we can cut out the middleman.
216 days ago
My fire lighting at the Greek Hovel ended on 16 April when my business partner, Nicho the Communist, came up for an inspection of our trees and told me that the burning season had ended two days previously. I was an accidental law breaker.
220 days ago
Tuesday was meant to be a relaxing day here at the Greek Hovel with only one renovation issue, the visit of the electrician to mend a light and an extractor fan. He said he’d call two hours before he pitched up but in the end his call was at nearly 8PM to say that he’d be coming “avrio”. Everything is always avrio here in Greece. Except…
221 days ago
The Albanian hired by my business partner, Nicho the Communist, is, supposedly, a true expert. I believe him, but I am left badly confused on three counts.
224 days ago
When he was alive, this was an annual ritual. Now Christopher Booker is in a better place, there is no reason for this to stop. The photo is of climate change, or rather, the lack of it, here in Southern Greece.
225 days ago
In Greece, this time of year is known as the “burning season”. We start fires in the olive groves, thus averting their spread over the summer. Therefore, as you drive up from Kalamata to Kambos, everywhere you see small plumes of smoke rising from the fields, as folks rush to finish their burning – before it becomes illegal.
308 days ago
All bar three of the c250 olive trees at the Greek Hovel produce the tiny pea, or two pea, sized fruit used only for crushing and turning into oil. Three of the trees produce larger, edible fruit.
335 days ago
It is all about the children is it not? The day started for me with some writing and vegetable preparation at 5 AM but three hours later Johsua, Jaya and the Mrs were opening bulging stockings, the cats a modest one and myself discovering three pairs of socks in mine.I guess I have been anaughty boy this year, something about heading off to the Greek olive harvest I guess.
345 days ago
I comment on day three of the Greek Hovel olive harvest, a good day but a long one. But I start with Peter Brailey’s piece on Union Jack Oil (UJO) and explain why the company is now possibly the most toxic on AIM. I then look, en passant, at Amala Foods (DISH) and in detail at Tern (TERN) and Argo Blockchain (ARB).
346 days ago
I have reported on day one of the olive harvest on my own website HERE. Day two was a wet affair and I am cold and shivvering. In a brief bearcast I discuss John Story, Ben’s Creek (BEN) and Argo Blockchain (ARB)
346 days ago
Recorded from my new studio, that is to say a hired car in Greece, I start with olive harvest news then move onto Versarien (VRS), [email protected] Capital (SYME), Guild eSports (GILD) and Argo Blockchain (ARB). Natch you’d be bonkers to own any of these four stocks.
347 days ago
Every year with every new olive harvester there is, what appears, a ritual. I say “don’t eat any of the small olives we are harvesting for oil.” They then bite into one and say “yuk, that’s revolting.” At which point I remind them of what I said. Another ritual is that I go pick around 45 edible olives and warn them again not to bite into one until they have cured them back in Airstrip One. This time they listen.
349 days ago
Another early start saw harvester B and myself working in really rather unpleasant rain. There could be no delays if he was to make his way to Mystras.
349 days ago
We all got up early. B & myself said fond farewellls to R&S as they started the trek back to Airstrip One. This was to be the last day of harvesting. But first…
351 days ago
It was the last day of the harvest for R&S who had to start the day with a trip to Stoupa for covid tests. That left myself and B starting proceedings in glorious sunshine and laying mats along the side of the house facing up into the mountains. The three trees here are well fertilized, in the way that only a man can do, and are better than most in this very poor year. But the day started badly with a wire into one of the clamps on the twerker’s battery coming out. Luckily..
351 days ago
The joke among the three harvesters here, each paid nil, was that every time they missed an olive on the tree they were twerking and I spotted it, I fined them a Euro. At the end of their stay I’d present them with their bill. It was, of course, a joke. But then harvester B stumbled on something on the internet.
353 days ago
After admitting to Nicho the Communist our day one harvest of 3-4 bags, we at least started day 2 with a full quota of four harvesters following the arrival of B. His passport photo makes him look like a strapping member of the Waffen SS but he is in fact a charming fellow who speaks a lot more Greek than I do. Once again, the weather was unhelpful.
354 days ago
It stopped raining by eight and by nine it was dry enough to put the mats down and go into battle. Heroic harvester K from a couple of years ago would have been proud of me. I worked out how to charge the battery and get the twerker working, to lay out the mats and we kicked off on the six trees nearest the house where my special man fertilizer seems to have ensured there is a decent crop. My business partner Nicho the Communist has again warned me that he will kill me if I chop any branches so it was twerking only. Well I say that..
356 days ago
I reported yesterday that my first guests, R &S, were due to arrive that evening. I hoped that neither were vegetarian or non drinkers as many folks in sophisticated London are these days for that is not what we do here in Kambos. It is like not owning a gun, it is unnatural, freakish. As I feared R is a non drinking vegetarian.
357 days ago
Having arrived in Kalamata after eleven last night, I was jolly glad to have booked a hotel in town rather than trekking out to the Hovel. After a warming Metaxa in the lobby while I answered emails and I lugged my two heavy bags to bed. On the way out to Greece I now take 25 kg of books to stack the shelves here, on the way back i shall take 15kg of my oil (I hope) and 3 kg of wood ( I shall explain that later).
371 days ago
As I make preparations to travel to Greece once again for the olive harvest up at the Greek Hovel, my mind drifts back to the last weekend of our summer vacation. My trip in a couple of weeks will be a solitary one, my annual chance to be part of a community that is tied by its DNA to the olives, but also to detach myself from the insanity of life back in Airstrip One. It is a chance to consider what I want to do with the rest of my life and other matters and, obviously,to drink a lot of ouzo and Metaxa. But back to last summer.
472 days ago
After Charon the next visitor due at the Greek Hovel was my friend and business partner Nicho the Communist. With Nicho is it always wise to assume that he will not turn up but on this occasion he arrived bang on time at 7 PM and we wandered through the olive groves.
475 days ago
Long-time readers of this website will be well aware of what is now an eight-year battle with frigana here at the Greek Hovel. In 2014, I cleared more than 2,000 square metres of this awful plant, a bit like holly, which can grow from an inch to become a 20-foot tree. Since then, I have battled it with the strimmer and with poison.
482 days ago
My business deal on my olive trees with Nicho the Communist is over two years so that he gets half the profits fromm a bad year and half from a good year, these things run in cycles. 2020, when I could not muck in as the Mrs was giving birth back in Britain, was a bad year. The oil produced was enough to cover the fees of the Albanians who do the actual work, after leaving 15 litres for my own use. My fear is that this year will not be very good either and I have invited Nicho up to the hovel for a swim, a drink and an inpsection.
490 days ago
I have long gazed at olive terraces on the other side of the valley and elsewhere in Greece and wondered, with some envy, at how flat and clean they look when compared to my frigana strewn land. But this year, my business partner in olive harvesting, Nicho the Communist, engaged some Albanians to clear our terraces out and the result is a wonder to behold. The first photo is the view from directly behind the house.
501 days ago
I have yet to update you all on the dynamics of the, now four, eateries that surround thde small square in the centre of Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel. As Greece implements new laws to make life for all four of them that much harder, it is topical.
564 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.
721 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.
722 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.
825 days ago
After his rather minor contribution to the damson depitting, Joshua bowed out of the jam making process at this point. But we were left with two bowls: pips, to which I added 20 ml of water, and, on the right, flesh, to which I added 450 ml, putting both on a low heat and stirring for 20 minutes. As you can see below, the flesh started to turn an increasingly joyful purple.
833 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.
834 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.
844 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.
1069 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.
1084 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.
1084 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.
1084 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.
1088 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)
1088 days ago
I reply to a listener who blames yesterday’s lack of bearcast on my thoughts shifting away from Ms Cole to this young olive harvester - such a suggestion is almost defamatory. Then it is on to Dignity (DTY), St James Place (STJ) and – in some detail – the very naughty boys at Iconic (ICON), led by toxic Dave Sefton and why the two NEDS walked today.
1088 days ago
It is day 1 of the olive harvest and ShareProphets reader K is a hero. I swear he is a closet bubble. I give a progress report on that and then turn to Fastjet (FJET), Versarien (VRS), the useless FCA and mini bonds and the imploding and smelly ramp that is Eurasia Mining (EUA).
1092 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.
1092 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.
1095 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.
1095 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.
1096 days ago
The photos below are from the roof of the Athens hotel in which I am holed up after a day of travel hell which I discuss and offer a warning to the trio of bearcast listeners coming to join me for the olive harvest shortly. In the bearcast I look at Inspirit (INSP), 13 Energy (E3E), Eurasia Mining (EUA) which is run by a top banana bt has a joke valuation and FinnCap (FCAP) which has a joke valuation in light of today’s interims and is run by a top er… it is run by Sam Smith.
1097 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!
1200 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?
1448 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.
1448 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.
1450 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...
1451 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….
1452 days ago
I start with the news about the olive harvest. When you get the full financial report you will laugh. I almost did. I am almost tempted to get Neil Woodford to invest in it. Then I discuss Thomas Cook (TCG), Audioboom (BUST) and Tekmar (TGP), another disastrous IPO on the AIM Casino. I also discuss the battle between the metropolitan elites and the rest of us ref. France, but also the UK and Brexit.
1455 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...
1455 days ago
I start with a few words about the harvest. The team of three worked until it was dark. Then I reveal Bernard's shameful confessions. Then more on the folly of Neil Woodford and lessons from Kier. Neil is yet to get back to me about my business proposition from yesterday. Come on old boy £2 million for 20%, what's not to like?
1455 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.
1456 days ago
The olive harvest starts tomorrow and I will be assisted by a Shareprophets reader from Eire and by Andrew Bell of Red Rock Resources (RRR) who is trying to communicate with the natives in his best Ancient Greek. I expliain why today's output from me is limited and then break the latest news from Julie "lingerie on expenses" Meyer MBE. Then I look at Independent Oil & Gas (IOG), Optibiotix (OPTI), Dignity (DTY) and the scam that is the funeral industry and BCA marketplace (BCA) which may have hoodwinked Andrew Monk but whose interims today are shoking. They could have been written by wretched Theresa May and are alarmingly bad. I also comment on the Project Fear Brexit uber bollocks spouted by the not fit for purpose Bank of England Governor Mark Carney yesterday.
1458 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.
1481 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.
1497 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.
1500 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.
1517 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.
1600 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.
1741 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.
1743 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?
1819 days ago
I have been so dog tired during the olive harvest that I have eaten our rarely. Normally supper has been a Greek salad in my hotel room. One Friday night, sensing the end of the harvest was nigh, I ventured out to my favourite restaurant here in Kalamata, the Katelanos which is about 400 yards from my hotel on the seafront.
1819 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.
1819 days ago
The first shot was today. The olive harvest ended, the sun promptly re-appeared, the sky was blue, the rocks of the Taygetos that dominate this City, reflected the light and it was 21 degrees. Two days ago I was harvesting, the mountains were draped in dark clouds, the rain was falling and it was barely into double figures.
1826 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.
1828 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.
1830 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.
1830 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.
1831 days ago
As I wandered into the little square in Kambos which has Miranda's at the top, looking up at Zarnata castle, and the Kourounis taverna on one side, something looked very wrong.
1831 days ago
Well it is a bad day on two counts. Fisrt it is the disaster that has hit our village in Greece and its olive harvest, as I explain in a photo article HERE. Then it is events at Premaitha (NIPT), a share we own. I explain why I am not selling. I look at Stanley Gibbons (SGI) and then at FastForward (FFWD) where things really don't stack up and where there are far more questions than answers.
1831 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.
1857 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.
1859 days ago
Following on from today's truly shocking results from Lombard Risk (LRM) covered HERE I have more questions for the company not least on how secure is its overdraft on which it is, I suspect, already reliant and on the quite disgraceful salary compatibility review. Talk about rewards for failure. Then I look at Defenx (DFX), another horror story, before issuing a wake up call to our own in house Bulletin Board Moron Wildes and looking at Angus Energy (ANGS) and finally Dialight (DIA). Meanwhile it is now less than a month to the olive harvest and Greece. I cannot wait.
1867 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.
1913 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.
1992 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.
2044 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?
2111 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.
2112 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?
2176 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.
2178 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.
2178 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.
2179 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.
2181 days ago
I am just so tired after day 4 of the olive harvest. You can see today's report - into the lair of the snake - HERE. In this podcast I cover: Cloudtag (CTAG), Strat Aero (AERO), Andalas (ADL), the CFD firms and the FCA, notably Plus 500 (PLUS), African Potash (FRAUD), Corero (CNS), Inspirit (INSP) and Fishing Republic (FISH).
2181 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.
2181 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.
2182 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.
2184 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,
2184 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.
2184 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
2187 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.
2200 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.
2201 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.
2204 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.
2259 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.
2380 days ago
Everyone here in Kambos, the little Mani village in which I am resident, is agreed. Our trees are drowning in flowers and come late November we are going to have a great olive harvest. As is our way in this part of Greece will turn our olives into oil and we will have simply vast amounts to sell and so all the talk is of who we can get to promote our olive oil to help rescue the village from austerity. I know what we need.
Can anyone think of a celebrity who is well known for using vast amounts of olive oil? Preferably we would want a good family man or woman, known for their single minded commitment and integrity and who might perhaps help promote alternative uses for our oil? Can anyone think of a suitable person?
2541 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.
2544 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
2545 days ago
In today's podcast I update you all on the olive harvest - I managed four hours in the fields today despite still being in real pain. But not as much as LGO Energy (LGO) - its RNS today smells of desperation. For strategic review read "the game is up" and that also applies to Kolar Gold (KGLD). I comment on Avanti Communications (AVN) where the share price crumble is accelerating - remember debt is crack cocaine for management but for shareholders it is bad for your wealth. I comment on Silver Falcon (SILF) and tick off the grossly irresponsible, Justin the Clown of ADVFN and also on Defenx (DFX), rapidly becoming an IPO omnishambles. Then onto InternetQ (INTQ) where it is now "game on" but I end with Antrim Energy (AEY) where a concert party of Brokerman Dan, market abuser Chris OIl and ADVFN (AFN) head honcho Clem Chambers have just taken a 3% stake. Warning: this podcast contains bad language.
2549 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
2551 days ago
It is short podcast time as I am having issued sending material back to the UK. The Albanians did not turn up today so the olive harvest is delayed by 24 hours. It may be delayed again if I have to head to Athens on Global Shorting Conspiracy business. Things are starting to get interesting as I mention briefly and this is NOT Globo (GBO). Elsewhere I cover Edenville (EDL), Gulf Keystone (GKP), Sweet Group (CSG), Atlantic Coal (ATC), Iofina (IOF) and African Potash (AFPO). Warning: this podcast contains bad language and rather too many references to Britain's most talented chanteuse Ms Cheryl Cole.
2553 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
2885 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.
2910 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…
2910 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.
2911 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
2912 days ago
There was a certain confusion about what to do with it. Do I put it in the oven said lovely Eleni? But with help from a truly bilingual member of the community we are underway. One of the Christmas puddings brought from Real Man Pizza in Clerkenwell is now steaming away in the private kitchen of the lovely Eleni at Kourounis taverna. In about an hour it will be ready. I hope. My friend Nikko finished his harvest and pressed his oil today. I now have 2.1 tonnes of olives at the factory. The last bags will come down tomorrow morning and then we press.
I shall take home a couple of cans to rebottle and use as Christmas presents for the chosen few as The Greek Hovel olive oil. The rest we sell and Eleni will pick up the cheque and repay me in the summer. So we celebrate the (almost) end of the harvest with something no-one else here in Kambos has ever tasted before. Fingers crossed.
2913 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?
2914 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,
2916 days ago
Rain delayed play on the olive harvest but is now back underway again but without me for this afternoon as I have business to attend to in Kalamata and you, my dear listeners, to satisfy with the revelation of a NEW China AIM stock capitalised at £88 million which shouts out red flag. I also comment on Forbidden Technology, Tyratech and growth stocks that stumble, on Ortac Resources, Beacon Hill Resources and raise a few points about the fraud souffle that is Quindell
2918 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.
2920 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.
2921 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
2922 days ago
The bloody Albanians have again not turned up - will the olives ever get harvested? And so this podcast is angry and covers Transense Technology, Sefton Resources, Maple Energy, Fitbug, Quindell, crony capitalists, investing companies and the AIM Casino and why shares are not suspended that should be
2923 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
2924 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.
2987 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?