192 days ago
Yesterday I showed how, thanks to God’s intervention, Joshua and i were able to pick our neighbour’s damsons without leaving our own garden. With c250 damsons picked and weigfhed up to 1.5kg exactly it was time to play with the new toys ordered from amazon.
430 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.
448 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.
450 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.
463 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!
822 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...
864 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.
866 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.
867 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.
883 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.
1077 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.
1184 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.
1186 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.
1355 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...
1366 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.
1409 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.
1410 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.
1417 days ago
When my Uncle Chris went on his first of his many honeymoons it was to the Mani where the Greek Hovel stands. Back in the early swinging sixties it took him more than a day to get here from Athens. That has all changed. There is a super fast Motorway linking the capital to this part of the world. But for as long as I can remember it has stopped just short of Kalamata adding another 20% to your travel time as you are forced to wind your way through suburbs and back streets. Yesterday I discovered that this has all changed.
1531 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.
1536 days ago
I have loaded the photos of pressing the olives from the Greek Hovel HERE. There may not be a bearcast tomorrow as I am about to start travelling soon. Today I look at LGO Energy (LGO), Milestone Group (MSG) and its CEO Deborah White who has committed market abuse and should be fired, Strat Aero (AERO), Fox Marble (FOX), Golden Saint (GSR) where I suggest a rule change is needed at AIM to deal with share dumping parasites like PR genius Steffi, and Proxama (PROX).
1541 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.
1542 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.
1545 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.
1546 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.
1548 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.
1548 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.
1550 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,
1551 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.
1554 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.
1718 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
1725 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
1731 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.
1731 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.
1740 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
1746 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.
1746 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.
1760 days ago
The lack of progress on getting permits to rebuild the Greek Hovel is starting to concern me and I am keen to make contact with George the architect ahead of my next trip on Saturday. And so I pick up my battered 1990s Nokia phone and scroll the directory and finding a George with a Greek number I call. For once I get an answer...
But the fellow does not seem to understand a word I say and is babbling away in Greek. It dawns on me quickly
1901 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
1908 days ago
I seem to be struggling to do business with my olives here in Kambos, Greece. I appear to have sold the oil - all bar 16 litres which I am taking back to the UK. But so far I have paid the press 16 Euro for the transaction which now sees it owning 200 litres of MY oil. Surely this is not right? Perhaps InternetQ (INTQ) runs the olive press? In this podcast I also cover LGO Energy (LGO) just to keep Wildes happy - Jabba the Hutt fave Rare Earth Minerals (REM) and European Metals (EMH), Concha (CHA), Tern (TERN), Imaginatik (IMTK), Peer TV (PTV) and the looming debacle at Chris Oil fave Mkango Resources.
1911 days ago
No David Lenigas it is not the loony bin but Kalamata General. After my fall while picking olives on Monday I thought that I was healing and managed four hours in the fields on Tuesday, albeit in some pain. But after three hours sleep on Tuesday night I awoke at two in absolute agony. The guy from the hotel reception came to my room, arranged everything and within 30 minutes I was at Kalamata Hospital.
2251 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.
2270 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.
2284 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.
2354 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
2424 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.
2497 days ago
It is that time when I have to hope that I have not lost my passport, boarding pass and other documents. And by a stroke of luck I rummage away in my computer bag and they are all there. I have even been efficient enough to book a ticket for a bus back from Gatwick and all being well I shall be in my bed in Bristol by 3.30 AM on Sunday Morning. But it will not be a long stay in England.
All being well I shall be back in Greece on July 1st preparing to spend three months working both online with my writing (tough luck Bulletin Board Morons if you thought I was retiring) but also on a building site. That is to say, the Mrs appears to have bought a property in the Mani which er..needs a bit of work. In fact it needs a total overhaul.
Taking advice from an Irish pal, working on a building site in the summer heat is a great way to lose weight. And I need a new challenge and learning how to rebuild a house seems like a good one. Greece being Greece nothing is done until it is done but, fingers crossed, the retirement home in the olive groves half way up a mountain has been located. There is a good amount of land with the hovel and a local worker (Albanian natch) and I have done a deal on the numerous olives it produces: He picks and the Mrs gets enough of a cut to pay Greek property taxes and for a few flights.
Anyhow that is all for the future. For now I can think of installing eco-loos ( more on that later) and on grand redesigns, the hard work – I hope – starts in July.