Thursday May 23, 2019
Photo Article - a Woodlarks training walk up the River Dee
Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel - this is what I do when not writing or walking
Photo Article update from the Welsh Hovel - a sight to delight daughter Olaf

PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH

Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - good news and bad

44 days ago

George the Architect sends over photos from the Greek Hovel where there is good news and bad.

The good news, as you can see below, is that progress on the swimming pool continues apace. Now I know it does not look very deep but walls will be built around it so, fear not daughter Olaf, at the deep end the water will be 1.9 metres deep. 

The bad news is that the water connection to the hovel and indeed neighbouring houses has broken so we are without water to fill the pool, in due course, or to water the olive trees we moved to make room for the pool. Greece being Greece, no-one has any idea when this will be fixed.

The good news is that God has been watering the trees - it has been raining heavily for days. The bad news is that heavy rains stop any further work on the pool.

For now my attention is on our house move in the UK to the Welsh hovel but, fingers crossed, the Greek hovel will be utterly completed by mid May.

Admin

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Photo article: meanwhile back at the Greek Hovel

90 days ago

George the architect has made it up to the Greek Hovel for the start of the spring campaign to completion. He will take a few days out in March to come to England/Wales to help draw up plans for the Welsh hovel. But for now it is full steam ahead in Greece. Or rather not.

As you can see below, the skies are now blue but it has been raining solidly for almost two months. Some of the dry stone walls that stand next tol the mud track, as it wends through the olive groves at the top of snake hill and Slater slope, have fallen down. Cars can get through, lorries cannot and so that will delay work on the swimming pool that daughter Olaf demands as a condition of her honourings us with her presence.

The house itself has survived the winter relatively unscathed. The chimneypot was blown off and will be replaced and there are still a few small jobs for the carpenter and the electrician to complete but they are on the case. Next week George will start to transplant seven olive trees and then work can start on the pool.

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Hungover, travelling & Big Sofa - what a day

163 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/39851/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-hungover-travelling-big-sofa-what-a-day

Tom Winnifrith

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Day 5 of the Olive harvest at the Greek Hovel and a final P&L – Don’t all laugh

167 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….

Having thrown four workers at our harvest for a couple of hours the son of George the Albanian dropped nine bags of olives weighing 442kg down at the press in Kambos. So ended day four of the harvest. More than eight of those bags were the results of the labours of team GB: myself, Andrew Bell and ShareProphets reader Bernard from the Grim North of England (c/o Donegal).

On day five, George lead a team of five who pitched up a quarter of an hour late at 8.15. Once again he insisted that they would be finished within a day. Bernard and I helped make up a magnificent seven. It was soon clear that the way they would finish was by tackling only really full trees. We stopped for lunch which George’s Mrs had prepared – a cracking sort of cheese pie and a custard version of the same for pudding. I showed them inside the house which they agreed was splendid but that break was only half an hour.

At about two thirty in the afternoon I had to break to do some work on my computer. I emerged at 3.30 to find that they had “finished” the entire lower terraces on one side of our lands and were packing up to go. Tackling the best trees on the hovel that day had produced just under nine sacks.  We had a Greek coffee made by Mrs George on a portable stove and George and I discussed payment with his son translating.

200 Euro he said. That seemed fair. Then he added on 50 for yesterday. And 20 for taking the olive bags to the press in Kambos. Hmmm. I handed over 270 Euro and said that I'd pop into the press later. That I did to find that we had 856 kg in all. I was a bit pissed that the total was so low and really could not be arsed to watch my oil being pressed but left four 5kg cans (one for Bernard, three for me) for my oil and headed off to lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna to write an article or two.

The news when I got back was not good. 146 litres minus my 20. Minus 10 for the press. So that is 116 litres which will be sold at just 2.5 Euro per litre which is 290 Euro. Knock off a 9.46 Euro admin fee and I am left with a profit (ignoring my own oil) of 10 Euro. The price of oil is down because, although it still tastes great, the quality of oil from Kambos is deemed to be lower because of chemicals sprayed all around – though not on my land – to combat the flies.

However, the bottom line is that hiring team Albania was an economic disaster. Had we merely sold the olives produced by team GB in the first two and a half days we would have cleared 140 Euro. Had team GB minus Bell carried on for and done five days we would have netted almost 300 Euro. The way I have to look at this is that I have transferred a portion of wealth from rich GB to an impoverished Greece. But I do feel a bit resentful. Had the yield not been cut by around 40% by the flies, storm Zorba and the strong winds of ten days ago the same trees harvested in the same time would have made me an additional 100 Euro profit. So that is God’s joke on me.

None the less I am a bit cross and George the Albanian has lost a customer. I feel that I contribute enough to the Greek economy already without paying over nearly all my revenues for the pleasure of his company and a great portion of cheese pie.  Next year, with or without volunteers from the British Isles, I shall harvest without local help. I have all the equipment I need and if, God plays no jokes on me and I tackle only the better trees in a five or six day hard slog I could easily produce 15-20 bags alone or 30-40 ( depending on God’s jokes) with help from a new team GB.

The point of me harvesting is not to make money. It is about being part of the community here in Kambos. So there is no great bitterness in me. Each year I learn more about pruning and about how to harvest so I should get better returns from my trees. 2019 will be the year to go it alone. Perhaps if God can play his part with no more of his little jokes I might just make a real profit.

Tom Winnifrith

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The rabid Brexiteer holed up in Greece sneered the metropolitan elitist remainer

168 days ago

Yes I am a rabid Brexiteer. I want the country where, regrettably, I spend most of the year to be free to make its own laws, set its own taxes, control its own waters and chart its own destiny. I have faith that Britain can do that.  Yet for sneering metropolitan elitists like the twit who tweeted me last night, as you can see below, that is incompatible with liking your fellow Europeans. Au contraire..

The battle we deplorables, we the 17.4 million, fight is not with other plebs, others outside the rich elites, elsewhere in Europe.  The Maillot Jaunes in France, those who voted overwhelmingly Oxi in Greece are those we agree with. Our common enemy are the autocratic elites, the political and media classes, across Europe who take our proud individual nations in a direction which we reject.

I live for part of the year, not enough, in the Mani, a poor but proud region of Greece. My friends and neighbours here know my views on Brexit, for I do not hide them. This was the part of Greece that was the first to raise the flag of revolt 197 years ago against another oppressive empire, that of Turkey. On March 17 1821 the Bishop of Tripoli called for Greeks to rise up and expel the Turks. Four days later the men of the Mani stormed the Turkish garrison at Kalamata and slaughtered every man there. That was the first action of a war for freedom.

The EU has brought misery and poverty to this part of the world. Folks here have a lot more time for someone with my views than with some millionaire ponce from the London liberal elite who insists that everyone who wants freedom for his country must hate folks from other countries.

Such folks should not sneer at me but should try coming to my home village of Kambos and explaining to my hard working, God fearing, gun owning neighbours just why the EU has made their lives better and why anyone who wants out must be a xenophobe. Go on Mr Metropolitan elitist… I dare you.

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Olive harvest plans are laid and 1 brave volunteer from England comes forward: any more?

198 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.

Bell is due to arrive in Athens later that week and any other volunteer wishing to join us should get in touch right now, there is room for more helpers.

When the olive harvest actually begins is, of course, a bit uncertain.  I have to contact lovely Eleni at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos and she will have to try to pin down George the Albanian and his wife and sister in law on dates. Then there is the rain. Rain does stop play and it rains quite a bit. So maybe, with Comrade Bell pitching in we will be done ion three days. Or maybe it will take ten. Who knows?

But the excitement is mounting… the clock is ticking…I am on my way home.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Charon's Lair above the Greek Hovel

205 days ago

And thus on the final evening in Greece, Joshua and I set off on the walk up to the house of Charon my closest, in fact I think, only neighbour for several miles.

The walk is uphill all the way for Charon lives on the next hill up from the hovel towards the Taygetos mountains. But the track, as you would imagine, winds and bends. Initially it is stone or concrete but after a while, as is the case  in the last 800 yards before the hovel itself, the way forward is earthen. But cars only very rarely venture up here. For most of the time I have known Charon he has been without a motor and I have thus driven him to the village by car or on the back of a bike many times.

And so, sheltered by olive trees, the track turned to thick green grass eventually ending up at two houses. I think, judging by the underpants on the washing line, he lives at the one in the first photo. He is, as it happens an accomplished musician and also a DJ and sometimes you can hear his music blaring out in an otherwise silent evening. As it happens he was not at home and so, with the sun starting to set, Joshua and I beat a retreat.

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Discussing the Iliad, the seven cities and the Greek Hovel with my father

205 days ago

On our last day in Greece, The Mrs, Joshua and I showed the Greek Hovel to an elderly British couple, diehard lefties from a village up in the mountains above Kambos. The highlight of their visit was ornithological of which more later but what I really picked up on was a throw-away comment that the area around the hovel might be one of the “seven Cities.” My father and I discussed this in Shipston on Sunday and have been chatting by phone ever since.

The reference is from the Iliad book nine. Achilles is sulking and refusing to fight in the siege of Troy. Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae, sends an emissary to attempt to persuade him to rejoin the battle and offers him numerous bribes including, from a rough precis “Seven well-populated cities he shall have: Cardamyle, Enope, and grassy Hire; holy Pherae and Antheia with its deep meadows; lovely Aepeia, and vine-rich Pedasus. They are all near the sea, on our far border with sandy Pylos, and the men there own great flocks and herds”

There is evidence of Mycenaean civilization in Kambos. There is a Tholos or tomb which you can see HERE on the outskirts of the village and a gold cup was found at some stage. Between the modern village and the Hovel, at the bottom of the valley by the deserted convent, is a natural spring which would have been a pre-requisite for the establishment of any City – think a large village not London or Athens. It is, of course, all rather sketchy.

But my father’s carer Emma has fetched Iliad ix from his study and some old primers and this will keep him busy for the next day or so, seeing if the original offers up any more clues.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: on Oxi day why conman, cheat and lying fraudster Darren Winters loves the EU

209 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/39065/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-on-oxi-day-why-conman-cheat-and-lying-fraudster-darren-winters-loves-the-eu

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Fuck Yu - ex FD but shareholders in Totally screwed too

211 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/39017/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-fuck-yu-says-ex-fd-but-shareholders-in-totally-screwed-too

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: For whom the bell tolls, MySquar & IQE

212 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/38998/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-for-whom-the-bell-tolls-mysquar-iqe

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: is BCA still the big short? Yes and here is why

215 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/38948/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-is-bca-still-the-big-short-yes-and-here-is-why

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - #PeoplesVoteMarch, not really very big is it?

215 days ago

As I sit with an ouzo in Greece, a country with 49% youth unemployment and where pensioners mist live on 9 Euro a day thanks to the EU, back in London, about 100,000 generally very affluent middle class folks are marching to overturn the wishes of 17.4 million of their fellow citizens and for Britain to stay in the EU. The organisers and the BBC and the rest of the liberal media claim this is a big demonstration but that is just fake news.

In 2003 a march against war criminal Tony Blair's illegal invasion of Iraq attracted 750,000 (Police estimate) to 1 million folks (BBC estimate). A few months earlier the Countryside march attracted 500,000 + including myself carrying my then baby daughter Olaf. On that march, where organisers claimed more than a million attendees, most folks had to travel in from the boonies. Some had never been to London before. But London is the most heavily remoaning part of the UK. If only 100,000 turn out today in the heart of remoaning territory, that is really, in relative terms, pretty small is it not?

Here is a picture from the start of the March.

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel -how green is my valley?

217 days ago

I run these photo articles every autumn for you folks who only come to Greece in the summer and know it as a country of burnt brown grass and vegetation. Right now with autumn rains kicking in the area around the hovel is bursting into life. The patches of green are expanding rapidly and the brown is in full scale retreat. Meanwhile, everywhere, you see reds, blues, whites, purples as little flowers spring to life. It is almost alpine. All we need now is snow on the Taygetos mountains behind us. It will be here by Christmas.

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Can you buy anti-stab vests at Paddington?

219 days ago

I see that London’s hapless Mayor Sadiq Khan is tweeting like a man possessed, pleas for folks to travel to his great City this weekend for a mass exercise in anti Brexit Remoaning. I would have thought he has more important things to do.

I shall be elsewhere on Saturday, in Greece where youth unemployment figures are massaged by National Service and mass emigration but where only about one in three young bubbles actually have full time work actually in the Hellenic Republic. Suffice to say Greek youngsters, nor pensioners living on nine Euro a day thanks to EU enforced austerity, are probably not that keen on supporting Mr Khan and his elitist and generally affluent, buddies on the remoaner wankfest.

However I am visiting London today. I write to you on a train up from Bristol and the highlight of my time in  Mayor Khan’s City will, fingers crossed, be getting on board my train home having avoided any exposure to the knife crime that plagues . London is expensive, the people are rude and it seems a rather dangerous place to me. Back in Greece where all my neighbours have guns there is almost no violent crime or indeed any crime. In London only criminals have guns or knives and appear increasingly keen to use them on all and sundry.

I see that Princess Meghan has expressed the view that her first child be born and brought up like any other kid in London. The witch! She wants it to be on drugs and having sex with its classmates by the time it is 12 and “carrying” a year later? How uncaring can you get, I must report her to the NSPCC before it is too late.

Tom Winnifrith

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If schools did irony, Warwick would be top of the league – meeting the HM to discuss historic abuse

251 days ago

The irony referred to has nothing to do with the new Head Master of Warwick, Dr Smith but is at the foot of this article. Following lunch with my father in Shipston, Joshua and I headed back to my alma mater to discuss the sadistic abuser Geoffrey Eve and other matters. 

Dr Smith has only been in charge for two weeks and so was accompanied by the head of HR who like him took notes as I explained what I wanted and what had happened. I provided the surname of the boy who a fellow OW thinks was the one Eve threw down the stairs and then threw his desk on top of him. Warwick has access to the old “blue books” which recorded the surname, initials, birth date and house of all attendees each term so Dr Smith may be better placed to track him down than I am. It is a rare surname. Not as rare as mine, but far rarer than that of the HM.

I was asked to, but did not, divulge the identify of the different master accused of sexual abuse by an OW who had contacted me. That will be for the victim to do if he wishes.

I was assured that Warwick would take this all very seriously even though it appears to have “lost” all relevant records relating to Eve. I explained that I was a bit sceptical since Warwick had Given Eve time off after his first round of abuse, allowing him back just in time to teach me aged 10 and abuse me. I know that the Headmaster then was aware of that and was not allowed by others to act.  Eve therefore abused other boys and Warwick did nothing until the stairs incident at which point it gave him early retirement on a full pension and invited him back to concerts and OW events as an honoured guest. I see the old bastard is even mentioned twice in the official history of Warwick School and not as being a sadistic child abuser.

Someone had enough records of Eve to write him up in the school’s official history, just not the ones that really mattered. How convenient.  

So after 50 years of protecting Eve and then covering up his crimes and after the previous HM Gus Lock failed to pursue this matter as he could after I raised it 18 months ago, I expressed my scepticism. And so I promised that I too would take this seriously and that if Warwick failed to act this time I would, if need be, seek legal redress against the school for concealment. I am advised that I have a very strong case.

I was clear to Dr Smith, and let me be clear to all, I am not seeking money. I do not want Warwick’s money. I do not need it.  But if I have to flush out the truth by that route because Warwick (again) fails to act so be it. I seek only a full admission of its failings. The way to start that process is by asking other OW’s via the Old Warwickian publication if they suffered abuse at the hands of Eve or other masters and to follow that up with an Independent enquiry, funded by the school. It is not enough to ask the police to investigate as without any medical records to verify damage done they cannot act.

It is far better that Warwick itself steps up to the plate and launches that formal independent enquiry now while the key players are still alive than to leave it to a muck raking investigative journalist with offers of legal assistance to expose the school’s shocking past.

I picked up Joshua, who had explained to Dr Smith’s Executive assistant all about Thomas the Tank Engine for 25 minutes, which I am sure she had enjoyed greatly. Dr Smith and I talked a bit about Greece where he knew I lived for part of the year.  He had taken a group of boys there at his previous school. Warwick’s coat of arms was, as it happens, designed by my great grandfather Sir Arthur Cochrane, and we discussed Delphi and Arthur’s unfortunate son David and his death there.

Then Joshua and I went for a wander around a school which has changed beyond all recognition. “That building used to be the Old Gym” I said to Joshua. I stared up at what used to be where 3A had its classroom. Mr Eve smashed my head against the corridor wall outside. I did not mention that to Joshua.

I noticed that the internal doors to the Chapel were open. That building has not changed. I have happy memories of that place as somewhere were you could be safe and also where I looked up at the all too long lists of OW’s who gave their lives in the two world wars. I suppose that as I tried to rationalise the death of my mother, although at the time now knowing how she died, there was some comfort in seeing others who had died young. 

I thought of the two Chaplains who had been there in my time. The first was an old man who had been sent to France in 1944 as a bright young thing. The horrors of the Normandy campaign had affected him badly and given him a dreadful stammer. He was obviously a decent man, old school, clinging to a conservative world view and faith.  His replacement, David Houghton, was a different kettle of fish altogether. He was very obviously gay. Even as a teenager we knew that. His faith was, I suspect, rather different but it was still very real and he was, I think, a good man. He confirmed me and he is the sort of teacher who made Warwick bearable if you were not a brutish rugger bore of limited intelligence, in other words the sort of fine chap we were all meant to be.

And so I wanted to take Joshua to the Chapel. He likes churches.  The external doors were locked.  I wandered back to the brand new reception area which is about fifty yards down an internal corridor from the Chapel and asked the woman who had signed m e in an hour previously to meet the HM, if myself and Joshua could go and see the Chapel.

“Oh no” she said sternly “we can’t let just anyone in, I am sure you understand, we’d need to find someone to escort you.”  Hmmm so a man with his two year old son signed in to see the HM an hour ago to discuss how he was abused cannot wander 50 yards to see the chapel in a student free zone. This from the school which allowed Geoffrey Eve, a man they knew was an abuser, to smash my head against a wall (twice) and did nothing? Whatever…

Over to you Dr Smith, I appreciate you are new to the job but I do hope that this time Warwick does the right thing for me but also for dozens of other men who as little boys were terrified or abused by Geoffrey Eve. It is time to acknowledge the institutional failings of the past and say sorry.

Tom Winnifrith

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One hour back in Britain and I am already jolly cross and want to head back to Greece

255 days ago

Penned at Gatwick airport on Saturday as I waited for a train. Some bald Northern prick was blocking the escalator on the walking side. I said “excuse me.” He said “It’s not bloody London.”  I suggested that rules about standing/walking up were national. “What’s your hurry you will only get stuck at passport control.” I pointed out it was my choice and rules were rules and as he moved aside I concluded my sentence “and you can fuck off” as I stormed on ahead to passport control where there was almost no queue.

I am not proud of myself for swearing but after four weeks of being left alone and hectored by no-one other than the Mrs exercising her uxorial rights Britain, the British and Britain are getting to me already. It started at Kalamata airport where I sought a seat as I waited to board. I put my bag on an empty seat. “That’s seat’s taken” snapped a sunburned old hag – that one over there is free.

Of course both were empty so neither were taken. The old hag was talking fucking cock. What she means is that she had mentally appropriated the seat for her oafish son. I shuffled off to the “free seat” and a cheap hat was placed on the colonised seat to ward off others until the oafish son lolloped up.  

Of course, both incidents are trivial. As is a burning resentment at paying £64 for a one way ticket from Gatwick to Bristol. A London Bristol return is £57. I am being scalped and I know it. The train companies are run by prize bastards. But three encounters with Britain and the Brits in just a few hours has caused more annoyance and blood pressure rises than the entire Greek nation (including the windows man who is now redeeming himself at a rate of knots) managed in four weeks.

The Mrs needs to understand that a failure to emigrate is bad for my health.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Walking with Joshua in Greece this summer

258 days ago

As I pack my last things at the Greek Hovel, prepare to empty the eco loo, one last time and head to the airport the Mrs sends me a few photos of me walking here in Greece this summer with Joshua on my back, wearing either his hat or hers. Happy, if rather tiring at the time, memories....

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - We Bears are usually right - ref IQE

259 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/38150/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-we-bears-are-usually-right-ref-iqe

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: a present from Greece for wine snob Evil Knievil

259 days ago

George Cawkwell is the greatest living scholar on the subject of ancient Greece. His son, my friend, the philistine Simon, aka Evil Knievil. refuses to come to the Hellenic Republic on the grounds that the wine is all awful. He is wrong and I intend to prove it to him and lure him out here to open up his mind. My father attended George's lectures so it is my duty to educate Simon.

Thus I headed down to Kardamili, Islington-sur-mer, where a German married to the sister-in-law of lovely Eleni and who lives in Kambos, runs a shop selling fine wines and olive oils. The fellow spends a good amount of time in places such as London, which he loves, promoting his wares and thinks I am very peculiar in saying how much I loathe the English capital and also in preferring a simple Kambos life to the elegance of Kardamili. I try to say of the world he craves "been there done it" but he still regards me as odd.

Anyhow I popped in and said that I have a friend who is a total wine snob and thinks all Greek wines taste of piss and what could I buy to start to educate this poor chap. Evil had expressed a preference for a red and so I will, somehow, get to him this full bodied Syrah from the Corinth area. Right now it resides in the Greek Hovel. 

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Photo article: Joshua and his dad on a walking tour of the back streets of Kambos

259 days ago

So on Sunday as the Mrs sought a few hours to catch up on her important work, Joshua and I set off exploring with my young son on my back. Part two, the climb to Zarnata castle, I have already recorded HERE. part one was to head off around the back streets of Kambos and the pictures pain a mixed picture as you can see below.

The man from whome Joshua gets his middle name, Paddy Leigh Fermor, was not very kind about Kambos, the nearest village to the Greek Hovel, in his classic book, The Mani. I cannot remember if he described it as dull, dreary or boring but whatever word he used it was not flattering. Of course the village has changed a lot since the early fifties but I think Paddy missed a certain charm.

The first photo is of young Joshua who enjoyed our walk. it started in a back street leading off the square bordered by what was Miranda's and lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna. Heading past the, thankfully, deserted creperie the street becomes a narrow one - not that deters locals from driving along it. Balconies from houses that were here a hundred years before Leigh Fermor hang over your head.

Heading further along we discovered what, I count, to be the seventh church in this village of 500 odd souls and it is still in occasional use. thereafter we went past houses old, houses new and a couple of quite dreadful combinations of the two. Some of the older houses in Kambos have been restored well, others maintained carefully but sadly others are ab abandoned, a testimony to Greece's insane inheritance laws, There are new houses too, some tasteful and constructed during the "good times". The odd one, cheap, ugly and deserving of a bulldozer.

At the end of our trip we found ourselves at the big new Church at the top of the village and headed back past the Mrs counting cats on the internet, the main task of all public sector workers, and out towards the castle. I include, at the end, two small abandoned shacks on that road. Folks really did live in such houses kin days gone by. and then the final house in Kambos, a ruined tower house once belonging to our most famous son, an obscure nineteenth century Prime Minister of Greece.

I was trying to think of the most obscure British PM of the nineteenth century. Resorting to Wikipedia I offer you Viscount Goderich who lasted 144 days. maybe I am being unfair on our boy here in Kambos he did distinguish himself by sending troops into the Mani to kill his fellow Maniots so he is not a total nobody. Perhaps the earl of Roseberry is a fairer comparator? But can you imagine in the UK the home of any former PM being allowed to disintegrate in this way?  Particularly if it sits next to a Mycenaean Tholos (tomb). It is very odd but still a splendid relic as you walk out of the village.   

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Photo Article - the Roma at the Court House in Kalamata and Greek indifference

259 days ago

This article may cause a bit of upset and I have no solutions to what is a problem for Greece and an unresolved human tragedy for an ancient people, the Roma. I merely observe and report. I remember the Mrs and I giving a lift to two elderly and rather smelly Greeks in the deep countryside a couple of years ago. Their English was more or less non existent but they pointed at her dark skin and said "Roma". They thought she was a gypsy and it is clear they were not big fans. I was glad to drop them off after a few miles.

You meet Roma families at the bus station in Athens. A young girl will come begging making it clear she needs money to eat while older women try to sell fans and tissues and other things you just don't want. Half an hour later the girl is trying to sell fans and the product lines/sob stories have been rotated. It is organised and a hard sell. They target obvious foreigners as we are likely to be softer and more sympathetic than the Greeks.

Here in Kalamata you see Roma families lounging on the odd street corner on the dge of town. They don't seem to be going anywhere as, frankly, they have nothing to do.

On the very edge of town, almost at the airport there is a sign for the "Roma Camp". Before you start thinking of camps built by the Germans in years gone by, the intention here was good. Fifty houses with power and water were built to give the Roma free accomodation. Many locals, not exactly drowning in cash themselves, resented these handouts. They resent them more as these days just a handful of houses remain, the rest have been trashed by the Roma themselves.

The pictures below are of the Courthouse which is a block away from the offices of George the Architect a thoroughly progressive, liberal decent guy. He sees the same scenes every day. A Roma stands accused and his whole family comes for a day out. And Roma are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and so keep the Courts busy. Those are just hard facts. George, like many Greeks, resents them.

I have no idea what the solution is. The Roma appear to have no desire to integrate. But even with the handout of that free housing the Greeks were making it clear that the Roma were unloved and unwanted. The area it is in is covered in rushes and wet ground. I imagine it is buzzing with mosquitos in the summer and crawling with snakes. The other prominent building there is the licensed brothel. You get the message, you can have a free house in a bad place miles from facilities and work, with your only neighbours being other folk we'd rather pretend did not exist.

But were the Roma to be given free housing in a more central location, among Greeks, the locals would riot. No Greek politician is going to be vilified by making that suggestion. I can see no end to the marginalisation of the Roma or hope that they might be accepted as part of wider society. I just cannot see a way out.  Saying that I feel rather sorry for the Roma is not something I dared say to George but there is an issue for Greece and one that will just not get tackled, especially while the country remains an impoverished debt slave.  

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - no elf 'n Safey here

273 days ago

And so daughter Olaf has survived her first night at the Greek Hovel. She slept in the Rat Room, I slept in the Bat Room. She is even using the eco-loo without complaint. Meanwhile building work continues at pace as you can see below.

first up is a small stone seat that Gregori the snake killer has constructed on what was once known as the snake patio. It will be pointed in due course and surrounded by terracotta tiles by the end of next week. On the roof tiling is almost complete while the windows team has now finished its work. You will note that in accessing the second floor the scaffolding is rudimentary, there are no high viz jackets or hard hats here either. Elf 'n' safey is swapped for the idea of personal responsibility.

You will see that many of the workmen wear not baseball caps but straw hats. I wonder about these. Are they just straw hats as any tourist might buy or a a hat doff to the past. In his book, the Mani, Paddy Leigh Fermour talks of how in the 1950s when this region was largely cut off from the rest of Greece, folks all wore wide brimmed straw hats.  I ponder this matter. Today more progress is promised and so Olaf and I have headed out to go pick up the Mrs and Joshua and leave the workers to get on with it.

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A tale of two crimes on the way back from Birmingham and the Grim North - my own moral maze

288 days ago

My business at the Greek Consulate in Birmingham was done with all the efficiency you expect of Greece - that is to say with long delays, over-runs and numerous stamps impressed on my piece of paper. I then hurried back to the civilised south of England as fast as I could.

A nice Sikh taxi driver took me to New Street station. On his dashboard he had a Confederate flag with the words "born rebel" on it. In the US the flag of Dixie is seen by many as a sign of past racial oppression and many on the left want it banned. I asked my driver why he flew it. "Because I like it". He also had a big sign up, "born in England and proud of it." I could have been in Tommy Robinson's cab. I did not pursue small talk and was soon on the train back to Bristol braced for paying the bastards at Cross Country Rail £4 for two hours internet access on top of my usurious fare.

But here's an odd thing. I sat in the first seat in second class with the next door carriage being where those on expenses sit. I switched on my laptop and got my credit card ready. But the screen for Cross Country popped up and insisted that I was in First Class and so had nothing to pay. Reader I must admit that I did not protest and just surfed away happily. Is this a crime?

Back in Bristol i got in a cab at the station and we headed back to the Mrs and her house in unfashionable Bristol. The driver half missed a turn and I had to shout as he tried to go the wrong way. He stopped and reversed and then headed the right way but that all added a bit to the fare but we were soon outside the front door of a near neighbour. I never stop outside my own door in case I have a row with the driver. The fare was £6.80 and I handed over a tenner.

The chap handed me £3 but I pointed at the screen and suggested he owed me an additional 20p. He said "sorry i have no change" and then pointed at an unused ashtray crammed with 5ps, 2ps and 1ps. Having been overcharged because of his error I really was not minded to tip and just giving the wrong change is surely theft on his part is it not? Call me a pedant but I said that i'd take the extra 20p in small change and so I now have two 5ps and ten 1p pieces in my pocket and heading for my piggy bank.

Do you think I was being mean or was I right to insist that crime - him short changing me - should not pay?

Tom Winnifrith

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Jesus Wept! The Greeks bring disaster upon themselves – snagaroo at the Hovel

293 days ago

You wonder why the Greek economy is such a trainwreck?  Of course there are all sorts of reasons: the scorched earth policies imposed on Greece by Germany, the EU  and IMF banksters; the debt Greece should never have been allowed to take on, the bloated public sector, corruption, they all play a part. But, as I discover again today as I try to rebuild the Greek Hovel, it is the smothering bureaucracy that kills enterprise. Take my marble, stuck at Kalamata.

The shipment to go on windowsills etc passed through customs on the Greek Kosovo border with no problems at all yesterday morning. Last night it arrived at Kalamata where it needs a second customs check at the port. Why?

Simple: two customs checks means two employees, probably more, have something to do. More rules mean the bloated State can hire more folks which it thinks is creating jobs. But they are jobs paid for by a State drowning in debt. And the regulations created to keep the state employees busy just kill enterprise.

I am not in Greece to sign for my marble. And so although George the Architect has produced my tax number and documents at Kalamata customs that is not enough. He needs a piece of paper saying he is authorised to act for me.  He has one from my Mrs and he has a Greek version of our wedding certificate but that is not enough, he needs a paper from me.

But not just any paper, not a normal lawyers letter. I need an official paper stamped by the Greek consulate in Birmingham or the embassy in London – more work is thus created for State employees to help them fill their day. And until I produce the paperwork, the Marble will be impounded which means that workers who were planning to install windows and doors next week will be stood down.

This is one little episode. I can resolve it by wasting a day trekking to London on Tuesday. But this sort of thing happens countless times every day in every part of Greece. In giving all those state employees something to do it helps to strangle the private sector. Here end eth the lesson in Greekenomics

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - the latest tiling and plastering from the Greek Hovel

297 days ago

Just a few more photos which arrived late last week from the Greek Hovel. We start with the inside of the roof above the new wing once again. Then it is the plastering on the extension of the rat room leading down to the new stone wall at the end encompassing"the rock". Finally more on the tiling of that roof. Eta Greece 16 days! Bring it on.

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Walking through the burning Greek Sun - not plain sailing

313 days ago

My 32 mile walk for Woodlarks with my fellow rogue blogger, Brokerman Dan, is now just two weeks away and I am conscious that most of my training has been on the flat. What better way to prepare for the Surrey hills than to walk up a Greek mountain in the burning summer heat? And so at 8.30 AM off I set....

The first 5-6 miles were along the mountain road up to Kambos. I kid you not, it is uphill all the way. Having started at c10 feet above sea level I reckon that by the time I left this road I was at least 750 feet above sea level, plausibly quite a bit more.  The views down to the gulf of Kalamata were spectacular but that was of little consolation. It was a slog. 

Now and again, as I passed a blackberry bush where the berries are now starting to ripen I would pick a berry and think of Joshua. On the way home from his nursery we pass an enormous blackberry bush and while English berries are still green I know they will ripen. At that point Joshua will gorge himself at the bush and we will take more home for supper.

I had been dreading this climb, worrying that I would just find it too tough and be forced back but, although I am still a bit too fat, I seem to be surprisingly fit and by the time the Mrs called me and i stopped for a water and a protein bar break the village of Kouris was in sight.  Greece being Greece it remained in sight as the road looped and looped again but before I knew it I was at the turn which saw me heading downhill to Megali Mantineia.

This village is prettier than my own, Kambos, and is also far closer to the sea. And it was made famous by "Things Can Only get Feta" and so it has a genteel feel of Northern European money that Kambos lacks. There is a lovely taverna with views out to the sea where the Mrs and I have eaten as we explored this region. I rather wished she was there and called her to say as much as I stopped for a coffee, for lots of water and to top up my water bottles. I chatted to my father and to his delightfully right wing, Trump loving carer Emma and headed onwards, always downwards to the sea.

As the sea started got closer I left the Greece of old stone houses and entered the Greece I'd rather not think about. there was "Harmony Village" a half finished development of four or five fake stone houses to contemplate. The weeds at Harmony grow long and a sign outside "For sale, investment opportunity" will, I suspect, be there for many years. Worse still are the houses thrown up during the "good years" when cheap money was being thrown at Greece by the EU. A ghastly concrete mansion painted bright pink with its own private modern church was the low-point.

At this point readers may wish to avoid the next two paragraphs.  As I headed on to the sea with what the maps describe as the "rema mili" (the dry river which nearer Kambos is the murder gorge) to my left, my problems started. I have a stomach bug which can cause an urgent need to visit a lavatory. it is  minor affliction which will, I am sure, go away soon, but at this point it struck.  I tried to suck it in,  I thought of how Paddy Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin would have done a walk like mine in the mountains of the Mani, before an alcohol and nicotine fuelled lunch, and then done another walk afterwards.  Somehow I reached the sea.

By now I was really struggling but somehow made it to the next village and to a taverna into which I rushed, found a loo and sat there letting everything go and sweating buckets.  After that I felt I deserved another coffee. Frankly i deserved a medal as well. My body was empty and I headed back to Kalamata, stopping now and again to drink water or pour it over my head to cool down. It was with some relief that I made it back to my hotel where, after a quick shower, I feel utterly refreshed.

Could I have done another circuit? The answer is almost certainly "yes." My feet are fine, my legs are okay but in this heat I would have been a wretched specimen by the end of hit. As i write the temperature is well into the mid thirties.

Assuming I shake this bug, I'd like to do one more big walk before heading back to the UK - taking the mountain road another three or four miles onto  just before Kambos before heading downhill to the sea and back home. I shall try to fit that walk around the arrival of the van from Bristol

To all those thousands of poltroons who keep posting on Bulletin Boards or tweeting how much they hate me, surely today's suffering has brought a smile to your face? So for making you happy - and promising to do so again in a couple of days, how about you make a small donation to a great cause, Woodlarks, HERE

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Sweating for Woodlarks – Mad Dogs and all that, strolling in Greece

315 days ago

I have not kept up to date with my training for about a week and am conscious that my 32 mile charity walk for Woodlarks is now not that far away – July 28. I meant to have a quick six mile practice stroll along the coastal road out of Kalamata yesterday afternoon but IT snags caused a postponement. And so I headed off at noon today in the mid-day sun. I think it was about 34 degrees.

The road is not as flat as you might imagine, it bends inland and uphill, for reasons I can’t quite explain, more than once. But in terms of legs and feet I was fine. I arrived back in just under two hours with my shirt soaked in sweat and with sweat dripping off my nose. I smelled bad and the world is a better place for me having had a shower but overall it was a doddle.

Tomorrow will be less easy. The road forks just past the hotel where I am staying. Today I took the right fork to the sea. Tomorrow I head straight on up the hill. And boy is it a hill. Essentially I just keep heading up and up for what, I calculate to be five and a half miles. At which point I take a left towards the village of Megali Mantineia – the place where the authors of “Things can only get Feta” stayed and caused something of a stink with their book. There I shall allow myself a bit of a break before continuing down to the coastal road at Akrogiala before heading back into Kalamata. I reckon that all in all it is about 12-14 miles.

My belief is that the hard yards are those up to the Kouris turning for Megali Mantineia. That is the uphill section. If I can make that without collapsing the rest will be much less painful. Fingers crossed.

As ever if you enjoy the thought of my suffering, as I know many folks will, or if you want to help a genuinely good cause, Woodlarks, then how about sponsoring me for a tenner HERE?

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Led badly astray by Evil Banksta and remoaniac Brexit loathing loon Jonathan Price

317 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/37079/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-led-badly-astray-by-evil-banksta-and-remoaniac-brexit-loathing-loon-jonathan-price

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: from (Audio) Boom to Bust by Q1 next year? And the mystery Optibiotix bull unmasked

320 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/37021/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-from-audio-boom-to-bust-by-q1-next-year-and-the-mystery-optibiotix-bull-unmasked

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: pointing and main stair entrance complete at the Greek Hovel

321 days ago

By noon London time on Tuesday I shall be up at the Greek Hovel to survey progress. I gather that the polished concrete floors, a very smooth white surface, in the rat room and the new wing have been laid and expect to post photos before I go. Next week the roof really does start to go up, something the Mrs and daughter Olaf - who arrive in 40 days view as important. Pedants.

However, as you can see below, Gregori the snake killer and his team of Albanians have been hard at work. All the pointing is now done and as a bonus the staircase leading up to the main door has now been completely rebuilt, tearing away any old concrete and replacing it with solid stone. The countdown is underway, three days to Greece!

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Would you Adam & Eve it – today’s nightmare for Neil Woodford

325 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/36930/would-you-adam-eve-it-today-s-nightmare-for-neil-woodford

Tom Winnifrith

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Patriotism again a dirty world among the liberal Metropolitan elite - The Independent offends me

338 days ago

Hell's teeth: I do not even support England, but the sneering elitism of the metropolitan elite, as exemplified by the little read Independent newspaper (below), almost makes me want to. For the avoidance of doubt, with no Irish team in Russia, I am hoping that England triumph. I would not go as far as some of my neighbours in flying the cross of St George but I understand their pride in their country and why they do so. 

Where I live in Greece, there are Greek flags everywhere, all the time. In Germany, France, Sweden and Belgium national flags are fluttering today as they cheer on their boys in the World Cup. Only in England is patriotism considered a dirty word by some, that is to say the liberal elite. 

If a few racists or extremists fly the English flag they might only be said to have co-opted it if everyone else did as the elites urge and declined to show pride in their nation and shunned the flag. But as anyone who has actually been to a sporting event knows, millions of ordinary folk will these days happily paint their faces or fly the flags with the cross of St George. They do not see themselves as tarred they just have some pride in being English. 

It is not how I feel but I see nothing wrong in it. That a rag like the Indy even asks this question, or that the Royal Mail has banned posties from flying the English flag on their vans during the World Cup for fear of offending someone, is a sign of just how out of touch the media, political and business elite has become with the 99%. No other country in Europe is this silly.

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Photo Article - Progress at the Greek Hovel, next up roof

341 days ago

Business partner Darren is still obsessing about the dead snake and rat photo and unable to focus on the real progress made at the Greek Hovel. Okay, he is not the only one. But as you can see below, the pointing of the walls is now almost complete - in one shot you can see a completed wall next to an undone one. Next up are the roof and floorboards and having just whizzed a large sum out to Greece that should start next week. Doors and windows have also been ordered. The last major work will be the floors on the ground floor of the new wing and in the rat room and then it is on to power points, installing a range cooker, a woodburning stove, lighting etc. We are getting there...

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It is Holy Spirit Monday and so a few words from Julie Meyer

360 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/36287/it-is-holy-spirit-monday-and-so-a-few-words-from-julie-meyer

Tom Winnifrith

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Back at the Greek Hovel - snake report: two more corpses

364 days ago

When I am in England I do not think much about snakes. Okay, three times a week I pick Joshua up from his nursery and he says "snakes" so, on the way home, we pop into Pets At Home and go to see the snakes. They are tiny little creatures, corn snakes, which nearly always hide in their houses and only rarely peek out. When they do, Joshua gets very excited. Most of the time we see no snakes so Joshua just says "bye bye snakes" and we head on past the fish where Joshua says "fish," past the hamsters and gerbils where he says "mice", and to the rabbits where he says "By Bye Babbits" and we head home. And I think nothing of it.

But now I am back in Greece and as soon as I started driving out of Kalamata, where there are few snakes, and up into the hills towards Kambos and The Greek Hovel I started thinking of nothing else. Would I see one on the road? Would I swerve and kill it as a Greek driver would? What about up at the hovel? Surely by now the place is crawling with snakes?

And thus I arrived to find snake killer Gregori and his team of ethnic Greek Albanians hard at work. After a brief pleasantry or two "tikanis, cala, etc, etc" I asked the big question. Apparently since they came out of hibernation about eight weeks ago two have been spotted. There was a big one but it was dead. And a smaller one nestling under a T-shirt someone had discarded. After meeting Gregori it was also dead.

Small ones, this year's crop of adders, are the most dangerous since if they bite they have no idea how much venom to inject so just keep on injecting. But this one met its match in the snake killer and he had a photo of the corpse on his phone to prove it.

The workers are making a lot of noise now and have heavy machinery up there. My hope is that the snakes have done the sensible thing and moved away from the house and, I pray, onto the neighbours land. The odds are that as I prune my olive trees over the next ten days in the further reaches of my land, I shall discover otherwise. There were certainly plenty of lizards in evidence and I am sure that my old adage "where there are lizards there are snakes" is not far wrong.

Tom Winnifrith

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RogueBloggers4Woodlarks - Tom and Dan sponsored walk: 28th July Horse Hill to Woodlarks

366 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/36144/roguebloggers4woodlarks-tom-and-dan-sponsored-walk-28th-july-horse-hill-to-woodlarks

Tom Winnifrith

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UK Investor Show 2018 Video - Harry Adams of Kefi Minerals

378 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35968/uk-investor-show-2018-video-harry-adams-of-kefi-minerals

Tom Winnifrith

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EXCLUSIVE: A 1 billion super scam exposed - we publish the dossier & slideshow on Folli Follie

385 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35828/exclusive-a-1-billion-super-scam-exposed-we-publish-the-dossier-slideshow-on-folli-follie

Tom Winnifrith

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Feck you Sainsbury it is a fecking Easter Egg you Godless morons

422 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35090/feck-you-sainsbury-it-is-a-fecking-easter-egg-you-godless-morons

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Easyjet you DO owe me a duty of care, you are lying bastards and your team at Gatwick should be shot at dawn

445 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/34675/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-easyjet-you-do-owe-me-a-duty-of-care-you-are-lying-bastards-and-your-team-at-gatwick-should-be-shot-at-dawn

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Lovely Eleni and Joshua's intended, Little Red Riding Hood - its Carnival!

458 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.

In Kambos the kids were all in fancy dress even the two year old daughter of lovely Eleni at the Kourounis taverna. She has a Greek name with lots of confusing letters too and so I simply refer her to her as the future bride of my young son Joshua. The Mrs has a Greek brother in law and says that is enough bubbles in the family and so is not impressed by my little joke. But then she does not struggle, as I do, with the unprounounceable Greek letters. 

Anyhow, Joshua's future wife was dressed up as a rather shy little red riding hood as you can see below.

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Photo article - "the alpine" Greece that so few Northern Europeans ever see

459 days ago

I think that I have published articles similar to this before but it is a point worth making again and again, there is a hidden Greece that so few of we Northern Europeans never see. for most of us Greece is a place we  only visit in the stifling hot summers. If we bother to leave the coastal strip we see grass burned brown by a constant sun, if not scorched black by the forest fires that happen all too often. But there is another Greece, the Greece of winter and spring.

The fields all around me are, as you can see below, green. This could be England or Switzerland in the summer. And the flowers are everywhere: reds, yellow, whites, purples. It is a glorious view.

But all too soon it will be gone. By May the sun will have started to have its effect. as the snakes come out to play after their winter sleep, green turns to brown and those flowers disappear. Right now it is T-shirt weather both down in Kalamata and up here at the Greek Hovel in the lower reaches of the Taygetos mountains. there are no snakes around and the view is wonderful. It is, in many ways, the best time to be here.

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: you don't sweet talk a journalist by patronising him

460 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/34397/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-you-don-t-sweet-talk-a-journalist-by-patronising-him

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Looking forward to 2018 It is not if but when the stockmarket suffers a major correction

508 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/33531/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-looking-forward-to-2018-it-is-not-if-but-when-the-stockmarket-suffers-a-major-correction

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Tara's twin cat in Greece

533 days ago

Of course poor Tara, the lifelong companion of my three legged cat Oakley is now at peace underneath the rhubarb plant. But this friendly soul sitting near Miranda's in Kambos is her doppleganger.

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - feeling sympathy with alleged City criminals and more on UKOG

535 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/33070/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-feeling-sympathy-with-alleged-city-criminals-and-more-on-ukog

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: The Greece you don't see - the Kalamata seafront and Taygetos mountains in December

537 days ago

I realise that it is colder in the UK than here in this part of Greece, the Mani is the most Southern part of the mainland. But to those who keep saying that I hope I am enjoying the sun here are a few photos from Kalamata this afternoon.

The first is of a river flowing into the sea. Nothing odd about that you say. Except that in summer the bed is drry and folks park their cars on it. Now it is in full flow. The photos that follow are of that placid sea, the Med and looking up into the Taygetos mountains that dominate Kalamata and then run into and along the centre of the Mani. Though I saw a few folks swimming earlier this week they were obviously prize loons. Suffice to say no-one is swimming today as the rain starts to get heavier and with a very strong wind whipping up the waves and making it feel a lot colder than the nominal 10 degrees.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - a bad day on two counts

548 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/32829/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-a-bad-day-on-two-counts

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: More reflections on UKOG & Falanx as I pine for Greece and the fit young mums

551 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/32738/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-more-reflections-on-ukog-falanx-as-i-pine-for-greece-and-the-fit-young-mums

Tom Winnifrith

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I'm off to Greece - yippeee

573 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.

The Mrs was unaware of this new service and asks if she can come too? Only if you are prepared to work on the olive harvest up at the Greek Hovel say I and that shuts her up. So it is all booked. A return flight with baggage for just £110. Bargain.

All that is needed now is a few calls to lovely Eleni to make sure that my comrade in olive harvesting, George the Albanian, is free and I am set. By the 21st November I shall be sitting in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos relaxing over a morning coffee and all will be well in my world.

I cannot wait. Two weeks of heaven is arranged.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: shocking reward for failure, the Lombard salary comparability review

575 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/32339/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-shocking-reward-for-failure-the-lombard-salary-comparability-review

Tom Winnifrith

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Video: Joshua a year old on Saturday, going for a spin

617 days ago

It is hard to believe but on Saturday my son Joshua turns one. And s a treat for both of us my mother-in-law is coming to stay for four days, a truly long weekend. Yesterday he stood up for 14 seconds without assistance, he says a few words, plays with Oakley and in Greece went sea swimming for the first time. As for the pool, as you can see below, he is a natch...

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Photo: Stunning Portrait of my very handsome dead Great Uncle David Cochrane and a Donegal Mystery

617 days ago

I have written many times about my Great Uncle David Cochrane who, in 1931, died falling down the mountain now named after him, opposite Delphi in Greece. He was at the time a student at Trinity College Oxford. As my father seeks to de-clutter his house a few paintings have been offered to his children and step children and feeling a stronger Cochrane link than most I took these two below.

The first is of David from his days at Oxford. My first cousin once removed Henry, whose mother was a Cochrane, reckons that both he and I shared a Cochrane nose and other facial features with David. I have never seen that myself but cannot help but think how handsome David looks in a picture done by another distant relative. And within a year he had fallen thousands of feet to his death. How sad.

The second picture is a rather sentimental offering. The Cochrane's hailed originally from Co Donegal. At the time of David's death one branch of the family had repurchased the family home - residences of the old Protestant squirearchy in the new Free State were, for obvious reasons, going cheap at that time. But I am sure that David himself never visited Ireland. The picture is of Mount Muckish, one of the Seven Sisters chain. On the back it says that it is painted from the settlement at Glock. I guess the painting is from the late 1890s but can find no reference today to Glock. Perhaps a reader with local knowledge might enlighten me.

The Mrs thinks these two paintings and two others are to be hung in the garage, that is to say stored. I fight for David to stay the house if not for Muckish. But when the Greek Hovel becomes a mansion both will hang with pride there, a little bit of Ireland in the Mani.

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Jacob Rees Mogg is the saviour of Greece - erect statues in every town. the Moggster finds 53 billion Euro down the Hellenic sofa

627 days ago

I am no particular admirer of my Oxford contemporary, the pompous MP for somewhere in Somerset, Jacob Rees Mogg. But my fellow residents of the Hellenic Republic should at once establish a committee to erect statues of the pin stripe suited buffoon in every town square in our great land. The heroes of 1821 should stand shoulder to shoulder with the man who has arrived at a solution to our economic misery and enslavement by the fucking Germans, sorry I meant the EU, and banksters. Jacob Rees Mogg is the new Byron.

This may come as a surprise to Jacob but he raised a very valid point this week on the matter of Brexit which, to his credit, he supports unreservedly. Jacob notes that if the UK as a large net contributor is expected tp pay vast sums as the price of leaving then should a big net gainer wish to leave surely the EU would have to pay it a vast sum as compensation. His logic is impeccable.

The amount that the UK gave the EU in 2016 net of automatic rebate and the amount spent in the UK by the Evil Empire, spent not always wisely it should be said, was £8.6 billion (call it 9.4 billion Euro) and the EU is demanding 100 billion Euro as our exit bill so that is 10.64 times historic net contributions.

In 2015 - the last year for which we have figures - Greece paid E1.206 billion to the Evil Empire but the EU spent E6.210 billion in Greece making a net inflow of E5.004 billion to the Hellenes. As Rees Mogg points out, a consistent and logical EU would force Greece to accept -a cheque if it left the EU which on the UK multiplier formula would be E53.23 billion. There could be no talks about trade or the rights of Germans to relive the joys of the 1940s and move to Greece until the Greeks agreed to receive a cheque for 53 billion Euro.

That works out at a one off windfall equivalent to a 31% boost to GDP or put another way a one off gift of E4,936.51 for every man woman and child resident in Greece. Hmm I make that the cost of 897 meals of a Greek salad and an ouzo at lovely Eleni's Kouronis taverna in my home village of Kambos. Each time I raise my glass I would think of Jacob, the man who made this possible for Greece.

I am sure that my fellow residents would each happily donate 1 Euro of their windfalls towards the committee to erect a statue of Jacob Rees Mogg in every town square in this land.

The way forward is clear. leave the logical EU, pick up a cheque for 53 billion Euro, go straight to Go at which point revert to the drachma and say that all our external debts will be repaid in nice new drachmas. We all know that the drachma will plunge in value every year so the banksters take it up the arse, Greece has solved its debt problems at a stroke and with 53 billion Euros to spend from the EU as our "price of Grexit" it is ouzos all round as we toast the new Bryron, Jacob Rees Mogg.

Tom Winnifrith

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Fuck you Germanos - I lose my rag in Kalamata

628 days ago

No this is not the nation that took over Greece in the 1940s and again via the EU seventy years later, this is the biggest computer accessory chain in Greece. Its Kalamata store is right in the centre of town within yards of my bank and also the office of my lawyer here, the charming Natasha. I am a regular at Germanos and earlier this week wandered in asking for a lead to connect my camera to my PC to bring you photos of Greece.

"Come back on Saturday when I will have one" said the little man to whom I had been directed and who has, in the past, "fixed" my laptop in the same way that dear old Dr Harold Shipman used to "fix" his elderly patients. Thus, this morning, I drove with my son and heir, Joshua, the one hour to Kalamata. Amazingly we found a parking spot within ten minutes of Germanos and off we went.

"Come back in an hour" said the little man who was again on duty. He is the sort of charmless geek who, one imagines, has no social life whatsoever and spends his leisure time as he spends his work time staring at screens. You would not bet the ranch on him scoring terribly highly in the personal hygiene or girlfriend department. But Joshua and I headed off as instructed and went to an internet cafe where used the fast connection to upload tomorrow's bearcast and enjoyed a coffee. Joshua smiled and waved at anyone whose eye he caught. My boy has the patience of a saint.

Ninety minutes later we returned to Germanos where, after queuing for 15 minutes we were asked by the same little man to wait for five minutes. The snivelling little man scuttled off to the store room searched some shelves and did not call us back. After about ten minutes he had no customers to protect him and I wandered over to give him a Paddington Bear type stare. Joshua did the same. Hopelessly he offered up a lead which fitted into my camera at one end but not to my computer at the other. I asked if there was another lead to connect the non camera end to my PC and he said No. I think even he realised that the product he was offering to sell me was therefore of no use whatsoever.

It was at this point that I finally lost my temper. As a crowd of customers elsewhere in the store and the other staff watched I started to shout about how I had travelled an hour in to pick up something he had promised would be here and then how he had jerked us around today. The man stammered, as pathetic little computer geeks do, so that spurred me on to recount the whole tale again in even more animated tones, conscious that the whole store was now staring,

At that point the manager intervened. I was asked to wait a few minutes and I was soon presented with a memory stick which allows me to transfer photos at will. It works and I have already started to use it as you will see shortly. The stick had of course been on the shelves all along. The manager could not have been more apologetic and said he hoped I enjoyed my holiday. I did not have the energy to explain that I semi-lived here and I WILL BE BACK. That surprise for all at Germanos, which is still the best store in town, can wait for another day.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: My son and Heir, Joshua, in Greece

628 days ago

I am conscious of the phenomena of sharenting where folks flood social media with photos of their offspring to the interest of no-one but themselves. So feel free to ignore what follows but after a very trying day in Kalamata where my almost one year old son behaved like a total saint he posed, on his return, for three photos where he looks like an angel. The top photo was taken a week ago as his mother prepared him for his first sea swim. I am biased, I think he looks amazing. But all the other folks here at our hotel dote on him. They all say hello Joshua and he waves back. The two main waitresses blow kisses at him and he blows kisses back. Okay, judge for yourself.

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Sitting in the Caribbean Beach Bar in Greece repels me and sends my blood pressure zooming

633 days ago

One day the Mrs will learn that me and the seaside really don't mix. She has booked us into a pleasant hotel, the Baywatch, which to her annoyance, is nowhere near the sea. It does, however, have a wonderful view of the bay of Kalamata, a pool which Joshua, the Mrs and I like and is relatively quiet. The guests are nearly all young couples so I am the oldest there and find the music at the bar mildly irritating. That is to say it is all post 1995 and thus, by definition, utterly crap. But the internet works so I can relax by tapping away while Joshua crawls around the floor, licks windows, pulls books apart and does all the other things that make him happy. The Mrs is reading a book on the philosophy of marriage and occasionally draws my attention to a passage which highlights one of my rare failings as a husband.

But today here we are by the sea. Why have a Caribbean themed bar with a range of cheap gin, rum and vodka cocktails here in Greece except to cater to tourists with a limited IQ? Oh for the days of old when the charm of a Greek beach-side village was that it might have just a couple of shacks where you could drink ouzo or perhaps a Fix beer with fishermen and locals. Okay the shacks had no internet but then again I can't get the internet to work here either. That always makes my blood pressure soar.

Of course the shack for the fisherman is not the Greece of my lifetime. When I first came here, the Colonels had already been ousted and with an ever plunging drachma the foreigners were already swarming in for a cheap and cheerful holiday by the sun. But away from the sea, back in the 1970s, the Old Greece still existed. Food was rudimentary and based on sheep or goat, drink was almost always local wines not beer, roads in the mountains were either bad or non-existent and so some places really were preserved from the dreaded tourist. You really were enjoying a glass of local red wine for just a drachma with shepherds and other land workers. Conversation was in German as at least some men in every village had been Gastarbeiten at some point to escape the grinding poverty of rural Greece.

But, when I revisited Anelion to catch up with my father's oldest friend Mike the Vlach some eighteen months ago, even up in the high Pindus that world of Old Greece has now been swept away by new EU funded roads, by television and by all the other forces we call "progress."

Writing in the 1960s Paddy Leigh Fermor saw Greece at a crossroads. Would it try to preserve something of its mystical past or would it clasp the tourist DeutscheMark and Pound to its bosom and rush to a world of wall to wall Caribbean Beach Bars? Paddy was a bit too optimistic for his own good. It was no contest. As I stare across the bay of Kalamata somewhere up in the Taygetos Mountains opposite, even my own little village of Kambos now has its ghastly creperie seling toasties to folks sitting on horrible plastic chairs laid out neatly in rows; its own bit of progress. Perhaps that bit of progress will be knocked back. I hope so.

But the battle of the Kambos creperie was the dilemma Paddy pondered. For the natives the creperie and toasties might seem to offer them new choices. It might perhaps bring the possibility of new jobs and income to the village. As such it is a seductive siren just as, many years ago, wall to wall Caribbean themed bars must have been where I sit now . But for those with money and a real love of Greece it just forces us further afield to places that are still Greek. With its giant banners advertising Spanish beer or Swiss coffee this bar could be anywhere. How I wish it was somewhere else. Like Spain.

You will be glad that my camera is still unable to upload photos and so sits idle in my bag. For the view here is of human bodies sweating in the sun. I cover my own rolls of flesh with a T-shirt but most folks here wander around in swimsuits. A few of our species, such as my young wife, look wonderful in partial undress. But far too many of us just expose great rolls of blubber. Others wear all in one outfits into which the blubber is poured. As it desperately fills every inch of swimsuit and tries to escape it leaves nothing to the imagination.

And so I sit here surrounded by vile bodies listening to elevator music, dreadful remixes of tunes re-designed so as not to offend seventy year olds. The meze we are offered could have come from Iceland, the store for chavs, not the Country and, as a coup de grace, the Mrs and I are offered a shot of locally produced cough mixture on the house. That is a way of saying "you are tourists so all you want is to get hammered after paying 20 Euro for some third rate junk food now piss off."

Joshua sleeps soundly through all of this.

This time next year the Greek Hovel will, I believe, be finished. We three will sit by our own pool. I shall have no cause to grumble as the only semi-clad adult body on view will be that of the Mrs, there will be quiet all around, the meze will be made by me of local produce. And if the Kambos creperie has gone bust, all will be well.

Tom Winnifrith

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I am having to boycott the new "creperie" in Kambos - this is appalling

635 days ago

I am afraid that I have lost a lead and so cannot upload photos just yet so you will have to bear with me as I describe the scene in the main square of Kambos, my home village here in Greece. I have returned after three months to discover that the creperie run by a French Greek woman has opened. Quelle horreur!

Kambos is on the main road from Kardamili and the lower Mani up to Kalamata at about the half way point. As you drive into Kambos from Kardamili with the ruins of Zarnata castle on the hill behind you, the road turns sharply left at an angle of 90 degrees. Take that turn and you will head to Kalamata. Fail to take that turn and you would head into the small main square of the village which would be regrettable as it is entirely pedestrianised.

On your left hand side is lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna and its dark wooden tables and chairs hug the side of its walls. Straight ahead of you is Miranda's restaurant which advertises wonderful choice but will serve just one offering. But it is fantastic rural Greek food and incredible value. Miranda's itself has a few small wooden inside but it is dark and hot so outside of winter not a place to sit. Outside, a large wooden shade has been built so there are now about six wooden tables which are often packed.

In the far right hand corner of the square is the new "creperie." I do not know where to start with my objections. Firstly the menu chalked up in poor English on a board stuck in front of Miranda's shade does not mention crepes but instead has a list of the sort of shite food you get at a Greek seaside resort. Food for pot bellied Brits wearing football tops. It is the sort of think I hoped I'd never see in Kambos.

Worse still the creperie not only has ghastly plastic tables and chairs outside its walls but has put up two rows of tightly packed plastic tables in front of Miranda's tables. You must try to navigate around them to get to Miranda's and the clear intent is to steal any passing trade.

This has all happened in the three months since I was last in Kambos. The creperie was, I am delighted to say, deserted apart from one table of foreigners - that is to say Brits. Mirandas was packed as was the Kourounis taverna. I would hope that as the tourists disappears so too will the creperie. Maybe other folks in Kambos are more tolerant but I wish the place a speedy demise.

PS. If you happen to be passing through Kambos and actually want a crepe, in the summer Eleni gets out a machine and her crepes are just awesome so head straight for the Kourounis taverna and go no further.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - I'm happy to pinch ideas as a magnificent new doorway takes shape

642 days ago

Work continues on remodelling the existing structures at the Greek Hovel as we await final planning permission for adding new structures, including a roof. And so I bring you the new main doorway which is now almost complete as the photos below show.

You may remember that the old door was a rectangular green metal and glass object which was not going to win any prizes in a beauty contest. It kept out the snakes but small lizards could manage to wriggle in around the frame. as the hovel becomes a palace I have grand designs.

George the architect says that the stones used around the door and the arch above will lighten over the next few weeks so blending in with the existing stonework.The white plastic you see below the arch is temporary and there will be another ring of stones on top. The doorway will thus look like one in an old building in the centre of the nearest village, Kambos which is the last photo in the selection.

As for the door, here my pinching of ideas moves down the coast to the house that Paddy Leigh Fermor built just outside Kardimili. A thick wooden door painted a light blue has been ordered. But doors and windows are for the future. For now the wildlife diversity is free to enter at will.

I leave for Greece early next week with the Mrs and Joshua. Sadly, for most of the trip we are booked in to stay with her sister and her husband, the bubble, whose family live about an hour and a half the other side of Kalamata. It is my friends in Kambos who I want to see and the hovel that I wish to photo and admire. Sitting near the sea at the height of the tourist season in the midst of a madding crowd is not MY Greece. That is sitting with the snakes and the quiet up in the foothills of the Taygetos.

I shall try to escape as much as I can and bring you more photos on my rare snatches of freedom.

Admin

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Photo Article Real Progress at the Greek Hovel but....

650 days ago

There is a snag. We have all the demolition permits but the building permit iss er. delayed. Yes that is the one we were promised by June 30. Now it is August so after eleven months of toil and endeavour the Greek State bureaucracy grinds to a halt. So the builders can do nothing until September. I head to Greece shortly and will be popping into the Kalamata planning department for words... However there is good news as you can see below.

The stonework on the existing hovel has been replaced and window spaces made perfect. it looks a bit grey but that is only because the cement used to seal the stone is grey. It will now be scraped out and replaced with a yellower cement which with the light yellow, brown, red and grey stones means the Hovel will be the same colour after completion as it was before. It will just be a place not a hovel.

The roof is off and from September, before the winter rains start , a new pitched wooden roof to be tiled, will start to go up. The end of the rat room has been taken off so that it can be extended out by another two yards to make a great bedroom for Joshua. All in all there is real progress. I shall be back in the Taygetos mountains seeing my friends in Kambos and checking out the hovel in a couple of weeks time but it is heading the right way.

The rat room, at least, should be habitable by the time I head over for the olive harvest in December.

Admin

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Photo: Picking gooseberries in the glorious English Rain at Shipston - how I would miss our summer rains

677 days ago

In Greece the summer rains are violent. Dark clouds gather above the Taygetos Mountains above the Greek hovel or sometimes out to see in the bay of Kalamata. The wind starts to pick up and you can hear it unsettling the trees, after a while the rustling of the leaves is so loud it sends a clear warning of what is to come. Thunder booms loudly, you start to see lightning and before you know it the rain is pouring down. You can be drenched, a dripping rat, within a minute or so as the skies empty.

And then it is over. vast puddles lie across the mud track that leads up to the hovel. The mud is slippy and your car or motorbike slides its way up and down the hill but the sun is beating. Soon the land is steaming and within a day or so the puddles are gone.

If you are lucky the thunderstorm whips up at night, breaking the oppressive summer heat and allowing you one night of contented sleep. But whenever the rains break it is a violent affair. If you doubt me, listen six minutes into this podcast when - as I recorded - the hovel was struck by lightning.

By contrast, in England the heat is less intense. The rain arrives more often and is not the warm rain of Greece but a colder if less violent downpour. Such were my thoughts as I picked dessert gooseberries in my father's garden at Shipston.

Almost thirty years ago when my father and late stepmother, who died a year ago yesterday, moved to Shipston their four hundred year old house was in an awful state and the garden was just a total mess. They worked hard to create a wonderful central lawn, sprawling flower beds and a fruit and vegetable patch which year in year out has yielded potatoes, lettuces, broad beans, tomatoes, raspberries,m strawberries, red currants, black currants and both dessert and normal gooseberries.

Gardeners still pop in once a fortnight to keep the place in order. But my father rarely ventures into the garden and the soul has gone from the place this last year. The six of us (my two sisters and three steps) all visit and do our best to harvest what is there. It is a duty to my step mother and father not to let it go to waste. And so I sent the last of the raspberries back with the Mrs and Joshua on Sunday and as I waited for a lift to the station I picked half of the dessert gooseberries. Normal green gooseberries are just too bitter for my palate. I can't see why everyone does not use the purple dessert variety.

If I end up spending more and more time in Greece I shall miss the English summer rains, thought I, as I slowly got wetter and wetter, dutifully cleaning the bush.

Admin

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Photo Article - It's just cricket

681 days ago

In England life is so clinical and clean and removed from nature. Our food is covered in plastic. Seeing your cat wander through the cat flap counts as a wildlife encounter. How different life is for me in Kambos, Greece.

I wandered out out of Eleni's Kourounis taverna and round the corner to my car which was parked on the road whicfh heads up past the big new Church on top of the Kambos hill and then out through the olive groves and off up into the Taygetos mountains. There is a small right turning one hundred yards past the church. If you did not know it was there you would miss it.

It looks like someone's drive but is the way to another small road which winds its way past yet another tiny old church which can hold a dozen folks no more and on through the olive trees, eventually tumbling down the hill to meet the road to the Greek Hovel just at the bottom of abandoned monastery hill. It was on this road that I killed an adder with my motorbike two years ago.

I digress. I got in my car and there on the windscreen was a cricket. I drive off and it stayed there seemingly enjoying the ride, only departing as we headed down the sharp slope towards monastery hill. The greens and yellows and intricate patterns on its body are not really captured in this photo but, once again, I was left to marvel at how God's design work really is pretty special

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: all Things Fraud and Fright-er-ful

701 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/29850/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-all-things-fraud-and-fright-er-ful

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - another selfie and one of "my babies"

705 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...

There has been no change. I shifted down from 36 inches to a 34 inch pair about six weeks ago and they now feel very comfortable indeed. I am conscious as I wander into the swimming pool each evening that I still have a bit of a belly but it is not, as it once was, a vast expanse about which I feel real shame. If I breathe in you can see my ribs.

I have not weighed myself for a long while. That is no longer because id be terrified of the reading but because, as I noted the last time I was back at 32 inches and in Greece there seem to be no scales here. I suspect that my BMI is now mildly overweight but not what is termed obese. My priority has been tackling blood sugars - now back happily in range after yesterday's freak reading - not weight loss. Anyhow I hope the selfie below shows that i do not have multiple chins.

Indeed on yesterday's skype call to the Mrs, Joshua and Oakley, the first post haircut, of which more later, the Mrs - without prompting - said my face looked quite thin. That may be relative to that of Oakley but it is progress of sorts.

Meanwhile my babies are growing. The more I look the more I fear that it will be a poor olive harvest this year. For my neighbours who need the income it is bad news. For me it is a minor frustration but one that I can live with. But those olives that are there are now up from tiny balbearing size to small ballbearing size.

Admin

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Photo article: Diary of a Diabetic (Second Time Around) day 11 - all in the 7s

712 days ago

Amid a general feeling of despondenc and uncertainty, the one constant joy is my blood sugar levels as I tackle type 2 diabetes. It is eleven days since I got back to Greece and I continue my regime of moderate exercise and avoiding booze and carbohydrates at all cost. Well almost.

I must admit that as I stayed up on Thursday night to watch the election I had a couple of glasses of white wine. I thought it would be one celebratory drink. It ended up as two to numb the pain. The odd thing was, that having been off the booze for a while, I did not really enjoy them. And as I struggled on Friday with lack of sleep, I was aware that even a modest amount of alcohol had made that feeling worse.

But I am back on the straight and narrow now. As a recap my blood sugars were 15.3 when my GP read the riot act to me. They got down to a stead 8 on my first trip to Greece before the visit of the wife's family. They were high 10s as I started again. I have now had six readings on the trot in the 7s. This is not a rogue poll. It is a steady trend.

Okay i am on heavy medication but the target range of 5-7 is very much in sight. My trousers feel looser and the symptoms, which a Gentleman dos not discuss in public, have almost entirely disappeared.

I know that I have a good few sessions left to complete my olive pruning and frigana poisoning up at the Greek hovel. By the time I head back to the UK in a couple of weeks to see my GP I have every hope that I will be in an acceptable range. The battle then is staying there.

Admin

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Diary of a diabetic day 5 ( second time)

719 days ago

As you may remember when I was joined in Greece my by wife and her family my type 2 diabetes control went badly off the rails. In the ten days i spent in England there were days when I almost gave up. I was not dreadful, I ate no chocolate and I did take some exercise but not a lot. But I had a few drinks and some days I skipped my medication. I was angry with myself and depressed. But my flight back to Greece on Tuesday marked a new beginning. So we start the clock again.

On the morning of day 5 I am now into a routine of doing enough exercise out at the Greek hovel each day which sees me break into a sweat. Today it was an hour and a half of olive tree pruning. Boy my little babies are vigorous. the ones I prune a month ago have sprouted new shoots to lop off, the ones I have yet to tackle are really hard work. In 30 plus degree heat I have worked up a good sweat and climbing up and down the terraces left me almost breathless by the end. Good news. And I did not see one snake. Even better news.

My hotel has a pool and at 32 degrees down by the sea i am sorely tempted to have a swim. I am taking my medication religiously. I have not had a drink since Sunday nor do I imbibe fruit juice or diet coke. My diet is largely based on Greek salads, although I am allowing myself bacon and eggs for breakfast, and is almost entirely carbohydrate free. I am now enjoying a late lunch of soda water and a salad with no bread at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos.

By blood sugar measurements were 15.3 before I headed to Greece the first time. They were down in the 6, 7 8 range before the mother in law arrived but back in the low mid teens by the time she left. Stress free and back in a routine I tested 10.3 this morning having been 10.5 the day before. That is, of course, far too high. I should be sub 7. But I am heading the right way.

The good thing is that the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, most of which a gentleman does not discuss on the internet, have almost all gone. I feel more alive, more energetic and really looking at new challenges. I did my first podcast for two months today. It is not going to be a daily thing for a good while yet but it was a fun diversion. I have three work projects which I am mulling over. They will not take much time but will be fun and I feel up for a challenge.

There is no plan of going back to normal work any time soon. 10.3 is still shockingly high and unless I get that down to sub 8 by the time I next see my GP in three weeks I shall be getting a right old rollocking. But the trend is my friend and I feel pretty good about the way things are going.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Ways to annoy the Mrs No 34: putting up a Tory election poster In Bristol East, then Greece

728 days ago

I am back in Bristol for a few days and was wandering back from lunch with Joshua when we happened to pass the Conservative Club. The door was open and i was conscious that I needed to renew my father's membership. Though not a Tory, or indeed a Bristol resident, he likes the idea of being able to access cheep beer at a place not far from our house.

Thus, while spending £16 on the renewal, delighting in the idea of pinning Dad's membership card up on a wall at Shipston just to annoy my pious left wing public sector employed sisters, I asked if anyone was in the office upstairs which the Conservative Party uses at election time. It seems not. They must have been obeying the election halt called by Mrs May after the Manchester attacks. "Shame" said I, "Joshua and i were hoping to pick up a poster."

Luckily the lady said that they had a selection behind the bar. I eschewed ones celebrating Mrs May, I wanted to have lots of blue and the word Conservative on it, in order to really ensure that the Mrs (Labour voting, Guardian reading sociology lecturer) was annoyed as much as possible.

We on the right believe in freedom of expression but the Mrs points out that she owns the house and I am only a lodger and has thus barred myself and Joshua from displaying our nice new poster. This is regrettable - should I refuse to pay my rent?

Eight month old Joshua appears to want to nibble the poster which I take as a sign that he is a good Tory. Remember my son: greed is good. I want to put it in the window of the spare room which is where myself and Oakley are sent when one or other or both of us are in the doghouse.

But the Mrs is not for turning. So it has been agreed that my poster - for the drippy remoaning local Tory Theo Clarke who does not appear to support any Tory principles at all - can stay in the room where I work. Pro tem that is the front room as you can see below and it can be seen from the Street. As of next week it will be on show in the Greek Hovel where no-one will see it other than myself and my Albanian workforce.

But for the next few days, as the Mrs watches TV at night, there it sits glaring down on her, urging her to do the decent thing on June 8. Go on dearest... you know it makes sense.

Admin

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Photo Article: I have won the Mrs over to Miranda's in Kambos

733 days ago

Okay you come to Greece to star at the sea. There is no sea up in Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel where I live. As you sit in Miranda's you stare up at the castle, you see cars, lorries or flocks of sheep wind their way along the road, and you see like in Kambos progress at its slow place.

We sit outside on one of the four tables underneath a wooden shelter. On another table the father of Vangelis from the snake repellent shop was holding court. He was chatting for five other older men, I guess not that much older than I am, as they nibbled some cheese and tomatoes and drank merrily. In due course Vangelis wandered over. He can keep an eye on the store and have a beer at the same time. Im not sure what was being discussed but there was no rush to end the lunch, after all it was only four in the afternoon when we left.

As ever, whatever the menu says about a wide selection there was just one selection - it was pork and peppers today. The choice was whether you wanted it with new boiled potatoes in a sauce or okra in sauce. We went for the latter and some tomatoes for Joshua. The total damage for two portions of pork & peppers and okra and the booze and Joshua's tomatoes was 14 Euro - call it £11.

Not only is that much cheaper than by the sea, the food is fantastic and the pace just so slow. I have won her over, the Mrs is a member of the Miranda's fan club too. As for Miranda herself she picked up Joshua and took him round to introduce him to everyone. He did not quite know what was happening but enjoyed his celebrity status.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Sunday Morning by the church in Koroni, Greece

740 days ago

I could not sleep for reasons that I shall discuss later so was up at the crack of dawn leaving the Mrs and Joshua snoring loudly in our hotel room. We are in Koroni, a pretty little sea port around the coast from Kalamata, going away from the Mani. The stated reason is to visit the parents of the husband of the sister of the Mrs, Stavros & Stavroula. It is the latter who taught me everything I know about the art of goat milking.

I say that Koroni is pretty. It had old buildings, narrow and winding streets and a charm. It is still a working town as well as a tourist resort. So there are fishing boats in the harbour and this morning I wandered through a market where the local peasantry bring their fruit and vegetables to sell - it was an array of colours and the size of the specimens on offer is stunning. We might almost be in Chernobyl.

On the other hand, I do not enjoy eating out in any place in Greece that has a whiff of tourist. There is the hard sell from the owner as you walk buy, the insistence that all his fish is fresh and local when the octopus and calamari is almost certainly not. And there are the relatively high prices one pays for fairly ordinary food.

Before any remoaners start bleating, the pound is now just 2% down on where it was before Independence Day last year. Tourist Greece used to offer cheap and cheerful food (ie, not terribly good). The standards of cooking in most tourist resorts have not improved but prices went up once the drachma was replaced with the Euro. They need to re-adjust downwards. I resented paying 9.5 Euro for a very tough pork souvlaki with a few greasy chips, which I gave to Joshua.

I thought fondly of Miranda's up in Kambos where there is never any fish on offer. But where the cooking is consistently good - if simple -  and where a meat and veg option plus an ouzo & greek coffee will still leave you with change from a ten Euro bill. In Koroni one can watch the sea but the noise of people and tinned music is everywhere. Up in Kambos there are just a few people talking and laughing, you gaze up at the mountains or at the castle on the hill in the other direction. You just ponder as the world goes by.

My family has been writing about Greece for 150 years. Greece is "in the blood" but that Greece is up in Kambos not here by the seaside.

At 8 AM and the tourists are sleeping off last night's ouzo. I found one coffee shop open and it is opposite the main church and so as I tap away on my laptop, smartly dressed little old ladies wander by on their way to praise the Lord. I can hear the priest intoning loudly inside. The people respond in an age old ritual. That would be the same ritual being celebrated by many of the folks back in Kambos right now.

No doubt many people reading this, including my proudly godless daughter Olaf, will deride such faith as just another meaningless relic of the old world. But Daddy what is their stance on LGBT issues? Don't you know who won Eurovision last night?

Which is likely to be more long lasting: the modern cult of celebrity and ephemera or the quiet faith of the little old ladies, even if it fails to condemn Tim Farron for homophobia as all snowflakes and metropolitan elitists must do once a week as their ritual? On that, my almost 16 year old daughter and her ageing father are, as usual, likely to disagree.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Work starts on the rebuilding of the Greek Hovel: the snake veranda

747 days ago

As you may remember, work was delayed on the rebuilding of the Greek Hovel after the authorities insisted we needed a permit to demolish bricks put up without a permit by the previous owners. This is Greece after all. that permit has arrived and so the demolition starts, and phase one is the snake veranda.

It is the area above the rat room and got its name after, on our second visit, we encountered a snake which was aggressive but, it appears, not poisonous. It was also where I killed an adder the other day. On this roof - which was itself added illegally - the previous owner had added hideous breeze blocks and iron rods all round.

As you can see they are now all gone. The house looks better already!. the view from the top up to the taygetos mountains behind us is even more magnificent with all the clutter removed.

Admin

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Can I be a victim too? Virtue signalling is such fun as I suffer a hate crime at Gatwick

749 days ago

I was wandering towards passport control from where my Easyjet flight from Kalamata had landed, that is to say bloody miles from anywhere, when I heard a woman's voice behind me. "Welcome to bloody Brexit land" she said sneeringly and loudly. Quick as a flash, I said equally loudly "Or as we call it these days, the newly free and independent United Kingdom."

She scoffed and expressed surprise that she had met someone who supported Brexit. I pointed out that we had voted for Brexit in a referendum last year so there were an awful lot of people like me. She scoffed again, and displaying a grasp of arithmetic of which Diane Abbott would be proud said "Only 51% voted for it, it was a minority".

As one of the 52%, which is like 51% a majority, it was hard to know how to counter that remark but I had no need to, as the woman was keen not to let me interrupt her monologue and continued "I know how you people think as I worked here for several years." I did not question her deep understanding of the British national psyche but decided that I would virtue signal and so said "and how much we enjoy folks like you coming from Europe to work hard in Britain. You are so welcome." I said this in a genuine way and I meant it. I was enjoying being welcoming and also showing how bloody virtuous I was.

The woman snapped back "well enjoy being an isolated island cut off from Europe." I countered with "we will be great global citizens ( bonus marks for that PC phraseology) and trade with the growing economies around the world, India, China , the USA not just the ageing economic zombie that is Europe" Ouch. The woman's partner butted in "you will sell weapons to Turkey so it can attack Greece where we come from."

I am pretty sure that supplying weapons to Turkey is not a mainstay of Britain's manufacturing base and there is no evidence that Turkey is about to attack its fellow NATO member in Greece. But I was not sure that countering untruths with facts was working so I told the chap "I have a house in Greece, I live there, Britain is not going to arm an invasion."

By this time we were almost at passport control and the queue was bunching up. The woman snapped "We don't want you in Greece, we want you to get out." She did not quite say "Go back where you came from" but she had more or less said it. I could not resist.

"Racist!" I shouted. "You are a racist". I repeated this several times loudly enough for all the folks around us to hear. The boyfriend tried to butt in "what she said was not racist it was xenophobic." I think that he might technically be accurate but we virtue signallers do not care about minor details. I was on a roll. I shouted "you are a racist" at her and, as I very loudly said the words "hate crime," I turned my back, visibly shaking my head. She went quiet.

By this time the fuzz at the UK border were just yards away. I did think about reporting the poor bubble for hate crime there and then. London's Mayor says we must report all incidents and since I had been offended by her comments this was clearly a hate crime as defined in Orwellian 2017 Airstrip One. But I was in a rush to head off to see my father so I contented myself with turning round a couple of times and staring at her shaking my head and engaging in a spot more virtue signalling.

I told the Mrs that I had been a victim of hate crime at Gatwick Airport. She seemed unconvinced. Guardianistas like the Mrs think that straight, white, affluent, able bodied, middle aged men cannot be a victim of hate crime. She does not understand. If I was thirty years younger I would go light a candle and add a twibbon to my twitter account as I tweet to myself and I rush to a counsellor who will help me cope with this most traumatic of incidents.

The key point here as a virtue signaller is to point out that this story is all about me and that I am a real victim. Now, where do I get a counsellor?

Tom Winnifrith

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Londoners are Morons part 486 - £1 for that pot of feta? You is avin a giraffe

750 days ago

So I find myself in London for two days. The reason I am here is surreal and I shall tell you all about it when I am allowed to. I lived in this City for about twenty years. I suppose I was younger then and its attractions were of interest to me at that point in my life: places to drink, lots of single women, a chance of to make money. I can't say that I am interested in any of the above right now and in fact London fills me with dread and horror and I do all that I can to avoid it.

Most Londoners run like a gerbil on a work treadmill to fund a lifestyle which is frankly not that brilliant anyway. A good few want to chop my head off and the rest of them just seem, in various ways, mad. The prices they pay for utter tuch just baffle me.

Lunch today was a hummus bowl from a company called Hummus Bros which is currently seeking crowdfunding to expand. I ordered my chicken and hummus salad and saw that for an extra £1 I could have feta on top. Greatly missing Greece,

I went for this and was presented with a circular plastic pot of feta which at its widest point has a diameter of less than half my credit card. The feta was crumbled - that is to say it had gone through an electric grater - and tested unpleasant and not like the feta I was enjoying in the Mani just two days ago. And will be enjoying again by Friday lunchtime.

If I told someone back in Greece that for a few grammes of low grade faux feta I had just paid one euro 20 cents they would think I was barking mad. Yet Londoners line up to transact with Hummus Bros in this way. Get me back to Greece Lord, take me from this hell hole.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Frigana Poisoning at the Greek Hovel - Part 2

754 days ago

You may remember that George the Architect is a little nervous about chopping down non olive trees which the forestry survey may have identified at the Greek Hovel. On the other hand Nicho the Communist regards these snake shelters as an obstruction to the basic human right of every Greek to plant as many olive trees as possible on his land. I am with Nicho.

And thus while on day one of the poisoning Nicho started work dealing with the frigana -as you can see here - The Albanian was sent off with a chainsaw to deal with one of the five trees that we have earmarked for removal.

Sod elf n safey, this is Greece. The little chap just set to work clambering up the tree and taking at apart branch by branch as you can see below. In fifteen minutes the tree was an ex tree and Nicho had another place to plant an olive tree this Autumn.

Admin

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Photo article: It's almost May but the global warming still lies thick here in Southern Greece

761 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?

The snow still lies thick on the higher mountains above the hovel. As I drove down from Kambos towards the nearest harbour at Kitries today I looked up and there it was as you can see in the photos below. The same global warming I saw in December is still there and it is almost May. Give that man Gore another Nobel prize.

Tom Winnifrith

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First Skype call with my son Joshua, now 7 months old

761 days ago

It has taken the older generation a few days to get our respective accounts working but tonight the Mrs and I finally managed a skype call, for the rest of the family are not joining me here in Greece for another couple of weeks. And by "rest of the family" I mean it: the mother in law is coming too. But that treat is for another day.

For now Joshua stared at the screen not quite sure what was happening but as I called out his name he twigged and broke out in a massive smile and just kept on smiling. Then it was Oakley's turn. The Mrs put him next to the screen but my, no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat is camera shy. There was a brief recognition as I called his name but then he scuttled off to play with Joshua.

I always have skype calls with Oakley when I am away but Joshua seems keen on playing ball for far longer. I am sure he is desperate to say "Daddy" but can't manage it quite yet. Not long now.

Tom Winnifrith

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Diary of a diabetic day 17 - turning down free ouzo

763 days ago

On my new machine, the blood sugar reading this morning was 195, up from 146 the prior day. What on earth had I done wrong? I ate sensibly, I took good exercise and I only had one ouzo. It must have been the ouzo. I cursed myself. I reckon that reading is up in the high ten points old scale. Type 2 diabetes is a real bastard,

After breakfast I took a call which saw me swearing repeatedly for the first time in two weeks. I am set to appear as an Expert Witness at a Tribunal in London in early May. I say tribunal but view it as a kangaroo court. The prosecution is also the judges. First they tried to block me as a witness. That failed and they laid out a schedule of events and when I was set to appear. They know I am in Greece and am flying in for 48 hours just for this.

So having agreed it all they have now announced that the hearing is to be extended and one witness is to have his timings altered. Guess who? This is an explicit attempt to knock me out of the game. Luckily the organisers of this kangaroo court reckoned without my incompetence. I have booked no tickets with Aegean. So I shall wait for the new dates to be confirmed and then book. But this will not be the last dirty trick. Anyhow I found myself swearing repeatedly and getting very angry indeed.

It is this poisonous ,viper infested and institutionally corrupt world that has polluted my mind and my body. Why cannot people act like decent souls and do what they agreed to? I tried to put it aside and forget about it and fell asleep mid morning thinking how, in many ways, the City of London was the sort of place that in the Old Testament, God would have destroyed with fire and brimstone. Come on God, find someone to spare the (few) righteous and then bring it on!

Waking up at one, I felt feint and sure enough my blood sugars were just 135 (low eights old scale).That is too high but such a sharp fall was alarming and thus I headed off to my fave restaurant (Save The Katelanos) for some octopus and black eyed peas & mountain greens. The lady who manages this place and I have talked many times and she greeted me warmly. We talked Greece " i work for Alex Tsipras" she complained. Indeed the middle classes are squeezed to pay the bills of the banksters. To what end?

As i waited for my meal she came over with a large ouzo "on the house". I had to explain why I could not. To think that there has come a day when I have to say no to free ouzo. is there any point in going on?

Tom Winnifrith

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Report from the Greek Hovel - after three years we have a permit, well sort of

763 days ago

I arranged to meet architects George and Sofia at the Greek Hovel at 11 AM. I arrived twenty minutes late but no-one was there. This is Greece so eleven sharp means any time before twelve and at about twenty to twelve my friends arrived. They brought with them the head builder, an ethnic Greek from Albania, so a man my father will approve of big time. I got down to the main point quickly. I showed them the snake I had killed and asked the builder how he felt about snakes. "I kill them with my bare hands" he said. I like him a lot and said that "you can have the next one."

I sense that town dwelling George and Sofia are not, like me and the builder, brave snake killers and they trod carefully and nervously as they inspected the property. The good news is that after three years one permit has come through. That is to say the permit to demolish the illegally added concrete blocks and bricks put up without any permit at all by Athena, the slippery former owner. That permit will also allow us to start digging out the rock floor of the bat room, into which I have not yet dared to venture, to unpick some bad external plastering and to cut down the giant oak tree whose roots threaten the bat room.

There are one or two other trees which the forestry survey may or may not have noted but which might accidentally get cut down by mistake over the next few weeks as well including a clutch of giant friganas which are entangled with wire netting and where, I am sure, many snakes live. We will start work as a crew on May 5 when I return from a brief visit to England but I will work alone until then. Although the giant frigana and wire snake nest is a treat I will leave to my new friend the builder.

The actual building permit is still "in process." It is now expected to arrive in late May. Once again I asked if we might consider bribery but George assured me that he would not know how to do that and he is sure there is no bribery in the building permit department. I was only kidding as I know that this is not a country where such practices occur.
Next to arrive was the man who will provide stones and cement. All was going swimmingly until the group of four worked out that one or two of the roads and tracks needed widening to allow big lorries to access the Hovel. This will require lovely Eleni to allow George to chop a few branches off some of her olive trees and my eccentric neighbour Charon - who harvests a neighbouring grove - to allow us to concrete over a few of his rocks. In a normal world this would be easy. But this is Greece. I imagine the conversation:

G: We would like to concrete over five of your useless rocks of no value, is that a problem?
C: But these rocks have been in my family for hundreds of years...it would be like selling my mother
G: But until last year they were covered in frigana and they have no value whatsoever?
C: You are insulting my dead mother...reaches for gun
G: Would 500 Euro ease your suffering
C: For my dead mother how dare you...shall we say 1000 Euro?

Rather George than me. Lovely Eleni seems a bit more relaxed about losing a few branches. She did ask how many but i said not very many. But then I mentioned that it was to build a swimming pool which she and her family would be free to use at all times. Her eyes lit up. I think that conversation might be rather less challenging for George.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Greekenomics - the old road to Kardamili

765 days ago

As one heads down the Mani towards Kardamili, the village one on from Kambos is Stavropigio. It has just a few more Brits than Kambos as it is, objectively, a bit prettier. I am thus happy to stay in plain old Kambos. As one leaves our neighbouring village a small turning off the main road to the right is the old road to Kardamili. There is now no practical reason at all to use this road and more or less no-one does.

There will be a few souls like me who drive along to go fishing. It is a steep and winding descent as we start our journey at c350 metres above sea level. The road, in its early stages, is littered with shotgun cases so I guess that in the season the locals head here to blast away little birds, a pointless activity I find hard to understand. There are almost no houses on the road after the first half a mile and those that are there lie abandoned. There is evidence that the olive trees here were harvested, last year's branch cuttings and the leaves abandoned after twigs were threshed, lie by the side of the road. But it is hard to see how anyone uses it more than once a week.

It is the sort of place that can be left to the snakes and to nature. But this is Greece which is, as you know, bankrupt. So the photos below offer a lesson in Greekenomics. For most the the five or so miles I travelled my car rode along the old concrete from the days when this was the road to Kardamili, the 1960s. In some places that concrete had disappeared or was never laid down in the first place and I was on the sort of mud and stone track I wind my way up to on the way to the Greek hovel.

But for various stretches I travelled on pristine tarmac. This is not old tarmac but a road that has enjoyed recent investment. For what? For whom? Greece is bankrupt. Our pensioners now live on 9 Euro a day. The hospitals are short of medicines. Yet to "create jobs" or rather maintain the bloated public sector, the Government is spending money it does not have upgrading a road that almost no-one uses. Welcome once again to the world of Greekenomics.

Tom Winnifrith

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Back at the kourounis taverna in Kambos - it's like I have never left

766 days ago

In fact I have only been away for about ten weeks since the February burning & olive fertilising season so it is not exactly long time no see. But even had it been ten years not ten weeks I doubt that much would have changed in Kambos, the village nearest to the Greek hovel.

It is a Bank Holiday of course so, don't laugh, most folks here in Greece are not working. But the guy at the petrol station was on duty and greeted me knowingly as I drove up into the mountains on what is a rather cold and grey day. I am not exactly shivering in my Viva Steyn T-shirt but by Greek standards for late April it is fairly cold up here. The fields are a glorious green as the summer suns are yet to burn the grass to straw brown. The alpine like flowers are everywhere. On the mountains ark clouds gather so it will rain later.

The two snake repellent shops are not open. that means that I will have to buy the canisters tomorrow and lay them down to ward off he serpents at the hovel. I am slightly reluctant to start work there until the canisters have been in place for a few hours and are repelling away.

In the Kourounis taverna a few familiar faces greet me with a knowing nod and a Yas Tom! There is a new young man behind the counter who does not know me but I am welcomed warmly by Poppy the ageing mother in law of lovely Eleni. As ever it takes her just a few minutes to lecture me in Greek about how I really must learn Greek. I do understand what she is saying as this is a lecture which has been given many times before. as normal I assure her avrio, avrio. That means tomorrow, tomorrow but in Southern Europe tomorrow very often never comes.

I can see her explaining to the new young man who I am. she points at me and then points up in the direction of the mountains above the village, to the smattering of , almost all abandoned, homesteads that is Toumbia. I think that only the Greek hovel and the house of my nearest neighbour Charon, a mile and a half away from me, are actually inhabited. The other houses stand, like the old convent, slowly crumbling and home only to ghosts and, probably, large numbers of snakes.

Nicho the Communist
is not yet here. That means there are no English speakers and also that we cannot finalise our plans for the splicing of domesticated olives onto wild olive trees which we must first cut back. That will, in about three years, turn trees that yield nothing into producers. That is phase one of increasing the yield from the hovel. Phase two will be planting new trees on the areas that two years ago I cleared of the accursed frigana. Phase three will be to buy up my neighbours fields.

But phase three can wait until the hovel is rebuilt something I pray will happen this year. My aim is not to produce enough oil to "turn pro" or become a full time olive farmer. The amount we are paid for our oil is so pitiful ( £3 a litre) that this is not viable. But Id like to think that in a few years I might just be producing enough to pay the land taxes here and for my flights to and from Kalamata. That is for the future. For now it is time to venture up to the hovel to see my friends the snakes.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Motorway reaches Kalamata - good news and bad

767 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.

The bus swept straight along the final stretch of highway right to the heart of town. The end of the main road is now just 200 yards from the bus station which lies underneath the old fort, the scene of the first heroics of 1821 when on March 21 the heroic Maniots answered the call of the Bishop of Triploli and stormed the hill to slaughter every Turk inside the citadel.

In a way this new road makes my life easier. Flights direct to Kalamata are infrequent and seasonal and so my journey time from Athens is greatly reduced. I think I can now even get to the Mani without going through Kalamata. So my life is that much simpler. But there is a downside.

There are increasing numbers of flights landing at the airport here. British Airways now flies twice a week in summer as an alternative to Easyjet. It is only a matter of time before my favourite airline, Aegean, joins the party. And with the road also that much faster more folks will come to this region to holiday and, also to buy second homes. More bloody foreigners.

Of course I am a foreigner too. But my family have been writing about Greece for 200 years. My great uncle David Cochrane died here. Greece is in my blood. Heck, I even harvest olives. So I like to think that I am a bit less of a foreigner than the other foreigners. I will spend more and more of my time here as I get older.

I love my nearest village of Kambos in large part because nearly everyone who lives there is Greek or Albanian. Since it is a good half an hour from the sea it is never going to be fashionable. I suspect it will remain resolutely Greek, or rather Maniot, until long after I have my final encounter with St Peter. But the area will change.

If that brings greater wealth, or rather less poverty, I suspect many of my neighbours will welcome it. But they should be careful what they wish for. Before they know it they will suffer snooty Guardian readers trying to stop them creating "foul smells" from pressing their olives.

I may be selfish in how I view it but for me the new highway is very much a mixed blessing.

Tom Winnifrith

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Diary of a Diabetic Day 12 - 9 point ffing three!

769 days ago

I wake up in Copenhagen after a night at the WakeUp Hotel which is the Ryanair of Danish hotels. That is to say, it tried to nickel and dime you at every chance. The place is literally on the wrong side of the tracks - that is to say the view from the small window of my smaller room (cost £152) is of the railway tracks. Everything is on top. Breakfast, coffee, I am almost expecting to face a surcharge for using the loo in my tint bathroom or for having pulled the curtains shut last night. If I want my boarding pass printed off at reception it will be an extra £8. Bastards. If Michael O'Leary did hotels...

But nothing can dampen my spirits because tonight I shall be preparing to celebrate Easter in Greece - for once the Orthodox festivities fall on the same day as those in the errant West. As importantly, my bloods this morning came in at just 9.3 - the lowest since I started measuring them almost two weeks ago when they were 15.3.

I suspect that it was down in part to a day of carrying heavy bags around the streets of Copenhagen from where I dropped the car off to the wrong side of the tracks. That must have burned a few calories. In part it was also a meagre travelling diet which consisted largely of oranges and rye bread. My body was shocked into that reading.

You might think that at this rate I shall be down below 5 before the month is out and be ready to go back to work. I fear not. Firstly this is a morning reading before I have enjoyed any food. Your first thing bloods are always lower than your evening bloods. And secondly I am on heavy sugar busting medication. I can only start to think of relaxing when I am consistently below five without drugs. And that is many months away. But the trend is my friend. And another thing....

My trousers are starting to fall down.

That is to say I am losing a few pounds. Oddly that can be a sign of type 2 diabetes being out of control - you eat like a horse and lose weight. But I am not eating like a horse and am losing weight which is, I suspect, simply because i am burning more calories than I take in. Despite the aggravation offered by the WakeUp Hotel, I start the weekend in a good mood.

Tom Winnifrith

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Diary of a diabetic day 4 - I think I am getting better and so is my father

777 days ago

Day 2 of my battle to tackle type 2 diabetes showed just exactly why there was no way I could do so without shoving my keyboard in a cupboard and changing every aspect of my life. I had to go to London to do some expert witness business for a friend. So it was all on board the 4.47 AM having done a very early morning blood test which came out at 11.7 down from 15.3 the night before. I know that post fasting measures will be lower but even so: I was told those new zappo pills would work fast!

Though I had only porridge on the train that was where the good news sort of stopped. I resisted biscuits in the meeting but by the time I walked out ( after four and a half hours) I was almost fainting and a bowl of pasta at Wedge Issue was much needed. Meeting, meeting, writing a bit for Steve Moore, some garlic bread, stress, it was all bad. I drank only water and coffee but I really felt tired and stressed and by the time I took my bloods very late that evening back in Bristol they were up at 14. The next morning they were still 13.7.

The bad news is that I discovered on Wednesday night that I was out of testing strips and have only just managed to wade through NHS bureaucracy to get some more. So I shall resume testing tonight - day 4. The good news is that two stress free days make me feel relatively confident.

Yesterday I drove up to see my father who remains in hospital and turned 79 on the first day of the new tax year. I showed him the present he will get on his return to Shipston but did so covertly, I sensed the NHS would not like bottles of ouzo being brandished about freely in Warwick Hospital. He was in cracking form and has suffered no further complications. God willing he will be at home within days. Despite having too much driving it was a semi-relaxing day for me. At least it started with me waking up when I feel like it. For the first time in 26 years there is no alarm set to ensure that I am staring at a screen by 7 AM.

While driving I listened to a most excellent programme on Radio 4 about sugar. We Brits eat an average of 30 bags a year - that is one every 12 days. It is horrifying. We eat it neat in our warm drinks, in cakes, soft drinks and puddings and in a way few of us notice in so many processed foods. Sugar consumption has soared and so too has the incidence of type 2 diabetes. The two things are linked.

In Greece I eat no processed foods at all. I, now and agai,n allow myself a pudding but not this year. And so I'd hope to be eating more or less no sugar at all. Here in Britain it is harder but I am cutting out the processed foods, puddings and alcohol so I really hope that I am well below the national average. Not that beating such a shocking score should be hard.

Today there was once again no alarm call. I have eaten very sensibly and I have taken three walks. They may be short walks but they are the sort of walks that I might well have done by car in the past. Now I consciously opted to walk even when carrying Oakley to the vets for his annual check up. My three legged cat is no longer morbidly obese. It is hard to tell beneath his masses of fur but he has lost a good amount of weight. Perhaps too much, expensive blood tests are called for.

But I digress. Let's talk about me.I know my bloods will keep getting better. I am not kidding myself. I know I have a very long way to go but I am heading the right way. And I feel it already! My father would say that this is not the sort of matter a gentleman discusses but I am less tired in the afternoon and, more noticeably, I am pissing far less often. I am now almost excited abut what news tonight's blood test will bring.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Trouser Test - that was a pleasant surprise for a fat man

797 days ago

Too scared to actually go and use a pair of scales I measure how fat I am by what sized trousers I can fit into and also just how I, as a diabetic, I feel. If I am falling asleep in the afternoon that is bad. If I am full of beans that is good. This week saw a trouser test and I was amazed by the results.

My daughter had given me strict instructions about having to look smart for her teachers. I was conscious that my black jeans were all now deeply stained with ingrained olive residue, pain and had holes in all sorts of places. And thus the Mrs escorted me to the shops and I thought long and hard about what to try on.

For reference I was 32 inch waist aged 18 and again at the height of my rugby career aged 32 and once more when everything went wrong and I spent a summer walking around Greek and Albanian mountains pondering what to do with life. At peak fat I was a 44 inch waist. 34 inches is a size which shows that I am in good shape. And so I thought about it and decided to be realistic and try on a 38 inch pair..

Bugger me, they were just ridiculously loose. That was a very pleasant surprise indeed. And so I tried on a 36 inch pair expecting that I would have to breathe in and that after wearing them for a day i would be a high falsetto. But no, they are a comfortable fit. In fact almost a little bit on the loose side. I am a 36. That really is very good news indeed as I contemplate my next appointment with the diabetic quack.

A month or so house-building in Greece and I am confident that I shall be back at 34. As a perennial battler with weight and a man who worries about it greatly, the trouser test has cheered me up massively.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith is going to flee to Greece and close ShareProphets rather than fight Aidan Earley said the moron: think again - here is our Court filing

803 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27720/tom-winnifrith-is-going-to-flee-greece-and-close-shareprophets-rather-than-fight-aidan-earley-said-the-moron

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: from Jewish Vlachs to Avanti Coms - a business that can never ever work so is toast

808 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27589/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-from-jewish-vlachs-to-avanti-coms-a-business-that-can-never-ever-work-so-is-toast

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Postcard: lefty millionaire media tosser Paul Mason on Greece - you have it 100% wrong you despicable elitist POS

822 days ago

Yikes! I thought I was safe with Greek TV from the likes of Lineker & Graham Norton but then up popped commie media tart Paul Mason lecturing the poor bubbles on why the EU and the Euro was the only way forward. Mason is an asset millionaire. My neighbours here in Greece are starving, unemployed, emigrating and angry. Mason just has no idea and worse still he talks rot. Greece does have a choice and I urge it to take it.

Tom Winnifrith

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The smug fucking Kraut lecturing on why hard Brexit will screw England, here in Kambos - fuck you Nazi

826 days ago

I do not normally pay much attention to what folks on neighbouring tables say when watching the world go by in the Kourounis taverna in Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel where I hope to spend most of the rest of my life.  I just tap away at my keyboard or think about olives. But today I exploded as a fat and smug German explained to a couple of timorous Brits why hard Brexit would screw England and thus why we should "obey orders" and fall into line with what Germany, sorry the EU, wanted. I exploded.

Seventy years ago folks like him were shooting villagers around here, raping the women and setting fire to the houses. They too were just doing what Germany ordered. They too just thought that there was no other way to behave and that it was all part of creating a united Europe under German leadership. This guy had already opined on all the good stuff the EU had done for Greece to make it the happy place it is today and then he started on Brexit.

If we have a hard Brexit, this man said that the first thing that would happen would be that Scotland would vote for independence and that would really mess up England. Already riled by his comments about Greece I turned round and said " Since the Act of Union in only one year has Scotland subsidised England not the other way round. Do you not know that 88% of Scots are net takers from the State - if the welfare junkies wish to leave England good riddance. Maybe Germany can pay their benefits?"

There was a bit of a stoney silence before the Kraut started blathering on about how Germany was putting Trump in his place, etc, etc ,etc. On every issue he stated opinion as fact. He was always right. Smug bastard.

My friend George the Architect, who was sitting opposite me, was a little surprised as - even when dealing with delay after delay on our planning permit - he had not seen me this angry. But like most Greeks he is not wild about the krauts either and this man's comments on Greece had not impressed him much.

On my first night in Kambos I was struck by how much the folks there still loathe the Germans with a passion. Sure they can be polite to tourists even like this pig. Money is money. But deep down they cannot forgive and the hatred still burns with a real intensity.  Back in the UK, the liberal elite tell us that we must be good Europeans and not mention the war and when it comes to crazy EU diktats we must just be "Good Germans".

On days like this I feel that I fit in far better in Kambos than back in Britain.  

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: The Snow and Green green grass of Southern Greece

829 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?

Firstly the grass is a gorgeous green. Our house is half way between the village of Kambos and the mountains and it is almost alpine. Sadly it is not only the grass that has grown but also the accursed frigana, the thorn bush that is my sworn enemy. I will have to tackle it once again this summer with my strimmer.



But above the hovel lie the Taygetos mountains and as in December when I was here for the olive harvest they too are covered in snow on the higher peaks. Greece and snow are not the images most folks in Britain have in their minds. But from North to South this country sees global warming falling every year.

Tom Winnifrith

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FRAUD Cloudtag's Amit Ben Haim's got no balls - IT's OFFICIAL!

830 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27099/fraud-cloudtag-amit-ben-haim-s-got-no-balls

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - after 22 hours I arrive in the snowy Pindus Mountains of Greece

831 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27073/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-after-22-hours-i-arrive-in-the-snowy-pindus-mountains-of-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article Mike the Vlach arrives and I meet his sister as well

832 days ago

My father's oldest Greek friend Mike the Vlach was due back at three. This being Greece he was bound to be late and so his wife Alega insisted I hang on as the day dragged on. Heck I had travelled by bus for nine hours to get to Metsovo and then walked for an hour and a half to get to Anelion to see Mike, I was not leaving. I could not explain this but I sat there drinking coffee and enjoying a lunch of lamb, rice and a lump of feta, I was going nowhere.

Finally a taxi drew up and out stumbled Mike. He looked shocked for he had somehow got the impression that it was Tom Winnifrith my father who had arrived. Soon he realised it was micro Tom not Megalo Tom and warm embraces and kisses on both cheeks followed. We started to try to talk in German but it was soon clear that Mike's German learned as a 1970's Gastarbeiten was almost as bad as mine, learned in one year with Frau Freeman at Warwick School in 1981. And so I started to use google translate to search for German words. And then it hit me! Why not use the evil google just to translate straight to Greek?

Bingo. Mike asked a question in German and I was now serving up a written answer in Greek! With my steps included my father has 17 grandchildren, Mike was sad he has just two. My wife is younger than me ( by seven years). As a man who was 30 when he married Alega at 16, Mike approves of younger wives and made a sign like a sweet fruit. I am not sure my lefty Mrs would have approved of that. I told him of the sons of my sisters T and N, some kraut politician appeared on the TV and Mike agreed that Greece should follow our lead on Brexit. Mike has always been a right winger. Anelion was a Royalist not a Communist village in the civil war and so even when it was cripplingly poor it turned out solidly for New Democracy, the party of the right.

Mike spoke to my father, with pateras mu replying in Greek, Vlach and German

I mentioned Mike's sister who used to own a taverna at the heart of Anelion. And Alega took me to see her. And she too spoke to my father and there were more smiles and laughing.

Mike was keen that I stay for whiskey, food and that I sleep in Anelion. But I explained, thanks to evil Google, about the hovel and how I must leave early Saturday to travel the length of Greece to Kalamata. And so I left, by taxi, as it was by now very dark. I promised to come back with the Mrs and Joshua in the summer and then more hugs and kisses and all round happinness and I was off. Mission accomplished.

Admin

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Daddy couldn't you find Mike the Vlach on the internet?

832 days ago

So asks a daughter of the 21st century.The answer is that I could discover whether my father's oldest Greek friend is alive and make contact via the interwebby thing.

I tracked down a long lost cousin of my father's who had feuded with the family. He is a Mason living in Lancashire and we chatted very amicably. I managed to make contact with my father's American cousins, the offspring of the actress Anna Lee and now swap emails with cousin Jeff Byron, the man who gave Tatum O'Neill her first on screen kiss.. And I tracked down and met up with Pete Bowen, now living in Crete and one of the very few folks from the University of Warwick my father actually liked. I track down all sorts of folks as part of my job. Retired dentists once living in Denver or bitter ex wives who want to rat on fraudster husbands. No problem.

But that would not be as much fun as trekking up to the Pindus Mountains of Greece in the snow and wandering to the village of Anelion to struggle with minimal Greek, even less Vlach and a bit of rusty German. I think I remember where Mike's house was. I have no idea what I shall say. But that makes it more of an adventure does it not?

I do hope he lives. An overweight drinking smoker last time we met fifteen years ago and who must be seventy if he is alive I guess it is an evens bet. He was fit and thin as a young man so that must improve the odds as will him having lived on a traditional country diet. But I reckon it is an evens bet. Fingers crossed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Greece is not meant to look like this

833 days ago

Whenever I say to folks that I am off to Greece they always say "lucky you the weather will be so much nicer than in the UK". Au contraire. True, when I got to Athens airport at 4 AM (2 AM GMT) it was a balmy 9 degrees. I was so hot that i removed oone of my four layers of clothing. But as I headed North things started to change.

There was clearly snow on the mountains north of the bay of Corinth where poor Great Uncle David Cochrane fell to his death. And as we arrived at Arta I could see snow on the mountains above the plane.

When Uncle Chris called as I sat waiting at Ioannina for a change of bus, I had to explain to him about the Bridge at Arta. Poor form Mr Booker, it is famous and you call yourself a Hellenophile? Regular readers will know all about it and the emuring of the builder's daughter from this photo article here. I called the Mrs to remind her of the lunch we ate that sunny day by the bridge a few years ago when she was known as the Deluded Lefty not the Mrs.

At Ioannina there was snow on all the surrounding mountains as you can see in the photo below.



In Metsovo there is a bit of snow on the ground but not a lot as you can see.



But on the other side of the valley in the village of Anelion (without sun) where I head tomorrow there is quite a bit of snow and the fog is closing in as I hope this final photo makes clear.



In my bearcast today HERE I recount how my father was in a bus near Metsovo and the snow was so deep that it covered the poles. Did it carry on? Of course it did. My father insisted in his best Greek, Vlach and German.

Tom Winnifrith

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An apology to my sister T - about that vomiting on the Road to Metsovo

833 days ago

For about forty years I have teased my sister T about how when travelling on the bus from Ioannina to Metsovo she was always sick numerous times. Poor girl she was just not a great traveller. But I think, having just done that journey it is time to say sorry.

The roads, she will be delighted to know, have got better thanks to the EU money, aka your taxes folks, that used to be sent by the lorry load to Greece. There are now two tunnels through mountains that cut out miles of winding on loop after loop around mountains. I reckon what is now a 55 kilometre trip must have been 70 back in the day. And the journey lasted a mere ninety minutes which must be an hour shorter than it was in the 1970s.

But the roads are still bloody windy. The 1000 foot sheer drop as you climb above the plains of Ioannina at the start and look down on the vast lake with its sprawling reed banks and that charming island, where some mythical princess was imprisoned and left to die but where I have always wanted to go and never gone, made me feel queasy and the sharp bends and loop after loop were a tad unsettling.

I was not sick but thinking back to those hot summer days with a cranky old bus smelling of T's sick, I think her vomiting was more than understandable.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: The Red flags that flutter proudly at Techfinancials

835 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27023/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-the-red-flags-that-flutter-proudly-at-techfinancials

Tom Winnifrith

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Time to start the Field? A Childhood Memoir

840 days ago

I know. I know. I have made minimal progress at all with learning Greek or with the novel based out in Greece so why start a third project? Well I shall make progress on both of my major tasks this summer as I take six months away from full time writing to work on a building site, that is to say the Greek Hovel. So before I get Alzheimers...

Prompted by my jottings on the brutal world of Warwick School in 1977, a friend suggests that, while I can still remember my earlier years growing up on a self sufficient farm in rural Northamptonshire, I should start jotting down some tales from that time.

We lived in a village called Byfield until a year after the death of my mother. And at the centre of my life then was our field, the field. Most things of importance that I remember were linked to it in some way.

It was a very different world then. The second war was much closer, many villagers had been combatants and not all on our side. Transport links were bad enough that we were very much in the Countryside and cut off from urban sophistication. There was the world of self sufficiency and strange guest who came to stay. Most folks who feature in The Field are dead now. So I see no reason not to be candid.

And so I plan to start jotting down those memories here, one by one, until I can remember no more. If no-one else reads it will offer a link to Joshua to a world and people he will never know.

Tom Winnifrith

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Anelion - the name explained and my sister's panda

844 days ago

As you know, I head off soon for Greece and will be making a pilgrimage to the tiny village of Anelion in the snow covered Pindus mountains of Northern Greece. The aim is to see if my father's oldest Greek friend, Mike the Vlach, is still with us, as I explained here.

My sister N was, I think, seven when we first visited Anelion and she is today with my father so we chatted about the forthcoming trip. I had been puzzling about the name which means "without sun". My father offered up the Vlach alternative which means the same but which I cannot remember. He noted that Anelion is on the south side of a deep valley, Metsovo - from where I shall walk to Anelion - is on the North side.

Hence Anelion is deprived of sun by the mountains all around it for much of a winter day and so it will be far colder then Metsovo (minus 6 last night, just above zero today). It explains, perhaps, why Metsovo grew into a town and Anelion stayed as a village.

For my sister on that first trip the abiding memory was of her small panda, known by the Greeks as kukla. N was devoted to it and would burst into tears if, knowingly, parted from it for any time at all. On our last day in Anelion we walked with battered old suitcases and with my father carrying N down to the valley bottom and up the other side to Metsovo to catch a bus to Ioannina to begin the journey home.

Miss the bus miss the flights, there were few buses or flights in those days. As we arrived at the bust station N realised that kukla was missing. We searched our bags but it was nowhere. My father being a man who has never missed a train or bus in his life, punctuality being his middle name, had allowed a bit of time but the bus was due in 20 minutes.

It had taken us forty minutes or more to walk to Metsovo but Mike the Vlach started to sprint to see if we had dropped Kukla. He ran down the valley to where the rover flows and then he ran up the other side to his house where Kukla was lying on a bed. He then ran back, arriving a sweaty wreck but able to reach through the bus window and put Kukla into N's hand as we sat waiting for the bus which was, in true Greek fashion, running a bit late, to leave. The story of Mike the Vlach and kukla is one we all know in our family and one we could happily reference in conversation today.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith fleeing to hide in Greece...er no

845 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/26822/tom-winnifrith-fleeing-to-hide-in-greeceer-no

Tom Winnifrith

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Dreaming of Anelion - I feel I must go visit Mike the Vlach, whether he is still alive or not

850 days ago

In the high Pindus mountains of Northern Greece is a small village called Anelion, a place where we spent a number of childhood holidays. It was home to a man who was a friend of my father's, Mike the Vlach. It may still be, I have no idea if he is dead or alive. I was dreaming of Anelion last night and feel a very strong urge to go.

I am not sure how dad got to know Mike. I think that the first person to meet him was my father's mother Lesbia. This is a woman named after a Greek island and whose brother, David Cochrane, died falling down the mountain opposite Delphi. Greece is in the blood in our family. My grandmother had a real love of Greece and of languages and so it was she who introduced my father to the world of the vlachs.

Mike and his friend George came to stay with my family in the 1970s. We lived in an old farmhouse which he must have thought enormous. We had fields and the village sprawled over many square miles - through its heart ran the busy road from Banbury to Daventry. But Byfield in Northamptonshire had just one pub and it was pretty horrible. Anyhow George wanted to buy a tractor and Mike said my father could help. I cannot remember how that panned out but the two fellows from Anelion must have thought we lived in a very strange world.

When I first visited Anelion it was a real trek. We started in the air. A plane to Athens and another smaller plane to Ioannina. That was a bumpy ride and my sister T was almost certainly sick on that second flight. It was then a bus to the town of Metsovo. In those days before EU cash built nice roads that was a 4-5 hour slog in an old bus along windy mountainsides. T was sick many more times before we arrived. The road continued on but not to Anelion.

From Metsovo, carrying suitcases, my little sister N, her stuffed panda and God knows what else my father, a female student who would look after us, my sister T and I would walk down from Metsovo to the bottom of a valley where a river flowed all year, and then climb the other side of the valley to Anelion.

The village was a vlach village - that is to say the folks there spoke not Greek but the language my father has written about extensively. Formerly nomadic, vlachs live in Northern Greece, Albania, Southern Yugoslavia (now Macedonia) and into Bulgaria and Romania. The one vlach word I remember clearly is for man and is barba - that of course has the same derivation as our word barbour - it is from the Latin for beard. Equally the Vlach numerals are derived from Roman not Greek hence tzachs (not sure on spelling) is ten - it sounds a hell of a lot more like dix (French) than the Greek. Uno, dow, tris ( one two three). That is my vlach almost exhausted.

The houses of Anelion were perched on the hillside and a path ran through the village. In numerous tavernas men sat drinking 1 drachma glasses of local wine and playing backgammon.

I remember going to church on a Sunday. I stood with my father and the men downstairs. My sisters were with the women upstairs. I remember playing backgammon a lot. I remember that the toilet at Mike's house was a hole above which one had to squat. We did not like that! My father spoke to Mike in a mixture of Greek, vlach and German for Mike had - like so many Greek men in the 1960s and 1970s - made some money when Greece was so horribly poor, by heading off to Germany to become a Gastarbeiten. When I speak to Mike it is in my very broken German.

I visited Anelion some fifteen years ago with my father. You can now get there by road and the little old houses have - in many cases - been replaced by modern constructs. Far fewer people speak vlach, Greek dominates. Most of the tavernas have disappeared and the great god of TV is in every house. My father exchanged cards at Christmas for many years but a while ago that practice stopped. We do not know how his old friend is faring. Is he alive? We know not.

I dreamt of Anelion last night. Mike has been greatly on my mind and I have repeatedly said to my father that I am going to visit. In my dreams I decided not to drive to Anelion. Metsovo is, these days, a minor ski resort and the snow will be deep at this time of year in the Pindus so I really do not fancy driving on mountain roads with several feet of global warming on the ground. My father recounts one bus journey near Metsovo where the global warming was so deep that the snow poles on either side of the road just disappeared.

And so in my dream I walked from Metsovo. I do not know if anyone uses that old donkey path these days. But in my dreams I did. Anyhow a lot more happened but as I work out my schedule for the next couple of months I really must head back to Anelion.

Tom Winnifrith

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Aged 49 my child like obsession with snow makes me really jealous of folks in the North

860 days ago

If you are preparing for a five hour journey to work along snow covered roads or your pipes have just burst you may think that I am talking utter rubbish. But the lack of snow here in Bristol is really starting to annoy me.

Over in Greece there is lots of the white stuff on the mountains above the Greek Hovel and in fact far lower down as well. The Express tells us on a daily basis that Britain is braced for a deluge of global warming. Channel 4 News last night reported - with a straight face - about the threat of global warming ( as in the world getting hotter) but 24 hours earlier was reporting about how unseasonally cold weather ( and snow) across South East Europe and Turkey was hitting poor refugees. That, of course, was climate change.

But while the North is blanketed, here in Bristol we see almost nothing. I realise that I am a bit old to be building a snowman but as I talk to my daughter I share the excitement of what that might entail and exchanging a few snowballs with the Mrs is always fun. Above all I'd love Joshua to see snow for the first time.

So, reverting to childhood: where is the snow? It is so unfair!!!!

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek Hovel Update: the Mrs goes to Birmingham, I enjoy a large glass of wine with breakfast

862 days ago

The Mrs has a new best friend, the Greek consul in Birmingham. Once again she is trekking her way up to the frozen grim Northern post industrial wastelands in order to get more official forms stamped. Such is life in Greece. There are rules governing everything and always forms to fill in. Native bubbles rarely bother with many of them but some, such as this latest one which allows us to submit a building permit for the Greek Hovel cannot be avoided. Hence the trip to Birmingham.

After the Consul stamps our papers we can apply for the final permit needed to start work. We are told it will take three months so shall we call that six? With its booming economy, officials in Greece are under a lot of pressure don't you know?

Welcome to the first law of Greekeconomics: Unneeded regulation will always be created to provide public sector jobs. These are needed because the regulation kills off enterprise so creating unemployment.

It is the sort of madness that Jeremy Corbyn could well sign up to but the result is the mess that Greece finds itself in today. We can blame the EU and the Euro and the banksters and indeed all are to blame. But the inherent problem of Greece has always been a bloated and corrupt State supported by the entire political class.

While the Mrs heads off to the welfare safaris I find myself looking after baby Joshua and have done as suggested, taking him for a walk to what the Mrs terms her office, the Grounded Cafe. In this sleepy place the full menu does not start until four.

And thus at 2 PM I am on the breakfast menu, enjoying a full English with a glass of wine. Though I am oft accused of being a drunk this is, I think, the first time I have enjoyed alcohol with breakfast and is also my first booze since last week as enjoy an almost dry existence these days. Joshua - as is his wont - after a walk - sleeps soundly. For now.

Tom Winnifrith

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New Year Resolutions 2017

872 days ago

I did okay in 2016. The notable win being quitting smoking although that was not something I started until February 15. So I guess I don't need to start my 2017 resolutions right away. that is jolly useful as we still have a bit of Christmas cake and an excellent cheddar cheese from Uncle Chris to finish off. That brings me to resolution one.

I am a type two diabetic and have let things slip over the past year - perhaps to offset the lack of nicotine - I started to re-assert a grip in the autumn but its a long hard fight back. The annoying thing is that back in 2012 I had managed to get this illness under total control. Admittedly that was driven by dramatic weight loss as part of a near nervous breakdown but every cloud should have a silver lining.

And so resolution one is to take my medication faithfully.

Resolution two is to avoid alcohol and sugary drinks (no more ginger beer which, these days, really is my tipple of choice!) until the weight, cholesterol and body sugars are under some sort of control.

Resolution three is to eat more healthily. That starts after this weekend

Resolution four is a financial one. In 2012 when it all went so horribly wrong I reckon that I was worth minus £150,000. The coward's way out would have been to declare myself bankrupt but I did not take that route. I suppose I have too much pride. So these days money is less of a concern.

None the less there are still a few small debts to clear and the Mrs has to find a way to pay for the renovation of the Greek hovel. That is the goal for 2017. Clear all the liabilities. At that point I know that merely by doing the odd bit of scribbling I could support myself and more living in Greece. The downside is protected. If the Mrs wants to "re-align" her career we could call it a day and live from a bit of scribbling and olives. Getting to that place is a resolution in itself. You may say that it is ambitious but I see a pathway, a number of choices that I can make to deliver that. Choices I did not make in 2016 but will in 2017.

Resolution five is to slog my guts out to make UK Investor Show on April 1 a sell out success. We are pretty well advanced in that so it just requires a January "surge" and I think we are there. The deal with the Wray family is that if I can deliver that in 2017, our partnership will see the Wrays deliver far more in 2018 and I can do less and less.

And that brings me to resolution six. Four years ago the idea that I would have the most amazingly kind and stunningly attractive wife and also a three month old son would have seemed the stuff of fantasy. But I do. There are folks who covet wealth and material goods. That is not me. Joshua and the Mrs are far more rewarding. And so they deserve more of my time and I want to spend more time with them. Again wheels are in motion but they will spin far faster in 2017.

The Mrs heads back to work in June. And that will leave me as the primary carer. So less work. More nappy changing. Surely that is not a bad resolution for the New Year, albeit not a common one?

Resolution seven? Take regular exercise. If I lived in Greece that would be easy. There is always work to do in the snake fields and in walking into the village and back I'd burn a stack of calories. But in Britain I do sweet FA. I am a member of a gym but never go. That all has to change.

If I manage 5 of 7 that will be a triumph but after 2016's heroics in quitting smoking - which I thought impossible - I reckon anything is possible. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Video: The 2016 Christmas card from myself, my father & baby Joshua to the village of Kambos Greece

876 days ago

This may all be Greek to you but this is the Christmas message from myself and my father and my son Joshua to the folks in Kambos in the Mani near which our little house is located. Happy Christmas to everyone in Kambos especially those in the Kourounis taverna

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: The Christmas Tree is up with decorations from my life around the world

887 days ago

Today is the annual Christmas party held by the Mrs for her mad lefty friends, a Godless bunch who regard Christmas as having nothing to do with Christ. The normal score is that I do the cooking then, to avoid being emboldened by a few glasses of wine into pointing out that whatever they are saying is patent nonsense, I feign illness and go to bed. Let them believe that the world is getting hotter and the polar bears are all drowning and that all those who voted for Brexit are racists and that Donald Trump is the new Hitler and that the money tree exists. It's Christmas I'm not going to argue.

Anyhow, to prepare for this I put up the Christmas tree and decorated it with trinkets picked up around the world , a memory of places I have been. Ad thus there are decorations from: India, Israel, England, Wales, Greece, Dubai, the Isle of Man ( can you spot that one?) Canada, the USA, France and Ecuador (the Galapagos).

There is a special first Christmas for Joshua trinket someone sent and on top, to embarrass my daughter who turns 16 in 2017, is an Angel she created in paper aged 5. It has survived and, I hope always will.

PS. The poster behnd does indeed say Palestine. It belongs to the Mrs and though I find it enormously offensive we Zionists believe in free speech so whatever...

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Finding Uncle David's Gold Watch which survived his death in Greece

887 days ago

My father gave this watch to me some years ago and has now and again asked where it is. "Somewhere" I replied truthfully if evasively. I feared greatly that it had been stolen while my possessions were stored in London at the pizza place. I knew at least one of the staff was a thief so why not? This loss preyed on my conscience as when they found the body of my father's Uncle David in 1932 it was by his watch and passport that it was identifiable, having lain at the bottom of a Greek mountain for more than a year.

The story of the death of David Cochrane on the mountain opposite Delphi, now known as Kokranos mountain by the locals, is one that I followed up on the ground a couple of years ago as you can read HERE in a series of photo articles.

Dad and I are perhaps the only folks who really care what happened. I could not find where his body was laid to rest. I suspect it was in the village of Desfina not Delphi. The exact circumstances of the death of poor David are still unclear. My father leans to the account provided by David's Oxford friends who were in Delphi when David fell. I believe the villagers who flat out contradict the young Englishmen.

The one theory debunked by the discovery of the body with money and the watch was that put about by Sir George Young, the father of the current Sir George and a relative even before his daughter (my step mother) married my father. It is complex. Sir George insisted in a rather pompous fashion and with no evidence at all, that poor David had been murdered by Greek bandits. I have a letter to the Times from the Greek consul in London engaging with Sir George on this racist canard. David just fell.

Anyhow ou can read about the history of David and the photos I took on my quest to establish what actually happened HERE. The key thing is that the watch was found in a box I get out every year containing our Christmas decorations. As you can see it is now safe and sound, news I have relayed to my father as enormous feelings of guilt were lifted from my shoulders.

Tom Winnifrith

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Entering a den of Guardian readers in East Oxford I have to tell a white lie

889 days ago

For reasons that I shall go into at another time, I found myself in East Oxford with time to kill and so wandered into a rather scruffy looking cafe where the locals head in for a slice of granola cake and fairtrade coffee produced in a Nicaraguan commune. This is a middle class enclave where houses cost £600,000 but where everyone votes Labour, Lib Dem or Green and where Tory is a four letter word. It is easier to buy weed than a copy of the Daily Mail and on June 23rd anyone who did not vote Remain was outed as an intolerant bigot and drummed out of town.

I strolled in past two old codgers who were discussing some crime or other that the evil capitalists had committed and how the workers could put the world to rights. I found a seat, plugged in my laptop and ordered a coffee.

As I stood in the queue waiting for my coffee, some old bat wandered up to engage me in conversation with the sort of opening line that goes down well in these parts." I hear the Tories are going to close down our pensioner accounts at the Post Office."
Where to start?

a) Mind your own business you welfare dependent old crone - see if I care. And as it happens I am not sure they are.

b) Why should the hard working taxpayer subsidise an inefficient mechanism for paying out welfare? Go open a bank account at Barclays in Headington and stop whinging, you lazy old crone?

c) ...

It had to be c. The old bat was clearly a misguided old fool like everyone else in this part of the world but she can't help it. So it was c)

"I am sorry I live in Greece so really do not have any idea about the matter"
It worked. The old bat headed off to yak to the old codgers and pretty soon they were all agreed that the Tories were responsible for all the ills of the world. They were happy and I was left alone and had not upset any old lunatics by exposing them to facts which might just conflict with their deluded world view. That would probably have been viewed as a hate crime anyway.

Everyone's happy. Lying to leave a deluded lefty in blissful ignorance can be good.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Olives are not the only Fruit

892 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. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Sleep glorious sleep

894 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.

I normally sleep for only six or seven hours and so I awoke at 1.30 AM. But after a few emails and a bit more milk I was back in bed and only woke up again at nine. A day without alarm calls and twelve hours glorious sleep. I feel like a new man.

Outside the sun is shining, it is T-shirt weather and I can see small fishing boats heading out from Kalamata into the bay. It is a day for doing nothing other than a catch up on my writing inspired by my muses here in Greece.

Tom Winnifrith

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Norbert Hofer of Austria - Europe's first fascist leader since Franco? er..no

900 days ago

Many on the left are, these days, prone to label any populist right wing leader as a fascist. Or when that loses its meaning since it now covers so many folks they use the term Nazi instead. There is no evidence that Donald Trump or Nigel Farage or the editor of the Daily Mail want to gas the Jews or invade Albania and Ethiopia but hell why not lump them with those right wingers of old. And thus we are today being warned that Austria might elect Europe's first fascist leader since Franco in the shape of Norbert Hofer. As it happens it has not but then it never was!

I will not argue that Hofer is a nice guy or that many of his views are not deeply unpleasant. He is certainly very right wing indeed. But is he really a fascist? In ideological terms do his views really chime in with the Big State ideas of the original fascists of Mussolini's Italy. Almost certainly they do not. Populist right winger yes, fascist, the case is not entirely proven.

But there is a more clear cut reason why Norbert will not be the first fascist, or indeed Nazi, leader in Europe since Franco. And that is that between 1986 and 1992 the President of Austria really was a Nazi, that is to say Kurt Waldheim.

Kurt lied about his war record in his autobiography but we know enough of what he got up to here in the Balkans to know that it was not entirely without controversy. In early 1941, Waldheim was drafted into the Wehrmacht and posted to the Eastern Front where he served as a squad leader. By the end of the war in 1945 he was an Oberleutnant and it his activities in Greece and Jugolavia between 1942 and 1945 that are most interesting.

Over to Wikipedia:

By 1943, Waldheim was serving in the capacity of an aide-de-camp in Army Group E which was headed by General Alexander Löhr. In 1986, Waldheim said that he had served only as an interpreter and a clerk and had no knowledge either of reprisals against local Serb civilians or of massacres in neighboring provinces of Yugoslavia. He said that he had known about some of the things that had happened, and had been horrified, but could not see what else he could have done.

Much historical interest has centered on Waldheim's role in Operation Kozara in 1942. According to one post-war investigator, prisoners were routinely shot within only a few hundred meters (yards) of Waldheim's office, and just 22 miles away at the Jasenovac concentration camp. Waldheim later stated that "he did not know about the murder of civilians there".

Waldheim denied that he knew war crimes were taking place in Bosnia at the height of the battles between the Nazis and Tito's partisans in 1943. According to Eli Rosenbaum, in 1944, Waldheim reviewed and approved a packet of anti-Semitic propaganda leaflets to be dropped behind Soviet lines, one of which ended: "Enough of the Jewish war, kill the Jews, come over."

Ends.

For family reasons I wonder what Waldheim knew about the Jews of Corfu all 1795 of whom were rounded up in October 1944 and sent to Auschwitz via Patras in Souther Greece and Athens. Only 121 survived. The cattle cars that took those poor people to their death travelled through the region where Army Group E of the Wehrmacht was in control and Waldheim was a senior staffer there. It is inconceivable that Waldheim did not know what was going on and also of the cleansing of the Jews of Southern Yugoslavia and what is now Bosnia.

Europe's first fascist or Nazi leader since Franco is indeed an Austrian but the name in the frame is Waldheim not Hofer. Waldheim was a real Nazi, putting folks like Trump or Hofer in the same category trivialises the real evil of what went on in the 1940s.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: the storm clouds cover the mountains where the Greek Hovel lies

903 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/25629/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-the-storm-clouds-cover-the-mountains-where-the-greek-hovel-lies

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo: The global warming falling hard in the Mani Greece this year

903 days ago

I noted yesterday that the rain clouds were so thick that from the Kalamata sea front I could not see the start of the taygetus mountain range which winds its way down the Mani peninsula. Later in the day as I drove east towards the mountains the cloud had lifted and I could see clearly that there was already a good covering of global warming directly ahead of me in the higher reaches. It got better.

The Greek hovel lies in the lower reaches of the mountains up from the village of Kambos which is itself pretty high up. As you can see the view from the hovel is of snow clad mountains. I sense that it has fallen earlier this year and in greater quantities which is, of course, all down to global warming.

Up in Kambos there was a definite chill in the air and everyone was wrapped up warm.

I should say that today in Kalamata the sun shines, I have seen a few brave souls swimming in the sea and I am wearing a T-shirt and feel quite warm. But up in the mountains the snow is not melting - the dry river in between Kambos and the Hovel is still dry. The snow in the mountains merely waits for more to fall.

Admin

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Is Mosman Oil & Gas the worst run shitty little AIM oil company?

904 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/25600/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-is-mosman-oil-gas-the-worst-run-shitty-little-aim-oil-company

Tom Winnifrith

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German Finance Minister wants British cash for ten years after Brexit - surely we can say "fuck off?"

913 days ago

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has always been a bit of a bastard. Screwing Greece and causing misery across the Hellenic Republic was the high point of his career. Now he wants to go one step better and screw Britain even after we have left the EU.

Schauble granted an interview to the slavishly pro EU Financial Timesw in which he stated that even after Brexit, the UK would be bound by tax rules that would restrict it from granting incentives to keep investors in the country — and would also face EU budget bills for more than a decade.

Just how will Germany, sorry I meant the EU, enforce its tax bills? Will it send in the collection panzers if we do not pay? Perhaps this humourless creep needs to understand the idea of no taxation without representation.

But will we be alone in trying to leave the Evil Empire? By December 4 Italy could have an anti EU Government. In Austria the next President will almost certainly be the neo-fascist Norbert Hofer who is anti EU and another "outer", the frightful Marine Le Pen, is looking a better and better bet to break the glass ceiling in next year's French Presidential poll.

Schauble and the FT are part of a political/media elite that is taking an almighty kicking across the West. In that vein we should not discourage Wolfgang from speaking out. Every time he does so the "insurgency" grows more popular and the demise of the EU gets one step closer.

Tom Winnifrith

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As I wandered from Fleet Street to Ludgate Hill my mind wandered to Kambos and the Greek Hovel

916 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.

And thus I needed no map to walk from the pizza restaurant to last night's mining presentation which I attended in order to be disruptive. On the way, I made a call to lovely Eleni in the village of Kambos, the nearest settlement to the isolated Greek hovel to which I decamp in a couple of weeks.

Eleni would have been sitting in her taverna in the heart of the village ( population 538) with the place packed with the regulars, all local folks. At this time of year, very few foreigners venture to the Mani. Indeed in Kambos, since it is more than half an hour from the sea, tourists only ever pass through even in summer. They don't stay.

In the Kourounis taverna, everyone drinking and smoking there works with their hands to produce something real. Some may have outside jobs. My friend Vangelis, the man in the pink shirt, delivers for Dixons; Nicho the communist is a manager for an organic food company. But they, like everyone else have olive trees and will be gearing up to start harvesting already. Indeed I can't imagine there are many deliveries in austerity stricken Greece these days so that leaves more time for ones beloved olives. Others in the taverna are shepherds or goat-herds. All are somehow related to the land.

In London folks earn far more, rushing between meetings and shuffling bits of paper. Is there really any point to it or are most folks just playing a game and making money? But everyone bustles hither and thither from meetings to smart restaurants and back again. The cost of a meal for two where I was last night would keep me in food and drink in the tavernas of Kambos for a week.

The buildings as Ludgate Hill heads towards St Pauls are a mixture of old and new. A Wren church nestles next to a 1960s block. But then pretty soon you are at Paternoster Square a modern and impressive construct. They all sit side by side but the district is smart and contains many impressive buildings. There is a buzz and excitement as folks rush around London like the ants in our fields back at the hovel on a day when they are set to swarm. In Kambos there is no such buzz, no drive to make money and no vast choice of over-priced and pointless goods and services on which to waste your cash. There are no new buildings and in fact very little of note.

I am perhaps a bit hard on London in saying that I loathe it. I can see the point in visiting twice a year to see the ants rushing around. But it is not my world any more. More than a few days in London leaves me drained, exhausted and vaguely angry at the pointlessness and crass consumerism of the place. Bring on Kambos.

Tom Winnifrith

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Hooray - Great News just in from the Greek Hovel

930 days ago

A process that was meant to take just four weeks has taken four months but heck this is Greece we are talking about, the Scotland of the South. A third of adults in Greece work for the Government but nothing ever gets done. But today we have learned that the Architects Council has okayed our plans to redevelop the Greek Hovel. Phew.

We can now take that clearance and the Forestry permit to seek a building permit, a process which is meant to take less than three months. And at that point we can start the process of rebuilding at once.

My guess is that three Greek months is about six English months so we start rebuilding in May 2017 (three years after we bought it) and will thus be able to spend Christmas and the Olive harvest 2017 in Greece as a family

Tom Winnifrith

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Don't count your chickens...but some good news on the way from the Greek Hovel

947 days ago

The Mrs and I bought the Greek Hovel about 28 months ago. Naively we rather assumed that by now it would have been renovated and we could both head over to enjoy the forthcoming olive harvest in comfort. Au contraire. If there was an Olympic gold for bureaucracy then the Hellenic Republic would be winning it every year. But there is good news today.

You may remember that I had to make a few, ahem, adjustments to the land before submitting an application for forestry clearance. that is to say that I had to hack away 2000 square metres of snake infested frigana which I did in the summer of 2014 enabling us to submit a forestry permit after I had burned the evidence in February 2015. That should have taken three months. I think it came through after various misadventures in May 2016. Aha so we can now submit the building permit application said I?

Not so fast said George the Architect. First we need the approval of the architectural council but that will take just 4 weeks. We submitted on June 2nd. It will not surprise you to hear that we have yet to receive clearance. But this morning George says that the Council meets tomorrow and we are on the agenda. Hooray!

If we pass this hurdle then it is just the Building Permit which we will be ready to submit at once and should be given within three months. The Building inspectors are based opposite the office of George so he can harass them and says that he will. I have again raised the issue of bribes but am assured that things like that just do not happen in Greece. Whatever.

Three Greek Months is, about six to nine English months which means that we could well start rebuilding between April - when I fly out anyway - and June next year. Hooray!

Tom Winnifrith

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Nicola Sturgeon is living in a total dream world - the poisonous midget is delusional

948 days ago

Once again Nicola Sturgeon is insisting that if the evil right wing Tories take Britain out of the EU then she will do her utmost to get Scotland to leave the Union. Is her contempt for democracy more alarming than her delusional failure to grasp basic economics? It is hard to say.

The poisonous midget is clearly a great fan of referenda as long as the peasantry vote the right way. Sadly for her the Scots voted to stay in the Union and Britain then voted to leave the EU. She likes neither result so, as with all patronising lefties, she wants more taxpayers cash to be spunked on another vote so the oiks can vote "the right way". Repeat and rinse. One day the peasantry might do as folks like Nicola know to be in their best interests.

What is more amazing is that Nicola reckons that outside the UK, Scotland would be embraced as a new member of the EU. True, there are some EU officials so determined to snub and humiliate Britain that they might consider this wheeze for a second. But even they will look at the stark maths of such an idea and baulk.

Across the continent folks are rising up against their leaders who have spent billions on idiotic schemes, and on themselves, leaving the ordinary people of Europe to foot the bill. In Holland, Italy, Germany and France those politicians who have supported such profligacy in the name of a project that serves only the elites, will be swept from power over the next twelve months. As such who is going to want to take on Scotland.

The reality is that Scotland is an economic basket case. The budget deficit to GDP ratio in Scotland is 9.5%. In the UK as a whole it is 3.32%. That, by the way is among the highest in the EU - higher even than that of Greece. With UK debt to GDP now at 88% we as a nation should be pretty worried and that deficit number combined with a commitment from Phil Hammond not to deal with the deficit is one big reason the pound is slumping.

For Britain, a good way to cut the deficit in a meaningful manner would be to get rid of Scotland and so personally I'd be delighted if the poisonous midget leads her folks off into the economic wilderness. But with an average Eurozone debt to GDP ratio of 92% but budget deficit to GDP ratio of just 1.86% why on earth does Ms Sturgeon think for a second that the EU would want to take on board the Greece of the North to add to the Greece of the South.

At least the Southern Greeks have faced real austerity and are starting to get their budget deficit under control. The Greeks of the North are spending cash from the Money Tree like it's going out of fashion. At some stage Nicola and her welfare addicted countrymen are going to realise that nobody else in Europe wants to pay for Scotland's spendathon.

The poisonous midget may hate her fellow Britons but she should thank her lucky stars that we are so stupid that we keep subsidising her folly and that of her countrymen.

If the wee midget wants the hard data showing why the EU wants to ake on Scotland like it wants to hand out warm sick to its schoolkids to drink, there is a handy debt clock HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Happy Days: guess what I found hidden in the car boot?

967 days ago

I was rooting around in the car boot for some bags for Sainsbury's and guess what I found? Hint: it is from Greece, it looks like water and it made my day as I had run out of the stuff many weeks ago.

That means that it is ouzo o'clock

Tom Winnifrith

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Alex Tspiras PM of Greece says EU betrayed his country - no Alex you betrayed your people

973 days ago

It is a bit off the radar screens of the mainstream media right now but life in Greece grows ever more miserable. Nothing works. The poor are getting poorer and hope has just gone. But of course PM Alex Tspiras, a man reminiscent of Tony Blair in all the worst ways, will accept none of the blame.

I linked to a report earlier on how folks now cannot even afford bread and how Greeks are responding. This is not just in Athens but across the land. Thanks to "reforms" implemented by Tspiras at the behest of the EU and IMF, pensioners must now live on 9 Euro a day. Despite the EU bodge agreed with Turkey which saw our isolamofascist neighbours pick up a 6 billion Euro bribe, economic refugees still arrive on Greek shores daily and Greece must foot the bill.

Is there any sign of the supply side reforms we were promised which might create real jobs in Greece? Precious little. The Mrs and I learned today of yet another bureaucratic delay stopping us from starting to rebuild the Greek Hovel. It is a pointless delay caused by one of the daft bureacrats on the state payroll trying to justify his job and it may last for months and months. We are now 18 months into seeking planning permission and there is no end in sight.

Give us that permission and 240,000 Euros will be injected into the Greek economy at once creating jobs for several men who currently stand idle. Once the hovel complex is rebuilt there will be more visitors going to Greece, more cash into the economy. But one of the 2.5 million jobsworths paid by the Greek State is again delaying matters. We do not know who it will just stay that way and Tspiras has done nothing to deal with these sort of issues.

And so the cleverer and more ambitious young folk continue to leave. The population gets older and poorer and hungrier.

Last year the Hellenic Republic voted Oxi!, No!, to all of this. We voted no to the EU imposed austerity. It was Tsipras who lead the Oxi! campaign but then went and agreed to more austerity from the EU. It was Tsipras who betrayed Greece not the EU. The EU just screwed the Greek people but it was upfront about saying that it would do just that. It did not lie. It betrayed no-one.

Alex said the other day: "I would say that what is creating conditions of delay in regaining trust of markets and investors ... is the constant clash and disagreement between the IMF and European institutions."

No Alex, what is needed is quite simple. Greece should leave the Euro and go back to the drachma. that would effectively get rid of the debt in that Greece could repay in worthless new drachmas from the printing presses. Tough luck banksters but that will be your problem not ours.

As the drachma collapses in value, as it surely will, there will be a tourism boom and real inward investment and that will allow Tsipras the leg room to fire hundreds of thousands of the jobsworths on the state payroll and to let the private sector flourish.

Tsipras could have done that, with a mandate from the Greek people, last year. But the odious little man rather enjoys hob nobbing with other PMs and Presidents as an equal within the EU. Tsipras betrayed Greece and put himself first. He will go down in history as a Traitor for that but there is still time for him to change the way he is viewed, one last push for Grexit and he could be a hero.

But, sadly for Greece, the odious Blair clone is unlikely to go down that path. Instead it is easier to blame others as het gets on a jet plane for another summit and more high jinks on the World stage.

Tom Winnifrith

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Going back to the gym after er... a long break

975 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.

The presence of my in-laws is not helpful since I am constantly offered very pleasant South Indian food and also chocolate. But they depart tomorrow and at that point i am the master of the kitchen and shall cook nice food for the Mrs but restrict myself to a spartan diet.

I know this is not terribly PC in that I should take no responsibility at all for my own weight and instead rely on an army of state funded counsellors to help me all the way while insisting that it is my human right to have the NHS fit a gastric band. But I am no slave to political correctness so I am taking responsibility for my own body and have also joined a gym.

In my early thirties I worked out three days a week and either trained or played rugby on three other days. On the seventh day I would rest with a game of tennis or a swim. But that was a long time ago. By the time, yesterday afternoon, that I had walked 600 yards to the gym owned by Perry, the flagbearer for our local Tories, I was already feeling that I had done enough. But Perry greeted me with a smile and I did my own workout for an hour surrounded by half a dozen incredibly muscular men. This is a "man's" gym that I appear to have joined.

Perry is in good form as we discussed how both Labour Councillors for our part of Bristol have now been suspended by the People's Party for being nasty about those who opposed comrade Corbyn. But the main task at hand is dealing with my weight. There is no time for gloating at the chaos and mutual hatred amomg the Comrades.

Today, Perry took charge and I did a session of his own creation. Climbing back up the hill afterwards I wondered if I would make it home at all. But I did and now have 24 hours to recover before tomorrow's session which Perry has already planned. It is now 81 days to the olive harvest in Greece and I have two stone to shift and my upper body muscles to sort out. Wish me luck.

Tom Winnifrith

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BREAKING: InternetQ- was I right about the dodgy Bubbles after all? Companies House shocker emerges

989 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/23521/breaking-internetq-was-i-right-about-the-dodgy-bubbles-after-all-companies-house-shocker-emerges

Tom Winnifrith

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Jason Bourne - the Greek scenes cannot be for real as any Hellenophile knows

990 days ago

The fifth film in this series, with the simple title Jason Bourne, has won mixed reviews but the Mrs and I really enjoyed an afternoon showing yesterday. For us, naturally, the early part of the movie shot in Greece was a hoot.

For those who do not know Bourne, he is a CIA agent from a top secret programme - Treadstone - who went off the rails and pops up every few years to find more corrupt bastards inside the CIA who want to kill him but who he kills first. Ching ching, more money for Matt Damon and come back in a few years for another installment.

Anyhow, Jason (Mr Damon) is in Greece and the film is set at the time of all the anti austerity riots in 2015. Boy those were the days with great riot porn at Syntagma Square almost 24/7. So I was enjoying that bit and recognising familiar streets and places I know well when suddenly the CIA realise that Bourne is there and start tracking him by hacking into cameras operated by the Greek rozzers across Athens. What? You have to be kidding me right?

I am sure the CIA has the technology to hack into a working surveillance network anywhere in the world. But in Greece? The idea that the Greek Rozzers would have a system that actually works is crazy. They might have bought the kit in the good times with EU cash but no-one has had the cash to replace batteries, supply power, mend broken parts for years.

Back in the 70s were were in a remote Greek village called Anelion in the Pindus mountains, with my dad trying hard to make a phone call to sort out some travel matter. My poor father just could not get through. "Dad, dad are you sure you know how the phone works" asked three annoying children. "I know full well...it doesn't" said an increasingly exasperated father. That was Greece then and now. Mr Damon should have done his homework better.

Tom Winnifrith

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Getting old, my father falls, back to Shipston

1018 days ago

I came back from Greece on July 2nd and then spent barely five days away from Shipston in that month. My step mother died on the 14th and was buried nine days later. My father, in his old world way, did not "emote" as all around him wept. He said almost nothing. I have no idea what he was thinking or is thinking. One big question was how, when he was finally left alone, would he cope? I worried.

On the first day after I headed back to Bristol, friends visiting from New York popped in to buy him lunch at the Horseshoe, his Sunday lunching pub. My sister T swooped on day two. On day three I got a call. My father had fallen and was in agony as he waited for the ambulance. He could not move.

His replacement hip had popped out. The folks at Warwick Hospital operated within two days and he now sits there recovering and reading some left of centre books dropped off by sister N.. My step sister F and both sisters saw him in the early days. I headed up Friday and saw him Saturday and Sunday. On Monday he was alone but I'm back for a swift visit today. My main purpose in heading North is to assemble a special bed which arrived yesterday so that my father can get a discharge with the NHS happy that he can live downstairs. He won't be climbing stairs for a while.I shall also be dropping off some more suitable reading material: The Reagan Diaries, Paxman on the English and, to please my smug liberal sisters both of whom are married to half Germans, a good tome on how the Krauts were all in on it with Adolf "Hitler's Willing Executioners."

In a pleasant symmetry my father's loathsome cat will also be hospitalised today after coming second in a fight with a larger moggy. Kind neighbours look after the wretched Obie, a cat who hates all humans other than my father whom she adores. Fingers crossed both Dad and Obie will be home and on the mend by later this week. All siblings and step siblings will then be on holiday so I shall be in Shipston once the intensive 72 hour NHS home care period is over. We will bodge along. We will make a few changes to the routines in Shipston and see how things go.

There are six of us. My step siblings hav insisted they want to do all they can for a man who was married to their mother for 28 years. They are all wonderful. There are tensions elsewhere. I have let rip by email a couple of times, feeling that sister T is sledging me or has sledged my father. T emailed my wife two weeks before our wedding day urging her to call things off. To say that we have a close relationship would be an untruth. We disagree about the way forward. That is all for the future. Meanwhile we muddle on by.

My fathers friend M was meant to visit Dad in hospital yesterday but had an "off" day so my father had no visits. M explains his "ageing issues" when I drive him from Leamington to Shipston to see my father or by phone. Getting older has its advantages. Getting old seems pretty grim. I cant say I relish the prospect.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Labour battle of promising ever more insanity & unelectability: Corbyn vs Smith

1025 days ago

Every day I receive at least one text message or email from either Comrade Corbyn or Comrade Smith as they each seek my support to become the man to take Labour over an electoral precipice. For as each day goes on they make promises that are more and more insane.

Remember that the UK has a budget deficit of c£50 billion a year and as the global economy slows that number will probably get bigger as the next election approaches. It was always a Tory lie from George Osborne that he would eliminate the deficit. His successor Hammond has just given up on fiscal prudence from day one. UK Government debt is now c£1.58 trillion or c 82% of GDP.

When debt goes past 90% of GDP that, in itself, starts to restrict growth. Remember that even at current all time low interest rates, which will not last forever, we are already spending some £45 billion a year just servicing, paying interest, on our existing debt. that is more than we spend on, say, defence.
Yesterday Comrade Owen Smith promised that if he wins the Labour leadership and becomes PM. which is about as likely as me shagging Cherlyl Cole and the entire Dallas Cowboys cheerleader squad by the start of September, he would immediately launch an extra spending plan on this that and the other worth £200 billion. That gets debt to GDP past 90% at a stroke. Well done Comrade Smith. You have bankrupted the country, do not pass Go! Do not collect £400 because all the money's gone.

But today Jezza reminds me by email that he is committed to a £500 billion investment programme, backed up by a new National Bank. That may sound like it is real money but really it is just more borrowed money. Under Comrade Corbyn debt to GDP, ceteris paribus, zooms to 105% on day one. Anything owen can do, Jezza can do better. Way to go Jezza, that would be just over 10% lower than where Greece was just before it toppled into a vicious spiral of GDP deflation and debt inflation as it had to borrow more and more just to meet interest payments. Now Greece is at 175%.

Truly this is a competition of who can make the most outlandish and totally unsustainable pledge in the happy knowledge that Labour is so totally unelectable that neither man will get to trainwreck the economy with their crazy schemes. That Comrade Smith who would push us past the bankruptcy inflexion point on day 1 is the more moderate candidate shows just how far into la la land Labour now operates. Needless to say, since Comrade Jezza is winning this crazy auction of insanity, the bearded loon is ever more certain to secure my support in the actual contest.

It shows how out of touch both men are with "ordinary working folks". They do not see debt as a virtue. They may look at Greece, Portugal, Spain and Eire and see that when countries drown in debt, the rich businessman, media and political elites still have enough cash to dine out. It is the poor, the old, the young and the sick, the vulnerable who get crushed.

There is nothing Socialist about bankrupting your country but who is going to point this out to the Labour Party?

Tom Winnifrith

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After two days of scorching heat in a small island off Europe, the global warming nutters cream themselves

1037 days ago

The computer models from the UEA were all wrong, the data was manipulated and the world has not got hotter since 1997 as the global warming nutters predicted. Michael Mann can stick his made up hockey stick where the sun don't shine, however much carbon he emits. It was all a scam so global warming became climate change.

As I enjoyed 40 degree heat in Greece in May and June I thought to myself, gosh it is summer and I am in Greece and it is hot, well there's a surprise. Back in Britain it was apprently very wet and cold and the global warming nutters stayed silent for a while.

But then for the past two days it has been very hot indeed, by British standards, at 32 degrees in some places.

It will be cooler today but after the two day scorcher of a summer in one small group of islands offshore Europe the nutters are out in force. Clearly the whole world is getting hotter. We are all going to die. Shut down all coal fired power stations and shoot anyone driving a car. Send saint fucking Bono on a private plane to speak to the UN about it. We must act fast. Chicken Little just said so on the BBC.

Admin

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Nicola Sturgeon: why would the EU want Scotland? it has enough basket cases and idlers already

1040 days ago

Nicola Sturgeon seems amazed that EU leaders are not lining up begging Scotland to join the Evil Empire as soon as possible. It has not dawned on her that, set to lose a major benefactor in form of the United Kingdom (in reality England plus the Celtic scroungers), the last thing it wants is to take back the welfare addicted nation of idlers that is Scotland. Heck the EU alread has the economic basket case that is the Real Greece why would it want the wannabee Greece of the North as well?

88% of Scots are net takers from the State. The entire Scottish political class seem to be born again Money Tree believers with no concept of Fiscal prudence because they know that since 1707 the ever grateful English have been picking up the tab for the whims and follies of those North of the border.

If Britain gets to leave the EU the initial saving is £350 million a week. Jettison the smelly socks as well and that number goes up sharply. It is a win win for us here in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is party time.

But why on earth does the poisonous midget from Edinburgh things that the EU wants to admit another mouth to feed, another nation stuffed with obese welfare junkies with a sense of entitlemnent? The EU deck already contains far too many cards of that nature, the last thing it wants is another in the form of Scotland.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - the House of Paddy Leigh Fermor in Kardimili part 4

1040 days ago

I sit here now in Shipston with my father, trying to persuade him to come to Greece for the olive harvest in December. It is not that he would be much good in terms of picking olives. I suppose he might lean against a tree up at the Greek Hovel and bash the branches with his walking stick. But I think his role should be more concerned with drinking ouzo with the older men of Kambos so that my liver is preserved and I can play a full part in the harvest working with George the Albanian and his family.

The Greek Hovel seems a long way away. As does the house of all round superhero Paddy Leigh Fermor which I visited with my wife and my father and step mother. on June 8 It was only five weeks ago but things moved fast for my step mother on her return. She enjoyed this last Greek trip as you can see.

There are a couple of internal photos in an earlier article HERE. Below are photos of the dining area, the courtyard, the steps down to the sea and the sea itself and of myself, my father and step mother sitting inside the main entrance.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: The last view of Kambos until December

1040 days ago

It was my last evening in Greece. I felt sad both to be returning to Britain and because of the reason that I was returning early. having been blown out on my hot date with the amazing woman, I drove from the abandoned monastery not back to the hovel but to the village one last time for supper. Having problems parking in the Centre of kambos I continued on the main road out of the village seeking a place to turn.

As one leaves the village you start to climb the base of a hill on whose top stands the Frankish castle of Zarnata. As the road heads round a bend there is a parking and turning spot where I stopped the motor. Looking back below us is a ruined tower house which sits just above the Mycenaean tombs, the real hidden gems of Kambos. Behind them lies the village and on a clear day from this spot you can even see the hovel in the very far distance.

Tom Winnifrith

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Can we emigrate if Andrea Leadsom becomes PM? I ask the Mrs politely

1047 days ago

Before every big election there are always a few luvvies who threaten to emigrate if the reactionary forces of nationalism and eveil capitalism (which have made them so stinking rich) are seen to triumph. That is to say we the plebs are told vote Labour/Remain or the luvvies are off. Paul O'Grady, aka drag Queen Lily Savage. notably said he'd flee the UK and his luxury London apartment and Kent farmhouse if the wicked Tories won in 2015.

O'Grady has, of course, refused to leave. What is his problem? Surely he knows the way to the airport? Or are his vast fees paid by the BBC and extorted in a regressive poll tax from the poor and working classes, just too much of a reason to stay in Britain?

After each contest when the smelly peasants fail to do what the luvvies want the luvvies renege on their promises to emigrate, much to my disappointment. Go on O'Grady feck off and perhaps the poll tax (license fee) might be reduced so making the poor better off. Better still O'Grady, take Graham Norton. Kirsty Wark and Gary Lineker with you and the savings will really start to rack up.

So now the lying and unpleasant bankster, bigoted Andrea Leadsom may well become our next Prime Minister. As you may know, I want to live in Greece but the Mrs is not so keen on the plan. But I felt confident that she would, as one of life's Guardian readers, be really very hostile to a Leadsom premiership. So i asked "should we emigrate if Leadsom wins?" I do not actually fear Andrea being PM that much although I'd rather not see her inane grin on TV every day but I hoped the Mrs would, and would thus agree to my plan.

"Don't be so silly" I was told. The Mrs views Leadsom as a ghastly bigot but as a Guardian reader that is pretty much how she views all Tories. She is not frightened by her. And thus my cunning emigration plan has been foiled. I cannot make the threat even, like Mr O'Grady, without actually meaning it.

Tom Winnifrith

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Back in Warwickshire, Almost Everything changes in three weeks

1052 days ago

The first big shock was when our car pulled up outside my father's house in Shipston. Up ambled by step brother T who greeted us warmly and then up strode a rather sexy looking woman who I did not recognise at all. Had T found a new wife and not told us? The old rogue. These teachers: we know what they get up to in all their vast amounts of spare time and holidays. Reading weeks my arse. So who was this stranger?

It was only when she started speaking that I realised it was my step sister L. Shockingly she has not only cut her long hair but also stopped dying it brown and is now - like her mother and brother completely grey. It is odd how that change of hair colour and style acts as a total disguise. I must remember that, the next time the FCA tries to stitch me up and forces me to go on the run.

The was not the real shock though. It was just over three weeks ago that my father and step mother were with me in Greece. He is pretty immobile and so my step mother was the driver and his carer. But during that trip her illness worsened and she was barely able to keep any food down. Things have now deteriorated to the extent that last week she moved into a hospice just down the road from my old school in Warwick.

We visited yesterday with my father and a woman who'd been walking, swimming, drivimng and chatting three weeks ago was thin, quiet and visibly tired huddled under a blanket staring out onto a communal lawn. Everything has changed.

Today she is coming back to Shipston for a few hours to, in her words, say goodbye to friends, the garden and the vile cat Obie who hates everyone in the world bar my father and step mother. Pro tem I will stay up here with my father and the miserable Obie until the weekend. Though siblings and step siblings communicate constsantly by email it is rather hard to plan more than a few days ahead.

The Guardian has just dropped through the front door. My father makes a point of taking the loathsome rag in for my step mother to read. I ask is she not suffering enough? My father, of course, needs to get a balanced view so - as has been the case for years - will have to go to the pub just to read the Telegraph in the interests of balance.

It is not as if he wants to go to the pub you understand, it is all about balance. That daily ritual is not something that changes although with his stroller it takes an eternity for him to walk to and from the White Bear.

Tom Winnifrith

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My father and his twenty five penises

1058 days ago

Some people are just good at languages. The Mrs speaks perfect English (for a Northerner), very good Swedish and very acceptable Greek. Some of us are bad at languages. Other than English I speak poor French and a smattering of Greek, Latin and German - all poorly. And some of us are bad at languages but think we are rather better than bad. I think of my father.

For I am sitting in Miranda's taverna in Kambos enjoying a lunch of chicken and peas before returning to the Greek Hovel for some frigana slashing. The roast chicken is not bad, the peas are amazing. And I laugh as I think of my father and the chicken.

Many years ago, as he travelled around rural Greece, some villagers asked him what animals he kept. Since my parents were into self sufficiency there was a good choice and my father announced loudly that he owned twenty five chickens. There was a stunned silence as he had plucked the wrong word from the ether. The assembled crowd looked at him in a strange way. Did he really have 25 penises? Someone explained.

Perhaps my father shoukd have remembered his French oral exam aged 13. He was asked "quelle profession a ton pere?" Unable to remember the word for civil servant, he replied "mon pere est mort" and looked sad. Straight A. Nailed it.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Ouzo O'Clock in Kambos Greece on the UK's Independence Day

1063 days ago

last night I met an amazing woman here in Kambos. More on that later but I am in awe. Then it was watching the Brexit results on the BBC on the internet as the smug biased lefties had to come to terms with how the great unwashed had given them and the rest of the elite a total kicking. I tried to get two hours sleep but a drunk comrade from the Eurosceptic trenches, Lucian Miers, woke me up. So I worked a bit and then slept. By 2.30 PM it was ouzo o'clock. So I headed to Miranda's as you can see below and raised a class to Boris, Priti, Nigel, Michael et al but also to my late grandfather Sir John Winnifrith and my Uncle, Chris Booker, who was in a fine mood today. Cheers to you all.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: 40 degree heat with the snakes including Phil Crawford of Lombard Risk

1068 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21524/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-40-degree-heat-with-the-snakes-including-phil-crawford-of-lombard-risk

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo: The Mrs at Mistras - a stunning view

1068 days ago

It was towards the end of the visit by the Mrs to Greece that we drove up to Mistra, a place that I had never visited before. I shall do a three part photo series on the trip shortly - as i while away my evenings at the Greek Hovel - but on the off chance you are planning a trip to Greece soon ensure that you visit this incredible place. Meanwhile here is the Mrs offering a side profile which now reminds me of East Anglia. She looks amazing don't you think?

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Caption Contest: Morbidly Obese 3 legged cat on Farage

1071 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21381/friday-caption-contest-morbidly-obese-3-legged-cat-on-farage

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs heads home from Greece - life without her is very different, I'm back at the Hovel

1071 days ago

British Airways staff were again brilliant today. On Saturday I arrived at Kalamata airport with a barely mobile father and weak step mother. Within minutes a cute airline lady had helped me get a wheelchair for my father and i was told my job was over. The lady put them at the front of the line and I had nothing more to do. Today it was the turn of the Mrs. We arrived and the small departure lounge was again heaving with lobster pink Northern Europeans forming long lines to check in for flights to London and Paris.

I found a different cute airline lady and said that my wife was heavily pregnant, as she is, and within minutes she was again at the head of the queue leaving dozens of the lobster pink Brits and froggies fuming behind her. Then she was through passport control and was off and I headed back to town to face another three to four weeks at the Greek Hovel with just the snakes and rats for company.

When the Mrs is here I am on holiday so I only work 3-4 hours a day at my PC and I do no manual labour at all. I enjoy three meals a day and more than the odd drink. "After all we are on holiday" say I as I order another ouzo. I get to sleep on clean sheet in an air conditioned hotel and enjoy swims in luxury pools. The Mrs is paying and it is a treat. I enjoy my hols with the Mrs. We talk, we plan, we discuss. Life without the Mrs is very different.

Aware that I will have gained a few pounds while she has been here I want to lose weight badly, as I did do in my first stint here this summer. So it will be down to one or two meals a day and by meal I mean a greek salad. There will be virtually no boozing. And there will be hard labour in the fields every day. Greece with the Mrs is perhaps not very good for my figure but it is a holiday. You may think that I remain on holiday just because I am here and not in the Bristol house. But I made that mental leap two years ago. The Greek Hovel is as much my home as Bristol is and it is where I work hardest and most effectively.
I stopped off in Kalamata to watch the footie and made it back to the hovel at six. So guilty was I about my waistline that I abandoned writing work for the day and headed out to the fields. I know that late evening olive pruning risks encounters with the wildlife diversity but I could not wait to work up a good sweat and feel like I'd done something really productive. I thought I'd just do one tree but then I did another and another. All in all I was just into double figures on trees when I cut my finger on something and took that as a sign to call it a day.
I wandered in and Nigel Wray called. It turns out that he has two massive olive trees outside a house he owns....maybe I could become a full time itinerant professional olive tree pruner. It is just so relaxing. It is almost addictive.

Tom Winnifrith

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TomWinnifrith.com comes out for Remain and against Brexit - Don't say its true: help me comrades

1072 days ago

Apparently this website which is four years old this week, TomWinnifrith.com is plastered with adverts for the Remain Camp in the Brexit debate. It seems that on this website you cannot avoid the tax exile Sir Richard Branson and his ghastly lies. A reader asks if I have changed sides? Oh no, major Tom, don't say its true...

Euroscepticism is in my DNA. Chris Booker is my maternal uncle, my paternal grandfather Sir John Winnifrith was a "leave" spokesman in 1975 but as I explain HERE I have already voted for Brexit with my head as well as my heart.

Google serves up adverts on this site based on what is written here. I write a lot about Brexit so there are stacks of adverts from those bankrolled by Goldman Sachs, the CBI et al who have money to burn and a view to push.... that is to say Remain. If I wrote about how to fiddle your welfare benefits google would in the same way serve up adverts aimed at people living in Liverpool. You get how it works, right?

Now every time that you dear reader, who I assume is smart enough to be a Eurosceptic, hits on an advert from Remain two things happen. I earn a few pence for the ouzo fund and Project Fear spends a few pence of Goldman's blood money. Both events are ones that should make you happy.

And so every time you see Sir Richard Branson smiling at you on this site or another ad for "Remain" do the decent thing and hit that advert as many times as you can. Click on the tax dodger Branson's smug face and think of how my ouzo fund grows and how at last some of the money Goldman Sachs screwed from Greece cooking its books so it could enter the Euro, is finding its way back to the Hellenic Republic and a good cause.

Comrades: do it for Greece, do it for Brexit, start hitting those Remain adverts as often as you can bear.

Tom Winnifrith

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Oh dear, Oh dear... it is savage wage cuts at the Evil Empire, the death star is failing

1075 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21285/oh-dear-oh-dear-it-is-savage-wage-cuts-at-the-evil-empire-the-death-star-is-failing

Tom Winnifrith

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Paddy Leigh Fermor's House visit part two- yes of course poor people must subsidise the upper middle classes

1075 days ago

Much to the chagrin of the patrician twit who did not want a scruffy bearded fellow like me to gain admittance to the house of Paddy Leigh Fermor here in Kardamili, after much huffing and puffing my father made his way up a gentle slope and we passed through a large blue door and were in. We all headed straight for the library where most of the other folks on the tour were assembled.

A member of the English upper middle classes was quizzing the Greek lady in charge on how they were to fund the restoration of Paddy's place. Frankly it seems in far better nick than the houses that 99% of Greeks live in but that is not the point. This is a place where predominantly British folks can go to pay their respects to a great master of the English language who opted to make his life here in Greece. In due course the house is to be rented out for three months of the year at commercial rates as Paddy instructed. Thus the rent from loaded investment banksters will allow poor writers (me?) to use it as a retreat for the rest of the year. But what of the repairs?

The member of the British upper middle classes said loudly "have you asked the Greek Government for money?" The woman looked back amazed that she appeared to have met the one person on this planet who was unaware that the Greek Government is not exactly awash with cash. In response to her silence, the pompous member of the British Establishment asked "well what about the EU then?"

Let me translate for your benefit what this posh twit believes. Poor people across Europe but especially here in Greece should pay more taxes because as we know taxes are for little people, that is to say most are regressive. That will allow Governments which have no money of their own, or in the case of Greece no money at all, to refurbish a house built and lived in by an Englishman who wrote books that are overwhelmingly read by middle and upper class Brits so that the same rich Brits can have a more pleasant summer holiday as they visit his house. Jolly good show.

It is, of course, the way the UK National Lottery works. Overwhelmingly it is played by the poor and stupid. They put the money in and a good chunk goes to subsidise activities such as the theatre and opera which are overwhelmingly enjoyed by the upper classes.

The intonation of the questioner at Paddy's house was clear. This is the natural order. It is the way the world works and should always work. I bit my lip and said nothing not wanting another dirty look from my opera loving upper class step mother.

Tom Winnifrith

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This Blog is 4 years old - Happy Birthday: my top twenty stories & 20 Greek stories

1075 days ago

I see from numerous congratulations messages from folks who I do not know, sent via LinkedIn, that I am celebrating another anniversary. Having checked it out it appears that www.TomWinnifrith.com is four years old. It was a very strange birth indeed.

For it was back in June 2012 that I formally left Rivington Street. The board wished me well and made me sign a compromise agreement which I honoured but they did not. Jim Mellon and the asset strippers still owe me £15,000 and even had the audacity, after not paying the money they were obliged to pay, to send lawyers letters not only threatening me if I did not abide by my side of the deal but also if I did not agree to a full one year extension of a non-compete clause. That lawyers letter still brings a smile to my face, surely Jim Mellon must feels some shame about it now? You can tell me Jim, blame it on a minion surely that is a source of extreme shame?

Faced with fascist lawyers letters from a Sunday Times rich list fellow and worth minus £250,000 I was obviously in a pretty low place and so I turned to writing as therapy. In the beginning there was more or less no-one reading this website other than Mellon's bully boy lawyers at Kerman & Co. It could not be called a commercial enterprise. But gradually word spread and the legal eagles from Kerman & Co were joined by many thousands of other readers. It has been gratifying.

In my last few years at Rivington, when team Mellon ran the show, I was barred from writing on numerous topics. Israel, global warming, welfare reform so many things were deemed verboten in an atmosphere of tyranny, the release I enjoyed of saying exactly what I thought was a delight.

I am not sure what has given me more pleasure during the past four year. Is it competing against t1ps - the company I founded - which was asset stripped from Rivington? Because that company has fired nearly all its workers and - albeit with a new name - continues to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for Mr Mellon, while my start up competitor hires talent and makes profits. That gives me some pleasure but is it more than being able to write exactly what I want?

I think it is the latter. Would I rather get that £15,000 back and not reveal how rich men send the most amazing fascist bully boy letters to try to crush those who are already down or woulde I take the money? You know what Mr Mellon, you can stick that £15,000 where the sun don't shine. Here's to the next four years of free speech for me and of me making money from the media world as you lose ever more.

Four years ago I fled to Greece on a one way ticket. Since then many things have brought me back. Retracing the last footsteps of my great Uncle David Cochrane, holidays with the Mrs, the Oxi vote and - of course - the Greek Hovel. And so:

Here are the twenty most read stories on this blog from the past four years...

  1. Tom Winnifrith snowcast from Greece
  2. Greece v Albania for my next Holiday: No contest. Albania wins unless...
  3. Greeks, Lesbians and Vlachs – why my fascination with Greece?
  4. Lunch with Kostas and Anna at the best Bakery in Greece – Farewell Zitsa
  5. Looking forward to the last day of the month here at the Greek Hovel
  6. Picture article: Pressing the Olive Oil from the Greek Hovel
  7. Seeing my guest at the Greek Hovel Naked – what does a Gentleman do?
  8. Frigana Fields of Death Picture Special from the Greek Hovel
  9. Picture Report from the Greek Hovel Number 14 – Porn for my Welsh Friends
  10. Photo Article: Meeting Mr Rat in my new bedroom – Report from The Greek Hovel Number 6
  11. Rats, Bats & Sheep – Report 11 from the Greek Hovel
  12. I was dragged to the Police station in Kardamili and bullied, Greece in context
  13. Picture article - day 1 of the Olive Harvest at the Greek Hovel
  14. A snake encounter at the Greek Hovel, silly me: do as the Greeks go
  15. Reflections on an expensive meal in Corfu – Greece still does not get it
  16. Video & Photos: Finding the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane in Delphi – Part 2
  17. Essex: Washing Powder from Greece
  18. Is where I have just been called a clip joint?
  19. Tom Milks a Goat Video - It is not easy
  20. Farewell Zakynthos – Am I a snob? Yes



And here are the top twenty non Greek stories

  1. Tom Winnifrith Postcard: Mad Bernie Sanders to beat Crooked Hillary in California - Donald Trump gets an early Christmas treat
  2. Tom Winnifrith Postcard #137 - #Rhodesmustfall rewrites history and is PC bollocks
  3. The Downing Street Affair – Cameron is dreaming if he tries to gag the story
  4. Downing Street Affair - Have you figured it out yet? Surely you have
  5. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson what a strange affair in Downing Street
  6. The Number 10 Downing Street Sex Scandal...back to basics
  7. Are you a Northern Git? Take the Test: I am 0% Northern
  8. Cheap booze at the local Conservative Club…sign me up at once (and what my Lefty Mrs said)
  9. Why UK house prices must crash
  10. Kevin Maguire – vile, bigoted, thick leftie
  11. The Talking Dog Joke 
  12. Call Me tasteless & see if I care: Recycling the Oscar Pistorius twitter jokes
  13. Funny Ed Miliband Joke
  14. Findus Beef Lasagne is 100% Horse: the twitter jokes
  15. The Scots cannot have Independence and a blank cheque from England – Can’t they just Fuck Off and Go it 100% alone?
  16. Thought for the Day – Rev John Bell is ghastly
  17. Kate & Gerry McCann – my sympathy is diminishing rapidly
  18. The best of the Chris Huhne MP (pro tem) jokes from twitter
  19. The best Tesco jokes from Twitter today. No foaling.
  20. EU Cabbages & Why this Insanity must cease in so many words

 

Tom Winnifrith

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The Official Line: from Germany: "Tommy you will obey orders and vote against Brexit or your economy will be shot"

1077 days ago

There is no sitting on the fence from German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble. He has stated explicitly today that if the UK leaves the EU as a result of Brexit we would have no access to the single market, not even limited access like Switzerland or Norway. Does this mean that for we Brexit Tommies "ze war is over". Nope, sorry Wolfgang but whatever you say, The Great Escape is still very much on.

You see we all know that the EU exports more to the UK than the UK does to the EU. And so if Germany forces all the other folks in the EU to impose trade restrictions on the UK and we reciprocate who ends up worse off? Yup those in the EU.

I am quite happy drinking wine from Australia, the US, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand or agricultural produce which - shorn of EU imposed tariffs - comes from across the world and is cheaper than it was before, rather than French muck. But as French farmers go bust as their exports to the UK dry up how does Wolfgang think they will react to a trade war he is creating? And what about those German automakers who see their exports to Britain dry up.

Wolfgang showed himself a prize bully as he destroyed Greece last summer but then Greece was led by Alex Tsipras, a man who made Neville Chamberlin look like a man of steel. I wonder whether he thinks that German leaders trying to bully the people of other European nations to bend to their will always works? History shows otherwise.

Bring on 23rd June - the British people really don't like being ordered what to do.

Tom Winnifrith

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Dodgy Dave Cameron - when were you going to tell us about the extra £2 billion EU bill? Post Brexit?

1081 days ago

To be fair to David Cameron he does not need to open his mouth to tell an actual lie in order to mislead the British people about Brexit. Sometimes his silence is equally deceptive.

It appears that the EU has overspent its budget by circa £20 billion and that member states will be asked - once again - for bonus contributions to fill the black hole. But in order to assist Dodgy Dave who is trying to tell the British people that we are "better off in" it has been agreed that the invoices will not be announced or sent until after June 23rd. How convenient.

No doubt lyin' Dave will now pipe up that he is going to stamp his patrician feet and won't be paying. Yup. The last time the UK got stung with a little bonus bill like this was in 2014 and the sum involved was £1.4 billion. Sure enough, lyin' Dave Cameron stamped his patrician feet, flew off to Brussels to tell his pals that he was not paying. And then when the fuss had died down he paid every last cent.

And we will end up paying every cent this time because that is how the EU works. Its unelected officials, men such as Neil Kinnock rejected by their own voters but now empowered to run our lives from overseas, overspend year in and year out. Then they tell member states to pick up the tab. And since the UK is economically successful we pick up a large slug of the tab and there is nothing we can do to avoid this other than leave the EU.

As it happens the £2 billion might be an under-estimate. It seems that Greece is going bust again as is Spain. That is part of the pleasure of being in the Euro, a currency so many of those in the Remain camp told us we had to join to avoid disaster. If Europe has to bail out our friends in Southern Europe it will not just be Euro currency users that pay but all EU members. Better get the UK's cheque book ready once again Dodgy, you'll be needing it after June 23rd big time.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: call me Heath Robinson - my favourite fan is back at the Greek Hovel

1081 days ago

At night in summertime the one habitable room at the Greek Hovel is unbearably hot at night, after a long day of 33 degree heat. But opening the large windows would allow all sorts of wildlife diversity to gain entrance to a room where I have sealed every crack and hole to make it secure. As such one just sweats it out. Or at least that used to be the case until I bought an electric fan. However...

Someone, I cannot remember who, stumbled on the fan during the night and snapped it clean in two. The head is now seperated from its base. But call me Heath Robinson, if you wish, I have a solution. Remember that out here I built my own eco-loo from waste wood, I am a fecking eco-warrior so I shall not throw away a fan just because the base snapped off.

As you can see below a fourpack of water bottles is my new base. It works. As - sometimes - does the fan. I know that it sucks up power and to my fellow eco-loons I must apologise for that.

In a year's time, when this place is renovated, it will have PV cells installed and will be entirely self sufficient when it comes to electricity. In fact we should have enough power to sell some juice back to the National Grid although whether we actually get paid for that is another matter given that this is Greece.

Pro tem, I apologise for the power usage but my favourite fan is back in action.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - sticking it to Mayair, Jupiter Energy and in fact all Australians bar Kylie

1083 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21209/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-sticking-it-to-mayair-jupiter-energy-and-in-fact-all-australians-bar-kylie

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - Sam Antar accounting lessons, for me, Rob Terry & Lombard

1086 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21094/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-sam-antar-accounting-lessons-for-me-rob-terry-lombard

Tom Winnifrith

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The Hills are alive with the sound of Extreme Right Wingers, Hofer almost wins in Austria

1096 days ago

I wrote this article pre postal votes. I have updated it to reflect the fact that they altered the result. EU boss Martin Schulz warned the Austrians not to do it but I guess that they stopped obeying orders from the Germans some time around 1945 and so have almost just elected an extreme right winger as their President. Norbert Hofer denies he is a fascist or a Nazi but he, and his Freedom Party founded by , are pretty right wing. Excluding postal voted Norbert won, overall he lost narrowly. Who is to blame for the rise of the far right? No doubt David Cameron is already blaming Brexit while his new best buddy President Erdogan of Turkey is blaming the Kurds.

In a sense nobody is "to blame". The left only likes democracy when it wins. But as Ben Gurion noted of Israel, his country only became a proper country when it had prostitutes and fascists.

The people of Austria have "form" in voting for extreme right wingers. There was the war criminal Kurt Waldheim for starters. And then of course that native born son with the moustache who emigrated to Germany but returned to take control after the Anschluss.

The Freedom Party almost won power under its founder Jorg Haider in the 1990s. Incidentally, in Austria, you can be fined 100,000 Euro for suggesting that the late Mr Haider - who died in a car crash after drinking heavily in a gay bar after rowing with his long term male lover - was gay or bisexual. I guess I won't be visiting Austria soon then.

As democrats, we must respect the choice of large numbers of Austrians in voting for gun toting immigrant bashing Herr Hofer and his party which was founded by a gay and Jew bashing closet homosexual who took funding from both the late Saddam Hussein and the late Colonel Gadafi. We must respect that choice even though Herr Hofer is pretty loathsome. I am not quite so sure the EU will see it that way.

Because, in a sense, the EU which claims to have brought peace to Europe. is once again to blame for the rise of extremism not just in Austria but in France (Le Pen's National Front), in Greece (Golden Dawn) and elsewhere. Austria was last year forced to absorb immigrants equivalent to 1% of its population. That is an almighty influx.

Some of us might say that with an ageing population, Austria needs immigration. But it is not for me to say that. Nor is it a decision that the EU should be making. It should be a decision for the people of Austria and it seems that they are not that keen on the idea. Yet it has been imposed on them by the EU, abetted by home grown bien pensants who think they know what is good for the "little people".

No doubt the EU has also meddled in Austria with daft new regulations on the length of Lederhosen or alpine horns. Across Europe there is a growing backlash against the edicts of corrupt, grossly overpaid and remote officials in Brussels. Herr Hofer and Madame Le Pen, in opposing this interference, are the electoral beneficiaries of the EU's power grab.

The people of Europe clearly do not want ever closer political union. In Britain we are being lied to as we were in 1975 when we are told that the choice is out or status quo. It is not. It is out or ever closer union. Across Europe folks are waking up to the lies and starting to fight back. I loathe pretty much everything Hofer stands for - other than the right to bear firearms - but I can see why he has won so many votes and if anyone is to blame it is folks like Martin Schulz and his comrades at the EU.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Photo Bearcast - some porn from the Hovel in Greece today for Paul Roberts, Justin the Clown & other Welsh listeners

1096 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20947/tom-winnifrith-photo-bearcast-some-porn-from-the-hovel-in-greece-today-for-paul-roberts-justin-the-clown-other-welsh-listeners

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo: Weather Report from the Greek Hovel - I feel like I am back in the Isle of Man

1096 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.  

More importantly, the weather here over the past couple of days makes me think that I am back in the Isle of Man. The Manx folk are protected from bad things by the cloak of the Celtic God Mannanan, in other words the fog. It seems that the old boy is on his travels as a thick fog rolled in yesterday from the mountains. And that was followed by vast amounts of rain.

I suppose it is good for the olives. But also for the frigana. On Friday night the wind was howling and the rain was beating down. The oak tree outside the Greek Hovel thrashed against my roof. I am not sure if the normal wildlife diversity was hiding but its noises were, for once, just drowned out.  The hovel is at least dry but it provided little relief from the cold.

This is really not what Greece should be like in late May. I blame Brexit.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - why wont African Potash answer my fecking questions?

1098 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20910/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-why-wont-african-potash-answer-my-fecking-questions

Tom Winnifrith

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Paddy Leigh Fermor & the Vlachs by Tom Winnifrith (not me my father!)

1100 days ago

War hero, author, all round superhero Paddy Leigh Fermor lived down the road from where I am in the Mani and is the man who made this area famous with his book "The Mani". Today in my email in box I receive a copy of issue 5 of The Philhellene, the newsletter of the Paddy Leigh Fermor Society and there is an article in it by Tom Winnifrith - not me but my father. Just to prove that one member of the family can write properly and without swearing here you are...

Leigh Fermor, P could and should have written more about the Vlachs than he does in Mani and Roumeli. He would have written more amusingly and eloquently than Winnifrith, T does in TheVlachs and Shattered Eagles: Balkan Fragments. I begin with this school report, because it is at schools in Kent that the paths of these two travellers begin to diverge.

There were no greengrocers’ daughters to lead me astray at Tonbridge and to push me out to wander between woods and water down to the Balkans. Instead I pursued a conventional if old fashioned education in Greek, Latin and Ancient History at school and university before embarking on a career teaching these subjects and English Literature at the University ofWarwick.This institution was very kind in allowing me time and even money to travel around the Balkans when I should have been writing boring books about the Brontës. It also awarded Paddy an honorary degree, and at the ceremony we spoke to each other in Vlach.

This conversation amazed the local dignitaries, but, alas, my spoken Vlach is very poor, unlike Paddy’s. He was helped by a long stay in Romania where they speak a language very similar to various kinds of Vlach, and by his interest in and ability at all kinds of languages. Almost all Vlachs in Greece, and a number of Vlachs in other Balkan countries, speak Greek. A training in Homer and Herodotus, although useful in testing the truth of tall travellers’ tales, is of little practical help in a crowded Greek bus station or when lost in the mountains where Vlach villages are to be found. Crede experto, as they would say in Latin, but not Vlach.

So who are the Vlachs? In the first few pages of Mani Paddy draws attention to two difficulties about finding a definition, namely that the Vlachs are to be found with different names, and that many people are called Vlachs but do not speak the language close to Romanian which I have mentioned.Thus in the villages of Kampos near Kardamyli the inhabitants are called Vlachs, but this is just a term of abuse for people not like us. My son has just bought a battered house near Kampos, and says that the inhabitants are very nice. Alternatively Vlach can just mean a shepherd. I have heard a Greek bus driver swearing at a goatherd leading his flock along a main road with the imprecation “Blachos”, and I don’t think he was making a philological statement, although the shepherd was in the Pindus mountains and might have been a Vlach.

But he might not have called himself one. Right at the beginning of Mani Paddy has a
long list of fringe groups associated with Greece. I am proud to say I have met in the past Greek speakers in Calabria, the Tsakonians of the Eastern Peloponnese and even Tartars in the Crimea. Propriety prohibited me from meeting the Loubinistika speakers of the brothels, chronology from meeting the Anglo-Saxon members of the Varangian Guard. But disappointingly there is only a brief mention of the Koutzovlachs of Metsovo. Metsovo in the Pindus mountains is the largest Vlach settlement, but there are many other Vlachs in Greece, other parts of the Balkans and in America, Canada and Australia.

Sometimes these call themselves Arumanians or some variant of this name, sometimes Tsintzars, a reference probably, like the addition of Koutzo to Vlach, to their sibilant speech. Some scholars call them Macedo-Romanians, adding to the confusion of one name another that is contested. In Albania I found many Vlachs who tend to call themselves by the district in which they sometimes live: Gramosteani from Mount Grammos, Farsharoti from Frasher in central Albania. The American Vlachs near Bridgeport founded a society called The Society Farsarotul, which published a very useful newsletter. Another American produced a newspaper called Frandza Vlacha, a French group a periodical called Tra Ar manami and a German group Zborlu Nostru, our word, a somewhat ambiguous title since there seem so many words for what was regarded as ours.

In his allusions to Vlach history in Roumeli Paddy mischievously mentions the theory
that the Farsharots derive their name from the battle of Pharsalus where Caesar defeated Pompey in 48BC. A Latin presence in the Balkans is apparent more than a century before this date, but under the Roman Empire Greek was generally the language of administration in the East, as opposed to Latin in the West. In the West, Latin gradually replaced native languages and was even adopted by the German invaders; hence we have languages like French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. In the East things worked out differently. Slav invaders kept their own language except in Greece, Albanian survived the competing claims of Slav and Greek, while mysteriously in Romania and scattered pockets in the central Balkans people preserved a form of Latin.

In the West, Roman authority collapsed in the fifth century, but the Danube frontier was held until the beginning of the seventh, and although the administration of the Eastern Roman Empire was largely Greek there was still a Latin presence in the northern Balkans. The Emperor Justinian who ruled from 527 to 565 was a Latin speaker. His efforts to conquer Italy and North Africa, though temporarily successful, left the Balkans an easy prey for Slav invaders.We have very few records of Balkan history in the four centuries following this invasion. Justinian’s historian Procopius gives an account of forts that the emperor had built.These forts are difficult to locate, but some of them have Latin names, and it is probably from them that the ancestors of the Vlachs emerged. We get our first mention of Vlachs in 976AD when some Vlach hoditai murdered the brother of the Bulgarian emperor Samuel between Kastoria and Prespa, an area still peopled by Vlachs today.

Hodos means road, and hoditai could indicate travellers or highwaymen or people appointed to guard the roads.The last meaning suggests a degree of organization not present in the Balkans at this time, although it appeals to those who like to think of the Vlachs as descendants of Roman legionaries and forefathers of the well disciplined baggage trains of the nineteenth century. Byzantine historians after the Kastoria incident tend to give the Vlachs a bad name, suggesting the second meaning. A strong Vlach presence in Thessaly, especially after the fourth crusade of 1204, led to the province being called Vlachia. Previously the Asen family had established a powerful empire further north.The inhabitants of this empire are confusingly sometimes called Vlachs, sometimes Bulgars and even more confusingly, since the empire extended to the Danube and beyond, we cannot be sure whether we have a reference to Romanians or Vlachs or both.

The Ottomans had conquered the whole of the Balkans by the beginning of the sixteenth century. They get a bad press, not deservedly so. With strong central rule the Vlachs seem to have prospered as muleteers and merchants travelling the length and breadth of the Balkans and as shepherds making long journeys from summer pastures in the mountains to winter quarters on the coastal plains.We do not have many mentions of the Vlachs in the period from 1500 to 1800 but, as Gibbon teaches us, happy is the land which has no history.

The Ottomans were tolerant to the Orthodox faith, leaving persecutions to Catholics and Protestants in the West.There are records of churches dating from the seventeenth century and stories about the foundation of villages even earlier. Samarina north of Metsovo had four churches in 1913 and, in Southern Albania,Voskopoje or Moschopolis had many more. But at the end of the eighteenth century the Ottoman Empire like its Byzantine predecessor began to decline and fall. Voskopoje was frequently sacked by marauding Albanian brigands, although it still stands as a monument to a great city greatly fallen, and is still inhabited by Vlachs as well as Albanians. Many of the Vlachs moved from Voskopoje to other Vlach villages in the Balkans.

During the last chaotic century of Ottoman rule there were two important studies by Western scholars of the Vlachs. A German professor, Gustav Weigand, meticulously in
Die Aromunen recorded in 1888 his journeys, including some stories and folk songs. A
copy of his ethnological map hangs in my study. It is still very useful for locating Vlachs, although the fortunes of other races have waxed and waned. I heard some of his songs almost a hundred years later. In 1914 two English scholars, A.J.B. Wace and M.S. Thomson, produced another book with more maps, songs and a useful grammar and vocabulary.They were in the Samarina area conducting archaeological work, and
The Nomads of the Balkans is a tribute to the ability of classical scholars to turn their hand to anything.

I met Wace when I was a schoolboy interested in Cretan archaeology, but between his
book and my first sight of a Vlach in 1974 two generations had elapsed, during which there had been two Balkan wars, two world wars and two civil wars, one in Greece and one in Yugoslavia.The front line in many of these conflicts was very often in Vlach territory, as gnarled old veterans used to tell me, making me rather glad that I was not one of the excellent German scholars who have worked on this subject. In addition to actual battles, war and subsequent boundary changes played havoc with the rhythms of the transhumant Vlach shepherd, although mechanical transport altered the pattern of long marches on foot or with mules. Boundaries which did not exist in 1914 became a slight obstacle for Vlachs 
after 1918, and a real barrier after the Iron Curtain came down in 1945. Paddy was lucky to travel in the 1930s.

Poverty and Balkan wars led to emigration. Pro-Romanian Vlachs went to Romania while others were driven to the New World where they prospered more than in Romania. I have attended Vlach dances in this country and in Australia and America, all extremely respectable affairs, reminding me of suburban Surrey in the 1950s. I am sure Paddy would have displayed more agility on the dance floor while I courteously enquired about the ancestry of my partners. On another occasion after missing my train at Skopje station I lay down to sleep and woke to find myself neatly sandwiched between two beautiful gypsy ladies, often, probably unfairly, accused of having loose morals and light fingers. A proper traveller like Paddy would have made enquiries about the ethnic origins of these ladies. Gypsies, because of their wandering habits, are often confused with Vlachs. Their language like the Vlach language is rarely written and is really a medley of different dialects. They call themselves Roma, a word which has four letters in common with Aromanian. But at five o’clock in the morning with my purse and person intact I made my excuses and left.

Since 1990 travel in the formerYugoslavia has been made much more difficult, although it has become much easier to visit other countries beyond the Iron Curtain. For a time there was a great interest in minorities, and I was invited to speak on the Vlachs, being better at speaking than dancing. In these travels I did note especially in Albania and America that there was a division, as there had been in the time of Wace and Thomson, between a pro- Romanian and a pro-Greek party.The former maintain that theVlachs are descendants of people who at some stage in the middle ages moved from the plains of the Danube to the rugged Pindus mountains. Greeks suggest that Roman legionaries were stationed in these mountains, married Greek girls and begot Latin speakers with Greek ethnicity. Neither of these paths seems very promising, although I have not been able to come up with a plausible via media.

I am now too old to do much work on the Vlachs. A younger successor, more like Paddy at ease with the easy world of travellers’ tales, is needed but the world of the traveller has become much harder. Thousands of migrants from the Near East pass through Skopje station leaving little room for the odd gypsy or Vlach. Gevgelja station on the border between Greece and Macedonia has become an important staging post on the terrifying road from Damascus. I can remember waiting for a train there in the 1980s, reading Hard Times and thinking that times were not so hard as in Dickens’s day. “Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.” I have not changed much and have not learnt to translate this useful Latin phrase into Vlach, although I know that the Vlach for I change is mutu. A phrase, less useful, but easier to remember is “are mare nare” which means “he has a big nose”.

Paddy and I did not exchange these words when we greeted each other at the degree ceremony. I think we said “Ghinevinis = well come”. Even this may have been a protest against the pomposity of the occasion. This would turn Vlach into a language like Boliaric, the secret argot of thieves recorded in Roumeli, and there is some attraction in the idea that Vlach was used as a kind of code to keep outsiders in the dark. Alternatively, at the other end of the scale, Vlach might have been a lingua franca used by travellers in difficult situations.

It is after all fairly easy to learn a little bad Latin in the same way that refugees from Syria learn broken English with which they can communicate with Hungarian frontier guards. Fortuna favet fortibus, fortune favours the brave. The refugees have to be brave. I have been very fortunate. Paddy was both.

Admin

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Michael Heseltine is still alive? Remind us what he said about the Euro as Tarzan bashes Boris

1100 days ago

I had rather forgotten about Michael Heseltine, the man who stabbed Lady Thatcher in the back, but apparently the old egomaniac is still alive and today weighed into the Brexit debate saying that Boris Johnson was a reckless man and that we should all vote to stay in.

Before anyone takes the old fool too seriously on the EU you might ask where we stood in the last great debate on matters European: The Euro? Not only did the old twit want us to join the single currency when it was set up but he still does even though it has proved to be an unmitigated disaster. As recently as April 27 this year, yes 2016, he gave a speech predicting that we still will join the Euro.

At least some of those who advocated joining the Euro at the beginning have, like the late Euro loon Charles Kennedy, admitted that they got it wrong. Heseltine still thinks he was right and is right.

Writing this evening from Greece where, thanks to the Euro, youth unemployment is 65% and where pensioners now have to survive on £9 a day as the economy continues to shrink, I can tell Lord Heseltine that he was wrong and is still wrong about the Euro. And that makes his views on Brexit pretty much worthless.

Naturally the EU cheerleaders at the biased BBC are happily reporting how the Tory grandee is slamming Boris and backing the "in" campaign but neglecting to mention Hezza's decade and a half of unrepentently calling the major European issues 100% wrongly. That is sadly not a surprise.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - Petroceltic's O'Cathain blames others - bring out the piano wire for him

1103 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20754/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-petroceltic-s-o-cathain-blames-others-bring-out-the-piano-wire-for-him

Tom Winnifrith

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Wildlife diversity report from the Greek Hovel - day 5

1107 days ago

I was hoping that the canisters which are meant to keep the snakes away would have arrived in Kambos today. I was told they would. Naturally they have not. This is Greece. "They will be here on Wednesday" means "There is no chance at all that they will be here on Wednesday". I am bloody well not moving up to the hovel without them.

My friend Nicho the communist asked why I was not yet resident in the the village and I explained. "You really are frightened of them aren't you" he said while laughing loudly. Fecking hell isn't everybody? Nicho then explained to a gaggle of Greek old men sipping ouzos what was happening and they all laughed too. Ha bloody ha. They all live in the village where there are no snakes, I dare them to wander up snake hill in the dark to see me.

Tonight I head to a store in Kalamata which is meant to sell the magical canisters. If I install tomorrow I might move in later that day or perhaps Friday. It is not that the hovel is uninhabited. I was up there today laying down rat poison, just in case a new colony had arrived to replace the ones I killed last summer, when I heard a noise on the window sill behind my bed. I jumped. I really do not like hearing noises whether in the house or from the bushes as I wander through the fields.

Upon closer examination it was two mice. They were quite sweet and being a pansy Westerner I delayed going after them with my small spade just long enough for them to escape through a small hole in the window frame. I have left them some poison too and taped up that window. I really do not mind mice. Yes, like PR people they are filthy little vermin but they harmless enough. They are not rats. Rats fill me with dread. As of course do snakes.

So far I have yet to encounter one of the 29 species of snake resident in Greece on this trip, but it is only a matter of time. I am now working hard in the fields every day and I know what is out there. There are plenty of lizards already evident. The biggest one I saw was nine inches long and a stunning fluorescent green. It just stood there in the road at the bottom of the hill beneath the deserted, and I am convinced haunted, monastery, seemingly daring me to drive over it. Again, I was a Western pansy and so got out of the car and ushered it into the bushes. A Greek would just have driven over it. The other lizards are less beautiful but they are everywhere. And where there are lizards there are always snakes.

I carry a camera at all times so when I do meet a snake I will do my best to capture that moment for you all, dear readers, before I run as fast as I can away from the serpent, shouting "fucking hell its a snake" forgetting that there will be nobody listening.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 9 May - Iofina, No, no, no, Mr Market all wrong

1108 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20613/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-9-may-iofina-no-no-no-mr-market-all-wrong

Tom Winnifrith

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We move to new US hoster, I head to olive oil central to fight for free speech

1108 days ago

I am still spitting nails at the facist lawyers for a certain celebrity couple who got this entire website taken down on Friday by bullying our previous hosting company. The facist lawyers at Web Sheriff were not acting on behalf of a UK Court and acted on their own very dodgy interpretation of whether any legal threshold had been crossed by a certain article.

Fine. I have now republished the article which breaches no UK injunction, having moved my hosting to the United States and moved myself to the hovel in Greece which produces fantastic olive oil. If anyone reading this wants to buy some oil to use for whatever they want they know how to get in touch. Our new hosting company has balls of steel as you can see:

www.nearlyfreespeech.net states:

We believe Free Speech is for everyone. This was the driving reason why we founded NearlyFreeSpeech.NET at a time when "big content" threatened to suffocate the voice of the individual and turn the web into a one-way medium: television with resize bars.

For everyone to have free speech, they need to be able to afford it. They need to be able to really afford it, which means affording it on their own, without depending on government subsidies or corporate sponsorship. And they can, because this stuff just isn't that expensive. For everyone to have free speech, they need to be able to use it. Really use it. That means saying what they wish to say without fear of interference, reprisal, or censorship.

Ends.

Our new hosting company will NOT respond to bully boy lawyers interpreting the law in odd ways to suit their own Orwellian tendencies. Now, who wants to buy litres of finest live oil from me?

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Back to the Greek Hovel -it's all so green, where are the snakes?

1108 days ago

Since most of us visit Greece only at the height of summer, the pictures we have in our mind are of a country with grass burned brown by days of seemingly endless sunshine. But as we move into mid may the land around the Greek Hovel here in the Mani is almost Alpine, a lush green dotted with the pinks, whites, yellows and purples of a sea of flowers.



And the sun is not shining. As you prepare for summer barbecues back in Britain, pity me here dodging the rain showers. The skies are grey except over the Taegessus mountains where black storm clouds gather. It is not exactly T-shirt weather and the waters in the deeper parts of the dry river that lies between the hovel and the village of Kambos, tell a take of recent storms as well as the melting of the final snows on the mountains behind us.



I am not sure if this means that the snakes are still hibernating. There is no point asking the people in village since they know my fears and delight in them in a friendly sort of way. They will thus be full of tales of how it has been a record snake harvest and how the fields are teeming with them. Whether the snakes are out to play or not, I am taking no chances and shall not be moving in until I have bought and deployed cans of snake repellent as well as rat poison and given them a day or so to take effect.

My preliminary inspection of the hovel today showed little in the way of wildlife diversity but you never know. As I strolled through the olive groves up at the hovel the only brown was the frigana I poisoned last summer. Here and there the accursed plant is making a comeback but not for long. Into battle I go tomorrow on a regime of hard manual labour designed to ready the house and land for rebuilding and to shed a few pounds as well.

 

 

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 7 May - back in Greece & despairing of humanity

1108 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20565/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-7-may-back-in-greece-despairing-of-humanity

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - distracted by a fascist in the wind and a vet's visit

1108 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/20561/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-distracted-by-a-fascist-in-the-wind-and-a-vet-s-visit

Tom Winnifrith

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Amazing news from Greece - we have a forestry permit for the Greek Hovel, next step... a bribe?

1109 days ago

It was meant to take three months but took closer to a year but who cares? We now have a forestry permit received for the Greek Hovel. It seems that I failed to (illegally) cut down a few wild olive trees but most of my good works of the summer before last in clearing 2000 square metres of frigana have not been noticed and so we can now.....

Apply for a building permit. Lead by George the architect the team is now looking to submit within the next couple of weeks and the office that handles our application is just across the street from that of George in Kalamata. The process should take 2-3 months but this is Greece.

Once again I am happy to bribe anyone but George insists that Greece does not work that way. I am not quite so sure. I can just imagine the conversation:

Mr Official: I can approve your plans now if you give me 1000 Euro
Me: I am sorry but I am a moral man
Mr Official: This application could take quite some time, we have a big backlog of work
Me: Since you put it that way, have you not heard of austerity - shall we call it 250 Euro and I'll buy you an ouzo
Mr Official: make that two ouzos.
Me: Done.

Alternatively, George could just wander across the street once a day and kick up a fuss. Anyhow... we are making progress.

Tom Winnifrith

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Getting a haircut in Greece - helpful tips from my Father

1152 days ago

Of course my father's most helpful tip on life is that you only need three socks. Wash one a day in rotation and you will never go wrong. Having three different socks can make the process even more idiot proof. That is not my father's tip, although he is often seen in odd socks, but it is me trying to take this way of living forward.

Another handy tip from my father is to wait until you are in Greece - or even better Albania - to have your hair cut since it is much cheaper. You save money both by waiting a few extra months until your next trip which might make you lok a bit scruffy but that is often the way of Winnifrith men anyway. Then you save again as haircuts over here are very cheap indeed.

And thus I wandered into one of the posher saloons in Heraklion this morning and for £11 had my hair washed, cut, washed and styled and two weeks chin growth turned into designer stubble. A nice young lady with large breasts and tight leather trousers, pressed my head into her cleavage and massaged my skull gently as a key part of this process. I am not sure what the point of that was but I did not object. All for £11 - a bargain.

My father will be reading this in horror. He will be on the phone shortly to say that the last time he had his hair cut in downtown Tirana or in a lowly barbers shop in a rough district somewhere in Cyprus it cost him no more than £4 and that I am losing the plot. Of course he has rather less hair than me, did not have the shave and that skull massage while clasped to the cleavage was certainly worth a bob or two.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Poster listed the MacIslands of Greece & I thought vomit

1154 days ago

For lunch today for less than £15 the Mrs and I enjoyed two glasses of ouzo ( both me), a Greek coffee, mineral water, breads, a fine Greek Salad, some amazing mushrooms baked in vinegar and local sausage. I was not allowed any Dakos which is a Cretan speciality as the Mrs says I have had enough already. For those who have not enjoyed it Dakos is a creamy form of feta and oregano and chopped tomato on top of a barley rusk,a hard form of bread. It is quite magnificent. Simple Greek food is a delight and a reason to come here.

So imagine my horror as I arried at Heraklion yesterday to see a large poster celebrating the six MacIslands ( Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Zakinthos, Corfu and ne I cannot remember). Those are places you can fly to and enjoy a Big Mac and fries. As a rule those are places that have surrendered to the lowest form of tourism. They are places which it is perhaps - as a rule - better to avoid.

For what its worth the same sort of meal we enjoyed at lunch if ordered off the beaten track would be closer to a tenner.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs has got her Nashville ticket and this makes her week

1159 days ago

Sadly in late June I shall not be in Bristol but will instead be working hard to rebuild the Greek Hovel. Even if planning consent is not quite in by then, I am free to start preparatory work such as digging out the stone floor of the bat room and demolishing the illegal construct on top of the rat room, the area known as the snake veranda.

The Mrs was set to join me but is now altering her travel plans. Tom Winnifrith just cannot compete with Deacon Claybourne, Gunner, Scarlett and Will Lexington. Nashville fans will know exactly what I mean. If you are not a fan of this must-watch TV series you do not know what you are missing.

We caught Gunner in action at a Country show last year in London. Rather suprisingly the actor who plays Texan born Gunner is in fact a Brit and is an accomplished singer songwriter as well as an actor. Gunner used to date Scarlett who is the neice of recovering alcoholic Deacon, now back with his sweetheart the star of the show Rayna. Deacon may or may not be dead, that is the cliffhanger at the end of series three. Well actually there was no way that Deacon who is the star of the show could be killed off, and as American viewers who are already well into Series 4 know, Deacon is alive but his ghastly sister Beverley is not doing so well.

At least for British viewers, Will is back as Gunner's housemate following the collapse of his faux marriage because he is in fact a closet homosexual. It all happens in Nashville.

Anyhow, Deacon, Will, Scarlett & Gunner are on tour and the Mrs and her fried Jeanetta managed to get seats to the Bristol leg before they sold out after just a few hours. She has not worked out yet that this means a change to her holiday plans so excited is she about the prospect of seeing Deacon in the flesh. It means that she will have to fly to Greece after the gig which gives me even more time away in the Hellenic Republic. As such I am not complaining but I shall leave it to her to work out what this all means in her own sweet time.

Wait till I tell her that my internet searches show that Deacon is still alive. What a bonus.

Tom Winnifrith

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Fancy going to a swanky EGM in Athens Greece, roll up roll up

1166 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19382/fancy-going-to-a-swanky-egm-in-athens-greece-roll-up-roll-up

Tom Winnifrith

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From One Hellenophile (Byron) via another (me) - Fascist Bullies at Citigate Dewe Rogerson & Fastjet: It's Game On.

1168 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19362/from-one-hellenophile-byron-via-another-me-fascist-bullies-at-citigate-dewe-rogerson-fastjet-it-s-game-on

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bonus Bearcast: Fastjet Part2 & Citigate Dewe Rogerson PRs are all ffing geniuses

1169 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19342/tom-winnifrith-bonus-bearcast-fastjet-part2-citigate-dew-rogerson-prs-are-all-ffing-geniuses

Tom Winnifrith

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Eden Research dodges FRAUD questions and announces ramptastic Greece bollocks to ramp shares

1198 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/18642/eden-research-dodges-fraud-questions-and-announces-ramptastic-greece-bollocks-to-support-shares

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: My first snow of the winter - in Greece 3 weeks ago

1250 days ago

For most of my early December stay in Greece I was wearing a T-shirt all day although at night I needed a sweat shirt and coat as the temperatures plunged towards zero. But on the penultimate day it started to rain heavily both in Kalamata, where I was staying, and up in the village of Kambos in the foothills of the Taegessus Mountains. The photos below show what happened next.

Photo one is of an orange tree just off the main street in Kambos. As we worked in the fields picking olives in quite warm weather oranges were handed out by my friend George. They are just ripening for picking now.



The next two photos are from the Greek Hovel another 50 metres or so higher up into the Teagessus and three miles away from Kambos. Those who have seen the hovel in the summer will associate it with grass burned brown by hot sun. But, as you can see, it is now a lush green - this is the view looking back along the drive. The rains of October and November have left the place looking very much alive. The second photo shows a front lawn strewn with olive branches post harvest. Come February I shall return to burn them off.

 

But now look up into the mountains, into the Taegessus. What fell as rain in Kambos fell as snow higher up. Those peaks will remain snow covered until March or even into April.

Elsewhere in Greece in places such as Metsovo in the Pindus or in Pelion folks go skiing. I described driving through the snow in between Athens and the Mani in the snow last Febuary. But the Taegessus are wild and rugged. There will be no skiing.

My Uncle Chris (Booker) who turns 79 next year says that we must climb these mountains together. In the summer that means incredible heat and snakes. From now until April that means treacherous snow. I think, dear Uncle that it must be October. The heat will have lessened but it will still be warm anough. The snakes will be asleep. And there will be no snow.

 

 

 

Admin

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Merry Christmas Kambos - a video card from myself & my father

1251 days ago

If you do not speak Greek you might just struggle with this. It would be all Greek to you. But this card is for the folks in the small village of Kambos in the Mani, Greece, the nearest settlement to where the Mrs has a property needing, er, one or two repairs. And so from both Tom Winnifrith's here is a few words for Christmas.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 10 December - having problems doing business in Greece, can InternetQ help me

1258 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17145/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-10-december-having-problems-doing-business-in-greece-can-internetq-help-me

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 7 December - Very Bruised by Greece today

1262 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17059/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-7-december-very-bruised-by-greece-today

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Postcard #135: Guns and knives don't kill, people do - I want a gun

1264 days ago

In the wake of the San Bernadino gun massacre the lefty liberal elite on both sides of the Atlantic are using these tragic deaths as a battering ram to fight for gun control. Presumably after the attack by another Islamofascist in London last night they also want knife control? Guns and knives don't kill. People kill. And criminals and terrorists will always secure access to firearms. As someone who is neither I should be free to own a gun to protect myself. Making more guns available will make innocent people safer from those who will always gain access to firearms with a view to crime. I want the right to carry a gun in the UK as well as here in Greece as I explain in this week's postcard.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 4 December: In Greece I fear only Vrechi

1266 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17001/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-4-december-in-greece-i-fear-only-vreki

Tom Winnifrith

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InternetQ - Pathetic response to ShareProphets - target price cut to half a drachma

1267 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/16970/internetq-pathetic-response-to-shareprophets-target-price-cut-to-half-a-drachma

Tom Winnifrith

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From Athens with love: InternetQ - my target price is 1 drachma

1267 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/16952/from-athens-with-love-internetq-my-target-price-is-1-drachma

Tom Winnifrith

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Send a lefty sociology lecturer to Greece to help the migrants

1281 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/16660/send-a-lefty-sociology-lecturer-to-greece-to-help-the-migrants

Tom Winnifrith

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FRAUD Globo: Costis Reported to Rozzers in Greece, Cyprus and UK and FCA on the case (at last)

1303 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/16101/fraud-globo-costis-reported-to-rozzers-in-greece-cyprus-and-uk-and-fca-on-the-case-at-last

Tom Winnifrith

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David Lenigas on twitter – proof of insanity as he won't answer questions

1318 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/15720/david-lenigas-on-twitter-proof-of-insanity-as-he-won-t-answer-questions

Tom Winnifrith

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Work Related Trips I’d like to do: Kosovo, Spain – any other ideas?

1335 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/15304/work-related-trips-i-d-like-to-do-kosovo-spain-any-other-ideas

Tom Winnifrith

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Diabetes update – for the first time in memory a Doctor praises me

1340 days ago

I cannot remember exactly when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I think it was around six or seven years ago. It was not a surprise. I had eaten and drink too much and the great West Ham supporting Tory blogger Iain Dale had described his symptoms and diagnosis a few months earlier. I knew what was coming.

There have been times since when I have managed it with medication and sometimes just by clean living and taking stacks of exercise.  There have been times when I just let myself go. Four years ago I was a 19 stone 6 pounds blob and really all over the shop. But relationship breakdowns, work crises, near bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown did wonders for my (physical) health sending me off to walk around the mountains of Greece and Albania. I may have been a bit of a fruitcake but I sure knocked my body into shape.

Of course marriage and owning a restaurant are not good for the figure but I think I sort of have things in some sort pf check but perhaps I was a tad complacent. I know that Iain has also gone through such phases. However, the Mrs forced me to register with a doctor and last week an eye test showed the first – albeit minimal at this stage – signs of an issue in my right eye. I knew what was coming next.

This afternoon I strolled down to the doctors, a healthy twenty minute walk, for the start of the other tests. Today it was blood pressure and knock me down with a feather I scored my best result in years. Well done said the quack. Well done I said to myself, clearly I should stay on sabbatical forever. This is good news.

Naturally there was the inevitable lecture on smoking. Yes Doc I am aware that it is bad for me and also that the Pope is a Catholic. Do you really get £100,000 a year with long hols and a £65,000 Index linked pension for stating the bleeding obvious?

Next up are the blood tests for blood sugar. I fear these might prove a bit less impressive but have managed to sneak an appointment this week after five days of relative sobriety here in Bristol. I rather sense that if the bloods were taken in two weeks’ time after I spend a week in London where I tend to drink, er… a bit more, the results would be dire.  

Either way I rather suspect that I shall be back on medication before long with suggestions that I take a bit more exercise and another few shock revelations about how smoking is bad for me. The obvious answer is of course to get more olive trees and move to Greece to spend more time working the land.  What’s wrong with that plan?

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 13 September: Greek Election, interest rates, and Hotel Corp - bad language warning

1348 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14941/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-13-september-greek-election-interest-rates-and-hotel-corp-bad-language-warning

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 8 September - Hotel Corp Scumbags, UK housing crash and more

1353 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14824/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-8-september-hotel-corp-scumbags-uk-housing-crash-and-more

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 7 September - Flip Flop the "drug dealer", the bank robber and Audioboom

1354 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14806/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-7-september-flip-flop-the-drug-dealer-the-bank-robber-and-audioboom

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: You Tern if you want to...but

1355 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14776/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-you-tern-if-you-want-tobut

Tom Winnifrith

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Life on Marbs starring Jon Stretton Knowles, the Quindell fraudster, episode 6 - can you help me?

1366 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14563/life-on-marbs-starring-jon-stretton-knowles-the-quindell-fraudster-episode-6-can-you-help-me

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek Hovel wildlife diversity report…now it is the poisonous spiders

1369 days ago

I had consoled myself as I contemplated snakes, bats, rats and scorpions at the Greek Hovel that at least there were no poisonous spiders in Greece. Phew. We may have more types of snakes than any other country in Europe and the hills around the Greek Hovel may be infested with them but at least I felt sure, having – I thought – read it somewhere that there was no spider issue. Spiders eat Mosquitos. We like spiders right?

And so last night as I sat tapping away I looked up and there was a spider with what looked like an enormous abdomen full of something. It must have been about two inches long. Just out of curiosity (and fear) I did a quick google search. Fuck me. There are three types of poisonous spiders in Greece and I had a sneaking suspicion that what was sitting above my head was one of the three. 

As rats and snakes already know to their cost, they do not call me “killer” for nothing. Once again the thick mining presentation left by my guest last summer (well, that portion not used to light fires) proved invaluable. Smack. It was an ex-spider.

The wildlife diversity at the hovel increases by the day. What next?

Tom Winnifrith

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Live from Greece: PM Tsipras quits & calls General Election, the madness gets worse

1371 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/14434/live-from-greece-pm-tsipras-quits-calls-general-election-the-madness-gets-worse

Tom Winnifrith

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Helena Delopolous – Get a dictionary you moronic bitch

1405 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13640/helena-delopolous-get-a-dictionary-you-moronic-bitch

Tom Winnifrith

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One week to National Irony day in Greece – Restoration of Democracy Celebrated

1406 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13631/one-week-to-national-irony-day-in-greece-restoration-of-democracy-celebrated

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - On an amazing high and its not coke - honest!

1406 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13603/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-on-an-amazing-high-and-its-not-coke-honest

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 14 July - seething with white rage, extreme bad language warning

1408 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13548/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-14-july-seething-with-white-rage-extreme-bad-language-warning

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 13 July

1410 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13517/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-13-july

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast July 13: Greece - #Thisisacoup

1410 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13512/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-july-13-greece-thisisacoup

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 12 July, Blinkx, Avanti, Easyjet, Greece and a feeling of alienation

1410 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13493/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-12-july-blinkx-avanti-easyjet-greece-and-a-feeling-of-alienation

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Postcard #119 - why to holiday in Greece NOW and some off beat destinations I recommend

1410 days ago

A bit of a difference this week as I explain the numerous reasons to book a holiday in Greece in 2015. I am serious. I then take you through two or three suggested trips which are not mainstream but offer you Greece with a difference. There is a Northern trip taking in Albania, Meteora, Arta and one entrance to the underworld. And a trip in the South taking in Napfio, Mycenae, Corinth, Delphi, Olympia and the mani. I neglected to say that the main entrance to Hades is at the foot of the Mani. And there is an offbeat island near Athens I recommend - Agistri.  This is the year to see Greece on the cheap and there is so much to enjoy.

For some reason I forgot to mention Monemvasia, the Mont St Michel of Greece - part of your Southern tour. Spemd two nights in the new town and wander across the causeway to check out the delights of the Old Venetian settlement and the fortress at its peak. Cool off with a sea swim.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece agrees to an even worse deal - a total shafting but it may not be enough

1411 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13483/greece-agrees-to-an-even-worse-deal-a-total-shafting-but-it-may-not-be-enough

Tom Winnifrith

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Lube up Greece: Ephialtes Tsipras ensures this weekend the Germans & the Troika utterly shaft you

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13479/lube-up-greece-ephialtes-tsipras-ensure-this-weekend-the-germans-the-troika-utterly-shaft-you

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Greece – Greek fat cat tracked down

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13474/photo-article-greece-greek-fat-cat-tracked-down

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast & Photo 11 July – Greece: Socrates now, sadness and can kicking

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13473/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-photo-11-july-greece-socrates-now-sadness-and-can-kicking

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Greece - pre-riot porn as the Commies gather in Syntagma Square to say Oxi

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13466/photo-article-greece-pre-riot-porn-as-the-commies-gather-in-syntagma-square-to-say-oxi

Tom Winnifrith

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Alex Tsipras Prime Minister of Greece – you are a traitor to your country, Grexit postponed?

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13464/alex-tsipras-prime-minister-of-greece-you-are-a-traitor-to-your-country-grexit-postponed

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 10 July - back to Athens for riot porn

1412 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13459/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-10-july-back-to-athens-for-riot-porn

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 8 July - George Osborne is a twat

1415 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13412/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-8-july-george-osborne-is-a-twat

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece: Video - Farage praises Tsipras, Greek PM Tsipras looks confused

1415 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13405/greece-video-farage-praises-tsipras-greek-pm-tsipras-looks-confused

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece: Tom Winnifrith: I am not a marxist, and my Euro Loon critic has no heart

1415 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13402/greece-tom-winnifrith-i-am-not-a-marxist-and-my-euro-loon-critic-has-no-heart

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 7th July - Page 3 bird photo

1416 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13385/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-7th-july-page-3-bird-photo

Tom Winnifrith

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Paying an Electric bill for a witch: Greece does not work anymore & never worked

1416 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13375/paying-an-electric-bill-for-a-witch-greece-does-not-work-anymore-never-worked

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 6 July: bombast battle

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13356/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-6-july-bombast-battle

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece: Varoufakis quits saying “I wear the creditors' loathing with pride” – the start of the Syriza sell-out?

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13353/greece-varoufakis-quits-saying-i-wear-the-creditors-loathing-with-pride-the-start-of-the-syriza-sell-out

Tom Winnifrith

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Photos & video from Greece: Victory Rally Syntagma Square – when Oxi went from blue to red

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13352/photos-video-from-greece-victory-rally-syntagma-square-when-oxi-went-from-blue-to-red

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Greece votes Oxi but some things don’t change – today’s ATM porn as banks re-open (sort of)

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13349/photo-article-greece-votes-oxi-but-some-things-don-t-change-today-s-atm-porn-as-banks-re-open-sort-of

Tom Winnifrith

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Photos: Greece: Liz Jones of the Daily Mail you lying bitch – catch this & then fuck off back to London

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13348/photos-greece-liz-jones-of-the-daily-mail-you-lying-bitch-catch-this-then-fuck-off-back-to-london

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: they think its all over: it is now - Oxi! wins in Greece

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13332/photo-article-they-think-its-all-over-it-is-now-oxi-wins-in-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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They think it’s all over in Greece: it’s a fucking landslide for Oxi

1417 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13333/they-think-it-s-all-over-in-greece-it-s-a-fucking-landslide-for-oxi

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 5 July: Greece, China, Quindell & house prices

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13328/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-5-july-greece-china-quindell-house-prices

Tom Winnifrith

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Syriza – Turnout in Athens High – good for Oxi – meanwhile Greece down to last 500 million – big bank is teetering – Alpha Bank?

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13327/syriza-turnout-in-athens-high-good-for-oxi-meanwhile-greece-down-to-last-500-million-big-bank-is-teetering-alpha-bank

Tom Winnifrith

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Cut out Guide to Greek Political parties for Tonight

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13326/cut-out-guide-to-greek-political-parties-for-tonight

Tom Winnifrith

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Bad news Chris Booker, I think we are with the Commies: a spoiled Oxi Vote which may let Nai win in Greece

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13323/bad-news-chris-booker-i-think-we-are-with-the-commies-a-spoiled-oxi-vote-which-may-let-nai-win-in-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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A cautionary note – The Daily Mail is lying about Greece

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13324/a-cautionary-note-the-daily-mail-is-lying-about-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Greek Referendum: Turnout will be 70%, turnout at ATMs 90%

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13319/photo-article-greek-referendum-turnout-will-be-70-turnout-at-atms-90

Tom Winnifrith

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David Lenigas Saint or Serial Sinner, Quindell worth 0p? and is now Gold’s moment?

1418 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13318/david-lenigas-saint-or-serial-sinner-quindell-worth-0p-and-is-now-gold-s-moment

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: You know what's different in Greece? The traffic has gone

1419 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13315/you-know-what-s-different-in-greece-the-traffic-has-gone

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: More poverty porn from Greece: Here's 2 Euro? er can you make it three?

1419 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13314/photo-article-more-poverty-porn-from-greece-here-s-2-euro-er-can-you-make-it-three

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 4th July, Independence is on my mind

1419 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13311/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-4th-july-independence-is-on-my-mind

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Three Years On: the babe of a waitress & more poverty porn from Greece

1419 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13310/photo-article-three-years-on-the-babe-of-a-waitress-more-poverty-porn-from-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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The Oxi poster that says nothing but says it all for Greece

1419 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13308/the-oxi-poster-that-says-nothing-but-says-it-all-for-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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The Massive Oxi rally in Athens – thoughts, photos to follow Saturday

1420 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13296/the-massive-oxi-rally-in-athens-thoughts-photos-to-follow-saturday

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Smoking Guns Bearcast from Athens - July 3rd

1420 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13293/tom-winnifrith-smoking-guns-bearcast-from-athens-july-3rd

Tom Winnifrith

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I arrive in Athens – first poverty porn pictures from Greece

1420 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13290/i-arrive-in-athens-first-poverty-porn-pictures-from-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece Referendum to go ahead - Tsipras: live blogging from Athens to start Friday noon

1422 days ago

Well that is it. The referendum in Greece is now certain to go ahead on Sunday says PM Alex Tsipras. If Greece of all nations can organise a campaign and vote in a week why can't we do the same in Briatin and spare us all the misery of a 4 week liefest that is the General Election?

But with the vote a certainty and Tsipras campaigning hard for Greeks to show pride and vote Oxi (no) I have booked all my tickets and will land at Athens airport by 9.30 AM in Friday and should be set up to start blogging by noon. I plan to spend Saturday shooting some poverty porn and polling day in and around Syntagma Square looking for riot porn and - I hope - a massive Oxi victory party.

So over the weekend there should be non stop blogging - as I promised earlier here - on ShareProphets.com

Enjoy! 

Tom Winnifrith

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Is Alex Tsipras of Greece the Ephialtes of 2015 - at the last gasp a traitor who caves?

1422 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13242/is-alex-tsipras-of-greece-the-ephialtes-of-2015-at-the-last-gasp-a-traitor-who-caves

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith – off to Greece on Friday, live riot porn blogging from Athens from Saturday

1422 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13238/tom-winnifrith-off-to-greece-on-friday-live-riot-porn-blogging-from-athens-from-saturday

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Free Speech & Liberty stands with Greece – say Oxi! To the banksters

1423 days ago

A people cannot enjoy true liberty if they are crushed by a debt they cannot service let alone repay. If they are, in addition, forced to cut financial support for health, education and assisting the old and truly needed they are little more than slaves. Such is the condition of Greece today.

I live in Greece for much of the year and my family have been writing about the country for more than 150 years. It is in the blood. But my support for Greece is not a romantic gesture it is driven by basic common sense and humanity.

I urge the Greek People to vote oxi! in the referendum and to say, as was said to Mussolini in 1940, to the oppressors of today, the banksters, Oxi! No. For enough is enough. If Greece is to have hope it must walk away from its debts, from the Euro and start again as a free nation.

And so Free Speech & Liberty Pizza makes its views clear!

Admin

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - 29th June

1424 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13187/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-29th-june

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 27 June - Greece, China and bubbles

1425 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13171/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-27-june-greece-china-and-bubbles

Tom Winnifrith

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Reader Poll – Monday a good day to bury bad news – how many profits warnings?

1425 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13167/reader-poll-monday-a-good-day-to-bury-bad-news-how-many-profits-warnings

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - Independence day for Greece July 5, Tsipras calls referendum

1426 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13149/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-independence-day-for-greece-july-5-tsipras-calls-referendum

Tom Winnifrith

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Merkel tells Greek PM Tspiras to shut up, Trichet accuses Greece of blackmail, EU plots Greek coup – Time for Greece to tell the banksters to Fuck Off

1427 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13139/merkel-tells-greek-pm-tspiras-to-shut-up-trichet-accuses-greece-of-blackmail-eu-plots-greek-coup-time-for-greece-to-tell-the-banksters-to-fuck-off

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith GreeceCast will traitor Tsipras show spine & tell the banksters to screw themselves this time?

1429 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13090/tom-winnifrith-greececast-will-traitor-tsipras-show-spine-tell-the-banksters-to-screw-themselves-this-time

Tom Winnifrith

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Is Greece Blinking - PM Alex Tsipras another name on the traitor's wall

1431 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13004/is-greece-blinking-pm-alex-tsipras-another-name-on-the-traitor-s-wall

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 21 June - Greece

1431 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12999/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-21-june-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast Special - Comrade Malcolm Stacey WRONG on Greece & Shares

1436 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12907/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-special-comrade-malcolm-stacey-wrong-on-greece-shares

Tom Winnifrith

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The Isles of Greece by Lord Byron

1438 days ago

What would the good Lord Byron - a man who died in Greece during the war of Independence -  say of Greece today, a country once again not its own master? To walk away from the Euro and to simply default on its debts, to stand on its own two feet and build again with pride? Or to accept further shame and humiliation and the impoverishment of its people in return for taking on yet more debts to enslave the children and grandchildren of todays Greeks?

Greece should default and walk away from the banksters of the EU and IMF with pride leaving its unpaid debts as their problem not ours.

The isles of Greece ! the isles of Greece
     Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
     Where Delos rose, and Phœbus sprung !
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
 
The Scian and the Teian muse,
     The hero’s harp, the lover’s lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse :
     Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires’ ‘Islands of the Blest.’
 
The mountains look on Marathon—
     And Marathon looks on the sea ;
And musing there an hour alone,
     I dreamed that Greece might still be free ;
For standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
 
A king sate on the rocky brow
     Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis ;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
     And men in nations;—all were his !
He counted them at break of day—
And when the sun set, where were they ?
 
And where are they ? and where art thou,
     My country ? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now—
     The heroic bosom beats no more !
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine ?
 
’Tis something in the dearth of fame,
     Though linked among a fettered race,
To feel at least a patriot’s shame,
     Even as I sing, suffuse my face ;
For what is left the poet here ?
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.
 
Must we but weep o’er days more blest ?
     Must we but blush ?—Our fathers bled.
Earth ! render back from out thy breast
     A remnant of our Spartan dead !
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylæ !
 
What, silent still ? and silent all ?
     Ah ! no ;—the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent’s fall,
     And answer, ‘Let one living head,
But one, arise,—we come, we come !’
’Tis but the living who are dumb.
 
In vain—in vain : strike other chords ;
     Fill high the cup with Samian wine !
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
     And shed the blood of Scio’s vine !
Hark ! rising to the ignoble call—
How answers each bold Bacchanal !
 
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet ;
     Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone ?
Of two such lessons, why forget
     The nobler and the manlier one ?
You have the letters Cadmus gave—
Think ye he meant them for a slave ?
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !
     We will not think of themes like these !
It made Anacreon’s song divine :
     He served—but served Polycrates—
A tyrant ; but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.
 
The tyrant of the Chersonese
     Was freedom’s best and bravest friend ;
That tyrant was Miltiades !
      O that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind !
Such chains as his were sure to bind.
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !
     On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,
Exists the remnant of a line
     Such as the Doric mothers bore ;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.
 
Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
     They have a king who buys and sells ;
In native swords and native ranks
     The only hope of courage dwells :
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad.
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine !
     Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
I see their glorious black eyes shine ;
     But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.
 
Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
     Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep ;
     There, swan-like, let me sing and die :
A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine—
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine !
Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 13 June: Greece and Interest rates

1440 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12814/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-13-june-greece-and-interest-rates

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 6 June - One Direction puts me in a bad mood

1447 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12653/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-6-june-one-direction-puts-me-in-a-bad-mood

Tom Winnifrith

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Launching a new monthly magazine today - download it now!

1448 days ago

In between treavelling back from the Greek Hovel to Bristol there is always tiime to launch a new free monthly magazine - Uk Investor Show. Issue one leads on Greece and I have a centre spread on why it is kebabbed whatever. There are share tips and bear calls from myself and share tips from Steve Moore and Zak Mir. Columns by Chris Bailey and Thierry Laduguie and comment on why UK house prices must fall and on the election. You can download it for free with no registration needed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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I sit where Where Greek Independence began in 1821 as the country prepares to go bust

1449 days ago

In March 1821 the Greek war of independence began as the folk in the Mani launched an uprising against the accursed Turks. The Mani, where the Greek Hovel is situated, was always quasi independent anyway but its warlike folk started a fire that could not be supressed. The first major triumph was the storming of the Turk held fortress at Kalamata. No Maniots died but the entire Turkish garrison was slaughtered.

Right now I sit opposite that fortress, in Kalamata bus station having just purchased one more ouzo for the road, to Athens. Tomorrow Greece will formally not pay monies owed to the IMF claiming that it will bundle the payment due then with another due on June 30th. It is now 24 hours away from being technically in default and on June 30 when it has not got a cat in hell's chance of meeting either June payment the can will have been kicked to the end of the cul de sac.

There are some that hope that Greece will compromise. I am not one of them. There are huge debt repayments due in July and August and indeed right up to 2057. Agreeing to draconian cuts in all sorts of things in returning for leaving the kids and grandkids an unsupportable level of debt repayments is no way to behave.

Greece should think of the heroic Maniots of 1821 and tell the EU and IMF where to stick it, default on its debts and leave the problems with other country's banks. Hellas can start again just as it did in the 1820s free from foreign tyranny. It will be painful just as it was in 1821 but it is the only way.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 4th June: farewell Greece

1449 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12618/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-4th-june-farewell-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly postcard #114 - Last thoughts from Greece & on Sabbatical starting edition

1451 days ago

Sorry for the delay in getting this up. There have been various internet snags but a few last thoughts on my last weekend in Greece plus the sabbatical that started on Monday are now live.

Tom Winnifrith

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Witnessing the great bank run first hand as I deposit money in Greece

1453 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12508/witnessing-the-great-bank-run-first-hand-as-i-deposit-money-in-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 31 May

1453 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12514/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-31-may

Tom Winnifrith

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Happier Times at the Kardamili Police Station

1454 days ago

I sit with my back to the door at the Kourounis taverna typing away, writing almost anything to avoid the torture of completing the subbing of Zak Mir's book. Is it too early for an ouzo to stiffen my resolve to face the torture that awaits?

The cop at the Kardamili police station, who lives in my home village of Kambos, has just wandered in and pats me on the back "yas Tom" says he and wanders to the bar. This reminds me that I visited the police station at Kardamili once again last week. You may remember that last summer I spent a couple of hours detained at the Kadamili nick thanks to a bent cop and bent hotelier and so my memories of the place were, shall we say, mixed.

But I am trying to get Greek residency so that I can buy a car, a motorbike and a gun for the Greek Hovel. And that means that I had to go to Kardamili police station to present my papers. I took my Greek speaking wife with me for protection. Would I meet the bent cop who incarcerated me last year? Would I meet his goon of an assistant who looks like the nasty gay character in Coronation Street? I was rather nervous.

But as luck would have it it was the cop from Kambos who was in charge. He greeted me with a very friendly "yas, Tom!" The downside to him being in charge is that he does not speak a word of English. But eventually a younger policeman arrived and the Kambos cop explained that I lived in Toumbia - the area in the hills above Kambos and that he knew me well - I understood what he was saying. Between the English of the younger cop and the Greek of the Mrs we established that this time I had all the documentation bar one minor item.

In order to show that I will not be a drain on the Greek state I need a bank account with a bank in Greece showing that I have 4,000 Euro in it. As every single person in the whole of Greece rushes to empty their bak account I have to open one and put cash in. Jim Mellon says that if I do this they should build a statue in my honour. Hmmm. And so on Friday I headed to the bank in Kalamata to do my duty...

But we left the Kadamili Police station with handshakes all round. I have noted before the observation of Paddy Leigh Fermor that 99 in 100 Greeks are the most generous, kindest and welcoming folk you can meet. The other one is a complete prize shit who will screw you at every opportunity. Our time in Kardamili last year was marred by meeting two of those prize shits - the bent cop and the hotelier. But that wound has now healed. Even the Kardamili Police station is now somewhere I can view in a positive light.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 27 May

1457 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12440/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-27-may

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 26 May - a short edition

1457 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12412/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-26-may-a-short-edition

Tom Winnifrith

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Wildlife diversity report from the Greek Hovel - first snake met & I might have killed it

1467 days ago

On the way back through the olive groves at the top of snake hill tonight I found myself tracking a fox. It did not seem too scared and eventually trotted off into the bushes. But that was not the real wildlife diversity news today - I met a snake.

I was travelling into the village in the early evening for a salad. Roadworks yesterday on abandoned monastery hill meant that I have been forced to discover a new way to get from the bottom of the valley into Kambos. It is a side track, not in that bad a condition, which winds its way all the way up to the top of the village past a little abandoned church coming out above our new big church. So from the top of that track you actually go downhill again to the Kourounis taverna. One day I shall draw a map for you all.

I was biking along thinking about nothing in particular when I heard a crunch under the wheels. I pulled up and looked back and about five yards behind me was a small snake. It is the small snakes that are the dangerous ones, the nine poisonous types of adder here in Greece.

There were three scenarios. It was dead before I crunched it. It was alive before I crunched it but now dead. Or it was alive before I crunched it but not yet dead. I thought about it and took one step towards the viper and could see enough to know that I did not wish to conduct a post mortem in case it turned out to be a pre-mortem.

Instead I got back on the bike and sped off as fast as possible to the village. At the taveran they all thought it rather funny. The bloke who is terrified of snakes now actually meeting one as well as the rats, bats, tortoise and crab. Lovely Eleni suggests that the hovel is now officially the Kambos zoo. Very funny.

It goes without saying that I took the other route home but each time I saw a strange line in the road you know what was going through my mind. Twigs, breaks in the concrete, they all suddenly became - in my mind at least - snakes.

Two more nights here and then the Mrs arrives She has one or two issues with the hovel as it stands and so it is off to a luxury hote in Kardamili, funded by the greatful taxpayer (that is to say my public sector employed wife) we go. After tonight I think I can manage to suffer a few nights of wildlife diversity free luxury.

Tom Winnifrith

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Wildlife diversity report from the Greek Hovel - a new spot

1467 days ago

I was standing on the horrible concrete balcony which I look forward to demolishing. But it has wonderful views out over the valley and something caught my eye - movement in the long grass by the prickly pear plants. I looked more closely and it was moving really quite fast seeking sanctuary in the big bowl where we collect water. Yes it was a tortoise. They roam wild here in Greece but are rather shy so by the time I had got down there with my camera it had scuttled into a hole. I am beginning to feel a bit like Gerald Durrell.

Tom Winnifrith

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A New addition to the wildlife diversity at the Greek Hovel - land crab

1469 days ago

There was I motor biking from the Greek Hovel into Kambos when suddenly I saw it. I had just turned left after the dry river and started the climb up the hill next to the abandoned monastery (or was it a convent, one day I shall find out) when it appeared just sitting in the middle of the road.. a crab, potamon potiamos to give it its full name.

You and I might think that crabs live in the sea but there are in fact three varieties of land crab here in Greece, to go with the 27 varieties of snake. The little creature was about three inches wide and stood there as I fumbled in my bag trying - unsuccessfully - to find my camera. And then it headed off into the bushes.

More wildlife diversity here at the Greek Hovel

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - 12 May

1471 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12142/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-12-may

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - 13 May

1471 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12167/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-13-may

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - 9th May

1475 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12077/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-9th-may

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - May 6th

1478 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12022/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-may-6th

Tom Winnifrith

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The two worst jobs a husband must do before being allowed to go to Greece – completed

1480 days ago

The Mrs wrote me a stern list of the jobs I must do before I leave for Greece. It does not matter that it is raining cats and dogs, today was my deadline. As such I now sit drenched from head to toe having done as ordered. I trust that she is reading this and feeling guilty.

The patch between our house and the garage, where I have now been sent to work, is the garden. It is where I smoke and where the cats do “their business” when not doing it on the front doormat. My tasks, tidy up all signs of smoking and all cat shit and bury the latter. Occasionally a butt is mixed with cat shit but generally they are two distinct tasks. Neither pleasant.

But they are off the check list. Next up… merging our diaries until October to make plans. At least that will allow myself and the computer a temporary respite from life in the garage.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast, Greece, free speech & disagreeing with the twit Turney & Bank Holidays

1480 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11978/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-greece-free-speech-disagreeing-with-the-twit-turney-bank-holidays

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Postcard #109 - two weeks to Greece & the Moors Murderer backs UKIP edition

1488 days ago

News that the Moors Murderer Ian Brady is backing UKIP must delight Nigel Farage. Will he now admit that at least one of his supporters really is a fruitcake? But that is not the theme of this week's poscard it is Greece and the challenges I face this summer - starting in less than two weeks - and the challenges Greece faces. Mine are physical at the Greek Hovel. The country's challenges are financial and - I sense - coming to an uncertain head.

Tom Winnifrith

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Wouldn’t Grexit be bad for me personally? Yes. But why I support it 100% anyway

1509 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11448/wouldn-t-grexit-be-bad-for-me-personally-yes-but-why-i-support-it-100-anyway

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - Grexit would be great for Greece!

1510 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11443/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-grexit-would-be-great-for-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly postcard #101: paper phalluses, lent, masks and cheese week

1551 days ago

I am greatly confused. I record from the Greek Hovel and the noise outside is a storm blowing. There is a large statue in the centre of Kambos. Tonight we celebrate the start of lent. Is it no more meat or the start of cheese week? Why dont we have paper phalluses in the Mani? I try to explain all.

My more serous postcard about the ills of Greece and what she should do is HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - Greece must go bankrupt and leave the Euro to be reborn

1551 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10725/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-greece-must-go-bankrupt-and-leave-the-euro-to-be-reborn

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 18 February - have fled Police in UK now in Greece edition

1553 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10676/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-18-february-have-fled-police-in-uk-now-in-greece-edition

Tom Winnifrith

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Wednesday Caption Contest - Dedicated to Rob Terry of Quindell & Doug Ware of Worthington

1553 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10673/wednesday-caption-contest-dedicated-to-rob-terry-of-quindell-doug-ware-of-worthington

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - Fleeing the country edition

1554 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10657/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-fleeing-the-country-edition

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith snowcast from Greece

1555 days ago

Shame on Paul Scott and other folks for thinking Greece was hot in winter. It is freezing. In this podcast I cover the actuality of snowfall in Greece and a few stories of my father, my Great Uncle David Cochrane and my own travels - including today's trek from Athens to the Greek Hovel - in Greece.

The map below might assist you in following what I am talking about. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Postcard #100 - The West recruits for ISIS & Labour hypocrisy and muddle on tax evasion

1558 days ago

Here we are. My 100th postcard on this website and I am again off to Greece in a few days from where many of these postcards have been recorded. In this issue I look at how the West acts in a way that bolsters ISIS recruitment every time we react to the latest savagery. I also look at the muddle and hypocrisy in the Labour party on the matter of tax evasion and the gutless reaction of the Conservatives to the Labour blather.

Tom Winnifrith

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Five Days to Greece! Getting in the mood with Despina Vandi

1560 days ago

In five days time I shall be landing in mighty Hellas. Within six days I should be back among my friends  in the little village of Kambos. The weather forecast says that it will be minus 7 tonight at the Greek Hovel. I imagine that the Taygetus mountains that stetch out behind the Hovel are capped with snow.

On the bright side, I spoke to lovely Eleni from the Kourounis taverna yesterday. I called and said in my best Greek "kale-nichta" at which point she laughed and said "oh, hello Tom." I guess there are not many folks who call who speak Greek as badly as I do. Anyhow plans are underway for frigana burning with George the olive picker.

Also on the bright side, at minus seven the snakes are still going to be very much asleep. 

On the minus side I sense that the hovel might be a little on the nippy side. We shall brush over the matter of my Greek lessons, I have promised the Mrs I will do some revision before she returns from the Grim North tomorrow. So don't call me in the morning even if you are Quindell whistleblower. Meanwhile I am doing a spot of revision with Despina.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - Disagreeing strongly with Chris Oil & Malcolm Stacey

1576 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10304/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-disagreeing-strongly-with-chris-oil-malcolm-stacey

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece Election Results BearCast with Tom Winnifrith

1578 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10250/greece-election-results-bearcast-with-tom-winnifrith

Tom Winnifrith

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It is all Greek to me -Lesson one tomorrow

1587 days ago

After spending a total of four months at the Greek Hovel and holidaying in mighty Hellas perhaps twenty times in my life I still speak almost no Greek. It is shameful. But that ends tomorrow.

For my birthday the Mrs, who speaks good Greek and fluent Swedish as well as Northern English, has bought me five lessons. The teacher is recommended by none other than the ex wife of Red Trousers, the buffoonish money treee worshipping Mayor of Bristol. Lesson one is on skype and starts at 10.30 AM.

To the folks in Kambos...I am going to shock you all on my return on 18 Febuary.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith's Bearcast 4 January - on Elections in Greece and the UK

1600 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/9855/tom-winnifrith-s-bearcast-4-january-on-elections-in-greece-and-the-uk

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture article: Pressing the Olive Oil from the Greek Hovel

1601 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.

Each time strapping young men wearing military trousers grabbed the bags and loaded them onto trollies. They tossed the bags on into need stacks as if they were lifting a bag of groceries. I attempted to help, almost collapsed into the pile, so heavy were the bags, and thus just decided to watch while trying to look sort of managerial. No-one was fooled. They all knew that I did not have the faintest idea what was going on but none the less humoured me.

My bags were weighed and the charming factory manager, pictured below, gave me a yellow slip with their weight.

All in all, George and his team with some help from myself had harvested 2.7 tonnes (2,700 kg) of lives. Eventually some hours after our final bags were dropped off it was time to press my olives and as pre-arranged with the manager (with Nikko and the lovely Eleni interpreting) I was there as the sacks were emptied into a hopper.

As you can see my olives are green, purple and black…they look like sweeties but the great machinery does not discriminate on the basis of colour and the lives slip gradually into the hole in the hopper before emerging going up a conveyer belt which allows a young man in combats to take time off from texting to to remove some of the more obvious leaves and twigs.

The olives are washed and then rattle across rolling bars which remove the last of the leaves and then it is into a great big whirring machine.

Inside this machine are separate chambers allowing olives from separate farmers to be multi-crushed. My olives filled three of the six chambers where giant blades turn olives into a sort of sludgy tapenade but already you can see oil oozing to the surface.

The tapenade heads through anther machine which separates the oil from the sludge which is sent off elsewhere for what I do not know. And after heading through a few more pipes a bright green liquid starts to gush out into huge vats.

From one vat we extracted 16 litres of oil. This can headed back to England with me in my rucksack and was exceptionally heavy. It has dug into my back from Kambos to Bristol, hurting every step of the way. But the first bottle from that can will today be handed out as a Christmas present.

The rest of the oil was just sucked away into a communal vat, another 336 litres. After lovely Eleni sorted out the paperwork I was presented with a chit allowing me to claim a cheque for 1779 Euro from the big Olive Oil factory in Kalamata. That factory is, you see, fed by the little presses in each of the villages of the Mani.

As the oil poured into the tank the young man in combat trousers in charge of the whirring machines took a quick break from checking the machines while at the same time smoking sixty a day to stick his little finger into the green fluid. He tasted and pronounced it to be of the highest quality. I followed suit and naturally agreed. You really can taste the olive in this oil and there is an afterkick in your throat. It is quite amazing stuff.

It is far too good for salad dressing or certainly for cooking. back in Bristol we just dip bread in it and dream of Kambos.. Meanwhile small bottles of he stuff have been handed out this Christmas to the chosen few and a few more NewYear gifts are on the way.

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast Special - Greece, the implications

1603 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/9776/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-special-greece-the-implications

Tom Winnifrith

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Christmas day Reflections 2014

1604 days ago

For some reason I dozed off between the end of Skyfall and the tome to go to midnight mass.  As such when waking up on Christmas day the stockings of myself, the Mrs and the cats were opened in something of a rush. Santa clearly thought that we had all behaved well in 2014. Clearly he does not know about how Oakley, the three legged cat, likes weeing on the inside doormat.  And thus we were all well rewarded and after a splendid breakfast cooked by yours truly we wandered off to St Cuthbert’s Brislington.

Built in 1933 this church could easily hold 350. As it was with the Mrs and I in attendance there were 15 in the congregation plus vicar and organist. It is not as if midnight mass at Brislington is packed – there cannot have been more than 35 in attendance in 2013. One fears that a couple of cold winters could see just the mrs, the Vicar and I attending Christmas day 2018. We were the youngest in the congregation by a long chalk: what is happening to the C of E?

It is just that Christmas has become one great big godless consumerfest celebrated across the world by folks of whatever background. My 13 year old daughter Olivia – deprived of the alternate Christmases promised by her mother Big Nose 10 years ago, has never once attended Church on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. That I rather regret.

The Mrs and I do not take communion as I am very much lapsed in my faith and the Mrs has grave doubts. But we try to think of what Christmas is about and it is not as the Radio DJs insist on saying “all about family and friends”.  However much the PC brigade insist otherwise Christmas is about Jesus. The fact we celebrate this festival and the traditions involved are down to Jesus. We give each other presents because we are celebrating God giving us his only son, whether we regard that as fact, belief or fantasy. To deny the involvement of Jesus in Christmas seems fatuous to me.

The sermon was bland enough but at least this C of E vicar managed to resist the urge to pray for peace in Palestine, the C of E codewords for “all power to Hamas”.  And with that it was back to a Christmas lunch (Duck, perfect roasted potatoes and parsnips, carrots and cabbage) prepared by yours truly, followed by the Queen and then another TW culinary triumph of Christmas pudding. And the presents and given the mindless rubbish on the TV, we started watching my present to the Mrs, the Complete West Wing box series on DVD.

For me, a framed map of Southern Europe in Turkish times – perhaps not something to hang in Greece – and a radiator for my study, aka the garage. Most practical. And after long family calls to one and all in the UK, USA and India bed loomed ahead of a long trip for Christmas two – goat with the Greek brother in law of the Mrs and family. And yes, another Christmas pudding from the master chef loomed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #94 - Christmas & why West Ham needs to send me to Greece (urgent plea) edition

1621 days ago

In my weekly video postcard I have a few thoughts on Christmas including my Christmas Tree competion which you can enter HERE. I then turn to West Ham and make an urgent plea to Fat Sam and the West Ham board - pay for me to live in Greece until May and we can win the Premiership. Here's why.

In my weekly video postcard I look at why PLC fraud has become harder to hide  in the internet era but also at how companies that have committed fraud behave in their final months. Yes I am looking at Quindell again and that video can be watched HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith's BearCast - 9 December

1626 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/9445/tom-winnifrith-s-bearcast-9-december

Tom Winnifrith

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At the Greek Hovel the Olive harvest Really Does Start Tomorrow and Kambos a hive of activity

1635 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.

Indeed Kambos is a hive of activity as folks gather in what they can ahead of the winter. The other day I heard voices on the land at the edge of the hovel. Given that I am in the middle of nowhere I wandered down to see what was going on. There was an old man and an even older woman picking what looked like weeds from the hillside. I asked if I could look and it seemed that the leaves looked a bit like rocket. The two pickers must have had a combined age of 150 but they were clambering up and down the rocks like young goats. They are a hardy lot here in the Mani, knowing how to extract all that they can from the land.

Remember that even 60 years ago you reached Kambos only by Donkey path up from the sea or by donkey path across the mountains. The road through here is a recent development. The folks here have been surviving for 3000 years (there is, you may remember, a Mycenaean tomb in the village) by living off what they can extract from the land.  Greece can go bust (well it is bust) but Kambos will go on. There is no tourist trade here – this remains a working village. And tomorrow I start work.

Olives are my first challenge. In time I plan to grow vegetables here but also to learn about what nature offers us all. I see plants that look like rocket and mushrooms growing on my land but I dare not touch. I guess I have to learn Greek and to learn from the old folk what to look for. There’s plenty of time for that.

Tom Winnifrith

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As I was leaving Eleni's - you so missed out on this in the UK

1643 days ago

As I was wandering in a semi sober manner out of the Kourouni's taverna owned by the lovely Eleni in Kambos tonight this song came on to play. I sort of view this as the song of The Greek Hovel.  Even though it is French.

Indila hit No 2 in Frogland with this amazing track. In the UK it was off the radar but in Greece 2013 it went straight to No 1. Greeks have taste. I spent happy times in Paris a few years ago and so the video brings back memories but for me this song is Greece 2013. Enjoy

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Back at the Greek Hovel – logistics nightmare one

1643 days ago

I arrived at Athens airport at midnight Greek time on Tuesday. 24 hours after the Real Man Christmas party I was still feeling a little fragile and so walked zombie like to the hotel airport and wet to my room to crash. The bed swallowed me up and I was asleep. So far so good.

I made it to Athens bus station the next day and caught my bus to Kalamata where I went to the best hotel overlooking the sea front. In summer all the hotels in town are booked out months in advance. But it is November, and the town is dead. 50 Euros including breakfast and I was ready to get back to work and immediately called John the bike man, a venerable source of information on local brothels and much else.

A deal was struck. I have a new bike of which more later but it has real power! The next morning as agreed I met up with John and I drive the bike to Kambos. He was to follow in a car to meet me at The Greek Hovel with my bags and coats.  Easy, 1.30 at the hovel.

Driving up into the mountains my head was simply flooded with happiness. In summer the fields were a straw brown. Today they are the sort of green you associate with a water meadow in Oxfordshire. The flowers popping up are almost alpine. I wore a shirt but felt warm as the sun bore down. As I climbed higher and higher old familiar sights came into view. Pretty soon I could see the Kambos church in the distance and before I knew it I had swept into the village.

I waved at the man at the garage and at the man at the first snake repellent/rat poison/hardware store. And then pulled up by the Kourounis taverna home to lovely Eleni. I shook hands and chatted to Vangelis owner of the second snake repellent/rat poison/hardware store. Nikko, the husband of lovely Eleni welcomed me back and I had a coffee on the house and then headed back to the hovel to meet John the bike man.

1.30 came and I called. “I will be there at 2.30”. By 3.30 there was still no John. He had my PC, my phone charger and my phone was now out of battery and indeed he had everything including my keys to the hovel. The keys are actually a bit of an irrelevancy since if you know how you can clamber onto the front balcony which I had done to make myself a coffee. But WTF was going on? Even by Greek standards this was poor form. And so I thought I’d walk towards the village hoping to meet John but failing all else to borrow a phone from the man at the garage to call him. 25 minutes down dale, up dale I arrived and the garage man said “in post room.”

Hmmm. A letter from my father delayed by the Greek Post? A utility bill? Er..no it was my bags and coats. Deadweight 20 kg. There was no choice. As I climbed up snake hill the sweat poured off. This was like rugby training at London Irish. But I am an older man now. I cursed John with every step.

As I marched up snake hill I wondered about snakes. Were they in hibernation or had some of them forgotten that November is beddy byes time? I heard the odd rustle in the bushes and was conscious that it was still pretty warm but tried just to think about how  needed to get home. I marched on. And at last I arrived. The keys worked, the door opened. As I had already established by my break in there were no rats there. No snakes. My sanctuary at the Greek Hovel was wildlife diversity free.

Greece and Greeks are, by English standards, unreliable. C’est la vie. I get frustrated and occasionally I get angry. John and I spoke. I had no anger. That is the way here. Think of the plus points.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard #89 - The Real Man Christmas party & back to the Greek Hovel Edition

1649 days ago

On Monday I head off to London for the 3rd Real Man Christmas party. I reflect upon those who attended two years ago and how the list has grown. And then I am off to Greece to return to the Greek Hovel and I think about my hopes, my concerns, my worries and my excitement about that trip: snakes, motorbikes, the lovely Eleni and all that lies in Kambos.

In my weekly financial video postcard I forgive the Quindell shareholders who have threatened and abused me during the past six months. They have my sympathies as they face wipeout and I have a few words of advice, even for the folks who sent me death threats. That video can be watched HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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First Great Western ‘avin a bubble

1661 days ago

I once again bring you the photo of one of the two ticket machines in the main hall at Bristol Temple Meads. This is now week four (at least) of “an engineer has been called”.  For all I know the same sign was up for half the summer when I was in Greece.

Catching the 4.47 AM it is of no import to me as Temple Meads is hardly bursting with passengers wanting to buy a ticket. But I imagine that later in the day this is a real pain in the neck.  I realise that First Great Western does not give a toss about its passengers or telling the truth but it might, at least, to maintain a vague pretence of caring.

Example static alt text

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #82 – Off to war we go edition

1700 days ago

This is my last video postcard from Greece for seven weeks. I’m back in London at the weekend preparing for a presentation on how companies on AIM overstate profits with real examples. That is on Monday but is booked out but if you want to be able to advance book for my next presentation (it’s free & comes with pizza and wine) register HERE

As I prepare for a return to England with very mixed feelings I know that by the time you watcg this we will be at war in Iraq again. Soon we will be in Syria. The media is being played by our leaders who have messed up and continue to mess up.

England is not safer but a more dangerous place as of today.

My financial video postcard explains E ratios, PEGs and why stocks on PEs of 3 or less are always a sell not a buy and it can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard #81 – Reflections on the summer at the Greek Hovel

1705 days ago

This is my last video postcard from Greece for a while and in it I reflect on what I feel that I have achieved at the Greek Hovel since I arrived and also what I have not achieved. Too much.

In my weekly financial video postcard I look at the China frauds and other failings of regulation on the AIM Casino. It can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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This time it really WAS a snake encountered at the Greek Hovel

1712 days ago

In my weekly video postcard HERE I revealed how I obsess about snakes while at the Greek Hovel but had not actually seen one. Bloody hell that was a bit of a jinx. Snakes were very much on my mind today as the section of frigana I am attacking right now is the densest on the property on a rocky hill near the gate on our drive. For drive read mud track. Put it this way, if I was a snake I’d hang out there.

I had mentally preserved this section for my brave Albanian pal Foti who is coming up to assist me next week. Foti is fearless and if he saw a snake would grab whatever was nearest to hand and smash it on the head. But I decided to man up and head into the bushes anyway.

Luckily I encountered no snakes and so, dripping in sweat after an hour’s solid cutting in the midday heat, I ambled back to the house and started to wander up the front steps and – fuck me – there was a snake, slithering over the snake veranda towards my front door. Naturally I retreated rapidly shouting to no-one in particular “it’s a fucking snake”.

Maybe it is my Irish genes? St Patrick rid our blessed land of snakes and so the thought of encountering one fills me with dread. What is more the bloody thing had slithered straight past my snake repellent canister and was inside the yellow sulphur line that surrounds my house because snakes won’t cross sulphur! Did no-one tell this bloody snake about that?

On reflection I thought it better to have another look and by my reckoning the snake was an Aeschylus snake, the same variety that we saw on our first visit here and which lead to the snake veranda getting its name. I may have got this wrong but it was not that long was brown and very thin so I reckon it was a relatively young Aeschylus and having checked it out on the internet last time I know that it might bite me but was not poisonous.

Emboldened by this identification – which may well have been completely wrong and this creature could well have been one of the nine varieties of adder that lives in Greece - I scuttled off to grab a spade and then advanced on the serpent banging the floor loudly. It slithered away rapidly. It was not to know that I was not a brave Albanian who would smash in its head without second thought. Who knows, had I got the chance I might have done just that.

I have now blocked the hole that makes access to the snake veranda that much easier and through which this serpent escaped. I had an early lunch/supper at wonderful Eleni’s taverna in Kambos so ensuring that I got back while it was still light. I very much doubt that I shall be venturing outside to use the eco-loo which sits on the snake veranda tonight. It is legs crossed time. Tomorrow morning I shall be stocking up on sulphur and adding to the outer defences while creating a new inner redoubt.

I told Eleni about the snake. In the village there are no snakes. They know to stay away. Eleni seemed sympathetic and sucked her teeth accordingly. Quite possibly she was thinking “this moron is terrified of snakes so buys a house not in the village but on Snake Mountain. All my other customers kill snakes with their bare hands. This guy is a total wuss.” But she did not let on, she too said that she was not very keen on snakes.

Suddenly the thought of returning to a nice terraced house on the edge of Bristol seems that little bit more attractive.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #79 – Why Scotland should vote YES! To Independence

1719 days ago

After a morning hacking away frigana at the Greek Hovel, Tom’s message from the Greece of the South is for the Greece of the North – Scotland.

The independence debate is marked by delusion – on both sides. Tom suggests you watch former oil analyst Andrew Bell explain why the SNP oil numbers are all wrong HERE.

The reality is that Scotland has become a welfare addicted big Government economic failure. It is united with a Country with a different value set and approach to life. For its own sake Scotland needs independence so that its people can again learn the idea of self-reliance.

And English taxpayers have no moral obligation to fund a failed system of Government and economics. Speaking as an English taxpayer Tom is praying for a Yes vote.

Tom’s financial video postcard this week covers why he believes a stockmarket crash is on the cards and soon and can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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51% of 5 million welfare addicts set to vote for economic hara-kiri: Poll says Scots will vote yes in #IndyRef – Great News!

1720 days ago

From Greece in the South I have been watching the run up to the referendum debate in the Greece of the North with some amusement. Ever since Gordon Brown lent his weight to the No campaign, Scots have been flocking to the Yes camp in increasing numbers and a poll tonight suggests 51% will vote for independence. As an English taxpayer I am delighted, the sooner the welfare addicted scroungers piss off the better.

89% of Scots are net takers from the State. Scotland has every year bar one (1976) been a net taker from England since the Act of Union. All mainstream Scots political parties are Money Tree worshippers and consistently demand that Government spends more and more. That is Scotland’s problem, it has created a nation of welfare junkies.

The debate seems to have been of an abysmal standard. One side invents major new oil fields which the English wish to steal, while Call Me Dave warns Scots that without England they are more vulnerable to Al-Qaeda/ISIS attacks. Yeah right…I know that many ISIS fighters come from places like Somalia but even they would find 95% of urban Scotland a bit of a shit hole. And imagine if an ISIS fighter was captured by the Scots. Stick him in a room with a bunch of overweight, chain smoking workshy Glaswegians and after 24 hours of them bleating on about how England causes all their problems, the Islamofascist would beg for mercy and reveal all.

As an English taxpayer I cannot wait to have the economic burden of Scotland removed as soon as possible. I am also praying that it means that I never have to hear or see ever again a list of frightful Scots including Kirsty Wark, Gordon Brown, Andy Murray, Alex Ferguson, that uber boring cyclist whose name I forget and Gordon Strachan. However, I shall be sad to see Hazel Irvine leave our screens and very much hope that she seeks economic asylum in England as I have always had a soft spot for her.

But overall I am delighted by this poll. I suspect that one reason that the Yes campaign is doing so well is that the political establishment is so united behind a No vote. As with UKIP this is another way of sticking two fingers up at a class of people who are beneath contempt.

Of course it would be economic suicide for the Greece of the North to go it alone. Given that it will be insolvent within a few years as a standalone entity there is no way that the smelly socks can keep using the pound. I really suggest that Mr Salmond sends an email to Athens asking if there are any old drachmas the Scots can use.

There will be untold misery when the welfare addicts eventually discover that the Money Tree is a myth. And that their own insolvency cannot be blamed on England but is their fault alone. But that is their problem. I pay my taxes in England and work in England and I am sick to the back teeth of subsidizing an ungrateful bunch of miserable shirkers.  Nothing would make me happier than a yes vote on 19th September – and I wish Alex Salmond God Speed in separating his lard arsed miserable tribe from the rest of us as soon as possible.

Tom Winnifrith

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Bitten by a Duck in Kardamili Greece as the Mrs laughed loudly

1727 days ago

As one leaves the small Mani town of Kardamili the road starts to climb steeply. On the edge of town there are a couple of fish restaurants, some slightly newer housing including the house that Paddy Leigh Fermor built for himself. My family stayed there once as my father knew Paddy – it just happened that this was the one family break to Greece that I did not go on.

Paddy left his house to the Greek State to turn into some sort of writing school. You would have thought that after a lifetime here he would have known better. It is slowly decaying, neglected by a State that although bankrupt can still afford to give anyone with a couple of olive trees an annual grant of 500 Euro.

The first of the fish restaurants as one heads up the hill is the favourite of the Mrs and I. The food is great, the wine flows, the waiters are friendly and efficient and the view over the cove below is magnificent.

On one side of the cove is a small working harbour used by fisherman. At night you can see the lights on the boats as they chug slowly home. A jetty provides a breakwater for the waves although nothing much happens o it other than bridal parties posing for photos. At the far end of the cove is a concrete jetty which is totally empty. If you have seen the film Before Midnight the final scene was filmed there as it became a seaside bar for just one night.

And so the other day we wandered down to the cove along a small road with not a human in sight. At the bottom we were greeted by a white goose, a white duck and a rather fat mallard male. The goose stared at us rather stupidly. The white duck ignored us. But the mallard started to follow me in a gentle ambling sort of fashion.

The Mrs thought this rather sweet and cried out “pudding” which is her pet name for my cat Oakley whom she adores. But while Oakley is sweet the duck was not. Encouraged by the thought that it might be, I leant over to touch it at which point t moved swiftly forward and bit my leg. The Mrs thought this very funny. I moved off at a swift pace but the duck pursued me keen to have another go.

“Bloody hell I am six foot tall and eat duck. You are a duck” I said to myself, turned, faced the enemy and kicked the air in front of it. The duck beat a hasty retreat, the Mrs was still laughing. The duck should consider itself lucky to have escaped so lightly – seven weeks of Greek salads might make a man think of suitable accompaniments to Orange sauce.

Tom Winnifrith

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Motorbike Issues at the Greek Hovel

1739 days ago

Had we needed to get to Kambos in an emergency last night my guest and I would have been in trouble for both bikes were out of action. And so first thing today we called the bike man in Kalamata who said he’d be over in an hour or so. But this is Greece… seven hours later he arrived.

My bike had a simple problem, a puncture. I now have some magic spray which I blow into the tyre and that will allow me to drive into Kalamata tomorrow to get a new tyre. Easy.

My guest seemed to have a more serious problem. For her bike would not start last night. She insisted that she had tried everything. The bike man looked at her bike long and hard. He twiddled with a few knobs and then in a solemn fashion told me he had diagnosed the problem. Her fuel tank was empty. How girly can you get?

I felt rather embarrassed and so said “women.” He agreed. Petrol is now in the tank and pro tem we ride pillion except on the steep slopes back to the hovel where she (being the Health Nazi) gets off and walks and I ride on slowly behind.

Women and motors…I ask you.

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Quindell four times as likely to go bust as Greece, but Piers Linney an even worse bet say ShareProphets readers

1748 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/7018/quindell-four-times-as-likely-to-go-bust-as-greece-but-piers-linney-an-even-worse-bet-say-shareprophets-readers

Tom Winnifrith

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Feeling Guilt at the Greek Hovel – Not Making the Mental Leap

1758 days ago

There are different forms of guilt that I feel as I sit in the Greek Hovel. The worst is as I peer outside and see the sun shining on a glorious day. Yet I will be heading back inside soon to finish another article on shares, on Quindell or whatever.

In side of me something associate sun and the smell of a Greek hillside with holidays. What on earth am I doing spending holiday time hammering away at my PC?  The Mrs makes that point every time we go on holiday and it is a fair one.

I have not fully made the mental leap that this is not a holiday. The Mrs has bought a house which is one of our two homes. The nature of my work means that sometimes I will live in Bristol and sometimes I live here in the Mani, Greece.  This is my home and just as in Bristol I am working from home.  And so gradually the feelings of guilt about now being down at the beach or just lazing around doing nothing are going.

As it happens I am not a great one for the beach and sitting around doing nothing does not make me relaxed. I hate it!

Here are other feelings of guilt. Work on the house is a bit behind schedule. Do not get me wrong, enormous progress has been made but just not as much as I would have liked.  The wildlife are excluded from the redoubt and it is cooled by my fan. I have a shower and the internet. And gradually the wildlife exclusion zone around the house is expanding. But I am behind my self-imposed schedule. I feel guilt on that front. But then I feel guilty about Ben Turney, Steve Moore, Darren Atwater and Princess Leia if I do not pull my weight for ShareProphets. They are working in far less pleasant surroundings I cannot abandon them can I?

It’s a lose lose situation. However I spend my time there is guilt. But if I have to be somewhere feeling guilty, there are far worse places to be. And I am now accepted almost entirely that this is my home, this is not a holiday.

Tom Winnifrith

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My second pair of trousers set for retirement at The Greek Hovel – weight loss update

1763 days ago

When I record my videos each week you are meant to email me to say “Tom you have lost weight – well done!” I should not have to prompt anyone (especially the Mrs). But I have lost weight. Well I can’t measure it since, as I noted two years ago, there are virtually no scales in the whole of Greece but I can do the trouser test!

At my shameful 19 stone 6 pounds peak my waist was a disgraceful 44 inches. At my fighting weight (hooker for London Irish Wild Geese) I was a 32 inch waist. Two years ago in Greece I almost got down to 32 inches. I was within spitting distance.

Back in the UK – and blaming the Mrs for leading me astray - my waist expanded again. On leaving I was in 36 inch jeans and they felt tight. Within a few days my Ireland rugby shorts (from a post London Irish age) were so obviously falling down that they had to be retired. But they do not really count – they come from a plump (Clontarf veterans) era.

However, as their replacement – red swimming shorts  - went from tight to comfortably loose I tried the trouser test. The 36 inch jeans are now not comfortable they are actually loose enough to pull down without unbuttoning. This is a triumph born of doing manual labour and living for two weeks on a diet of one or two Greek salads a day plus coffee (no sugar), diet coke and water. No alcohol has passed my lips for two weeks.

Today I had meat to celebrate being Steve McQueen. The utterly splendid in every respect Eleni at the Kambos taverna served me up a small plate of meatballs and some utterly incredible focaccia style bread. It was a rare treat and a reminder of why I shall never become a full time vegetarian. Tomorrow, however, it is back to the Greek salads and a hard day of manual labour is planned.

I can see that by next weekend the 36 inch jeans will have been retired and the 34s – which I could not squeeze into – will be comfortable. On the 10th a UK Investor Show Speaker who claims they wish to lose 15 lbs in three weeks at the Greek Hovel arrives and has suggested that our daily regime should start with a “quick” jog to the village and back. Hmmmm.  I am not so sure that sounds like my idea of paradise but if that is to be the way then by 10th August I shall be at 32 inch waist fighting weight ( at which point incidentally my Body Mass Index should be in what is terms “normal”) category.

So far I reckon I am just under half way there. Now remember when you are watching my next video…. 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Transport Issues at the Greek Hovel – Luckily I am Steve Frigging McQueen

1763 days ago

I had planned to be the owner of a 24 year old jeep today. I thought I had my paperwork in order as I trotted along to Kardimili police station to get my residents permit. Sadly not. I did not have that blue card which means that I am entitled to go into the execution rooms – that is to say Greek hospitals – should I fall sick.

If I do fall sick I am heading back to London. I may be ill but I do not want a minor sickness o turn into automatic death – I will take my chances with the NHS thank you. And as such I saw no reason to have this EI imposed commie state health care civil liberties infringing ID card. But now I do. One has been ordered in the UK and will be fedexed out.

And that left me sans transport. Being stuck in the hovel three miles from the nearest human being without transport struck me as imprudent but horror of all horrors there was not one car to rent in the whole of Kalamata. Hmmmm. Aged 46 ½ I have never ridden a motorbike in my life. But what better place to learn than here.

Hairpin bends, mountain roads, every driver either insane (Greek) or drunk (Northern European). What could be better?



And so I have rented a 100 cc machine (above) and my first ride was from Kalamata back to the hovel. You think of the wind blowing through your hair in beating sun. Think again. I am the only person in Greece wearing a helmet. And as it happened about three miles outside Kalamata a thunderstorm started.

By the time I reached the long and winding road to the hovel it was almost a river. Luckily it seems that I am Steve McQueen from The Great Escape and I managed it almost perfectly.  

This three months was meant to be about challenging myself to do things I have never done before. To refresh and recharge and stretch myself. As such I regard today as a bit of a frigging triumph. I may not be the greatest cyclist in the world but I shall get better.

As I head off to Kambos for a celebratory Greek salad and diet coke I am after two weeks, two inches thinner around the waste, I have made the hovel habitable and I have done something I never planned on doing.

Tomorrow, I finish the eco-loo, start on creating the humanure system and catch up on some writing. After a bit of a down day yesterday, it is game on!

Below pictures of the snake veranda and the Mountains behind showing, I hope, how hard it was raining. It is now bright and sunny and the roads will be drying ready for me to venture out once more.

 

 

 

 

Admin

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Video - If you do not hear from me again: #IstandwithIsrael

1764 days ago

It is a good a day as any to move into my Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) T-shirt. Greece is the most anti-semitic country in Europe according to a recent poll but #IstandwithIsrael - so if you don't hear from me again, it's been fun.

Tom Winnifrith

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Apparently I am not married anymore as I try to help the Greek bailout

1766 days ago

I am trying to buy a motor in Greece. I think that I have found a second hand jeep which can handle to road up to the Greek Hovel as well as taking me on longer trips. Sadly it’s not open top but it has plenty of space n the back for taking junk away. All I need now is the documents that allow me to buy in Greece.

First stop is getting a tax number. I have no intention of paying tax here. You know, when in Rome etc. etc. Well actually I am not going to be channelling any income out here as the tax rates are a joke. Lessons for lefties: if you have high tax rates people cheat the system and the take goes down.

So I took my documents to an accountant. Sadly because my Wedding Certificate is not translated she said “So you are not married in the eyes of Greece and the tax man”. Great: “what are you doing this evening I asked her?” She pretended not to understand and we tootled off to the tax office which was – oddly enough – not crowded. I counted about ten staff and three folks trying to pay tax. I think you can say that sums up Greek Government finances in a nutshell.

After a bit of chit chat I now have a tax number. Now I need a residency permit which involves a trip to see the Old Bill in Kardamili tomorrow and I am off. Mr Toad on the Road in his jeep. Toot Toot.

Tom Winnifrith

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I may be fat but will not be soon, you will always be a moron

1768 days ago

And so I replied to a Quindell (QPP) shareholder who tweeted the constructive suggestion that I was a bit of a fatty. Fair cop I am. I have put on a few pounds over the past two years since hitting fighting weight in the summer of 2012. I blame married life, owning a restaurant with great food, having to drink with Zak Mir etc., etc.

However, I am now back in Greece and on a truly Spartan regime. There is the weight loss caused by manual labour in the sun at the Greek Hovel I cannot say that in the UK I do much manual labour in the sun or otherwise. There are the pounds shed as I pace the one secure room in the hovel late at night wander what on earth is making all those noises outside.

I have not had a drink in ten days…since I arrived. And as for food I might eat one Greek salad with a couple of pieces of bread one day and the next day I have two salads. That is it. No meat, no fish, no pastries not ice cream, nothing to drink other than coffee (no sugar), diet coke and water.

Paul Scott says that this seems a little draconian, but I hate being fat. Not only has my lifestyle caused me to become diabetic but it just looks ugly.  And so I am determined to return to England thinner and ideally actually thin.

Is it working? Well Saleswoman Kathy says it is but I think she is humouring me.  But on the acid test of trousers my Irish rugby shorts are just falling down so are “retired” and I am now in swimming shorts which were tight but are now quite comfortable. As ever it is always the belly fat that is the last to go. But I still have another 69 days of sweating in the sun.

As I noted, I shall be thin soon, the Quindell tweeter will always be a moron.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #72 – Update from The Greek Hovel and Gaza Edition

1769 days ago

Greetings from Greece. As you can see I am now feeling a bit more relaxed in the Greek Hovel. I seem to have curbed the wildlife diversity (touch wood) and explain why I can now wander around barefoot.

A lot has been achieved whatever comrade Dan Levi might suggest on twitter. But there is a lot of work still to do so a summer of sweat and graft still lies ahead.

Moving on from the hovel I turn to Gaza, You know where I stand - #IstandwithIsrael – but I explain again why Israel and Hamas are not morally equivalent and why the suffering of folk in Gaza is largely a result of the actions of Hamas.

My weekly financial video postcard discusses whether AIM is in a bull market or a bear market and can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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ShareProphets (Prophets of Doom), REM, Bulletin Board Morons – a FINAL word

1771 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/6603/shareprophets-prophets-of-doom-rem-bulletin-board-morons-a-final-word

Tom Winnifrith

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Not making myself popular in Greece – The World Cup Final causes a problem

1774 days ago

I snuck out last night to watch the World Cup. The longer it lasted the more I could put off driving back along the long and windy road in the dark to the Greek Hovel. And even worse, to getting out of the car, walking ten yards through the grass to the Greek Hovel wondering what wildlife was lurking in the grass or inside the hovel. As it happens it was a wildlife free experience. Even Mr Rat seems to have “taken his medicine” and disappeared.

The taverna was packed and it soon became clear that I was the only person not supporting the Argies. As the Argies “scored” the taverna rose as one. As the linesman raised his flag for offside one fist punched the air. It was then that the dirty looks started.

How I wished I spoke Greek and could have explained that I too loathe the krauts but that the Argies are for Falkland’s related reasons even worse. But I spoke no Greek and so the loud cheers and increasingly timid punches from me continued. And then the Belgrano moment…The Argies sunk by a sub.  The Taverna was not happy. I was rather hoping that it would go to penalties so postponing my encounter with wildlife diversity back at the hovel but on balance was delighted.

Watching Germans celebrate and Angela Merkel smile and clap with joy caused me no great pleasure but by this time I was getting truly filthy looks from one man in particular.  And so I broke the silence and via an interpreter explained how I had no love for Germany either.  He then spoke in English and started with the war and how the Germans killed lots of Greeks (true), stole their gold (probably true but not unique to Greece) and did not return it and how Greece’s economic woes are all down to the EU and Germany in particular.

Hmmmm, my Great Uncle died fighting the Germans. I did not mention that. Nor did I mention the fate of almost the entire family of two of my daughter’s godparents (i.e. Auschwitz). It was Greece’s call to join the Euro and to stay in. Greece received vast amounts of cash from the EU and pissed it away/allowed rich men to steal it. It is a particular facet of the Greek personality that the woes of this country are everybody’s fault but their own. But these were points I did not fancy tackling with the old man and the other 45 people in the taverna. I agreed that the Germans are ghastly but mentioned the Falklands. To their credit the entire table appreciated this point and accepted that the Argies were pretty frightful too.

Next time Germany is playing football I shall naturally be cheering on whoever they are playing if I am at the Kambos taverna. Unless it is Argentina of course.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #71 – Report From The Greek Hovel Number 7: Church & State in Greece edition

1775 days ago

Greetings from the Greek Hovel. Actually it is not too bad. The Mrs says that it looks quite clean from my photos. Well that is the one habitable room anyway.

I am yet to fit a shower (you might call it a hosepipe and sprinkler attachment) – that is a Monday job so pro tem I am not exactly in pristine condition.  I start with a discussion of my first night in the hovel listening to the wildlife trying to get in.

I then move onto the relationship between Church and State here in Greece. As EU taxpayers are bankrolling this country perhaps we should demand that a quite ludicrous arrangement comes to an end?

My weekly financial video postcard discusses how one should revisit your perceptions of a given stock in light of new information coming to light. It can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture Special – a view to die for: Report from the Greek Hovel Number 5

1776 days ago

By now you might have wondered quite what possessed the Mrs to snap up falling down our Greek hovel in the middle of nowhere and which is teaming with rats and snakes. Hmmm. Good question.  And I have not even started on the works I need to do on the grounds or of the sanitation, er…..issue. But let me show you the view.

I start with the view from the back. The hovel sits on 15,500 square metres of olive groves. It might actually be 16,000 – non-one is exactly sure…this is Greece. From the back one looks over at the other side of the next valley, our land slopes half way down this side. There are a couple of houses there and behind them the mountains where in winter there will be snow.

And then to the front…in this direction lies the sea but it is a good ten miles away. I am not sure that I captured the monastery in these two shots, it is about half way up the other side of the valley, over the top of the brow of the hill is the village of Kambos. The second picture is our land to the side of the house on top of our hill At the far end is a ruin...that is a project for another summer.

And thus as you can see I am surrounded by olives trees, peace and quiet.  The odd goatherd wanders by now and again but that is it as far as human contact goes. It is just me, the olives, the goats and …er, I’d rather not think about that.

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture Special – Report from the Greek Hovel Number 4

1776 days ago

I spare you photos of the Rat Room, aka my bedroom for the next three months. I would not wish to scare the Mrs so will tidy it up a bit first. But it is by far and away the smartest room at the hovel. In fact it is the only one not completely littered with junk and totally unfit for human habitation. It is on the top floor next to the snake veranda.

Here are both from the outside.

 

Beneath it is a former animal room.

 

I did not venture in in case there might have been some animals of the non-domestic type inside. But as you can see from the photo taken through its iron (non snake and rat proof) door it is full of junk and has an earth floor. The window is also broken just in case the snakes and rats could not be bothered to climb through the front door.

In order for it to be able to accommodate my father who is a fraction taller than me, let alone anyone else the first job is to lower the floor by a foot and a half. Luckily the floor is an earth floor. And so all I need to do is to clear the junk, snakes and rats and get digging. God knows what I will find.

Then there is the “master bedroom” beneath the snake veranda. It has a concrete floor and humans used to live here hence the fire in the corner. Right now it seems to be home to half the lizards of the Mani and so shall henceforth be known as the Lizard Room. I am afraid that as I clear out the junk – including a brand new washing machine which the previous owner bought but could not use as she had her water cut off for non-payment (welcome to economics Greece style) – the lizards must also go.

A challenge? Just a bit…

Tom Winnifrith

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The Long & Winding Road – Report from the Greek Hovel Number 2

1776 days ago

I had forgotten just how remote our new Greek hovel was. Leaving the small village of Kambos (three tavernas, three food stores and a place that sells snake repellent) myself and Susan Shimmin from the Real Mani drive our respective cars past a small church. The road as we head downhill is, at first, pretty good. That is because the first building on it – and my nearest neighbour – is a monastery. At this point there are only a few potholes to deal with.

I shall return to the subject of my neighbour, the monk, later. And also to the relationship between State and Church here in Greece. Suffice to say that in an enormous building there is now just one resident. I plan to pop in and say hello at some stage next week.

As we pass the monastery the road deteriorates rapidly. While the Greek State must ensure that the Church is not put out in any way, caring for the needs of its ordinary citizens is no longer affordable. At this point the pot holes become cavernous and the tarmac disappears as we head to the bottom of the valley. I am in first gear and driving at five miles an hour.

At the bottom of the valley there is a river in winter which flows over the road. It is now totally dry but a pond still exists hidden behind the trees. I guess there must be a spring there. That is something else for me to investigate at some point. But now we start the steep climb up the other side of the valley.

Susan pushes on in her battered van. I rather worry about how much I am damaging the underside of my small hire car as the track – it can no longer be called a road at this point twists and turns and we climb, in first gear, slowly towards the house.  After about six or seven minutes the steep climb turns to a gentle rise. The stone walls occasionally crumble in the face of goat attack and I know that getting out to clear away the stones is par for the course. We pass an abandoned well and about twelve minutes after leaving Kambos the olive groves clear a bit and the hovel is in sight.



The gates are padlocked. Naturally everyone in the Mani seems to know where the keys are “hidden.” Since the gates are actually off their hinges and could be pushed over by anyone who cared this process of padlocking is all a bit of a game but we all play it anyway. And we have arrived at the hovel. The enormity of the task ahead is starting to sink in.

Tom Winnifrith

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Would I prefer rats or snakes in my bedroom? Report from the Greek Hovel Number 1

1776 days ago

As you know I am this summer starting the reconstruction of a Greek hovel snapped up by the Mrs. Please do not regard this as an investment. There is more chance of making money from Quindell (QPP) shares than from buying hovels in Greece. Actually that’s a lie. There is zero chance on both counts.

I shall post updates all summer of my progress but I start with the news I received two days before arrival. That is to say that our lovely estate agent Susan from The Real Mani ( who - as her name suggests comes fro an Isle of Man family) reported back on Tuesday that when visiting the hovel she had encounter a rat in the only room that is (vaguely) habitable – the room henceforth known as my bedroom for the summer.

Hmmmmm. I try to look on the bright side. If there are live rats in my bedroom at least it means that the snakes have not managed to penetrate that part of the building. Things can only get better from here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #70 – Off to The Greek Hovel & The Political Paedophile Cover Up Edition

1782 days ago

This may be my last video postcard for a while. The Mrs has bought a hovel in Greece and I am off late on Thursday night to start its renovation. It really is a hovel and right now has no internet and is a 15 minute drive from the nearest habitation. But I will work hard on getting connected ASAP.

And then I shall keep you updated on gripping matters such as the construction of an eco-loo and a humanure system and on bush clearance and digging out an earth floor or tow. Oh.. and on the snake situation.

From humanure I turn to the Westminster paedophile cover-up. It is a cover up and everyone on Fleet Street knows who is being protected and why the ripples could spread far and wide.  The age of those directly involved is no defence as I explain.

My weekly financial video postcard starts with a discussion of those bears who have attacked Quindell (QPP) and blinkx (BLNX) inter alia. Tom explains why they need to be more transparent. Having said that, I also explain why bears play such a key role in protecting investors on AIM. This video can be watched HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Caption Contest – Goats in the Olive Groves Edition

1789 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.”

Tom Winnifrith

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Who to Support in the World Cup? A Hard call

1804 days ago

So Ireland did not make it to Brazil. That leaves me with a dilemma – who to support? If this was Rugby and Ireland were not playing it would be simple: anyone playing England. The swagger, pomposity and arrogance of English rugby drives me to supporting anyone up against the Old Enemy. But I just don’t feel that way about soccer.

The selection of Neanderthal half-wits who wear the England shirt and whichever hapless sap is in charge do not rile me in the slightest. I feel a general sense of contempt for all the Premiership prima donnas but there is no great hostility towards England as a national side. And so on balance I wish England well and will naturally cheer them on for their entire campaign. All three matches.

But I’d rather like to be rooting for a side with a good chance of making it through to the second phases.  And also I really find it hard to root for any team that has as its talisman Wayne Rooney. And every time I see Joe hart on TV earning yet more money promoting shampoo I find myself wishing the mercenary pig nothing but ill.  As such my mind had wandered to Greece. I was told that the Greek team – who collectively earn less than Mr Rooney does on his own – are not that bad.  Having now seen them play I accept that they are quite bad.

Having completed a fiendishly complex sweepstake created on an Excel spreadsheet by a friend of the Mrs which forced the Mrs and I to predict every result and how many goals Messi scores, I now reckon that the last four will be Holland, Portugal, Brazil and the Argies. And I’d go for an all South American final with the hosts winning.

So I cheer for Greece and England. And as neither will make it past the group stages there is unlikely to be a time when I have to choose between the two. After that – how about Holland. As they play in Orange the Ulsterman in me sees the links and they were superb against Spain.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs Buys a hovel in Greece and I head off to the Building Site in July

1831 days ago

I gather that on twitter there are a few folks who thing that I am writing a bit too much and should take up gardening or tai-chi and “chill” Hmmmm. Have I got news for you…

As it happens the Mrs is away for the weekend so I am catching up on a few things. One of which is the paperwork on a new house the Mrs is purchasing in Greece. The deposit is paid tomorrow. It is not a lot as it is a total train wreck.

When we visited it last the only sign of life there was a snake we met sitting on a terrace. The house is not really fit for human habitation but comes with vast amounts of olive groves so can be expanded and renovated over time.  The nearest neighbour is a ten minute walk away and is the one old monk left in a vast monastery. Ten minutes drive along a very rough track gets you to a village.

And so I shall be working like a dervish in the UK until June 30th when, all being well I head off to Greece to start work renovating the place. I do not mind that the shower (pro tem) is a hosepipe or that the outside lavatory does not work. I shall install an eco-loo (more on that later) in my first week. I will work alongside the Greek builders as their Albanian (i.e. unskilled labourer) for three months so that by the time the Mrs arrives in August to inspect her new property it is just about habitable and by the end of September, phase one will be complete.

I am ensuring that the fridge contains antidote in case I meet any other snakes and that I can somehow connect to the Internet so that I can write when not building. If three months on a building site in 39 degree heat does not knock me into shape nothing will.

So twitter friends, how’s that for relaxing?

Tom Winnifrith

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Capitalism works…even in Greece

1839 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/5381/capitalism-works-even-in-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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Minoan – a few Thoughts from Greece

1844 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/5289/minoan-a-few-thoughts-from-greece

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs in the Doghouse – Endeavour & Nashville

1845 days ago

Before leaving for Greece I asked the Mrs to do just one thing and to swear that she had done it: set the TV to record Endeavour and Nashville. She swore that she had.

I arrived home at 3.45 AM and by mid-morning she had finally fessed up. I ask you: is this not a breach of my human rights? Can I not seek compensation from someone?

We have been working hard on ITV Player and C4 Catch Up and are now only 1 episode of Endeavour (the young Inspector Morse) and two Nashville’s awry. She is forgiven but only just.

Tom Winnifrith

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A final bitter taste of Greece - a "sharp" waiter at the Athens Sofitel

1845 days ago

It turns out that I have an hour or two to kill at Athens airport and so naturally decide to go to the Sofitel hotel, to sit outside rent an hour’s internet use to write another article about Quindell and have a coffee. I know that it will be expensive (11 Euro) but I will enjoy writing, smoking and having a coffee in the warm late afternoon air. 

I write first and then go online to ensure that my whole hour is used wisely. Naturally Sofitel cuts me off after 45 minutes. But the articles are written and I ask for my bill and hand the chap a ten euro note and a 5 euro note.

In the west a waiter would return promptly with 4 Euro change (if he is sensible as one 2 euro coin and two 1 euro coins) and would probably expect a tip of a euro at least. But this is Greece and after more than five minutes the waiter has not returned.

I wander inside and he is sitting behind the bar polishing glasses not serving anyone. “My change” I ask and he hands over a plate which was sitting next to him with for Euros on it.  No fucking tip for you Stavros.

The game he plays is simple. Some folks will have to rush to catch a plane, others will be to embarrassed to ask and so five times out of ten he will get to trouser 4 tax free Euros by behaving as he has done.  Only once in a lifetime will he get a chippy Brit who: demands his change, gives no tip and then posts an article on the Internet saying that the Sofitel hotel Athens charges ludicrous prices and should be having a few words with Stavros the waiter about the way he does business. 

Natch nothing will change, this is the side of Greece than leaves a bitter aftertaste as does my encounter with a bent taxi driver just minutes before.

I love Greece and will be back soon, but not everyone is so forgiving.

Tom Winnifrith

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A last bitter taste of Greece

1846 days ago

I watch West Ham beat Spurs, chat to a pleasant Anglo Greek bird who asks to borrow a lighter and turns out to be the daughter of a woman who has met my Dad in the scholarly study of Northern Epirus and it is off to the airport.  I know that it is a fixed fare but the driver starts the meter running.

We arrive and the clock says just under 26 Euro. Manfully he adds in a multiple of the tolls we have paid and we are still only at 31 Euro. So he turns round and having logged the 31 Euro as a print off he says “fixed fare 35 Euro” and shows me the a laminated card laughing.

I know full well that had we had more traffic and the total been 40 Euro he’s have chanced his arm and asked me for 40 Euro because most tourists just pay. That is why he set the meter running for a fixed fare. As it happens the total despite his toll swindle is only 31 Euro so: I pay the 35 Euro. he declares 31 Euro for tax purposes (if that) and 4 Euro disappears into the black economy. I am afraid that this remains the Greek way. Too many folks here think that swindling a foreigner and cheating the tax man is all part of the game.

I accept that it is the Greek way. The taxi driver was just a laughing wanker. I know that. I do not bear a grudge against Greece or the Greek people. I love it here and will be back soon. But one day folks here will have to learn that taxes are not optional and that swindling foreigners so brazenly is not a way to win long term friends.

Tom Winnifrith

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Getting Organised for the trip back, but planning to be back in Greece in July on a building site

1847 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.

Tom Winnifrith

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Huge Cultural Insensitivity by the Mrs in Epidavros…I am going to have to report her to the Liverpool Police

1848 days ago

The Mrs has been to the Peloponnese many times to visit her in-laws but, as far as I can see, has never visited a single site of antiquity. That all changed this holiday and so on her final day we stopped off at Epidavros on the way back to Athens.

As I am sure you are aware Epidavros is an ancient Greek theatre capable of holding thousands of folk which is remarkable because wherever you sit you can hear almost a whisper on stage. The Greeks built this amazing structure when back in the UK we were still living in caves and swinging from trees. It is amazing.

To show her how it worked, the Mrs climbed up high into the upper tiers and I stood centre stage and – in what have must confused a party of Korean tourists – launched into song.

In Dublin’s fair City,
where the Girls are so Pretty
I first set my eyes on Sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
through streets broad and narrow
Crying Cockles and Muscles, Alive, Alive-oh

Did you hear me? I asked the Mrs as she clambered down. Yes perfectly she said. I got that bit about cockles and muscles but what town is it about and who is Molly Malone?

Saints preserve me. Such crass cultural ignorance shown by an Englishwoman to a man of Irish descent. I read that the Merseyside Police are to massively expand their hate crime units to help folks like me who feel hurt and upset by words they feel show insensitivity on matters of race and ethnicity. I guess it is my civic duty to report the Mrs at once.

 

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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More Grilled Sheep Intestine Sir?

1849 days ago

It was one of the good ideas of the Mrs. She searched the internet and found the second most highly rated restaurant in Napfio (the first capital of modern Greece). And so off we marched. It was a little off the beaten track but she was sure that it was worth it.

In due course we arrived in the sort of residential neighbourhood that has yet to benefit from gentrification and oddly enough we were the only customers of this fine establishment with rave reviews on the internet. Inside was woman who must have been 85 and in due course her son (60) arrived on his motorbike. And then there was us.

Outside two large dogs barked loudly. But sitting on a chair beneath a table was a large black cat with flecks of grey on his fur and with one eye and half an ear missing. He yawned and the dogs fled nervously. We decided to sit outside with the cat.

The menu was extensive but as is the way in Greece nearly everything was unavailable. The Mrs opted for Souvlaki – a safe but dull call – but my eye was drawn at once to “grilled intestines.” The waiter noted that my choice was “brave” and scuttled off.

As our food arrived the big cat stirred and approached the Mrs rising on its haunches in a menacing manner.  Other little cats (Fagin’s young helpers) appeared to look sweet and warm the heart of the Mrs who was not much taken with the menacing big cat. Chucking a titbit to the young cats failed to work. Big menacing cat strode off, cuffed the tiddlers, ate the food, and went back to menacing the Mrs.

And then my grilled intestine arrived.  I ordered it on the basis that one should try all foods once. I have eaten guinea pig and locusts so what could be so bad about intestine? Moreover I share the view of Hugh F-W that if an animal has died so that humans can eat it is offensive just to east the “best bits” and use the rest as animal food or as ingredients for Iceland frozen foods.

Part of the dish was some rather chewy stringy bits shaped like Fettuccine, the other half some lumps of a substance which looked a bit like liver. The taste? It was rather good, a bit like liver and the chewy bits were delicious. After a while I thought to ask “intestine of what?” It was sheep intestine. That I offered a few bits to the menacing big cat was merely to stop him menacing the Mrs, I’d happily go back for another helping myself.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Jamie Oliver inflicted on Greece – haven’t the poor bastards suffered enough?

1849 days ago

Wandering through the streets of Athens today I happened upon a book stall set up by the side of the road. Pride of place at the top of the heap was the Greek version of one of Jamie Oliver’s works.

Youth unemployment at 65%, unemployment at 30%, massive cuts in the standard of living, corrupt politicians, German imposed austerity, the music of Nana Mouskori, Nazi Occupation in World War Two, a bitter Civil war afterwards and now Jamie. Surely it is time to say that poor Greece has suffered enough and that it does not need this one last misery heaped upon its suffering people?

Tom Winnifrith

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Globo – Pre Results day stalking video and photos in Greece

1849 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/5225/globo-pre-results-day-stalking-video-and-photos

Tom Winnifrith

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Riot porn from Athens Greece on the way on May 1st – your man is on the spot camera in hand

1849 days ago

Unless I am very much mistaken the poster below advertisers a worker’s day demonstration in Syntagma Square Athens, opposite the Parliament of Greece on May 1st. As you know I want to help the workers at every opportunity and so shall be there to show solidarity.

Of course workers would be far better off and have far more opportunity for material advancement ( i.e. higher take-home pay) if employers were encouraged to take them on by abolishing the minimum wage, scrapping employers NI, abolishing all “employment rights” laws, taking anyone on under £20,000 out of the tax system etc. But I am not sure that I will share my thoughts of anarcho-capitalism with the comrades tomorrow.



Will it be a peaceful demo? Hmmm, I sense that rioting can become a bit addictive. Once you have hurled a few smoke canisters at the old bill, it is hard to say no should the opportunity arise again. And while workers of the world may be united in their hatred of wicked capitalists (aka those who risk their own cash to create jobs) the workers in Greece also hate their own corrupt politicians, the EU, the Euro, Angela Merkel etc. with a passion and a justified one to boot. I have more than a little sympathy with them.

As such the Greek Riot Police are ready for anything. The photo below shows a stash of riot shields next to a van just around the corner from the Square.



I shall be wandering down after breakfast camera in hand to catch all the action. Roll on the riot pornography…

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs & The Countdown to releasing the cats from cat prison

1850 days ago

In the end the Mrs could bear it no longer and left a day early to secure the release from cat prison of her two “puddings” Tara and Oakley. For the last five days of the holiday it was “only four days to the puddings” and only “three days and 16 hours” to go.

Every time we ate in a restaurant and were inevitably surrounded by a bunch of scrawny Greek cats we would both throw them bits of food to ease the guilt of confining Tata and Oakley to cat prison. “Should we order an extra portion of whitebait just for the cats” we asked ourselves.

And so at ten am the doors will open at the cat prison. The Mrs will, having arrived back in Bristol at 1.30 AM, having been waiting impatiently outside for quite some time. The reunion will be joyful. I am expecting – and am happy to pay – a huge roaming phone bill – as text images of Tara and Oakley are sent over this morning. By 10.30 the cats will be back home, being pampered with treats and sitting with the Mrs as she catches up on two weeks of Coronation Street.

Did I mention that the Mrs is hooked on The Street? I really do not understand it at all. I guess it is something for those from the Grim North only.

Tom Winnifrith

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Easter Day Goat in Greece

1857 days ago

Easter Sunday was spent with the in-laws of the Mrs who live in a tiny village south of Kalamata and naturally for lunch (for 16 of us) it was goat. With vegetables aplenty and an amazing lentil and feta salad it was a true feast. But at the centre of it all was goat.

So here is a before shot….all say aaaaaaagh.

Then some Albanians are called in to “do the deed” and the next step is…

Yes those are, if you look closely, its teeth.

And after it has been hacked into six or seven chunks it is ready to serve.

 

Having been kept moist throughout the roasting with the juice from lemons the size of croquet balls, it was fantastic.

Tom Winnifrith

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Happy Easter from Greece

1860 days ago

Greece takes Easter a lot more seriously than we do.  In many ways it is more important than Christmas. Since Thursday the night air has be split by the sound of home-made fire crackers going off. No bothering with elf n safey here. In fact it has just turned midnight and suddenly the crackers are sounding off with a new intensity and I can hear bells from Churches all around us. Happy Easter, Christ is risen.

On the evening of Good Friday we drove down to the local village to see a candlelight procession. At the front a young man laboured to carry a huge cross. Behind him the local priest bossed a gaggle of young kids carrying smaller crosses. Behind the priest several strapping men carried a shrine and incense was swung. And behind them virtually the whole village trouped along carrying candles on their way to the Church a mile away.

In my wife’s brother in law’s village about seventy miles away instead of a shrine they carry a coffin.

After the service, having forsaken many things for lent the eating begins. It is for this weekend that lambs were born.

Tomorrow we will no doubt be dining on young goat over with the in-laws. At breakfast in that household as in this hotel room we will play some game with dyed eggs seeing whose egg is most resilient to being cracked. The Mrs has tried explaining it to me but I am not sure I get it. Anyhow, we have been presented with our own coloured eggs for the morning.

And then it is off to the wi-fi free zone of the in-laws. Chocolate for the kids, goat for the adults and large amounts of alcohol. With a hangover, I shall then stumble out of bed on Monday for my second lesson in how to milk a goat.

From the Mrs & from me, we wish you all a Happy Easter

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Political Video Postcard #63 the Mani history and the future tragedy of Greece edition

1860 days ago

This week’s video postcard comes from the Mani, the region which is at the southernmost point of mainland Greece. But do not be fooled into thinking I am lounging by a swimming pool it is frigging friezing here.

It is however gorgeous. Everywhere one goes the mountains stare down at you. Some still have snow on them, most seem to be covered in rain bearing clouds.



The history of the Mani is fascinating. It was here that the flag of revolt was first raised at the start of the Greek war of independence from the Turks. The Maniots, like the fellow below, are a fierce lot.



My video postcard covers some of the history of the Mani but then moves onto how the local and wider Greek economy is "recovering". I think any recovery is illusory and explain why as a long term bet Greece is buggered.

My weekly financial postcard covers short term stock movements and how tipsters are irrelevant. It can be viewed here

Tom Winnifrith

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Master Chief in Greece? MeThinks Not

1860 days ago

In our wicked English way we always have a little fun at how the foreigners mangle our language. In that vein I bring you a sign from outside what brands itself as one of the top cake shops in the Mani region thanks to its superb cook. Well he is clearly the boss anyway.

Tom Winnifrith

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Globo – See you chaps in Athens on 30th April for a Results Day Video Doorstep

1862 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/4958/globo-see-you-chaps-in-athens-on-30th-april-for-a-results-day-video-doorstep

Tom Winnifrith

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The Death of David Cochrane – more details, the snails and a question for my father

1866 days ago

I am sitting in a little café in Delphi and have found a 95 year old man to chat to. He offers up two more details on the death of my great uncle David Cochrane in 1931, one of which begs a question for my father.

The first is just on how the body was found in 1932 a year after the death. It seems as if the folks from Desfina were on the mountain collecting snails. It is not just the French who eat l’escargot. And it was on the snail hunt that they found the badly decayed body of David. The consensus here is that he was buried in Delphi in the North East part of the churchyard where there are a small number of protestant graves from the 40s onwards. But as I have described before bones are removed after a while and that appears to have been what happened to those of David. I have checked that part of the yard in detail.

The question for my father is what happened to David’s Camera? It was found with his body and like his other possessions returned to England. Did anyone ever develop the film which would undoubtedly have had footage of his last few days in Desfina and possibly of his last walk? Possibly he was shooting the sort of photos I took two days ago when he slipped and fell.

Over to you Tom Winnifrith Snr…

PS A Young man said that they guy at the town hall in Delphi, who I cannot thank enough for his help, has shared my video with him on facebook. He says “ah you are the man…” If anyone has any more details I guess they know how to get hold of me. For my father who terms the internet Beelzebub, you see..it has some purpose. I will explain to him later what facebook is.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Sad End to the David Cochrane quest – chatting to the priest in Delphi

1867 days ago

On my way back from ancient Delphi I climbed the seemingly endless steps to the Church and graveyard here for one last look at the small cluster of protestant stones in the corner. As last time, there was no David. But on my way back to my hotel I bumped into George, owner of the excellent Hotel Pitho and we spotted the priest…in a taverna.

He had been told about me and we chatted. No Church records would have been kept of a non-Orthodox burial and as David was a protestant that meant one dead end.

I am certain that having fallen down the Delphi (not Desfina) side of Mount kirthos/Cochrane he would have been buried here. A letter from the foreign office to the then Sir George Young states that my great grandparents wanted him buried “locally”.

Thus according to Greek tradition his bones would have been removed after a couple of decades but after a while the box in the charnel house would have contained nothing but dust. I asked the priest what happens then? “A hole” said he. So that is it, the last remains of David went down a hole with the dust that was one other residents of the Delphi graveyard. His dust now mingles with the Greek soil.

And so there is nothing to take back from Greece to England. Nothing physical anyway. The photos of Cochrane Mountain and tales of how he is remembered via the mountain, even if fewer and fewer folks know the full story, go back with me. I know that various family members have already seen the photos.  This part of the story is now over. There is little more that can be discovered.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #62 from Delphi Greece: Cyril Smith was just one of the leading paedo-politiians will the establishment come clean on the rest edition

1867 days ago

My last video postcard from Delphi starts with a morning trotting around the site of the ancient Delphi. I explain in the video what the pictures are of. Away from the main site and with my back to the Cochrane Mountain I recorded a few thoughts on the revelations coming out today about the late Sir Cyril Smith MP who was clearly a serial predatory paedophile.

That Smith was a nonce is bad enough. What is clear is that the entire political establishment knew and together with the Police not only ignored this but actively covered it up.  This is not just an issue for Liberals like David Steel who nominated Smith for a knighthood. This is yet another example of the “one rule for them one for the plebs” attitude of the political classes.

The other parties knew about Smith. They did not blow the whistle because they had their own nonces. The media and political world knows the names. There are two that spring to mine both still living both awarded titles post retirement and both former senior cabinet minister (one Tory and one Labour).

Whether it be stealing from the taxpayer via expenses or buggering little boys the political class just seems to unite and get away with it. That is why the established parties are all held in increasing contempt.  What the Smith affair shows about ALL the political parties is yet another Christmas come early gift for UKIP.

If Call Me Dave etc. want to start to reconnect with the plebs who pay their salaries an easy immediate step would be to order the security services to release all the files on the other paedo MPs and let prosecutions commence at once.

My financial video postcard also comes from Delphi and covers inter alia Globo, the UK economy and also the “recovery” here in Greece and it can be viewed HERE

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The stadium at Delphi

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A second view of the stadium

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A third view of the stadium

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The Theatre at Delphi from above

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The Theatre at Delphi

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The Temple of Apollo

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Another view of the Temple of Apollo

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The Athenian Treasury

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The rock that was the Oracle

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Another view of the Oracle

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The Temple of Athena

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The Treasury of Marseilles

 

Admin

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Video & Photos: Finding the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane in Delphi – Part 2

1868 days ago

My thanks to the officials in the Town Halls at Delphi and at Desfina today – both have gone out of the way to help me find out more about the death of my Great Uncle David Cochrane here in 1931.

There will be no grave to be found, of that I am now certain. But having a Mountain named after you is a pretty spectacular headstone. Today I stood on the spot from where he fell. And I learned of the last days of his life.

I relay that in the video below with pictures of my day also attached. The warmth and generosity of the Greeks in 1931/2 is matched by the warmth of the people of Delphi and Desfina today. I am keeping a bar owner up late sending this video back to London. But he says it is no problem. “It is an honour to meet a relative of Cochrane… a great man.” I am not sure that David was a great man but his name opens all sorts of doors for me here.

I reflect on some folks back in England in 1932 not with any great warmth.






The Cochrane Trail



The daisies that surround the top of Cochrane Mountain



The view of snow-capped Mount Parnassus from where David Fell



The view of Delphi from where David fell



Ilyas on the rock from where David fell



The drop



The drop again



The drop once more



The Cochrane Observatory

Tom Winnifrith

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Finding the Grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane in Delphi: video 1: an amazing discovery

1869 days ago

I have not discovered the grave of my Great Uncle David Cochrane who died here in Greece in April 1931 and whose body was found a year later. But I have trekked up to the cemetery here in Delphi (that burned off a few calories) and have made headway.

And thanks to George, the charming owner of my hotel I have also discovered Cochrane Mountain. In death, David is remembered.

All is explained in the video and I attach three pictures as well which I refer to in the video.

The Charnel House in Delphi

The view from the graveyard – old Delphi

Cochrane Mountain

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #61 – Maria Miller looks like a greedy pig and she is a greedy pig edition

1873 days ago

My weekly video postcard covers greedy pig sleazy minister Maria Miller and the corruption of the political classes – this is not just about Miller although why she has not be fired escapes me it is about the whole system.

Next week I am in Delphi, I shall try to get footage home but like many things in Greece, the internet does not always work.

My weekly financial video postcard covers the fireworks at the UK Investor Show and can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Farewell to Bristol for a Month

1878 days ago

A little bit of a misunderstanding with the Mrs and the alarm clock saw me still soundly asleep as the 4.47 AM pulled out of Bristol today. In the end I had a pleasant lie-in, worked in the morning and just after lunch (an apple) kissed goodbye to the cats and the Mrs and headed off. Now in London I will not see Bristol, or the cats, again for more than a month.

The Mrs is heading up later in the week for her Birthday and the UK Investor Show on Saturday where she will be personfully ( you see dearest, I can be PC if I try)  looking after speakers in one of the breakout rooms and then wandering around with her parents who are also attending. Tes, the mother-in-law is coming to the show. Be very afraid. I am. I guess I won’t be swearing all day just in case she hears and gives me a scary and dirty look.

And then a few farewells and it is off to Greece on my own at first as I try to find the grave of my great uncle David. Thereafter the Mrs joins me as we spend a couple of weeks in the Mani where – I warn you – the internet connection can be patchy. It will be early May before I get back to Bristol, the cats, a new kitchen sort of designed by me with a lovely new Range Cooker. It seems like a long time away but I am sure that time will fly.

Anyhow my battered and well-travelled rucksack is packed and with me as we prepare to go hill walking in Greece once again. I really cannot wait.

Tom Winnifrith

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Gulf Keystone: News from the Bond Market (bad) & Just how margined are the bulls (scary)

1878 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/4754/gulf-keystone-news-from-the-bond-market-bad-just-how-margined-are-the-bulls-scary

Tom Winnifrith

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Endeavour is back – the highlight of the weekend beckons

1880 days ago

Is it criminal to say that of Endeavour, Morse and Lewis I am perhaps the biggest fan of the young Morse? Perhaps it is because I have all the Morse and Lewis episodes on DVD and also torture the Mrs by watching them whenever I can on ITV 3 so Endeavour is just that bit fresher?

Perhaps it is because the relationship between Endeavour and Fred Thursday is just so different to the Morse/Lewis and the Lewis/Hathaway pairings? That is no to say that they were not wonderful contrasts and watching the last ever Morse (again) the other week was still very moving. Maybe it is the setting in the early sixties, a period I do not know that is so appealing?

Whatever the reason, the highlight of the weekend looms. For two hours I shall be away from my PC, not thinking about the UK Investor Show next Saturday or the holiday to Greece that follows. Today is Endeavour day as the new series begins.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #60: Three Reasons to Vote UKIP (albeit holding nose) on May 22nd Edition

1880 days ago

My weekly video postcard is longer than usual as I will probably not record another for two weeks.

I am now 100% focussed on preparing for the UK Investor Show on Saturday April 5 and I touch on what I am looking forward to next week most, notably the shareholder activism session. You can still grab one of the last 50 seats going by clicking HERE.

After that I am off to Greece and I shall be sending back a few videos from a country which, I shall argue, has suffered both from being in the Euro but also from EU membership.

In that vein the meat of this video postcard covers the three reasons why, holding my nose, I shall almost certainly vote UKIP on May 22nd.

Tom’s weekly financial postcard covers Minoan, EMED, Globo, Gulf Keystone and more on the UK Investor Show. To watch that video click HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Post-Independence Scotland – The Map once the welfare junkies Fuck Off

1881 days ago

As you know I am a keen supporter of Scottish Independence. A country where 88% of the population are net takers from the State is of no benefit to the rest of the United Kindgom. As far as I am concerned, the sooner that the welfare junkies of the Greece of the North fuck off to wallow in their own brand of unpleasant nationalism and self-inflicted poverty the better.

If Alex Salmond wins the day he will be the hero….of every hard working taxpayer south of the Border.

As such I bring you a map of post-Independence Scotland

Tom Winnifrith

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The Scales Have Arrived and this is not good news at all

1889 days ago

The new scales have arrived and quick as a flash I was naked and staring at the screen. As I expected I am over 15 stone (15 st 6 llbs to be exact). Maybe after my 7th day off the sauce and after going for a walk this afternoon I shall be a bit lighter tomorrow morning but however I look at this, it is not good news.

A long discussion with Lucian Miers who is dieting hard but tells me that he is still borderline obese according to his Body mass Index ensued and my own BMI comes in at 28.5 - closer to obese than normal but technically “overweight”. Tell me something I did not know. You can check your own BMI with a fun sliding calculator which I have been playing with for a good few minutes HERE

If I can get to 14 stone 6 then I am given a BMI of 27 (still overweight, but closer to normal than Lucian/Obese). My weight when I was playing rugby or training at London Irish five days a week was 14 stone 7 and so I think that as a very first stop I’d be delighted to get to 14.6.  To be classed as normal I have to get to 13.11 which seems a) an awfully long way away and b) rather more embarrassingly, is what I was in August 2012.

My weight loss then was assisted by the enormous stress of having my entire life fall apart and then by spending weeks walking around the mountains of Greece & Albania. I am hoping to avoid repeating the first part of that but perhaps the stress ahead of UK Investor Show on April 5 will be a substitute. Then it is off to Greece for the walking.

First stop, pound by pound is to get back to the 14s. The good news is that (as I know from experience) in the 15s the weight slips off very quickly indeed on a regime of Spartan calorie intake and exercise and that should continue until the mid 14s. Thereafter the battle gets harder. But first stop 14.13!

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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My trousers are falling down

1891 days ago

Long time readers will know that I face a perennial battle with my weight. My scales are broken and so I am reduced to monitoring the great fight by trouser size. At my fat bastard peak I was a 44 inch waist (19 stone six). Awful. My fighting weight sees me in 32 inch waist trousers and at just over 14 stone – that is easily a normal Body Mass Index.

Being a real man I loathe shopping for clothes but reluctantly agreed with the Mrs that a new pair of black jeans was needed last week. I ventured into Top Man and nervously wondered what size to try on. 32 inches was not an option, I am aware that I have put on a few pounds.  Rather timidly I tried on a 36. And they seemed to fit so I quickly invested £30 and scuttled out as fast as I could.

Five days into my Spartan, in sympathy with my obese three legged cat Oakley, diet and off the sauce it strikes me that the situation is not as bad as first feared. My trousers are falling down. That is the first bit of good news. The second is that I am rather enjoying being off the sauce, I am more productive and feel less tired. I am also avoiding my other great weakness, cheese. Carrots are not that bad really.

 The bad news is that I must again trot along to Top Man and splash out another £30 as I am clearly a 34. At this rate a 32 beckons by the time I have completed some April walking in Greece.

As for Oakley…do not ask. He is really not taking this seriously at all.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Postcard #58 – Great Uncles, Great Rugby, Bob Crow and the deceit of the left edition

1894 days ago

Inevitably I start this weekend’s video postcard with the Rugby. I am sure that most of my English based readers were cheering for France yesterday. To my Celtic brethren who were rooting for Ireland – I am sure that you can share my joy. Gosh it was nerve wracking. 

I then move onto the mysteries of my dead Great Uncles. If there is anyone out there who can track down Diana Norman, born 1915 who married (after the death of my Great Uncle Francis) a Mr Caulfield Stoker in 1947 (he then popped his clogs in Guernsey in 1954) I would be grateful. I can find no death certificate for Diana who would be 99 now but for reasons explained in the video and this article I am keen to track her down. 

I then move onto Bob Crow. I celebrate no death. Equally I do not mince my words and Crow screwed the poor working classes and that should be noted rather than simply eulogising Saint Bob.

This is a wider issue: how and why the left systematically keep the working classes poor and that this the main theme of this video.

My weekly financial video covers shareholder activism a major theme of UK Investor Show which is now a day less than three weeks away.  Tickets start to go out tomorrow. If you have not booked please do so at once HERE

You can watch my financial video postcard HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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The Great Uncles in Greek Graves – far more questions than answers

1898 days ago

My video postcard this weekend covered my plans to go to Greece after the UK Investor Show to track down the graves of my two great Uncles: Francis and David Cochrane. I think we have now firmly established that Francis is buried in Egypt (contrary to a family myth) where he died on December 21st 1942 from wounds received fighting the Germans. For him the great mystery is the odd circumstances of his marriage.

He married a Diana Norman in Paddington in the late summer of 1938. Apparently the witness at the registry office was the taxi driver. However despite living in Chelsea, two miles from my grandparents and fifteen miles from his parents, he did not tell anyone of his marriage until the summer of 1942 (my Grandmother’s diary confirms this) when, before leaving for Egypt he visited relatives with his bride of four years.

This seems very odd behaviour. Almost as odd is that this is the last time Diana Norman is seen – she had absolutely no contact thereafter with my family. I can find no record of her death so can only assume that she is either still alive (she would now be 99), died abroad or re-married and has died under another name. Investigations continue. My father and I are on the case.

As for poor David, he is certainly buried in Greece. I have today received two items from my father. The first is a letter to the Times from Mr Caclamanos of the Greek Legation in London. It protests in the strongest terms about the actions of Sir George Young, grandfather of the current Leader of the House and of my step-mother, who had taken up the case of David, insisting that he had been killed by brigands or by shepherds who, according to Sir George, routinely killed anyone who tried to stop their dogs barking.

The Greek states that “I understand that the contents of the letter and other declarations of Sir George of this subject, sent out in Press telegrams, have caused an outburst of protests in Greece, and they are considered an unjust and unfair comment of a sad, fortuitous event, which could not in any way reflect upon the reputation of a country justly claiming to be safe for tourists and travellers as any other civilised country.”

To his eternal credit, Sir George worked tirelessly on this case because his wife was my Great Grandmother’s sister. My father is indeed married to his second cousin.  The second item to arrive from Shipston is a rather sad letter from the Foreign Office to Sir George noting that, after a year missing, the remains of the body of poor David had been found in thick bushes with his passport, a cheque and his English money and gold watch. No brigands, no robbery, he simply fell down a ravine. 

This letter confirms that following the wishes of David’s father, “regarding the burial locally of the remains have been communicated to his Majesty’s Minister.” It seems that no-one travelled out to Greece for the funeral but the grave is almost certainly in Delphi or nearby. And thus it is to Delphi that I will be heading in April.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly video postcard #57 – Reflections on the “Greek” Graves of my Great Uncles Edition

1901 days ago

Rather a personal as opposed to a political postcard this week. For the next four weeks my life is almost 100% centred on preparing for the UK Investor Show on April 5. If you have NOT booked a ticket yet, shame on you – book now HERE.

But what to do afterwards? I shall be absolutely exhausted. I am already but slog on. And so it will be off to Greece with my rucksack for a month’s walking. Partly with the Mrs, partly alone as I search out the graves of two Great Uncles, the only brothers of my father’s mother who are meant to be buried there. I recount their deaths (1931 and WW2) and their stories in this postcard.

My weekly financial video postcard “Why do I do it?” sees me discussing why I “go after” companies on the AIM Cesspit. It can be viewed HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Globo – what the f**k is going on with its auditors?

1903 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/4329/globo-what-the-fk-is-going-on-with-its-auditors

Tom Winnifrith

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EU to Offer 11 billion Euro in aid to Ukraine – with what ffing cash?

1905 days ago

The democratically elected President of Ukraine was a prize rotter but was ousted in a coup. The EU supported that coup because the old guy was not so keen on joining the warm embrace of the EU.

The Ukraine is bankrupt. It is set to default on its debts because a) its bloated Government spends too much, b) it was and probably still is run by crooks.

Large parts of the Ukraine do not want to join the EU. Sadly those large parts are generally the economically viable Russian speaking parts in the East. It is the unviable Western bits that wish to sign up to the joys of the EU. And, having prompted this mess with its meddling, the EU now wishes to send 11 billion Euro off out east. But hang on a sec? The EU has its own deficit. It has only just asked the UK to pony up an extra couple of billion quid to cover that black hole.  Several of its existing members (Greece, Spain, Italy, etc) are themselves bust.

Where is this 11 billion coming from? The bloody Money Tree of course. That is to say taxpayers in the not yet bust EU countries now. And future generations of taxpayers in any EU country that is still solvent in years to come.

Grotesquely overpaid politicians love spending other folk’s cash and the EU serves up the worst offenders in this respect – step forward Cathy Ashton, for example. When will it learn its lesson: a) stop meddling outside the EU, b) sort out your own near-terminal problems before trying to fix those of others?

The EU fostered the coup and now wishes to send your cash to support a regime containing a good sprinkling of Jew hating neo-Nazis.  It should instead be apologising, firing the lead meddlers and allowing Ukraine to go bust and market forces to work their magic.

Which country has done better since it faced bankruptcy Greece or Iceland. The former gets the EU bailouts, the crooks stay in charge and is still bust with its population facing economic Armageddon. The latter went bust, sent the crooks to gaol, reconstructed and is now the fastest growing economy in Europe.

 I guess Ukraine wishes to follow the Greek model.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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The Schadenfreude spilleth over as Man United Kebabbed in Athens

1913 days ago

For years, the cheers emanating from Manchester United’s tribal heartlands of Surry and the New Forrest have been deafening. The Red Devils won everything and the rest of us had to suffer the delight of a legion of fair-weather supporters. The boot is now on the other foot.

A few years ago an away leg at Greek Champions Olympiacos would have been a stroll in the park. But tonight United played as badly in Europe as they have at home and have been kebabbed 2-0. As a Hellenophile I take a double delight in this result. Mighty Hellas has put the men of Moyes to the sword.

No European football next year will put a real strain on the finances of Manchester United Inc, the NASDAQ listed company. And that could prove really entertaining as the budget to replace some of its ageing team is curbed. Oh happy days.

On twitter it is being suggested that United should sack manager David Moyes and replace him with newly unemployed Piers Morgan…he couldn’t do any worse could he?

Tom Winnifrith

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The Winter Olympics – spin as the begging bowl goes out again

1913 days ago

The Winter Olympics is being heralded as a triumph for Team GB and if only we spend even more we are promised even greater glory in 2018 in Korea. Yeah…bollocks.

The claim is that with four medals these were the most successful games for us Brits since the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924. Er…meet medal inflation.

In 1924 there were 16 events and with one join bronze awarded the UK picked up 4 medals out of a total of 49 medals awarded. That works out at roughly 1 in 12 medals going back to Blighty.

In 2014 there were 98 events (12 more than in 2010) which makes 296 medals awarded so team GB in fact picked up one in 74 medals. As in the book by the Great Melanie Phillips, “All Must have Prizes,” Team GB was six times less successful in 2014 than we were in 1924. Keep on adding the events and Team GB might win 5 next time. How about that new winter sport: The 100 metre swim through icy sewerage to reach the village store? I gather that the Somerset County squad is pretty experienced.

The problem Team GB will have is that we do not get much snow in the UK so for most winter sports the only kids growing up to play will be the offspring of the very rich who spent the winter in the folk’s chalet in Chamonix. And then there is also curling which rivals whingeing about English oppression and trying to die as young as possible by gorging on Deep Fried Mars Bars, pints of Heavy and Benson & Hedges as the national sports of Scotland. A post-independence GB denied glory in bowls on ice would have won just two medals from the posh folk’s sports.

But, with or without the Greece of the North as part of Team GB, we will never flourish at the Winter Olympics. If anything our relative decline of the past 90 years will just gradually continue.

However, these statistically flawed claims of success are now being wheeled out to demand more cash. Over the past four years UK Sport invested £13.4 million from lottery and exchequer funding to achieve the relative failure of four medals – it probably wasted another couple of million quid deciding which particular losers should get the dosh. The lottery is a tax on the poor and the stupid so this is effectively ALL taxpayers’ cash being funded to support the ambitions of, generally, very middle and upper class folks who in the end will invariably fail to win medals.

Can the sports lobby stop lying about success, it is just time to turn the tap off and use the cash to cut taxes for low paid workers, cut the deficit or for something more useful and less doomed to failure.

Tom Winnifrith

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Has Greece Gone Away?

1929 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/3904/has-greece-gone-away

Tom Winnifrith

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The Scots cannot have Independence and a blank cheque from England – Can’t they just Fuck Off and Go it 100% alone?

1955 days ago

The Scots it would appear have negotiated the deal of the Century with England for post-independence financial Armageddon. They get the freedom. The English get to pick up the tab.

The Scots would be able to set their own budgets, their own tax rates and spend as much as they want yet the English taxpayer c/o the English Treasury has agreed to underwrite its debt. This is sheer insanity.

87% of Scots take from the State (in terms of services, welfare, etc.) more than they give. And thus Scotland has found itself with an electorate which things that austerity means deep fried mars bars all round on the State being cut back to only 6 days a week.  Or only giving free cigarettes to Primary School Children only on alternate days.

Given that you have more chance of finding a heterosexual non child molester presenting a Top of the Pops edition from 1977 than you have of finding a Tory voter in Scotland, its three political parties that matter ( Labour, The Nationalist loons and the Lib Dems) are all committed to more spending and more tax but the ultimate funder is always seen as the great Money Tree.

Scottish economic policy and the prevailing ethos of a land that once gave us Adam Smith is akin only to Greece. Edinburgh is the Athens of the North.

And so post-independence Scotland will go on a mad spendfest knowing that the costs of servicing its debt will be artificially suppressed by that English Treasury guarantee. And cheap money will encourage even more capital to be misallocated as the three parties that matter compete for the votes of a welfare addicted nation by promising ever greater largesse.

And when Scotland eventually goes bust, the welfare addicts need fear not because the grateful English taxpayer will be there to pick up the tab.

This is insanity. If the Scots want independence that comes with obligations and responsibilities as well as rights – in other words it is they who must pick up the tab if they want to spend, spend spend as if it is going out of fashion.

As someone who essentially believes in the devolution of power and cannot quite shake off recidivist Irish Nationalist genes my heart supports full Scottish Independence. As an English taxpayer my head also supports FULL independence.  So for anyone reading this North of the border may I implore you to support your lardbucket first minister Mr. Salmond to the hilt and just fuck off as an Independent nation entirely?

 

Tom Winnifrith

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My global Christmas Tree 2013 says goodbye – 2014 will be different

1964 days ago

As I am off to London tomorrow and as our Christmas tree is a good two foot taller than the Mrs it must come down tonight, 24 hours early. A sense of guilt now descends as I prepare to lug the bare tree onto the Street where it will next week be collected by the Council and head off to meet its maker.

When I was a boy my father planted a tree in the garden. Each December it would be uprooted and find its way in a few days before Christmas. It would be dressed and watered and looked after. And on January 6th it would return – feeling rather tired and over-heated as it sat in a room with an open fire – to its real home in the garden. By the end of the spring it had shed its dead leaves from its Yuletide horror and by the next December it was a bit taller and ready to go again.

Now that we have a garden of sorts we plan (okay I plan but the Mrs has not objected) to do the same thing. And so this 2013 will be the last year of wasting a Christmas tree in this way. Come the early spring I shall plant a five foot tree in the garden hoping that by Christmas we have something on which to hang my global decorations.

Luckily the Mrs was not big on Christmas trees and so this is one area that in merging possessions it is just a straight takeover. I have always picked up a little something from wherever I have been to add to what goes on the tree as well as a bit of tinsel and the normal baubles. And so there are two, three legged Isle of Man Christmas decorations, ornate elephants and also stars from India, a small soldier with moving legs, some red and also white wooden stars and a mouse from France, a couple of stars from Israel, there is a tortoise from Ecuador and from Greece a small picture of Christ. Next year’s travels? A trip to the USA in April is planned and I shall return with something else for the tree.

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Why I do not write articles on Bulletin Boards/LinkedIn groups

1980 days ago

I appear to have fallen out with another LinkedIn Group – the West Ham Supporters. My “crime” is that I posted links to articles wot I wrote about the Irons. Apparently to stay there I have to write the whole piece on that discussion group.

Hmmm. I am a writer and earn a living from writing articles. So how about a new business model for me? I shall stop writing for websites where I earn money and will just post articles direct on LinkedIn Groups or on Bulletin Boards and so earn no money.

Can anyone spot the minor flaw in that one?

If you are not a professional writer and you wish to post your thoughts (judging by the timings, in many cases when you are being paid by someone else to do an actual job) that is fine.

But if you actually get the cash to pay for cat food, vets bills, a round of drinks at the Conservative Club and other essential things in life by being a writer, but then give everything away for free I would suggest you have a problem.

On that basis I have quit West Ham LinkedIn supporters. A surprising number of folks from there read this website. They know where to find me…

I guess it is better to quit than to be evicted as I was from the LinkedIN Friends of Greece and UKIP groups.


Tom Winnifrith

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I appear to have been evicted from the Linkedin UKIP Group

1992 days ago

My crimes? Questioning the party’s immigration policies and also its Jew hating “friends of Palestine Group”.  UKIP claims to be a libertarian party. Hmmmmm. I was never a party member but now I cannot even see the rants of the faithful on its LinkedIn page.

Libertarians tend to believe in free speech. Libertarians do not want the Jews driven into the sea. Libertarians do not want to restrict free movement of people in search of work. Libertarians would reform the welfare state in order to stop folk moving just to live on welfare but also to deal with indigenous welfare junkies. UKIP is about as Libertarian as Genghis Khan.

So I have now been booted out of LinkedIn UKIP ( having refused suggestions that I stop writing any criticism of the party at all) as well as UKIP Friends of Greece. My crime there was to suggest that Greece was corrupt and an economic basket case and that Albania (low tax, relatively honest) was a role model for poor Hellas.

I also got stick in the West Ham LinkedIn Group for wanting to fire Fat Sam Allardyce last season. I sense now that my views on that matter are now rather mainstream. But at least the West Ham LinkedIn group allows free speech. You can question and criticize. I guess the Cockney Boys are the only true libertarians left on LinkedIn.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece’s Agony – Anthony’s Story

2080 days ago

Anthony manages the restaurant in the uber posh hotel in which we are staying. He is a nice guy and last night, off his own bat, drive us to a superb seaside tavern so we could eat out. As he drove he told us his story…

When he was a boy in the 70s he moved to Germany with his parents who were Gasterbeiten – Greece was poor then, that is what folks did. Hence he speaks fluent German as well as Greek and very decent English.

As a teenager the whole family moved back to Crete as Greece won the Euro lottery and times improved. He now lives in a local town with his wife and two daughters. Aged 23 and 25 they live at home because, despite being well educated, there are just no jobs. 65% of Greeks their age are on the dole. Antony knows that they will soon have to leave Greece for good on a one way ticket to join family in the US, Canada or Australia or perhaps to London.

A noticeably old country will get older still. And his daughters will no doubt marry and stay abroad. Their kids will grow up Greek Americans/Australians/Canadians. Greece will get older still.

Meanwhile Anthony has made decent (not good) money this summer. But the season ends in six weeks at which point he will be on 500 Euro a month welfare. Due to Greece’s corrupt legal/political system the price of fuel, milk, anything here is higher than in London. This educated, clever, charming man would take any job: painting, cleaning, whatever. But there will be no jobs. He will just have to sit it out on welfare until next March struggling to pay basic bills to support him and his family.

He blames the corrupt politicians, the EU, the rich business elite tax-evaders. Whatever. In reality all of Greece took part in the fiddles in the good times. All are partly culpable. But that was then, this is now. There is just no way out for Antony. He is too old to leave. The best he can do is to kiss his daughters goodbye as they emigrate and struggle on. That is Greece for today. And for the foreseeable future. Except that as the population ages, it will get worse.

Tom Winnifrith

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It’s Time to Leave (the EU) T-shirt winning fans at breakfast in Greece

2080 days ago

The Sod Off Spain T-shirt seems not to have caused a stir here in Greece. I guess not a lot of Spaniards can afford to travel abroad these days. And so today at breakfast it was time to wheel out the “It’s Time to Leave” T-shirt (red edition). The Greek waiters and waitresses were clearly onside but our fellow guests (all from the rich North of Europe) also perked up.

A stack of smiles and nods and a couple of “I love the shirt comments”.

Naturally I said that I designed it and that you can buy it only at www.TomWinnifrith.com in my online store.

Clearly this fashion item will be sweeping Europe…

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece Being Greece…

2081 days ago

I think you know that I love Greece as does the Deluded Lefty, I mean the Mrs. What is there not to love about this place? Hmmmm.

There is the Greek two kilometres. How far is it to the nearest taverna from our hotel? We asked the man at the local taverna which did not actually serve food and did not seem terribly strong on the drink front either. Two kilometres he said. Our hearts sank.

Both of us have been here often enough to know that even when a sign says two kilometres it might actually mean five kilometres – it is just a random gesture thrown up casually like a pebble on the beach. And so off we strode in the midday sun.

After a short while we came to an area where – in the Good times – the local municipality had built a pavement by the side of the road. It had also erected some ghastly faux-vintage street lights. It was not as if there were any houses nearby but in the good times, EU money funded such schemes. The pavement is now overgrown and none of the lights work but it is a reminder of the good old days.

Why when the EU cash was flowing no-one invested in a sewerage system that allowed one to flush loo paper down the pan rather than place it in a bucket is something I never figured. I guess that was not a vanity project. But I digress...

Knock me down with a feather, when after only around one kilometre we stumbled across the taverna. For the first time in my life a Greek distance estimate was wrong the right way. As an added bonus it was a downhill walk after lunch.

Then there is our hotel which is one of the smartest I have stayed in in my life. This is posh Greece. Hmmm.

So that means that the internet works. Sometimes. The Mrs thinks that this is a good thing. Except when she wants for the nth time to check if any more wedding photos have been uploaded to her wedding photo site. Oddly most of those that have been uploaded have been of the stunning bride rather than the groom. I cannot think why.

The hotel has just called to say we are checking out today. No we are not I said. But our records show…. Well they are wrong said I. And put the phone down. They called back to say their records were correct. No they are not said I and put the phone down. They have just called again to say that their records were wrong and that they hoped we enjoyed another night here.

That means another night of inviting the hotel kitten into our rooms where we have secreted some meats we half-inched from breakfast in order to give the little creature its first decent meal in weeks. And another day of doing not very much at all.

Only one phone call with Dan Levi today. And one from a former colleague at the old place. Breaking news on that front on Monday. For now it is back to the honeymoon. I am behaving myself. And Greece is Greece.

Tom Winnifrith

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Register for Tomograph - today's issue a Despina Vandi, Greece, Sefton and Pinsent Masons edition

2096 days ago

Just a reminder that my Tomograph Newsletter goes out weekly with its Weekend edition set to go out  tonight ( Monday). This week covers my new pin up ( Despina Vandi), Greece, and from one finacially bankrupt entity to another Sefton Resources. Moving from the financially bankrupt to the morally bankrupt I also cover Pinsent Masons, lawyers to Sefton - the AIM listed company run by liar and crook Jim Ellerton.

The only way to get all of that is to REGISTER HERE

Planned delivery time is Monday evening.

 

Tom

Tom Winnifrith

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Don't you just love the French? Brilliant come-backs

2098 days ago

Sent to me by a correspondent in Greece. Ever wonder what happens when you forget history or are nationally arrogant?

JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when De Gaulle decided to pull out of NATO. De Gaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded "Does that include those who are buried here?"

xxxxxxxxxxx
 
There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

 A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:

'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply Emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, They can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?'

Xxxxxxxxx

A Royal Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the
U.S, English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, the English learn only English. He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

Without hesitating, the British Admiral replied,

Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's, South Africans, and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't   have to speak German.

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The Englishman said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible. You English always have to show your passports on arrival in France !"

The English senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained:

''Well, when I came ashore at Gold Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I
couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

Tom Winnifrith

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Sefton Victory celebrations underway & the 666 shirt goes on sabattical

2102 days ago

You should always end on a high. And I am on a high right now. Last night I exposed Jim Ellerton for the fraud and liar he is. The Nomad to Sefton (Allenby) has told me by email that if my initial allegations re the Dillabaugh case were proven either Allenby or Ellerton had to go. If it is the former the shares are suspended and won’t come back. If it is the latter the sole witness for Sefton in its libel trial against me will have resigned in disgrace. So I have won. I gather that the Sefton board is meeting this afternoon so, one way or another, the AIM career of Hawaii Jim is almost over.

I have already popped over to the offices of uber expensive bully boy City lawyers Pinsent Masons , champagne in hand, to record two short videos and when they go live that will be it from me.

Publicly I have put a brave face on this battle and on the Sefton dirty tracks campaign. But it has been a strain.  I fear that there is not a cat in hell’s chance of me getting my costs back. Would I want to do this again or would I rather spend time with the bird, take up fishing again or do a bit of what I really want to do (goat farming)?

My priorities going forward are the restaurant, the UKInvestor Show, my partner (the deluded lefty) and my family, notably my step mother and ageing father - not necessarily in that order. As such the 666 shirt of investigative financial journalism united is (temporarily) retired. After today I shall confine my public comments on shares to my premium Nifty Fifty website. If you want to know my thoughts on shares pop along to Real Man Pizza and buy me a salad or subscribe to the Nifty Fifty

Shareprophets has 20 writers including younger investigative stars such as John Crawford and Ben Turney who I shall advise, if asked, but for now that is it from me on shares. The younger guys will take the battle against the AIM bad guys forward.  I have a book to write (on Sefton), articles to write for this website on West Ham, Greece and other really important matters and a life to lead.

Thanks for your support since this battle commenced. My 36 hour drinkathon now continues and anyone who fancies coming along to Real Man tonight after 6 is more than welcome.

Tom Winnifrith

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Finding my Grandparents Grave

2113 days ago

 

A week away taking the next generation to Kent where my grandparents lived and I spent many a summer as a boy. We spent one day in the small village of Appledore to where my grandparents retired . There will be more on that later. My father asked me to check out the grave of his parents. The only trouble was that he could not remember where it was.

He insisted it was 20 yards behiond the church on the right. My step mother insisted it was on the left. Normally on matters such as who committed the war crime at the Black Hole of Calcutta or when was the battle of Agincourt I go with my Dad. On more practical matters like where did you leave your shoes or where are Dad's parents buried I go with my step mother.

But the deluded lefty was wrong. As was the other deluded lefty, my father. We refused to give up and at the last minute my father called to say "extension". Sure enough in a little patch away from the Church we found a whole new raft of graves among them that of my grandmother ( named after an Island in Greece when the world was not obsessed by lesbians) and grandfather. It is a simple gravestone as both would have wanted. The next generation laid a few flowers picked from the verge and we moved on.

Admin

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Friday Caption Contest on a Sunday - Injunction Special

2125 days ago

And so to this week's caption contest There are no prizes here and entries may not be approved if they threaten legal issues but anything in bad taste will be published at once. And so I ask you to submit in the comments section below by Friday at 9 AM your captions for this picture of a well known businessman and one of his former employees: Mr Rupert Murdoch and Ms Rebekka Brooks.

For what it is worth my entry is:  "Is that an injunction in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me"

Last week I asked you for your captions for this picture

The winner with not caption but a joke is our old pal Jon Pickles who commented:

This reminded me of the "you have 2 cows" jokes.

Old Greece: You have two cows. You borrow against the cows from the Germans You kill the cows and make souvlaki. You can't pay the interest, so the Germans lend you more money. You can't pay the interest, so the Germans lend you more money. You can't pay the interest, so the Germans lend you more money. You can't pay the interest, so the Germans lend you more money...

New Greece: You have a goat. Just a goat. For quite some time to come...

Tom Winnifrith

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Monemvasia - photos of a magical place

2126 days ago

The Gibralatar of Greece, Monemvasia is an island separated as a result of an ancient earthquake from the southern Peloponnese by a narrow channel of sea. These days a bridge cross that water but as you wander across you see a few venetian buildings but that is it....

In olden days this was a fortress. When the TRurks over-ran Greece, the Venetians in Monemvasis held out. It is quite simply impregnable.

Walk around the rock on a new purpose built road and for 800 yards you see nothing and then you turn a corner and bang... a fortified wall comes into view.

Walk a bit closer and you approach a narrow gate. But at this stage you have no idea what lies behind.

 

 

Aha, you are inside. At once you are in a small, perfectly preserved Venetian town. It is not a dead museum but a liv e ( if tourist focussed) place. Everything is perfectly preserved and contains hotels, bars, normal shops and houses where folks live. There are churches a plenty.  It is just magical as you wander through the narrow streets.

 

 

 

And finally looking up from the town to the citadel, the fortress on the rock

It is a trek to get to Monemvasia. It is not something you do every day. Although for some reason I did it twice in 10 days on this last holiday. If you go to Greece and do not see this place it is criminal - of all the post Ancient world sites of Greece, this has just got to be the most impressive ( albeit with Meteora a close second)

Admin

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Heading back to The Corner of Clerkenwell

2129 days ago

In 40 minutes time I head off from chez Spiros. By 2 PM I shall be back in The Corner of Clerkenwell which is home to naked artist Pauline Amos, Real Man Pizza Company, colourful James and so much else. I do not want to leave Greece but if I have to go somewhere there are far worse places to go.

See you all at the quirkiest celtic Italian restaurant in London, Real Man Pizza, as of mid-afternoon 

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece – The Czech Waitress Question: This place is bonkers

2130 days ago

Last night out waitress was a sweet trainee speech therapist from the Czech Republic.  A couple of days ago we gave a lift to two Hungarian birds who were also spending the summer working as waitresses. In fact this place is crawling with Eastern European birds working in bars and cafes.  Yet, in three weeks I have barely encountered any young Greeks working as waitresses outside family run establishments. Youth unemployment here is 65%. Go figure.

I know that the Easter Europeans are working in the black economy and are staying in not great places happy to make a few Euro, enjoy afternoons on the beach and to bunk up with the odd other young person who is passing through. But …

There is something chronically wrong with an economy which sees these folks working while 65% of young Greeks sit on their arses, sipping frappes, living at home, not working but collecting benefits which ( since Greece is bust) come effectively from the taxpayers of Northern Europe.

The solution? Might I suggest that from April to October Greek youngsters under 25 should not be allowed to claim benefits and at the same time any Greek under 25 ( who has been unemployed for three months previously) be allowed to work outside of the tax system ( for both employer and employee). It would save Greece ( i.e. the Northern European taxpayer) a stack of cash, might instil the work ethic in a generation that has otherwise lost it and, frankly, it would be less galling for Northern Europeans as we pay over the odds for our Greek salads from our after tax income.

Will it happen? No chance. This country is bonkers and happy to enjoy the frappe lifestyle at the expense of others.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Caption Contest on a Sunday (thanks to Jim Ellerton)

2132 days ago

To be honest I am a bit starved of ideas and the bird wants to head off for a romantic meal so the best that I can do on the caption front is to offer up a picture from earlier of a goat from Greece. Please post your wittiest captions in the comments section below.

For what it is worth my entry is:

The goat says “ Yes, I too know what Jim Ellerton’s said in the Gary Dillabaugh case and I have sold all my Sefton shares – that’s because I am a goat not a sheep.”

You can do better. Feel free to mention the Welsh or Bulletin Board Morons or whatever you want. If Jon Pickles is around mention Prince Harry if you care.

The deadline for entries is 9 AM Friday. Good luck.

Last week I asked you for captions to this picture, in the Lib Dem sleaze edition



The standard of entries was on a par with a Nick Clegg manifesto commitment – not worth thinking about. We shall draw a veil over that contest.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece - the Long Term Death Spiral of Ageing

2132 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/1081/greece-the-long-term-death-spiral-of-ageing

Tom Winnifrith

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The Real Hidden Greece

2132 days ago

My comrade Brokerman Dan urges me to read an article in The Guardian about “The hidden Greece – the Cyclades” There are a number of reasons why I shall not do that. And the main one is that this is not the Real Hidden Greece

There is of course the obvious point that anything in the Guardian is by definition rubbish. I cannot think what a sensible fellow like Dan is doing polluting his mind in this way. But then there is the corruption of travel writing.  The economics of travel supplements are thus:

1. Journalists are often flown out by a Tourist board to be taking on a lovely jolly. It is not in their interests to write bad things or they will get few invites so they usually write sycophantic crap.

2. Supplements make money by selling adverts. Any region which has a stack of people able to afford to advertise in the Guardian is by definition not hidden but developed.

As it happens the Cyclades are well work tourist destinations.  So how about this as a “hidden Greece” trip:

Fly cheapo Easyjet to Corfu and get a bus (with ferry trip) ticket to Ioannina in Northern Greece where you hire a car and drive towards Arta (50 miles away). The road takes you through the mountains and your first stop is the Loutos Springs.  These were one of many entrances to Hades and are the source of the stunning Loutos river which tumbles through the gorge as you drive down to Arta.

Next stop – Dodoni – a religious site started 2,600 BC where there is an amphitheatre (from much later) and many spending buildings remaining, totally ignored by the tourist.

After that a couple of days fishing for trout in the Loutos. As you then head towards Arta I spotted a semi-ruined Byzantine Church (6th Century?) – I know nothing of it but would like to investigate more. The area is dotted with such churches and monasteries. And finally to Arta and its splendid bridge (see here).

Give me a free week and I would be relaxed, stimulated and untroubled by other tourists. Perhaps the Ioannina Tourist Board would like to fix this up for me?

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Milks a Goat Video - It is not easy

2132 days ago

When I was a boy I tried to milk a cow. I think my mother ( who was heavily into self sufficiency) and I were on a commune in Wales. I really did not get the hang of it at all. So a goat? Heck why not give it a go. Meet the goat. As you can see, her leg is teathered and her mind is on food so maybe I'd have a chance?

This is Stavroula the mother of my partner's brother in law. She milks the goats every morning at 7 AM for six months of the year. When they have been impregnated they stop producing milk so as of later this month she will get a six month milking break.

In my defence, goats get to know their milker so they feel relaxed with Stavroula. Her son Iannis said that when he tried to milk them they kicked up a fuss. And so that is my first excuse for what follows. But Stavroula makes it look very simple.

 

And here is Stavroula in video action.

What follows is me in action. Hmmmmm. I do not think that I shall ever be the goat milking champion of Greece.

When do don't know a goat well it is hard to know how hard to squeeze. As you can see Stavroula has a form grip. I found it all a bit tricky to guage. But... as you can see I did manage to get a bit of milk into the bucket. After one small scale triumph ( I did better than Iannis) I felt it better to retire and let Stavroula do the rest.

Tom Winnifrith

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Goat Milk becomes Cheese, onions & Goat porn

2133 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, judging by the sound of the bleet of one of them she judged that it was not pregnant. And so this Ewe was taken away after miling and led down to the path to a neighbouring field where there was a Ram and seven or eight Ewes.

Had the Ewe been pregnant the ram would have known this by smell. But heck she was not. Stavroula was correct.  The ram ignored all the other ewes and was over like a flash. I bring you a photo of him checking out his new "bird" but none of what followed - no goat porn here. But I can report that she seemed keen if a bit passive but there was no stopping him.

Anyhow we left them to it. And headed back with Stavroula clutching a full pail of goats milk from her three goats.

 

That milk was then heated on her gas stove until it was luke warm. For reasons I fail to understand it seemed to have increased dramatically in volume. I enjoyed a glass to drink and it was different to cows milk. I liked it but can see that it would not be everyone's cup of tea.

 

 

 

In the old days ( even thirty years ago) they would then have added rennet extracted directly from the stomach of a goat, scarped out and used over time. These days - in the one surrender to modern advances - Stavroula added a pinch of powdered rennet from a little box which caused the milk to curdle within 15 minutes. The whey was scooped out and thrown away. Had they still had a pig, the whey would have been his.

What remains was then wrapped in a muslin cloth which was tied and hung on a poll between a chair and the cooker.

Gradually the whey all drains away and a day later Stavroula will have added lots of salt and what remains would be feta. It can be eaten at once or stored in home made olive oil in an airtight box for up to a year thus providing year round protein for the family.

Of course this breaks all sorts of EU regulations in terms of process but it is for domestic consumption so two fingers to Brussels. Folks living from what they produce without any State intervention. Fantastic.

And Stavroula's feta tastes awesome.

 

Admin

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The view from my office in Greece

2134 days ago

I am tapping away by the quayside in Koroni in southern Greece. And a small fishing boat has just pulled in with its catch. Oooooh catching a swordfish to sell for a living, how degrading say the Bulletin Board morons. The fish is magnificent and will be eaten fresh today. How wonderful.

Tom Winnifrith

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Pathetic Bulletin Board Moron of the decade, goat milking and the nobility of self-sufficiency

2134 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.

They receive a tiny pension from the Greek state. They have raised two sons one of whom has a degree but both of whom now have jobs in Athens. The parents still farm a few hectares of land here in a gorgeous part of southern Greece as they always have done. The goats provide milk six months of the year, most of which is turned into cheese which is a source of protein all year round, as are the eggs from the chickens. The vegetable patch provides goodies all year round. From their cash crop (olives) and the tiny pension they make enough to pay for sugar, coffee, flour etc.

They are dependent on no-one, almost entirely self-financed they live a solid and healthy lifestyle largely free from the intrusions of the state.  At 70, Stavros works his vegetables every day. Water comes from a well but at this time of year it can run short forcing hard calls. Thus, this week, the beans – having yielded most of what they will do, were culled so providing bonus food for the goats.

Stavroula gets up at 6.45 to trek down the hill carrying a sack of food on her back and with buckets with more food in each hand to  feed the goats and then to milk them.  45 minutes later she returns with an empty sack and buckets but with a bucket full of fresh milk which, at once, starts the process of becoming cheese.

The family owns three ewes and once a year they take them to someone else in the village who has invested in maintaining a ram so that they can be serviced. Ram meat tastes bad so there is a community effort here. One farmer owns a ram which is utilised by the other farmers who give him some beans, milk, whatever. A community at work but individual freedom in one.

Occasionally the sons come down from Athens for onerous tasks – like the olive harvest at Christmas. But generally it is two 70 year olds living as free people, reliant on no-one as part of a community of other self-interested but mutually dependent folks.

I grew up in a family that tried self-sufficiency. We had poultry not goats but grew all the fruit and vegetables we needed.

Maybe Stavros and Stavroula would seek another life if they could. I doubt it.  Maybe it is a bit patronising to laud the nobility of their lifestyle, in a way that a character from Anna Karenina might. It is a hard life and I am not sure I could hack it.

But is to milk a goat degrading? Who do I admire more: Stavroula or some pathetic man spending his days posting anonymous abuse on a Bulletin Board? There is just no contest.

Tom Winnifrith

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Shock exclusive: Sefton's Ellerton exposed as a rogue - I speak to Gary Dillabaugh

2135 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/1070/shock-exclusive-sefton-s-ellerton-exposed-as-a-rogue-i-speak-to-gary-dillabaugh

Tom Winnifrith

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The tomatoes are for my father..., the melons for google and tomorrow morning it is goat milking

2136 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.

I am staying with the brother in law of my partner in the Peloponnese where he has a house in the village in which he grew up. His parents live from the land here. And so today we visited their garden and, Dad admit it, their tomatoes are just in a different league to your own.

Putting them in scale, what you see behind is the hand of my partner.

There are also melons (we had one for lunch) and peppers and so much more.

I am told that getting pictures of melons helps attract traffic from google. I am not sure why.

Tomorrow morning I get up before seven to go meet the goats. There were five goats but two of them were “taken out of production” yesterday. And jolly pleasant they tasted. But the three that remain are, apparently good milk producers, and so tomorrow I am going to try to milk one of them. I shall try to capture this moment of career development on video and will report back then.

 

Admin

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As you suffer a heat wave in Britain – it is tipping it down here in Greece!

2136 days ago

I do not expect any sympathy. And as it happens the rainstorm threatened darkly but lasted less than an hour. The road outside was a gushing stream such was the violence of the downpour. Ninety minutes of baking heat later the road is dry once again. But while it lasted it was violent and cooling. I could not help but walk through the chilled rain – it was cleansing.

Admin

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The Bridge at Arta – Finally I get to see it

2136 days ago

I have noted before my frustration that I always pass through Arta by bus and gaze at its spectacular bridge with restaurants at either end, but never visit the place. Thanks to my partner’s crazy plan of heading down to her sister’s in-laws in the Southern Peloponnese my frustration is at an end. We left Albania at 6.30 AM on a bust for Ioanina. It is less than 100 kilometres but a happy two hours spent at the border as officials on both sides showed their true flair for incompetence meant that we did not arrive until well after noon.

I managed to persuade the bust to drop us off at the airport and felt rather proud of how clever I was to achieve this feat and we then picked up a car and headed South. After about ninety minutes we arrived at Arta.

The story of the bridge is that it kept on falling down until the bridge builder was told that if he immured his daughter in the structure it would stay up. That he did and happily for us, if not for her, it still stands today: in a curious but spectacular shape.

I hope that the photos below (including one of my partner scuttling over to the other side where the best restaurant lies) capture the magic of the structure. Thereafter we gazed at it as we ate lamb cutlets (the DL) and grilled entrails (myself). After the spectacular heart and liver of Albania the rather clumsy liver of Arta was a bit of a let-down. But the bridge more than made up for it.

Admin

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Weekend Video Postcard #40 Albania Edition

2138 days ago

I am back in Albania. This is a short postcard containing the sort of thoughts that got me booted out of the LinkedIn friends of Greece last summer.

My financial video postcard will go live when I can find an internet link that does not crack up once an hour. i.e. not today! It will be on www.shareprophets.com

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Reflections on an expensive meal in Corfu – Greece still does not get it.

2140 days ago

There is no doubt that Greece is enjoying a better tourist season this year than last. Folks are used to the new normal that is bankrupt Greece teetering on Euro exit with the odd riot thrown in. As a bonus, there are more Russians here than last year. But it is still pretty dire and as I digest a 48 Euro bill from last night I say that Greece still does not get it.

The appeal of Greece of old was that it was cheap and cheerful. 48 Euro ( call it £40) bought a bottle of piss poor house rose, a nasty bruschetta followed by basic moussaka for me, a very weak tomato salad followed by a lamb spaghetti dish for the little woman and some dire service. Her starter arrived first. Five minutes later the other three dishes arrived.

A comparator offering at the Real Man Pizza Company on Saturday night would have been ½ litre of (much better) house rose and two pasta dishes a mixed salad and very good bruschetta which would have set you back £34 on the 2 course special offer (£40 without). Better food, better service in Central London at £34/40 or £40 for what we paid in Corfu.  The Greek’s, I am afraid, still do not get it. Expensive and cheerful does not float my boat.

If Greece is to solve its problems it is not just the public sector that must reform (finally sacking those public sector workers) but the tourist industry needs to compete. That either means leaving the Euro or cutting prices by 25%. Either way it means a fall in the standard of living for those involved but, perhaps, having a few more customers might offset that.

Today we are off to Albania. I would have left earlier had I been in charge and would by staying longer. The same meal there will cost £25 and the food wiull be better.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Deluded Lefty is on her way – prepare for a slowdown

2142 days ago

Well folks, that is almost it for the writing fest. The Deluded Lefty is tonight packing her bags. Well actually, when I called just now it was quite clear that she was in a bar with her pals sipping fair trade Zimbabwean Chardonnay and blaming it all on Thatcher. But tomorrow she gets on a plane and joins me in Greece and on Sunday we are off to Albania.

As such the pace of articles is set to slow somewhat as of Friday evening as I have better things to do..like have a holiday holiday. Naturally I shall log on every day to check up on the AIM bad guys but ahead of me lie Butrint then Zitsa and Meteora. There is a mad plan being concocted by the DL to drive down to the Peloponnese. I have pointed out that this is environmentally unfriendly (as well as just plain mad) but if you get another video postcard from Monemvasia do not be entirely surprised.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Bulletin Board Morons – They do not like it up ‘em

2142 days ago

I see that my recent articles on Bulletin Board Morons have unleashed a firestorm of anonymous abuse various from Bulletin Board Morons. As I wandered along the beach and enjoyed a very nice grilled octopus lunch I pondered whether the morons have a point? For about five seconds.

The morons of course never post under their own names and then proceed to say whatever they wish. If I had a penny for every time I had received abuse from the morons over the years I could buy half of Greece. Perhaps these days I could pick up the whole country. Hidden behind the mask of anonymity they say what they like.

That is fine by me. Airstrip One is a free country. Well sort of. But please do not expect me to regard dishing out abuse without revealing your identity as courageous in any way.

Among writers (i.e. those who earn money from writing in their own name) I am a little unusual in that I am happy to dish out the abuse back. I do so in my own name. And sometimes in quite a witty manner. The BB Morons however think that this is all shocking.

Some feel I should show bravery by going onto BB threads and posting as myself. Hmmmmm. Let me see. Shall I go and write for free swapping ideas with folks who fail to debate facts but instead think that accusing me of being gay is a valid point or shall I earn some money writing elsewhere? What is my job? Oh…I am a writer. Perhaps the BB Morons all work for free? If indeed they are capable of holding down a job.

Others accuse me of being “unprofessional” in using words like Bulletin Board Moron or dickhead or indeed in bothering to have a go at these fools now and again. Hmmmm. I do not pretend to be a dry as dull analyst crunching out reports which refer to KPIs or other MBA-ish terms. That is not what interests me. I am an aggressive writer and that aggressive writing pays the bills. And as a bonus it entertains me greatly. I write about what I want: cats, my lack of breakfast, Andy "horseface" Carroll, civil liberties, birds, sleazy Tony Baldry MP, the Evil Empire and POS AIM companies and the list goes on and on.  Oddly folks choose to read that material. No-one forces them to.

I like being able to write exactly what I think. I was denied that opportunity for some years and it ate away at me. These days nothing on earth can or will restrain me. And yes, like my daughter, I appear to have learned some rude words at Upton Park. 

If “professional” means writing dry as dust copy, just saying buy or kissing corporate & establishment arse then I admit that I am utterly incapable of being professional. I shall remain an amateur who earns a decent whack writing in an amateurish manner.

But with the greatest of respect to the Bulletin Board Morons, I am fully aware of how many City analysts and financial journalists read my material and some of them are even decent enough to say how much they enjoy it. Peer group praise is perhaps of more interest to me than being accused of being “unprofessional” by selected Bulletin Board Morons. Actually I do not really give a damn about peer group reviews either. As long as I can pay the bills and have a hoot writing who cares what anyone else thinks? I do not.

And finally I am accused of being vindictive towards Sefton and writing only about this one POS Company. Clearly those folks have not noticed that I crank out 5-10 articles a day and, if it is unlucky, about 2 a week concern Sefton. I am sure that the management at Bullabullbullshit PLC, Great Western Mining, Cyan, US Oil & Gas, U308, etc, etc, etc would wish that I was 100% Sefton focussed but I am not.  I regard Sefton as the ultimate pin-up model for the AIM Cesspit but my problem is with the failure of the whole market not just with one particular POS Company.

However, Sefton has misled investors on a serial basis. It has publically accused me of market abuse (sorry guys but that complaint got nowhere did it – where’s the apology?) and of making stories up. And its bully boy lawyers have endeavoured (and failed) to stop me following my chosen profession of writing per se. This is not about establishing the truth it is a malicious war against me but also against free speech.

Sefton wants to injunct both myself and Dan. That is its real purpose. Had it obtained an injunction then yesterday’s revelations about Kansas would not have emerged. Ask yourselves how, given the abject failure of Sefton’s Nomad and of AIM regulation in ensuring that Sefton issues accurate RNS statements, it is in anyone’s interests that Dan or I are injuncted? Go on BB Morons…in whose interests would it be?

As such can you blame me for having a go back? Not only is there self-interest involved but, forgetting all issues of personality, exposing companies that issue RNS statements that are factually incorrect is the right thing to do. It is what I have done for 21 years. And despite the best efforts of Sefton Resources and its bully boy lawyers it is what I plan to carry on doing.

And if I use words like frigging or dickhead as I do so you should not be surprised.

And now BB Morons, as you sit sweating and salivating at your laptops posting drivel when not watching kiddie porn, I am off for a swim in the hotel pool before making a call to Denver with the aim of dishing out some more ground-breaking news later today.

Pip. Pip.

Tom Winnifrith

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Frigging hell it is 7.40 in Greece and where’s my breakfast?

2142 days ago

The deluded lefty insists that she does not believe in patriarchy, blah, blah, blah. So we have an early morning arrangement that is based on equality and partnership – no exploitation either way. After a hard day’s slog in the public sector she stays in bed until about 7.30 and I make her a cup of tea. I get up rather earlier to be a wicked capitalist but just after 7.30 the DL brings me a bowl of organic fair trade porridge. I think I am right that oats do come from Scotland and Scotland is the sort of third world bankrupt country where deluded lefties try to help poor farmers with fair trade.

Anyhow my point is that I am used to the little woman serving me breakfast by 7.30. Yup, for the avoidance of doubt for any BB Morons out there, my partner is a bird not a bloke.

As such life chez Spiros here in Greece is a bit of a shock for me. I get up – as ever - at between 5.30 and 7 (3.30 and 5 UK time) allowing me to create a string of masterpieces before the UK starts its working day. Spiros, on the other hand displays the work ethic which has made Greece the place it is today (the Scotland of the South) and seems unable to raise himself before eight.

It is now 7.45 and, with five articles under my belt already, I am increasingly in need of a coffee and some toast and so now have to go through the ritual of jumping into the pool and splashing as much and as loudly as possible in order to hint, gently, that it is rise and shine time.  

Splish, splash, splosh, wakey, wakey Spiros!

Tom Winnifrith

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Back with Spiros, I'm sitting alone in the pool & thinking about a holiday in Stoke on Trent

2145 days ago

You may remember that last summer I spent a long while as the sole guest of a hotelier in Corfu called Spiros. I am back. He greeted me like an old friend and there was good news and bad.

The bad news is that I do not have his undivided attention. There seem to be two other rooms occupied this year. The good news concerns money. My rate per night has fallen from 35 Euro a year ago to 25 Euro this time. And as a bonus, Spiros has given up trying to quit smoking and so now buys his own rather than smoking all of mine. That is worth another Euro and a half a day.

Sitting in the pool this afternoon (all alone) I pondered the suggestions from our correspondents in the GNSH that is Stoke on Trent that after my experiences in Athens I should abandon Greece and book a holiday in the Potteries. I am assured that Stoke has a brand new bus station, is 30 degrees in the shade and has much else to commend itself. Truly it sounds like the new Athens of the North… well at least in terms of youth unemployment it probably is.

Hmmmm, shall I swap lounging the pool in 34 degree heat with an almost personal service of café frappes from Spiros for an afternoon trekking round the pottery heritage trail? It is a hard call. I promise that one day I shall go visit David and Chris in Stoke for a bit of welfare scrounger porn, but on balance for a summer break, I have to conclude that Greece more than edges it.



Tom Winnifrith

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Athens Bus Station - Why Greece Does not work

2145 days ago

I am now in Corfu preparing for five days of rest and writing before my deluded lefty partner arrives to whisk me off to the former socialist paradise that is Albania. I travelled here by bust from Athens – a 10 hour trip and so feel a little on the tired said as we arrived at 5 AM. Athens Bus station is a total shit hole. It is what I imagine that Stoke on Trent is like. Only hotter.

I arrived early (fleeing the clip joint) to buy my ticket and wandered into a ticket hall with a desk for each location. At that point there were four of us trying to buy tickets and I counted 11 staff manning the desks.

The Corfu counter had no-one behind it but a full ashtray (in a non-smoking building) and cup of coffee suggested that there was life somewhere. But fear not, the adjacent desk/counter marked Ioanina was manned by a fellow reading a book.  After staring at the empty Corfu desk for a minute or so I asked if he could help. The man motioned that I should wait and so carried on reading his book.

After about five minutes even he got embarrassed and walked along a counter and took my booking. Fab. I presented my credit card. Big mistake.  It appears that while he could help out his pal by taking a cash payment, a credit card payment was a step too far. And so I waited another ten minutes while bloke one read his book, I managed a new high score on word mole and eventually, fag in hand, the Corfu man strolled in.

He has a tough life taking bookings for three buses a day. And of course he only works one of the three daily shifts as the National Bus ticket office is open at all times as opposed to the local bus ticket office which is never open meaning you cannot catch a local bus from the bus station).  So a maximum of 120 bookings divided by three equals 40 bookings (maximum) in an eight hour shift – that works out at 5 an hour (call it 15 minutes work). That is if all the buses are full ( mine was half empty).

You and I might think that a bankrupt Government would install a row of multi destination ticket machines and leave three desks ( that would be 3 by 3 staff rather than 3 by 11) manned for those too stupid to use the machines. But then we are not thinking Greek are we?

Having bought my ticket I wanted to write an article. The one power socket I found in a café did not work. So I ran down the battery and created this week’s Tomograph as the café said that it had wi-fi so I knew I could send it off to Darren to lay out. “How do I get wi-fi?” Buy a card at the shop said the lady. Off I trotted.

“But the internet here is broken” said the Lady in the shop and threw up her hands. It has been broken for ages. Who gives a damn? This is Greece. And Greece does not work.

PS The Tomograph has now been sent to Darren from Corfu and will be with you soon.

Tom Winnifrith

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Is where I have just been called a clip joint?

2146 days ago

One of my ideas of purgatory is spending eternity driving around the centre of Athens trying to drop a hire car off on time. Amazingly I managed just that today with no problems. With a few hours to kill I asked the nice lady at Hertz where the British war graves were and she answered in a confident fashion. My father thinks his Uncle Francis is buried here although he was killed in North Africa and so off I wandered. It goes without saying that there were no War Graves at all where she sent me but that is another matter.

About half a mile along, in a decent part of Athens a man asked me for the time. I am a nice fellow so fished out my phone and said 4.01. He seemed terribly grateful and happy to meet an Englishman. His brother runs a Greek restaurant in London and please could he give me his address for a free meal.

I did not really want a free Greek meal in London and was rather more interested in the War Grave but he was insistent so I went along ruck sack over my shoulder and entered a small bar where there was one waitress, one young lady sitting reading a book and an Old Man. My old Man said “have a beer” and promptly disappeared. Have a seat said the waitress.

I reluctantly perched on a bar stool but assured her that I did not drink. At her insistence I agreed to have a diet Pepsi. At this point the young lady wandered over and in broken English tried to engage me in conversation. Rather impatient to see the first old man again I answered in monosyllabic fashion but after less than a couple of minutes of her gazing into my eyes she asked if I would like to buy her a drink?

Even before I spotted the menu showing a diet coke at 8 Euro and anything else at 15 Euro plus I had knew that I did not want to as

 

a)      I have a lovely partner who I am looking forward to seeing in a few days’ time (even if she is a deluded lefty)

b)      I had more interest in seeing the grave of my Great Uncle

c)       Whilst I am pretty confident that I could pull a 20 something bird if I wanted to I am not arrogant enough to think that I could do as things stood, given that I am dressed like a tramp, have not shaved in two days, was making no effort whatsoever and that I had only met this bird two minutes previously. I may be a tad naïve but even I smelled a rat.

d)      The young lady (unlike my Bird who joins me on Friday) certainly did not pass the John Inverdale test.

e)      The young lady had far too much make-up on which made me think of George Orwell's cheap hooker in 1984 although this young lady was slim and had her own teeth unlike that character. Perhaps this might not be an entirely inaccurate call when I come to think of it. But it was most unappealing.

Sensing my hesitation the waitress pushed the drinks menu towards me at which point I saw the prices and said very loudly “this is a con.” Picking up my bags I retreated rapidly repeating loudly “this is a con” several times. I am not sure if they understood my meaning but let’s face it, it was a con.

I emerged and scuttled down the road as rapidly as I could manage with a heavy rucksack on my shoulders but with my honour and my wallet intact.

It is all very well Greeks bleating on about how all the Africans and Asian immigrants have made Athens a nasty crime ridden place to live but it strikes me that Old Hellas has plenty of home grown talent in that department too.

I realise that such establishments exist everywhere but it was a rather shocking experience none the less.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek cat pictures - aaagh

2146 days ago

Someone contacted me on Twitter to say that he always links Greece with cats. So do I. Wherever you go there are cats. Scrawny moggies which eek out an existence begging and eating what they kill. It is a fairly Darwinian existence - most cats cannot make it through the winter when the wildlife hibernates and the restaurants close down. And so as a painfully thin little creature begs at your table what can you do?

This little moggy came up to my table as I sat, almost alone in a taverna in a small mountain town yesterday and started miaowing and rubbing itself against my leg. It was my best friend. Yup.





I was eating Greek salad so offered it some bread. That was wolfed down. So how about a bit of bread dunked in the oilve oil and vinegar sauce. That was wolfed down. A bit of feta... yes please. Trying my luck, and concerned that I might not actually end up eating anything at all myself, I tossed a bit of cucumber on the floor. That was pushing it. Like my daughter the cat refused to eat cucumber.

And then being a cat it showed no loyalty and spotted another table and wandered off as it sought a new best friend who was rather keener on meat.

Wandering through that town I met two little kittens. I think that if I lived here I would rapidly become like one of those mad old ladies who has 27 cats and talks to no-one else.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom’s weekly video postcard #39 – Back to Greece Edition

2146 days ago

I filmed this in Monemvasia on Saturday. I seem to have a few thoughts on the plight of Greece every day as I encounter some other example of lunacy. I will try to note them in article and or video format as I go along. But I kick off with my analysis of why Greece really cannot recover. The long term killer will be demographics. The short term killers are debt, the bloated state and the all pervasive corruption. Still you’ve got to love the place.

My weekly financial video postcard discusses the Silverdell (SID) scandal and the farce that is AIM non regulation and can be viewed here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Sales of Porsche Cayenne’s in Larissa (Greece)

2147 days ago

Larissa is the birthplace of Achilles and the provincial capital of Thessaly. It is a fairly sleepy town of 162,000 people which is nor rich, or certainly shouldn’t be, since the mainstay of the regional economy is small scale farming. How odd then that ownership of Porsche Cayenne’s per head of population in this town was twice the OECD average. Hmmmmm.

Welcome to the 100 sheep trick from the good old days. Each Greek farmer got a large EU grant per sheep. The EU did have to inspect the sheep but had to pre-arrange its visits with the local Mayor. There are ten farmers each owning 20 sheep. The inspector arrives and finds that farmer A has 100 sheep. The mayor takes him to a farm on the other side of town owned by farmer B where there are also 100 sheep. Back to farmer C where there are also 100 sheep and so on. The inspector is not Welsh so fails to twig that by the end of his visit he has seen the same 200 sheep five times each.

The grants are duly handed out to all ten farmers. They then employ one Albanian on peanuts to look after 200 sheep and head off in their Porsche Cayenne’s to the village square to drink coffee.

Everyone in Greece knew this was going on but no-one complained. The EU was spending other people’s money (er yours and mine) and so did not care. It was great that Greece had joined the Evil Empire which now reached from the Shetlands to within a couple of miles of Asia. Party on…

Yes I feel sorry for the Greek people and for poor Hellas. But it is worth remembering that in the good times more than a few Greeks trousered it big time and we paid for that.

Tom Winnifrith

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Room with a view – Monemvasia

2147 days ago

Separated by an earthquake from the mainland in 375 AD, Monemvasia is the Gibraltar of Greece. The old town situated within the fortress is largely Venetian and this place stayed under Venetian control, for 90 years after the rest of Greece was conquered by the Turks ( until 1540). Between 1690 and 1715 it again came under Venetian control but then went back to the Turks but in 1821 it was the first major fortress to fall in the war of Independence.

It is a wonderful place and my home for a couple of days as I check out a few things inland.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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The Bus Driver & why Greece doesn’t work

2149 days ago

As I took the ten hour bus journey to Athens overnight I discovered that my one firm meeting of the next three weeks had hit a snag – the man has gone AWOL. Such is Greece. And so I arrived in Athens at 5 AM with nothing to do. How about a bit of riot porn ? I decided to take a bus to Syntagma Square to check out the action.

And so me and an old man tried to get on the bus. No-one else wanted to. We both asked (he in Greek me in English) if we could pay. The bust driver said “no” we had to buy a ticket at the ticket booth. But it is closed we both pointed out. “So stay here” said the bus driver.  And then he closed the doors and drove off in his 100% empty bus. The grateful taxpayer (something most folk here still regard as a voluntary activity) can pay his wage, pay for the petrol, and wear and tear on the bus as it has absolutely no passengers.

Under my breath I muttered “and that is why your country is fucked.” I got a taxi instead. Sadly there are no riots this morning and so I have wandered around past the shops which are all either empty or having a summer 50% off sale. No riot porn to relay to you but I may well shoot some poverty porn later as I am not feeling terribly sympathetic to poor Hellas right now. Its problems are not, as I have pointed out before, not entirely unself-inflicted.

Tom Winnifrith

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As I look out on Prince Phillip’s birthplace I ponder Mark Mcelney why are you such a Dickhead

2150 days ago

I have seven hours to kill before catching the bus from Corfu to Athens. Having bought my ticket I have wandered into the Old Town of Corfu to my favourite restaurant on this island. Head past the main square where they play cricket (there seems to be no game today) and behind the main poart of the old town and wander outside the City wall and you are here.

The restaurant is on a spit looking out to see straight ahead and to my right is the old palace where Prince Phillip was born.  It is a little bit more expensive than the main tourist gaffes in the centre of town but the food is wonderful and it is relatively quiet. Occassionally a large ferry passes by and the wash ripples ashore creating a bit of disturbance but that is about it.

As I sip my first frappe of the break I open up my email in box to receive this cracker from a prize dickhead called Mark Mcelney.

One thing I would like to ask is why have you been publishing such lies on cupid and others and how much are the hedge funds paying for this?

Hmmm, Mark care to list the lies? I think you will find everything I have written on Cupid and others is factually correct. As to payment from hedge funds? Would you care to show us your evidence for this claim of yours? Hmmmm you have none. Because it is pure hogwash. You are a paranoid delusional dickhead.

And with that it is time to order my first lunch in Greece of this break.

Tom Winnifrith

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And so the journey to the spiritual homeland of Greece begins...

2151 days ago

I have explained before my family’s incredibly strong links to Greece. My father’s mother’s family were classical scholars writing books about the place 150 years ago. Both of my father’s maternal uncles are buried there: one fell down a mountain and is buried at Delphi, the other was killed in the Second World War and is buried in Athens. My father’s mother was named after a Greek island – er..Lesbos. It all had a different sort of meaning in 1900.  My father’s sister married a Hobhouse ( Byronologists will understand that). My father writes books on the place and it was always a place for family holidays.  It seems the family is bound to poor Hellas.  And so it is where I headed off to last summer as things fell apart.

And now for the second time this year I head back. This time on my own with my rucksack. My partner (whose sister is, as it happens, married to a Greek) arrives in ten days to be shown a bit of Albania and a couple of places in Northern Greece. But first I have nine days with firm plans in terms of destination for the first four but no hotels booked at all. I shall just see what happens, try to walk a few pounds off in the heat and see where I end up.

The journey starts at Gatwick at 5.30 AM and so when I lock up at Real Man in an hours’ time, having recharged my phone, I shall head off to the station to prepare for a few hours writing at the airport. Tomorrow night I am on a bus from Corfu to Athens. I would imagine that I will be tired enough to sleep for most of the journey. And then at 6 AM Thursday the holiday really begins as I head into the Southern Peloponnese. My laptop – as ever – travels with me as does my video camera so, fear not, this website is NOT on holiday.

PS. I am naturally wearing my It’s Time to Leave T-shirt as I head off. I feel sure that the odd Greek would agree with the sentiment.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Video Post Card #38 – Mandela and Osborne/ Bankrupt Britain edition

2153 days ago

Over on Shareprophets.com my financial weekly video postcard this week looks at the small resources stocks. It explains why there traditional sources of funding have been cut off and asks how many of them are actually already at a near zero real cash position and asks why they cannot be more transparent about it.

You can watch that video here.

My political postcard covers two topics.

  1. My thoughts on Nelson Mandela – actually he is a bit of a hero of mine for a couple of reasons

  2. George Osborne and the non-cuts and wholesale denial of the entire political class about what needs to be done to stave off bankruptcy.

In that vein my next video postcard here on TomWinnifrith.com will come to you from Greece

Video

Tom Winnifrith

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Register for the weekly Tomograph newsletter - mad week and 3 days to Greece issue

2153 days ago

What a week. The busiest of the year for Real Man Pizza saw all hands to the pump even though we were fullt staffed. Writing had to take a bit of a back seat and I am also tidying up a few lose ends as I prepare to head out to Gatwick for a 5.30 AM flight to Corfu to be followed by a 12 hiour bust journey to Athens. It sounds like madness but there is a logic behind it.

However the copy is flowing again and will ramp up once I arrive in Greece for nine days alone ahead of my partner's arrival. And so the weekly Tomograph will go out tonight.

To ensure that you receive your edition of the Tomograph on Sunday evening please REGISTER HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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George Osborne & the Spending Review – everyone is lying

2153 days ago

And so this week George Osborne laid out his plans for how the Government will spend money it does not have over the next few years. The reactions were sadly predictable and the truth is, my friends, that they are all lying.

On the right there was praise for canny George who so cleverly snookered New Labour with populist pledges about tackling welfare scroungers and who is clearly a safe pair of hands to act as custodian of the nation’s finances. Middle England and the Bond markets are meant to be reassured.

On the left the BBC, its sister paper The Guardian and other associated loons continued the post 2010 narrative of wicked Tory cuts, back to the 1930s, blah, blah, blah.

Both sides are lying although it seems that the BBC/Guardian agenda has won as most folks do actually think that Government spending is being cut. It is not. In 2009-2010 (Labour’s last year in power), public expenditure was £671 billion. In 2015-16, according to the Chancellor’s figures it will be £745 billion.  And George has form in getting his sums wrong so if I was offered a spread bet at £744-46 billion I’d be a big buyer. In absolute terms Government spending has risen year on year since 2010 with new records set each time. In inflation adjusted terms Government spending is down by less than 1%.

Of course some folks believe in the Money Tree. We, my friends, know that it does not exist. How has this Government largesse been funded? By issuing more debt. Government borrowing (ignoring off balance sheet items like PFI, bank bailouts and student loans that are bound to default) will have increased from c£1000 billion when Labour left office to £1,500 billion by the time of the next election. You thought Gordon Brown was useless? George Osborne is presiding over the largest increase in Government debts in history!

Of course there have been cuts. But the big cost-centres of Government: the NHS, Education and of course welfare and pensions have just carried on lapping up the fruits of the money tree. Osborne proposes minor tinkerings in 18 months’ time but he is nowhere close to closing the deficit as he promised he would do. And as the cost of borrowing increases ( as it must) the cost of servicing that ever greater debt will start to ramp up big time and eat into any trivial savings that pathetic George might be planning.

At some stage the bond markets (if not Middle England or the Guardian/BBC axis of evil) will wake up to the appalling state of the UK’s finances. It is happening already. At current rates by 2020 the UK Debt to GDP ratios will be close to where Greece was just before the balloons started to go up.

Yet still the left bleats on about wicked Tory cuts and the right thinks that cuts are being made. Truly some folks here in Bankrupt Britain live in a parallel universe.

Tom Winnifrith

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Another one year anniversary marked today

2156 days ago

It is a bit of a day for reflection. For it was exactly a year ago today that I headed down to Gatwick Airport to fly to Greece. It was a one way ticket as frankly I was not exactly sure if or when I would bother coming back. As I am sure you are all aware my world had pretty much imploded. As I sit here a year later an awful lot has changed.

At one level it is all to the good. I shall have a quiet meal with my deluded lefty partner tonight. Professionally, the writing and the Real Man restaurant and UK Investor Show are all pretty much on track. Nothing happens as quickly as you might like but the trend is my friend.

But there is always another side. On my return I was pretty determined only to work with folks who I really knew and trusted and who really wanted to work with me. And I was determined not to get enmeshed in a bureaucratic corporate structure ever again.

A merger proposal came in for shareprophets the other day which – after just over two months was kind of flattering. But as soon as I saw that there was a discussion about boardroom composition and the split of non-executive directors I just felt sick and could not go on. I am sure that next up would have been editorial policy. It is the sort of thing that makes me wake up at night in a cold sweat.

But as you get involved in a more successful structure life becomes more complex. And so after two hours sleep last night (I just could not sleep for some reason) I found my attempted siesta this afternoon interrupted by someone angrily demanding payment of an invoice that was all of nine days due. Yes we have the cash. I had asked that it be paid and someone had forgotten. That sort of thing happens. It will be paid tomorrow.

But did I really come back to embrace this sort of nonsense. I suppose it is how the world is but it just seems unnecessary and stressful. At least Greece is now just six days away. That will be a good time to write and think about a change in the business plan. And now off for that romantic meal. Naturally, it will be in a Greek restaurant.

Tom Winnifrith

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One Year Old – today: A look back

2181 days ago

It was a year ago today that the first article appeared on this blog. Most blogs fold after a period of months but I am still here. And to celebrate a glass of bubbly for breakfast! The toast “to you dear readers for continuing to read this site”

A year ago my life looked unimaginably bleak. At a personal and health level it was a mess and I was days away from leaving Rivington Street and t1ps the company I founded.  To the victors the spoils and so it was repeatedly asserted that all t1ps’ problems were of my making and that new management was turning it around. Yes I have read the interim results released at 6PM on Friday. Hmmmm. You might say that but I could not possibly comment.

That however was a former life for me. My line in the sand was drawn in September.  By then I knew who my friends were. To folks such as Richard Poulden, Abbe Aronson, Darren Atwater, Steve Moore, Clem Chambers, Monisha Varadan, Chris Potts, Amanda Van Dyke, Lucian Miers, Chris Booker and Zak Mir I am forever in your debt. To you I say “cheers” – another toast.

I chatted yesterday to most of the above and life has changed pretty dramatically. At the Real Man restaurant we were losing £5,000 a month when I took it on officially in September. There is now just one of the staff at that time still working here and I have hired and fired aggressively and made a stack of other changes. Having just enjoyed our busiest Saturday in memory we are now happily making a profit, our customers like us and we serve far better food. That was achievement one. I guess that “new management line” is true sometimes. Miaow.

Achievement two was getting the UK Investor Show organised in just a few months and it went well. Now with my friends at ADVFN we are well on track to deliver an even better show on April 5 next year. And I now rather suspect we will be the only show featuring master investors happening next spring. Miaow.

But perhaps the biggest win has been in writing. It is what I do best (although I can knock out a fantastic Risotto con salsicce e funghi these days as well). The launch of the www.shareprophets.com site has exceeded expectations. After 50 days it has half as many registered users as we managed to attract in one year at UK-Analyst. More join every day. And gratifyingly more and more writers seem to want to join the team and write for us. Another two will debut this week.  Meanwhile other websites…no that is enough miaows.

But www.Tomwinnifrith.com is my real love. It started as therapy but being able to write exactly what I thought without some corporate hissy fit ensuing soon became an addictive drug. The fact that I use the odd naughty word or talk about birds does not appeal to everyone – notably Google and PR prude Kay Larsen of College Group – as you may remember here and here.

But it is me. I do use naughty words. I do find myself drifting into the vernacular of my favourite TV show (The Sweeney) now and again. And I do have strong views on Israel, welfare scroungers, the EU, global warming and civil liberties. Why hold back? I had been gagged for so long that the release was joyful and still is.

But there was also a release in that I ceased to by a City insider and became an outsider. As such there was no need to kiss arse – anyone and everyone was fair game. The past year has shown me that not only is it fun to constantly expose and poke fun and to say what you want but that I can earn a reasonable living doing that and looking after Real Man Pizza. There is no need to hold back. While I might have been tentaitive at first I am now in 5th gear and will not be slowing down or getting softer in my approach.

And so looking back I reflect on those who have brought inspiration and pleasure to me:

1. The visit to Butrint (photo article)
2. Damian Conboy of Alecto hooking up with the Playboy PR girl
3. Kay Larsen PR prude at College Hill
4. Sefton Resources & Jim Ellerton – thanks Jim you have made my year ( see you in court Bitchez)
5. Taking a contrary view on the Olympics
6. Vroula – the fascist Greek athlete and defending her right to free speech
7. The visit to the Berlin Jewish Museum
8. Standing by St Paul’s for Lady Thatcher’s funeral
9. The start of the AIM Cesspit campaign
10.Going on stage with Nigel Wray and Nick Leslau at UKInvestor show – feeling I was with friends.
11. Being complimented by the Goddess
12. The Guardian and deluded lefties everywhere
13. The Baker of Zitsa
14. Albania - National Leave your Gun at home day
15. Financial PR firms & the AIM Cesspit - another fight picked

I am sure that I have missed out a few highlights.

At a personal level, many of you met my partner at UK Investor Show. She may be an utterly deluded lefty. No okay she is an utterly deluded lefty but she has been a rock at all times. She even now knows who Joe Cole is and that Mark Noble’s veins are claret and blue. What more could a man ask for?

Thank you all for reading this website over the past year. Year two starts on Monday. What will it bring?

Best wishes

 

Tom Winnifrith

Tom Winnifrith

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Off to Berlin with the Stag & Hen Parties

2188 days ago

I write this from on-board an Easyjet flight to Berlin where I am going to the wedding of a friend of my partner. He is marrying a Kraut and I have been given a stern lesson about words and phrases I am not allowed to use. Kraut is one of them.

I have however packed my “It’s Time to Leave T-shirt” although my “I stand with Israel T-shirt” was left behind. Perhaps I should have knocked up a quick “I stand with Greece” number just for this trip. I have no football shirts. I do not plan to discuss our national sport with the Hun and I am banned from discussing theirs.

It seems as if most of my fellow passengers are on one of two stag parties and one hen party- all from Wales. I guess this is what Easyjet was created for. I am not sure that those on this trip will be taking in many of the sights of Berlin and it would have been far cheaper for 1 stag party and the hen party just to stay at Bristol airport, get blind drunk and shag each other. But they are all underway now, happily ordering a stream of expensive drinks from the staff.

The two grooms to be are both dressed up. One very large and gormless looking fellow is dressed as a fairy. The other smaller, but equally gormless, fellow is wearing a little gold number. Whatever floats their boat. I am sure they will have a great time. I just rather hope that they do so a very good distance from where we are staying.

Tom Winnifrith

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Piss off Kenneth Clarke you old Euromaniac fool – UKIP bashing

2215 days ago

Just for the avoidance of doubt I am not a UKIP party member and will not be voting at all on May 2nd. However I cannot say that I am put off UKIP by Tory Grandee Kenneth Clarke labelling its leaders as clowns and anyone voting for it as a racist. In fact such a pathetic attack merely makes me think even less of Call Me Dave’s Tories and of the fat old fool that is Ken Clarke.

Clarke states that UKIP is largely a protest by folks against the established parties. He may be correct. The established parties have produced a political class which has engaged in systematic expenses fiddling and extraction of ever more cash from the public purse. And on issues such as the EU they are almost united in ignoring the wishes of most voters. They are an out of touch elite. And with his cushy non-executive directorships as a sideline and having supported every doomed Euro project from the ERM to Britain’s membership of the Euro, the fat complacent Clarke is a typical member of that class.

Rightly many of us view the lot of them with contempt. If the political class get a bloody nose from UKIP in largely irrelevant local elections on May 2nd they deserve it.

As it happens I disagree with UKIP on immigration. Listening to Nigel Farage’s speech at UKInvestor Show I winced as he touched on the issue and also on that of gay marriage which I support. My partner (female and British Asian) has real problems with UKIP on these sort of matters and I can understand why.

But the EU is an important matter for me as is the way that the mainstream parties are all committed to pissing away billions on tackling the non-issue of global warming and are failing to tackle the appalling finances of Bankrupt Britain. And I do hold the entire political class in contempt for their corruption. And so I would not mind UKIP doing well on May 2nd. Being told that I am a racist for feeling that way just makes me despise Clarke and his ilk all the more.  What the fat old fool is effectively saying is “to prove that you are not a racist you must support the established clique of corrupt politicians who ignore your views on a range of matters.”  What a horrible man Clarke is.

As to UKIP being led by clowns? Well maybe. But look who makes the charge. Farage strikes me as rather more credible than a lifetime career politician who has feathered his own nest with big business directorships on the side and who has on almost every great issue since he took part in stabbing Margaret Thatcher in the back got it 100% wrong.

Across Europe, from Greece to Ireland electorates are revolting against established political classes who are corrupt and out of touch. The fat old men who have run Greece or France or Spain have far more in common with each other and with Ken Clarke than any of them have with their own electorates.

In some places this revulsion leads to support for truly loathsome and unpleasant anti-establishment parties (Golden Dawn in Greece, the Front Nationale in France or Sinn Fein in Eire). In others it is UKIP style parties who are surging. There are clearly a few nutters in UKIP who hold rather vile views but a few nutters does not represent the whole party. As an outlet for justifiable anger I’d rather the outlet was UKIP than some of the darker forces at play elsewhere in the Evil Empire.

Instead of insulting the vast numbers of folk who has had enough of the mainstream parties people like Ken Clarke might consider why they have had enough. UKIP is not the problem. It is men like Ken Clarke who are the problem.

Tom Winnifrith

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Rocking With the anarchists not the commies

2216 days ago

And so for our last night in Greece we moved to nearer the airport and spent the evening in the main town of Zakynthos. This place was totally wiped out by an earthquake in the early 60s ( apart from one sixteen century church) so it would be hard to describe it has having old world charm but it was pleasant enough. I suspect that one “the season” gets underway it will be Hell on Earth but for now the main language spoken was Greek and it was harmless. Zakynthos has escaped the worst of the meltdown thanks to tourism but even here the signs of unease are clear.

Posters protesting against the rise of the Nazi Golden Dawn party were everywhere to be seen.

 In the main square outside a bank Kappa Kappa (the commies) was holding a protest and Concert. This is a communist party that has yet to accept (unlike most European commies) that Stalin had its faults and that it is a good thing that the Berlin Wall has come down. As a result it is pretty unelectable – hard-line Stalinism is not cool even in a country facing meltdown.

And so it started with a video which basically equated, ad nauseam, Golden Dawn with the holocaust. Frankly Golden Dawn does contain some incredibly unpleasant characters and to describe its leaders as Nazis really is not that unfair. The film went on to show that Russia won the second world war ( there was one five second snap shot of D-Day) but to Bolshevik marching songs it was clear that it was Uncle Joe who smashed the Fascists. You can follow that lead but I doubt many will. The commie concert featured a conventional band with a female lead with a pretty weak voice. Her opening number was Yesterday. That sums up Kappa Kappa fairly well. It went downhill from there.

And so for entertainment we wandered to the next square where the Anarchists were staging a gig. The band were four men from the sort of punk/thrash rock genre plus a bird on the synthesiser who was heavy Goth. The lead singer looked a bit like Leon Trotsky although being a committed anarchist he would no doubt have taken great offence has I pointed this out. They sang in Greek which as just as well as the passion in the lyrics was clear and I suspect that I would not have agreed with a word said had I understood what was going on. I resisted the urge to wander up and ask if they would play a request: Born in the USA.

However we stayed for a good while. The band were talented, passionate and tuneful. Immune to the poison of the lyrics we happily rocked with the anarchists.

Tom Winnifrith

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Farewell Zakynthos – Am I a snob? Yes

2216 days ago

For once I spent my Greek holiday not on the mainland but on an Island. It is not something I plan to make a habit of for reasons that I shall admit to – I guess that I am just an unreconstructed snob. It all started at Gatwick airport last weekend as I waited with my partner in the departure lounge for a flight to Zakynthos. As I surveyed my fellow passengers I noticed a large number who were young, had large numbers of tattoos and various bits of their body pierced, seemed to use the F word in every other sentence and who were loudly discussing how they were going for “the season.” My heart sank.

By the time the flight was passing over Dover my fellow passengers were already drinking. My heart sank some more.

And so to Zakynthos. My partner had cleverly arranged a taxi from the airport to a little place called Keri beach which had almost no houses and just a couple of tavernas and a couple of bars and being not yet “in season” it was more or less empty. It has another advantage. It is a place frequented by the Germans, Swiss and Scandinavians and not the British. And so we had a great time.

Keri was actually a strip of land between the sea and a freshwater lake. But between 1956 and 1972 the lake was the site of oil production and the wicked Yankee oilmen do not seem to have cleared up terribly well. As such the lake is now a brackish reed bed into which oil now seeps. Nature has adapted to this and the wildlife is varied and splendid and I would recommend the Pansion Limni (www.pansionlimni.com) run by the charming Martha to anyone. We ate wonderful vegetables from her garden and fresh fish from the sea and if we ate out it was standard but decent Greek fare.

In the bay is an island known generally as Turtle Island. It looks like a Turtle and that is where Turltes breed. I have actually seen Turtles copulating in the Galapagos and it is quite a sight. Perhaps I should not go into details. Actually the real name of the island is based on the Greek for wild dill which grows in abundance there

But back to the Brits. They were ALL heading for Laganas Beach. In a spirit of voyeurism my partner and I popped over to see it one evening. Being pre-season nothing was open but the shops and bars and cafes told us all we needed to know. The food is aimed at the English. The booze is cheap and plentiful. There are tattoo parlours a plenty. The accommodation cheap and cheerful. In short Laganas beach could be transplanted anywhere in the world, there is nothing remotely Greek about the place at all. And in a few weeks’ time it will be packed almost exclusively with Brits there to get absolutely shit-faced every night, to eat utter crap and if possible have sex with a drunken stranger.

The reputation of the English throughout the Greek islands is terrible. A nice German couple at Limni asked Martha if they could hire some motorbikes. “Don’t. The English hire bikes and get drunk – you are risking your lives.” As a nation, on the Greek Islands were are not associated with Lord Byron and the great classical scholars or even with earnest middle class tourists keen to see the wonders of the Ancient world but instead, 100% with Laganas beach behaviour and worse.

My partner – being a deluded lefty - has to be pushed to admit that she feels a bit superior to our compatriots at Laganas beach. I have no such qualms. The widespread acceptance of drunk driving, street brawls and worse seems to me pretty despicable. And it seems to me that to go on holiday and then behave exactly as you would on a Friday night back home but more so seems terribly dull. Surely folks have some element of their brain that wishes to learn about another culture?  It appears not. And so does meeting such folk bring out the snob in me? Yes.

I know that I should not feel superior to these people and there is a bit of guilt that I feel as I look at their tattoos and wince. As such life is so much simpler for me if I stick to the mainland of Greece. Head off to Delphi or Mycenae and a) I am doing what I enjoy and b) I can do so in the happy knowledge that I will just not be encountering “those sort of English people.”

PS My partner has asked me to remove the word deluded in my description of her. That is the thing about lefties, they do not understand that they are all deluded. Maybe not having read the Guardian for more than a week she is suffering withdrawal symptoms and needs to mainline a bit of delusion to calm her down? He wrote patronisingly.

Tom Winnifrith

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Almost Back in Britain – announcement pending

2218 days ago

It seems like just yesterday that Easyjet dropped us off at the one airport on this Island. We were the only plane on the Tarmac and the terminal was 75 yards away. Naturally we waited 5 minutes for a bus to arrive to take us to the terminal. All must have non jobs.

I will offer a few more thoughts up on Greece but the flagpole is on the sea about fifty yards from where we are staying. It is not a bad view to wake up to.  But this has been an all too brief stay and today we wend our way back towards the airport and tomorrow it is back to Britain. Farewell to the oil lake, to the wild dill, to Greek salads every meal, to the terrapins in the stream nearby and to Marlboro Lights at 3.90 Euro a packet. Farewell to a life of getting up at 4 AM your time to write on my PC on the balcony overlooking the sea while my partner snoozes.

Normal writing services resume as of Sunday evening. The Tomograph will be back next Wednesday. Meanwhile Darren will continue to load videos from the UK Investor Show onto both ADVFN and to Shareprophets.com - next up is Christopher Booker.

This has been a good place to think.  An announcement is pending. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Greek 200 metres

2222 days ago

As you can see by the fact that this is only my third article today I am on holiday. I am, of course, in Greece, in a little village by the sea where there are, as far as I can seem just four or five places to eat. And so my partner and I sought out the sixth, The Final Taverna which is – according to a sign just 200 metres away from village on a road leading around a big bend.

She knows a thing or two about Greece and so we agreed that these would be 200 Greek metres i.e. at least 400 metres. Sure enough, after about 400 metres we came to a sign “Final Taverna 50m.” About 100 metres later there was another sign: “Final Taverna 40m.”

About 100 metres later around another bend we got there. It was closed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Getting Life in balance – time for a Holiday

2225 days ago

I have not had a holiday since last summer and I am absolutely shattered – mentally and physically. And so my partner (whom some of you met at UKInvestor Show) and I are off to Greece for a week or two – as a liberated woman employed by the State it is only fair that she pays. Naturally I shall write for a few hours a day but mostly this is swimming, walking & winding down. It’s time to think.

You have to learn your lessons and I know that I can have a tendency to take on too much and to just put in too many hours.  In the end that destroys you physically and emotionally. That is a lesson learned. You cannot keep too many plates spinning forever. And so what is my thinking agenda? At a personal level? I shall keep that to myself.

At a work level it is working out how to do less. The UKInvestor Show went very well and I would hope to announce a venue and date for 2014 within the next week or so. But I have taken on a bird to drive that forward so that (especially with a 12 month run in not 4 months) it is less draining for me. 

Real Man Pizza is now in the hands of the lovely Dominique and so I can now be very much a chef of last resort. We are hiring two cracking new waitresses who start next week and so I can just sit back, create the odd new recipe (last night it was the St George’s Day Pizza for next Tuesday) and enjoy the odd day in the kitchen when I fancy it.

And so to writing. A few gigs take no time at all and can be fun and make a few bob and so I am happy to carry on spending an hour a day on Spreadbet Magazine, 24n.biz and www.onefreesharetip.com – but what of the rest of my time? Historically my answer would have been “there are still another 23 hours to allocate” but that is not what I really want to do. There are a number of non work things that I want to do and so it is down to writing what I really enjoy. And that means:

I like working with Steve Moore and Lucian Miers on my Nifty Fifty premium product. Lucian and I recorded our first video the other day and it will go live in the next 96 hours. It was like the old days of EvilCast but on video and funnier. Meanwhile Steve and I had a long chat about a company the other day and so he is right now putting the finishing touches to our latest hot share tip which will go out early this afternoon. And so that is project one.

Project two is www.shareprophets.com – I am finding it very exciting. And frankly it is where I shall make the money need to pay the bills.  Again it is good to be working with a great bunch of folks who do not need managing and who deliver a quality product. I can write what I want and so my next piece is a chance to have a pop at a board of a BB fave who seem to me to have behaved appallingly. So it is fun and it will pay the bills.  And more and more writers contact me every day wanting to write for it. That is the really exciting thing about www.shareprophets.com – quality writers are flocking to the standard.

Of course it is free so if you have not registered yet please do so at www.shareprophets.com

And finally there is this blog. I have not written that much this week as I am just drained. But this is where I can really let rip. This blog was my sanity check last summer and although it makes sod all for me it is fun. And so as long as shareprophets pays the bills this is one of my fun distractions.

That leaves enough time for one other project at a time. The odd e-book, the odd Sefton type campaign. But also other non-work things.

Anyhow, enough from me. I fly Sunday. Before that the Tomograph will return as will the caption contest and there is a hot tip to polish off for the Nifty Fifty and a zillion other things to complete.

Thank you for reading

Tom

 

Tom Winnifrith

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A generation pulverized by the Euro – this is a crime against humanity

2229 days ago

In Greece youth unemployment is c60%. Ditto Spain. In Eire 30%. But these figures dramatically understate, yes I repeat understate, what is going on and it is the Euro that is to blame. An entire generation across much of Europe is being pulverized, systematically smashed and it is the Euro worshipping leaders of the same countries who are to blame. This is almost a crime against humanity.

Why the understatement? Emigration. Last year 90,000 people left Ireland. Nearly all were young people without jobs. Young Spaniards, Greeks, Italians have all flocked to North America, Australia and above all to London in search of work. I have noted before that not a day goes by when I do not have five or six young Southern European walk into my restaurant with a perfectly typed CV asking for work. If the young folk of the PIIGS nations did not have the ability to seek work outside the Eurozone then youth unemployment in Spain and Greece would be 70% or higher and in Eire it would already be at 40% plus. And in all cases the numbers rise day by day. There are just no jobs going.

The austerity measures imposed as a condition of bailouts means that life is getting worse. Youth unemployment and emigration numbers will both climb again in 2013. And of course it is the brightest and most driven youngsters who are emigrating. The long term implications for economic growth in these countries of this generation specific diaspora are truly dire. It is, incidentally, great news for the economy of London.

To inflict on almost an entire generation a choice of family break-up or poverty and forced idleness is a crime. Just like State sponsored theft is a crime. In Cyprus that is via bank robberies. In Eire it is by a draconian tax on all properties, even those which are now virtually worthless and unsellable. Perhaps 10% of Eire’s houses are now on tumbleweed developments. With a rapidly declining population no-one will ever live there. They are 100% unsellable and unrentable. You cannot even sell them for £1 because the new property taxes (needed to meet Euro bailout conditions) will make the negative yield so enormous. They will become a lifetime negative annuity – the price of being Irish.

What would Michael Collins have said had the British imposed such a scheme on his people? Had they imposed policies which sought to destroy a generation in just two or three years? What the hell was the point of throwing one Imperial master out if it has all come to this?

There is another way. Albania and Iceland faced the same problems as the PIIGS within the past ten to fifteen years. Bad bank debt had become unsupportable national debt. The answer is simple. Default on your national debt. Leave the Euro and establish a floating currency that will crater in value. But once again your economies will be competitive. Yes asset values will fall by 40% at a stroke. But as we are going the combination of state theft of assets and austerity will wipe another 40% (and more) from asset values within the Euro. It is just that the pain will go on for years.

Albania and Iceland took the pain quickly but have not looked back since. With their floating currencies they have enjoyed years and years of economic growth. Folks are happy.

The people of the PIIGS nations want a plan B before their society as well as their economy is completely destroyed. But the pan European political elite is determined, at any cost, to drive ahead with the Evil Empire's political project.

This is not ending happily.

Tom Winnifrith

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What Cyprus actually means – the New post Euro Order

2243 days ago

Cyprus is a small island and it was easy to ignore or play down events at first but the situation is now out of control. We live in a new world order, the post Cyprus order and you need to wake up to the reality of that fast.

The Euro was never an economic project. It was a political one. And as such the “believers” brushed aside any economic objections and sought to ensure that everyone joined the club. Some countries were not fit to join (Portugal, Eire Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Cyprus) but that mattered little. The leaders of those countries and the ECB agreed to lie in order to gain entry. 

This was a concerted lie by the political elites across Europe – a class distinct from the folks they nominally represent. And so today as the Euro collapses the political elites of Poland, Rumania and elsewhere are still applying to sign up. Hey, I know the Titanic is going down but is there any chance of me jumping off a floating currency lifeboat and getting on board your fine vessel? Madness.

And one reason that it is madness is that we have no idea how Cyprus will play out. The initial plans for state bank robbery have been shelved and so if you have less than 100,000 Euros in your bank account that money is, pro tem, safe. But it is impossible to withdraw it in more than small tranches. If you have more you will lose some of it. Perhaps 40% or 60% or potentially all of it.  The idea that bondholders should lose everything if a bank fails seems fair to me. The idea that depositors should lose cash is just obscene.

What will be the effects?

For one you will see a growing scandal of how the political elite looked after its own and its friends. The family of the Cypriot President took its cash out of the banks a few days before the robbery was announced. The list of those that took out large sums is HERE

The chasm of mistrust that exists between the political elite across Europe and those they are meant to govern grows wider by the day. At some stage somewhere folks will say that enough is enough.

Secondly, the economy of Cyprus will seize up. 100,000 Euro is not actually that much. There are pensioners (many of them British), small businesses and others who have lost everything. They simply will not be able to pay staff, bills and debts. They will go bust. The knock on effects on the Cypriot economy will be disastrous.

Some within the Evil Empire claim that it is only dodgy Russians or largely dodgy Russians who are effected. My guess is that your average dodgy Russian stashed his ill-gotten gains in various islands. So he will be hit but not wiped out. Once again it will be the Cyprus based middle classes and small businesses that are really whacked and the negative multiplier effect of them not being able to pay bills will smash the local economy.

Once again EU austerity measures will simply make a situation worse.

But this will also spread beyond Cyprus. Already there are hints that Slovenia is in a similar position. Once again its banks passed EU stress tests a couple of months ago but we now know that such tests are meaningless.

And the precedent has now been set. The EU itself says that going forward if a country’s banks need bailing out it will not just be a new international loan that is offered – citizens of the country affected must also pay. State sponsored bank robbery is now deemed legitimate. Work hard, save and it can all be stolen from you.

This is of course a vicious circle. You now have to be quite certifiably mad if you live in a European country where the economy is a mess (i.e. France downwards) to keep your cash in a bank. There have not been large scale bank runs yet but you can bet there is a drip drip of withdrawals and the next time there is a Cyprus type incident that will turn into a flood. And you might as well get capital out of such a country before the EU (illegally) extends Cyprus type capital controls elsewhere.

What rather worries me is that Call Me Dave and other Western leaders refuse to stand up to this theft. It is as if they agree that the State has a right to seize whatever it wants whenever it wants.

And so what is the solution? There is only one. Cyprus would be better off leaving the Euro, devaluing its currency, taking the hit of bank failure now and restarting. The two fastest growing European economies (Iceland and Albania) have both faced a similar storm in the past 15 years. Their response was to take the hit and then rebuild with a floating currency. It is the only way.

Of course if Cyprus left the Euro and started its recovery other countries which should never have joined the Euro in the first place will start to realise that such an option is better for them than more German imposed austerity. Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Portugal, Eire will all be on the way out.  Right now their leaders (part of the pan European political Elite) cannot face such a solution although their people must increasingly yearn for it. But at some stage someone has to break ranks. And then the floodgates are open.

Until that moment happens the EU will continue down a path which can only be described as sheer madness. Folks across Southern Europe will trust banks, paper currencies and their political leaders ever less and gold, cash under the mattress and anti-politics ever more.

Now who can find me the best quote from Huhne, Mandelson, Pantsdown, Blair, Heseltine, Howe or one of the other “guilty men” describing the dire consequences for the UK if we did NOT join the Euro? A bonus prize if you can find one of them apologising for getting it so dreadfully wrong.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Iraqi benefits queen YOU pay for – why housing benefit is a farce our useless MPs will not deal with

2244 days ago

This will make your blood boil. Bushra al-Rahimi is an Iraqi national. She lives in London and was given housing benefit to cover the cost of a flat in an exclusive part of Westminster which she then let out at £4,000 a week. Finally she has been booted out of that accommodation and ordered to repay rent arrears of £30,800 BUT…

She is now living in an Islington flat paid for by housing benefits which in the private sector would cost £5,000 a month to rent. She continues to get a Jobseekers Allowance worth £71 a week. God knows what other benefits this parasite is getting.

This just defies belief:

a) This woman has broken the law. Is it not possible to amend our laws so that if someone arrives in this country seeking political asylum we make it explicitly clear that if they commit any crime (including benefits fraud) they will be sent back home (even if it means they face persecution) with all their dependents automatically? It is a sort of social contract: we give you safety but you MUST obey the law.

b) Why the hell does she get to choose where to stay? If the taxpayer is funding her housing costs can we not elect to house her in a slum house in Burnley rather than a £2 million Westminster luxury apartment? At least stick this cockroach out in Newham or somewhere cheaper than Westminster. If the taxpayer pays the bill the taxpayer has a right to decide where someone lives.

c) Her penalty for being caught stealing from the taxpayer seems to be swapping one luxury address for another. A flat that rents out at £5000 pcm in Islington (i.e. £60,000 a year) is probably worth c£1.5 million.  This woman has never paid a cent in UK tax. She has never worked here. She is a criminal. And she gets to live (at no cost to her) in the sort of place that 98% of the population cannot afford to live in.

And here am I working on Easter Day in the knowledge that a good portion of my labours will go in tax to support this crap, Heather Frost and so much more. On the left politicians block welfare reform. The Tories say they are tackling it but this sort of thing keeps on happening again and again and I just do not believe them anymore.  The Tories are spineless and useless.

Reasons to want to see the entire political class string up with piano wire and/or to stop working and go live on a smallholding in Greece. This is one. Angry does not even start to describe how I feel.

Tom Winnifrith

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The old “We are vulnerable to a bid” line – ref Cupid

2251 days ago

http://uk.advfn.com/newspaper/tom-winnifrith/17514/the-old-we-are-vulnerable-to-a-bid-line-ref-cupid

Tom Winnifrith

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The Death of Freedom, I am hacked off with Airstrip One – but am I covered? Is Guido covered?

2256 days ago

Yesterday David Cameron climbed down and agreed to the demands of Labour, the Lib Dems and Hacked off Campaigners like Hugh Grant (who was not at the time getting a blow job from a roadside hooker) and has agreed to State regulation of the press. Indeed it is worse than that since the new body set up will also cover anyone who publishes news related information in the UK. So that might get my Dad involved. The Shipston on Stour Parish newsletter is within the scope of this new legislation and should my father wish to moralise about the domestic arrangements of local celebs Tessa Jowell MP and David Mills, now happy reconciled as of one week after she stepped down from front line politics, Jowell could in theory report my poor father to the new regulator. And any blog is potentially within this remit if its primary discussion matter is news related – which includes celebs and hookers.

The press were not involved in agreeing the new Royal Charter and oppose it. But most big news organisations will eventually sign up to the code although the Telegraph appears to be. If you do not and the political stooges who manage it find you have breached you could face company destroying damages. And as things stand you may have to pay damages if you are hauled before the new body and found innocent.

This is therefore a fundamental assault not just on the press but on free speech.

It is a sad day. It will make it easier for the same MPs who have pushed through this legislation to lie, cheat and steal. It will make it easier for celebs to portray one image and get you to buy their merchandise while doing whatever they wish on the side. It will make it less likely that the crimes of future Jimmy Savile’s, expense fiddling MPs, hooker using politicians (Archer) or celebs (Grant) will be exposed. It truly marks an acceleration towards the world of Airstrip One.

However, I do have a question though in terms of how this measure will work. Is Guido and the Order Order website covered? Guido is an Irish citizen and his website (which has nailed many a bent MP) is owned offshore and its servers are offshore. While Guido (aka Paul Staines) and his co-writer live in London and so write in London in what sense is his website “publishing in the UK” . The Royal Charter says that it is because the majority of the content is aimed at a UK audience. Well that is not hard. Guido can simply hire an Irish staff writer to cover corrupt thieving Irish politicians and ensure that 50.1% of the content is from him or her. Chuck in the odd piece about corrupt or thieving EU politicians (again plenty of source material there) and it would seem to evade the rules.

In case Jim Ellerton is reading this, TomWinnifrith.com is owned by me (a UK resident) and is hosted in the UK and so clearly will be covered. But, as I again discuss with my partner, the possibility of moving overseas for much of the year and thus becoming an overseas resident I could, at that stage, decide to move to a server in, say, Albania. At that point would I be publishing in the United Kingdom? If I started writing a lot of content about life in Albania or Greece such that 50.1% of my content was about the Balkans or global issues (like global cooling or EU corruption) would I be covered? Almost certainly no. Perhaps I can fluff it out with some syndicated material from my first love Abbe Aronson, about lesbian nightlife in upstate New York?  I am sure that this would attract some new readers and would clearly get me round the proposed ruling.

At that stage the NY Times can run a story about a bent MP which Guido and TomWinnifrith.com can also run but which UK Newspapers and bloggers will fear to run under our new draconian Orwell laws. And so I ask the question will this work? I think that it will not. I may not move to Greece after all. But there will be blogs and websites that will escape the new ruling.

This legislation is driven by a desire for vengeance from celebs and politicians who have been exposed for various matters. It will make Britain a less free place. But it will not save them should they offend again.  No website that I am involved in will be signing up to this code and, if anything this will make me more aggressive in what I write.

Tom Winnifrith

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Cyprus – State Sponsored Socialist Theft in the Eurozone – it could happen here

2258 days ago

Cyprus has become the fifth Eurozone nation to get a bailout but this one is different. At the insistence of the Germans one condition of the bailout is that private citizen’s pay and they will do so via a tax of up to 10% levied on all bank deposits in the Mediterranean island. This is pure socialism in action – the idea that the legitimate savings made by an individual as a result of fully taxed income can just be seized by the State. It is a horrific precedent.

For having established that the State can effectively seize whatever it wants whenever it wants you rather accept that you have no private property or savings. You can work your socks off, pay taxes to support those who do not work, save prudently so that you will not be a burden on the State or your family in the future and then one day the State just seizes your money. Heck why stop at 10% of bank deposits? Why not seize land, houses, etc.? The precedent is now there and this is an EU precedent.

David Cameron wishes to remain part of an organisation which thinks that State sponsored theft of private wealth is acceptable. I do not and nor, I suspect, do most British people. If the Conservative party and for that matter the Lib Dems and Labour support State sponsored theft that is fine they should be honest about it and we can all vote UKIP. But will the established parties stand up to the political elite in the Evil Empire and say “This is wrong and if you wish to behave in this way we want no part of it?” I doubt it. Call Me Dave, Clegg and the leader of the party that boasts prize shit and anti semite Lord Ahmed in its ranks, may huff and puff but the bottom line is that they all want to be part of a club that allows State sponsored theft.

I suspect that across the continent of Europe there are a lot of folks really questioning whether they want to stay part of this enterprise any more, especially in places such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and to a lesser extent France and Eire. Do you folks out there in Spain really feel safe leaving your assets where the State can just steal them?

I wonder if next week we might see a bit of a run on the banks in a number of places… unintended consequences and all that. Of course that could then trigger a bailout in Spain or elsewhere. It all becomes self-fulfilling.

It is at this point in a cycle of lunacy that one starts thinking that taking all of your cash out of the banks and buying physical gold to bury in a safe place which just you and one trusted friend know about. Is that any less risky than leaving a money in a bank where you had thought that the Government guaranteed the safety of a deposit but is now, it seems, able just to steal your cash at will.

As for the Euro? The austerity measures imposed on the PIIGs are causing unemployment and misery on a 1930s scale. Social unrest is growing. Now that in at least one PIIGS nation ( more to follow) the basic contract of trust with banks and the Government has been destroyed one must ask if the price being paid for the maintenance of what was always a political not an economic project is a fair one. Perhaps some of those who warned that Britain would be ruined by not joining the Euro (Chris Huhne, Paddy Pantsdown, Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson, Geoffrey Howe and the other “guilty men”) would care to explain why the people of Cyprus have benefited from being in the Euro? Incidentally thousands of British owners of properties in Cyprus and servicemen based in Cyprus will also be hit by this State sponsored theft.

The Euro has to be broken up with the eviction of all of the Southern European nations if it is to survive and if civil unrest, anarchy and abject misery is not to ensue across the Med.

At some stage the little people across Europe will just say that enough is enough and refuse to be trampled upon by a political elite pursuing ideology over common sense.



 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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RIP An Old Friend - Why I have written little for 24 hours

2268 days ago

There were two reasons why I have not written a word for ages. One is Sefton and you can read about that here, the other is the death of an old friend. I refer to my laptop – the one that has gone everywhere with me for five years, lived in a rucksack as I travelled around Greece last summer and was so worn that only 10 letters were still even partially visible on my keyboard.

Yesterday evening as I finished my work with my prime lawyer, I tried to restart my old friend. It just refused. It is now an ex-Computer. And I now tap away on a new machine. It uses Windows 8 which is bloody annoying and I keep being directed to screens in which I have no interest at all. I am even being encouraged by it to read articles from the frigging Guardian.

I am sure that I will get used to it but pro tem work is painfully slow. For that reason and for the day wasted by Sefton there is no midweek Tomograph this week. Normal service will resume at the weekend.

Tom Winnifrith

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A day wasted by Sefton and my July 11 Moment – See you in Court bitchez

2268 days ago

http://uk.advfn.com/newspaper/tom-winnifrith/16963/a-day-wasted-by-sefton-and-my-july-11-moment-see-you-in-court-bitchez

Tom Winnifrith

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What will be the Black Swan that blows up the world economy by 2015? China, US or Europe?

2271 days ago

The answer to the 1998 financial crisis was to slash borrowing costs across the globe so that we all over-leverages and misallocated our capital. On that occasion it was junk dotcom investments and property. In 2008 another crises and the same solution. The fact is that the world has been misallocating capital for decades, led by Governments freed from prudence by the abandonment of the gold standard in 1971.

With each crisis that crops up, the solution is simply to print more money and to get folks to take on even more debt. You owe too much – heck borrow some more. And so capital is misallocated and bubbles grow ever bigger. But at some stage the party ends. It will. The current set up is simply unsustainable.

And so what will be the black swan event that causes the mother of all reality checks? If offer four runners and riders. Inevitably if one occurs it will trigger the others. And it will probably be a fifth black swan that no-one has thought much about that starts the party. But here goes.

1. The Chinese property bubble. I have written before on numerous occassions about just how mammoth this is and how it really can knock the Chinese (and thus the worlds) economy for six. The answer of the authorities to the slowdown in the PRC in 2012 was to pump more hot air into this bubble. It has to be my top black swan bet. Read this piece out yesterday on Zero Hedge if you doubt me.

My major work from September 2012 on China, the misallocation, fraud an inevitably of a crash is HERE

2. A market refusal to buy US T Bonds in an auction. The US Government is three years away from having a balance sheet like that of Greece just before the crisis. An economically illiterate President and, to show balance, a spineless Republican party in Congress just cannot get to grips with what is happening. The US today is like sick Britain at the end of WW1. But it will take the US far less time than we took to see its currency tank. At some stage folks will refuse to stump up cash for a debt that yields sod all and is clearly unrepayable and unsupportable.

3. Sovereign default across Europe accompanied by widespread Civil unrest. The only folks buying Spanish debt right now are the Spanish state pension funds. Oooh lucky Spanish state pensioners. But those funds are tapped out. Spain is bust and its economy is enjoying an EU austerity driven spanking session which Max Mosley could only dream of. It is not just Spain. Italy, Greece, Portugal are in the same mess. The Irish economy and society has been beaten to a pulp in the name of fiscal responsibility and yet could still collapse. France is heading the wrong way fast as is the UK. The collapse of the Euro as we know it has to be an odds on bet it is a matter of how it occurs.

4. The Arab spring moving to Saudi Arabia. A regime with no legitimacy is kleptocratic, autocratic and barbaric. It bribes the people with a fraction of the nation’s wealth and panders to radical Islam in a most unhealthy sort of way but it is unloved. One day it will fall. Revolution in the world’s largest oil producer could perhaps trigger unforeseen events elsewhere.

Hey, maybe we can all carry on spending beyond our means, leveraging up as individuals and as States for a good while yet. We have been kicking this can down the road for decades so maybe we can carry on for another few decades. Or maybe not. One day something will happen and we will find our noses against the wall at the end of the Cul-de-sac. That day may be sooner than we think.

For more thoughts from Tom Winnifrith follow him on twitter @tomwinnifrith

Tom Winnifrith

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Pond Life with Robert Sutherland Smith (February Edition)

2278 days ago

My old ( very old) friend from t1ps.com Robert Sutherland Smith continues his monthly column dreamt up while taking an early morning swim on Hampstead Heath… Pond Life.

There is nothing better at about 7am on a raw February morning, when flurries of snow in the air are driven hither and thither by a hectoring easterly wind coming across the North Sea from somewhere south of the Ural Mountains, than to make your way to the ponds for a winter dip. Thankfully, it is not that cold this morning; only three degrees above freezing. Almost sub tropical compared with some days. You enter the enclosed compound to find that a few other sturdy fellows are already undressing; hanging their winter cloths on cold metal hooks. They stand there in the poor light of an early winter dawn, white as flour; more like spirits from another plane or dimension than living, breathing beings from north London before the working day.

What is this urge to plunge into forbidding steel grey waters on such a day – or indeed almost any day in an English winter? Is it some kind semi-religious compulsion; a daily ritualistic baptism in the name of some deity of wind and water? Is one shriving one’s self of sin by an act of self mortification? The truth is, it is a process of getting closer to nature; to be at one with winter; to take on winter on its own terms in a bid to release yourself from its debilitating February thrall. ‘Come on winter’, you seem to say to yourself, as you remove each layer of protective winter clothing and hang it on the hook ‘do your worst!’ Now garbed in nothing but swimming shorts, you make your way bare footed across cold concrete to the door that leads to the little jetty projecting out into the cold waters.
Out of the compound and onto the jetty, to catch the full unkind force of that wind as it blows the minute particles of dust like snow around you. The wind is its own incentive to get out of it and into the water, as cold and chilly as it may be. Down the wooden ladder like steps that vertically descend into the grey winter water. A deep gasping almost hyperventilating gasp of breath and you push off into the challenging, dark, mortifying habitat of duck and fish, swimming fast as the cold passes immediately from the pond water into your feet, legs and body. Staying in too long on days like this is not advisable, if you wish to avoid being be cold yourself for much of the day. Getting the dosage of immersion right is part of the judgement.
Then, when you climb back out of the water’s cold grasp, up the ladder onto the jetty you are no longer a deathly white but rose red, like floribunda in summer. You are no longer a slave to the elements but their master and now part of them; enjoined as a freeman and citizen of nature; no longer made cold by the wind; smiling and cheerful, consumed with what all we swimmers call the ‘buzz’. So we have become a less than triple AAA risk. That was predictable for those who had eyes to see! As someone who saw the implications of George Osborne’s plan ‘A’ clearly in late 2010 and complained about it then – when the Chancellor was a hero to every happy, beaming City Tory – I now feel a touch of sympathy for him now that most have turned against him. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I suspect that the new animosity towards him is born in part out of a sense of embarrassment and failure of vision, displayed by his many early, unquestioning supporters, who patriotically waved him on like some unimaginative First World War general astride a white horse, but failed to see the shortcomings of strategy based on the iron, doctrinal, inflexibility of only one plan – and one plan only. That afforded neither him nor us – the poor ‘bloody’ infantry – the chance to withdraw to a better position as the situation developed. The cry ‘no surrender’ is nearly always the hallmark of failure of generalship. The failure is what happens when you make the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, the instrument of narrow political doctrine and advantage which, by definition, rules out pragmatism. The best generals have plenty of that and as many strategic plans as seem necessary. Not just one marked ‘Plan A’. As many have come to slowly recognize, the UK’s economic problem is not one of inefficient economic supply but one of inadequate economic demand. The danger of economic recession, if it goes on too long, is that its ability to wipe out valuable real economic capacity. Paying debts is important but it is not as important as keeping and employing a nation’s scarce economic capacity. And it is not as important as repaying national debt over four years, rather than six or even seven, simply to serve a political time table. Gentlemanly George, used to tell us that we would suffer the fate of Greece if it was not for his Plan ‘A’. The truth is that it has made us more like Greece, not less. But I am more optimistic now. Sterling, performing to rule is at last, weakening. The currency and bond markets do not move on advice from rating agencies but usually on broad global economic logic. Sterling needs now to have the benefit not enjoyed by the Euro perifique; an independent currency that adjusts to economic reality. If the Chancellor will not bring on the economic stimulus that brings growth, the markets will. It means a greater potential inflationary challenge but that, for a short time, if it can be kept that way, will be healthier than unremitting stagnation and underuse of the Nation’s capital. Inflation is a tried and tested way reducing national debt; currency depreciation, a tried and tested way of bringing on economic demand. But we need investment as well in science and technology. Forget the UK labour market which is very competitive. Rather need government initiative to increase the supply of successful and growing small firms. Robert Sutherland Smith.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekend Video Postcard Number 29

2279 days ago

I am really sure that I got sound and vision correct today! Fingers crossed. Greetings from a freezing Islington. I remember doing the first of these video postcards from a sun drenched Greece. I rather wish I was back there now although I guess it would be a bit less sun drenched. I digress.

On the agenda

1. Global warming nutters repenteth
2. UK loses AAA credit rating what does it mean?
3. Higher interest rates and UK house prices
4. Housebuilding stocks – notably Barratt Developments
5. Bearishness on the UK economy
6. What this means for the stockmarket
7. Tips on Nifty Fifty
8. UK Investor Show – an urgent plea
9. Plans for next week

PS. If you are not already signed up for it, please do sign up to my twice weekly free newsletter the Tomograph as it contains links to all my free content plus some exclusive articles. You can do so here.

And if you are on twitter can you follow me @tomwinnifrith

Tom Winnifrith

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My 10 letter keyboard, my old friend

2287 days ago

My current laptop is, I think, almost four years old. I remember it arriving shiny and new. Heaven knows how many words I have tapped out on it over the years but it must be well in excess of three million. Gosh I have written some turgid old crap over the years. The poor computer has lived in a rucksack travelling around Greece and Albania cushioned by very smelly clothes, it has travelled by ferry, train, plane and car across three continents and above all it has had to suffer my typing. I am not a delicate touch typist but hammer the keyboard hard – I often get complaints in trains from passengers who I seem to disturb: “can you type more quietly?” they say. “No. Can you be less ugly?” I want to say but don’t.

The result of my hard typing is that the letters on my keyboard have almost entirely disappeared. This is my excuse for any spelling mistakes you might spot. The keyboard now reads: QW_ _ _ U _ _ _ New row: _ _ _ _ G J K _ New row Z X _ V B_ _ Actually the U , V and X are disappearing fast and the G and K are also only just half still there. I reckon that by the end of the summer I will be down to just five visible letters from 26.

The only time I really have a problem is when entering a logon password when dots rather than letters come up on screen. Am I hitting R rather than T and so getting refused entry? Such are the trials of life with my keyboard. But since I hate the process of transferring records, reconfiguring a new laptop etc, etc I shall stick with my old friend for a while yet.

If it causes the odd ettot I am truly sotty.

Tom Winnifrith

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Creating an Agricultural bubble the EU way & pissing away millions

2300 days ago

Two years ago the EU ceased to subsidise tobacco growers in Greece, Poland and Bulgaria – folks who received £260 million a year as recently as three years ago. The problem is that their tobacco is a) not very good and b) costs far more to produce than tobacco from the third world so they need subsidies to stay in business. Now the EU wishes to restart subsidies. This is patent nonsense on three levels.

1. This is the same EU that is spending £27 million a yet trying to stop folks smoking. It claims that its campaigns are helping hundreds of thousands of people quit the habit. That is 100% unprovable and I would argue that this money is also being pissed away. But if they want to stamp out the habit why subsidise producers?

2. Subsidising high cost farmers (of anything) in Europe merely makes life tougher for low cost farmers in places like Africa. They are thus less able to export cash crops. Which means they are poorer so demand more aid (most of which their leaders steal). Which body is the biggest donor of aid? Er…the EU. Go figure.

3. The farmers milking the subsidies in Greece, Poland and Bulgaria could farm something else. If that meant that there were more carrots or broad beans produces that would mean cheaper food costs for European consumers. Which is probably not a bad thing.

And so here we have a proposal that the Evil Empire spends money on something that will make folks in Africa poorer, consumers in Europe poorer and clearly has a negative health impact for all concerned. And the UK will be chipping in 12% of the cost of the scheme.

The EU will also have created an agri-bubble. No-one actually wants or needs low grade Greek tobacco and the industry is only viable with subsidy. But if the taxpayers of the EU write a blank cheque folks will be produced into producing more and more of something no-one actually needs or wants. This is capital and land misallocation – a bubble EU style. And you pay…

Is this the sort of thing Call Me Dave reckons he can get the UK out of before his 2018 referendum? Like hell he can.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Gaping Divide between the Political Elite and Plebs like us in 2013: The EU

2332 days ago

In case you missed it, yesterday was the 40th Birthday Party of what we used to know as the European Economic Community (EEC) but is now simply known as the Evil Empire. No doubt in the slums of Athens and Madrid as youth unemployment hits 60% they were having a party to celebrate. Back here in the UK our political and media elite were strangely quiet on the matter because they are – for the most part – supporters of the EU in one form or another but aware that the plebs feel rather differently.

In years gone by, we Europsceptics were a minority. Our predictions that the Euro would be a disaster on economic grounds and that the Evil Empire would seize powers from Britain were dismissed by the bien pensants as the rantings of a crazed Xenophobic, little Englander, sort of racist minority. Yet sadly for Lords Howe, Hurd, Pantsdown, Mandelson, etc and for Tony Blair himself we sceptics have been proved 100% accurate in our predictions. And consequently popular opinion among those who pay for this folly (the pleb, taxpaying class) has moved strongly our way. As such the “guilty men” can no longer equate euroscepticsm with racism etc as they know they are insulting well over half the electorate.

The debate among the political/media classes in the UK ( and elsewhere in the EU where similar elites apply) has, to date, been about the shape of the structures within the Evil Empire, the speed of change, about how much we each nation should contribute to the financial black hole at the heart of the Brussels Death Star. Away from the Beltway classes there are no such debates. For them it is a straight choice. In or Out with most folks now feeling that it is time to get out.

Yet while we are offered referendums by the political classes on matters which we do not care about (although they might) such as voting systems, elected Mayors, Scottish Independence and police commissioners there is no chance to vote on the one issue which might actually attract public interest. And so the boil festers and grows.

Yet this is just one boil. The elite will continue to pretend that the EU does not make daft laws which it imposes on Britain, that maintaining the EU budget in real terms is good news ( that was Call Me Dave’s idea of talking tough) or that the Evil Empire is in some way democratically accountable. Just as the elite will vote to increase MP’s pay and to allow expenses fiddles wile imposing austerity on others, or to spend more of other people’s money on foreign aid. The elite will carry on living in its world. And we in ours. But the divide grows bigger by the day.

It is that, now tangible, and rapidly growing sense of alienation, as much as the European Issue itself, that the anti-politician that is Nigel Farage and UKIP are tapping into.

Thank heavens it is Farage and UKIP that will benefit. In Greece it is the Nazis of Golden Dawn. The elite across Europe increasingly resemble Marie Antoinette in how they ignore their concerns of the rest of society. One can but hope…

Tom Winnifrith

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It is Published TODAY and Can be Downloaded NOW – Letters from the Chestnut Tree cafe!

2355 days ago

Well here goes. My first e-book is live. You can now snap it up on Amazon or (better still) direct from the publishers, Harriman House. Letters from the Chestnut Tree Cafe (Thought crime in Britain and Greece, 1984 is finally here) is a collection of my best essays from the summer plus a sprinkling of a few other thoughts.

No doubt you all know where the Chestnut Tree Cafe is? It is in Airstrip One in Orwell’s 1984. I am a cynic about Government and deeply worried about free speech and Civil liberties issues. That seems to have been the theme of my writings but there is a good dash of Greek economic chaos, Tony Blair Jokes and much else besides.

I can’t say that it is a laugh a minute but those who have read it said there were enough jokes to keep them amused. You can snap up your e-copy at Harriman House HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Ha! Christian Aid: Gotcha – you called the wrong Mr T Winnifrith on the £2billion day

2360 days ago

My Guardian reading father is an incredibly generous contributor to Christian Aid. But still they want more. It is after all better to give than to receive and they are just helping to save his soul. And so once a week he gets a call asking him to up his contribution. Bad luck Christian aid. My father is at a funeral and so when you called today and asked for Mr T Winnifrith I replied truthfully that they were speaking to Mr T Winnifrith and…

As you may have noticed, Bankrupt Britain has today pledged yet more cash (£2 billion in total) to help poor countries tackle climate change. Sure the UK will have a balance sheet like that of Greece two years ago by 2020 but who cares? Just piss it all away. Well Christian Aid cares. It is not their cash anyway, just like it is not the Government’s cash. It is the taxpayer’s cash but no-one asked us.

Christian Aid’s senior climate change adviser Mohamed Adow said: ‘We welcome this new pledge by the UK to provide mid-term climate finance. It is an encouraging move and forces the hand of other developed countries. The UK must push them to make their own commitments.

‘If other developed countries continue to offer vague assurances rather than solid commitments, their claims about showing leadership in tackling climate change are like a mirage in the Qatari desert.

‘The UK has promised that half of the £1.8 billion will go towards helping countries adapt to climate change, which is also welcome. Previously, most climate finance has gone on mitigation efforts to reduce emissions. Given the terrifying impact of climate change already making itself felt, this is a step in the right direction.

Bollocks to you Mohamed and bollocks to Christian Aid.

a) The world has got colder for the past 16 years and so there is absolutely zero evidence linking carbon emissions to global warming
b) Britain is going bankrupt and cannot afford this.
c) Money is going to places like Uganda where £12 million of Irish money has recently just “gone missing” (i.e. gone to Swiss bank accounts) and where the President when not pushing through laws to make homosexuality punishable by death spent £25 million last year on his private Jet. Uganda spends a far greater percent of Government spending on defence & security than does, say, the UK.

And so I told Christian Aid that for welcoming plans to accelerate the bankruptcy of Britain by funding African crooks and spurious projects with taxpayer’s cash it was a disgrace. Mr T Winnifrith is freezing his contributions and if he is plagued with one more call will consider cancelling them altogether.

And it is all true. I did not lie. My personal contributions are frozen (at nil) and now it looks as if My Dad will not be plagued anymore and his efforts to win deluded left brownie points by handing over cash for despots will be frustrated.
Gotcha.

Tom Winnifrith

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On Sale Now: Letters from the Chestnut Tree Cafe (Thoughtcrimes in Britain and Greece 1984 is finally here)

2372 days ago

I shall be celebrating alcohol awareness week with a few glasses of red tonight as my first e-book is now available for pre-order.

Buy it today and it should be despatched within 10 days of not sooner ready for you read on your kindle or computer. Normally priced at £5 you can pick it up for just £4.25 HERE.

The book is the best of this blog between its launch and the end of October with the odd extra joke chucked in for free. One of the proof-readers described it as a “very humorous look at our Orwellian world”. I guess that is what it is meant to be.

Anyhow, roll up roll up, place your orders here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Is Viagra Man about to be Bobbited?

2380 days ago

Final proofs of my first e-book of the Autumn are flying electronically between myself and my publisher Stephen Eckett tonight. Viagra man and Contra man are rushing to get this book to market. Except that Contra man reckons that the title is misleading. Indeed it is. So Viagra man is about to be bobbited.

The new working title is

Letters from the Chestnut Tree Cafe
(Thoughtcrime in Britain and Greece – 2012 is the new 1984)

We cannot keep changing titles as publication is imminent. Any thoughts on the proposed re-branding?

Tom Winnifrith

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Going on Strike soon: Spain, the Guardian, The Tube Drivers – I stand with you comrades.

2386 days ago

The Greek General strike has come and gone. A few riots, a few more businesses closed than usual but no real change. Unemployment creeps up. The 4th Reich imposes more austerity and society falls apart. And so as the workers ( or in the case of Greece, non-workers) of the world unite who is next to strike? For a range of reasons I urge some of the lead candidates to go ahead – comrades I stand along side you.

Starting with the poor oppressed editorial team at The Guardian newspaper – average salary no idea but with some highly paid columnists (Polly Toynbee on £300,000) pushing up the mean. My guess is that most of the writers on the Guardian are on £50,000 plus and heck you do not get to live in Islington and Camden if you are on the minimum wage. The paper is losing £100,000 a day and management wants to cut costs. Naturally the poor Guardian workers think this is a monstrous suggestion and are planning a strike.

Obviously the BBC might have to come up with its own stories now but elsewhere I cannot see how this is going to hurt anyone. In North London they will have to struggle by with the Indy for a few days. Of course it is a pointless strike which will only hasten the demise of a loathsome publication. Basic economics dictate that if you produce a crap product no-one will pay for on the back of a bloated cost base you go bust. That is the Guardian to a T.

There will be free champagne ( English) on offer at The Real Man Pizza Company the day the Guardian closes for good. The strike hastens that day. So comrade journalists, I stand by your side.

Next up is Spain where a General strike has been called to protest against austerity imposed by the 4th Reich. See Greece above. This will only deepen the crisis, will not make a blind bit of difference to the gauleiters from Brussels and accelerate the breakdown of civil society in Spain. It will happen anyway but as Sun Tzu tells us a quick death is better than a slow death. In the end Spain is toast and so too will be the Euro. As such I stand with you comrade Spaniards, bring it on.

And finally, protesting against austerity at home and the miserly wages they suffer are London’s tube drivers. With annual leave of 43 days a year and on an average salary of £43,000 ( plus £4,000 in travel perks, plus pension) you might not assume that someone who needed just 16 weeks training to start work is exactly at the biting edge of the austerity programme. But comrade Bob Crowe wants his lads to walk out. Crowe is a perennial blackmailer.

One day ( why not now?) someone should call his bluff and sack all RMT workers walking out for no reason. Rehire, re-train and as new train drivers should get paid the same as a nurse (£30,000 average wage) with 20 days a year annual leave and no perks. A few weeks travel chaos but the blackmail has to end one day. In the hope that on this occasion Crowe’s bluff is called, comrade tube drivers I stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

In all three cases the strikes are pointless gestures by workers/non workers in places where the maths do not stack up. In the end the Guardian will go bust and so ( while it stays in the Euro) will Spain and the Tube will have to be reformed. Delay is painful. On that basis bring on the strikes, lets accelerate the process.
Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your jobs. I mean chains.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Caption Contest – Spoiled for Choice but the EU & Merkel win

2386 days ago

So much in the news, if not yet in the newspapers, this week I am spoiled for choice. Surely a few cheap Obama/Romney jokes, Greek strike jokes, Angela Merkel jokes, EU diktats on children’s gender neutral TV jokes or just David Cameron again spring to mind? I am spoiled for choice.

So, to win a Piss off Argentina T-shirt I offer you this picture and ask you to post your non entries in the comments section below

For what it is worth my entry is:

The leader of Germany says: “I think it is good also for the UK to be part of Europe. If you have a world of seven billion, and if you are alone in that world, I don’t think that is good for the UK. So I will do everything to keep the UK in the EU as a good partner, and that is why I’m going to London and I will ask the inhabitants of the wonderful island to reflect that they will not be happy if they are alone in this world”

Do your worst. Deadline Monday 4 PM

If you are looking for that perfect Christmas gift for any deluded lefty friends you can of course always buy your very own Piss off Argentina T-shirt, or Mug.

Last week I asked for captions to this picture.

I am afraid that Jon Pickles seems to be on holiday and thus the impartial judge says that the winner is Google’s favourite swear-blogger Tom Winnifrith with:

“Rebekah, is that you at the back of the room, any chance of borrowing your horse this weekend? LOL”

I dread your entries this week.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek General Strike Called – Cue Cheap Jokes

2395 days ago

The Greek Trades Unions have called a General Strike for 6th and 7th November in porotest against the austerity package imposed by the EU. Where do you start. The country will grind to a halt, businesses will close down and the economy will collapse. So no change then. Will anyone notice? Moreover I wonder?

Will the bribe collectors go on strike as well?

What about the 30% who are unemployed? Sometimes at West Ham after the Trevor Brooking all stand up following “stand up if you hate Millwall” there is a “sit down if you hate Millwall.” Do you think that on 6th and 7th November the unemployed will all try to go to work at a charity or something to protest?

Perhaps the numerous state employees who “work” 35 hour weeks doing nothing will all volunteer for unpaid overtime doing nothing in protest? Will the politicians stop stealing money to send to Switzerland for 48 hours to show that “we are all in it together?”

Will Polly Toynbee jet across from her Tuscan castle to show solidarity? Will Bob Crowe out it on expenses and volunteer to traipse across to show his solidarity with some of the few workers on this planet more bone idle than the tube drivers?

Will anyone notice any change at all? I sometimes wonder just how deluded some folk are. Normally the most deluded of all are: lefties, Trades Unions and anyone involved in Greek Politics. I guess this one counts as a triple whammy.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friends of Albania – no escape from the Health Nazis

2397 days ago

As you may remember, having been booted out of the LinkedIn friends of Greece ( for pointing out that Greece was bust and uncompetitive – hardly a revalation) I am now a keen member of the LinkedIn Friends of Albania ( also LinkedIn West Ham Supporters, Friends of Israel, UKIP etc). But i am beginning to have second thoughts.

As it happens my Dad has bought my spare Albanian Lekke from me and landed in the country on Sunday night for a 10 day working holiday. A last bit of research as his next epic “Madlands, murderlands a history of Northern Albania” slowly makes its way towards publication. There is so much we friends of Albania can discuss about a great country where tax is low, there is no H&S nonsense and you can do pretty much what you want.

Yet today I get a notification of the latest discussion: “New lancet study on smoking, one million women cannot be wrong.” Oh please, I thought in Albania at least we might be spared the lessons in the bleeding obvious from the health Nazis. It seems that I was mistaken. A sad day. I feel the need for another cigarette as I contemplate how these tedious folk spare no opportunity to reach me wherever I flee for another lecture.

Tom Winnifrith

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David Cameron, an EU spokesman, the Biased BBC's Today programme and your cash

2400 days ago

My half hour taste of the BBC yesterday, via the Today programme, still hurts. The episode in question concerns the EU’s plan to increase its budget by 6.8% this year, David Cameron’s faux outrage, the lies told by an EU spokesman on the show and the dismal lack of balance provided by a biased BBC. I have discussed the matter with Christopher Booker and the whole business is a disgrace.

The EU wishes to increase its budget by 6.8% for 2013 to 150 billion Euro. Britain will be asked to pony up its share – we are a heavy net contributor. It goes without saying that MEPs voted this though with MEPS of all the three establishment British parties in favour. Pigs do not vote against the end of the gravy train. They vote for bigger gravy trains.

Call Me Dave says that he thinks that the EU budget should increase by no more than inflation (i.e. maintain its real term level). He promises to fight for this. Just like he promised us a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. If you trust him to keep his word you are so naive that you probably still think that Jimmy Savile was a tireless worker for good causes.

If Cameron had real backbone and was interested in cutting Britain’s deficit in order to avoid our eventual bankruptcy he would be demanding that the EU actually cut its real term spending levels. Does he not think that an organisation now employing 33,000 people can find room for cuts? Does he really think that a body which is now the largest provider of foreign aid in the world can cut back on its cash for despots/bloody Hamas murderers, etc programme? Does he really not think that there is not vast fraud in CAP/regional aid programmes that could be canned? Indeed why does he support the Common Agricultural Policy at all? But asking Cameron to show backbone is like expecting the man to keep a promise…it is the stuff of dreamland. Margaret Thatcher would not have tolerated this state of affairs but Call Me Dave is no Maggie.

To show balance for Cameron’s 60 seconds of spinelessness, John Humphreys then interviewed a British spokesman for the EU President Herman Van wotsit for what seemed like an eternity. My cats could have been more probing with their questions. The EU liar was allowed to tell obvious untruths unchallenged. For example he told Humphreys that “Spending on the CAP had fallen. It has gone down from 71% of the budget in 1984 (an appropriate year if we are discussing the Evil Empire) to a predicted 39% in 2013. Hmmm

Phoning the EU press office I am offered the chance to take a customer satisfaction survey but decline. You can put me down as a “totally unsatisfied” on all counts if you wish. But an answer to the question “what was the total EU budget in 1984?” there is none. That information is not available to us. Okay let’s start with data I can find. In 2000 just under 50% of the EU budget of 90 billion Euro went on CAP. That would be around 40 billion Euro then. In 2013 it will by 39% of 150 billion Euro so that would be c60 billion Euro. The spokesman for Herman van Wotsit tells you that the percentage spend on CAP is down but the truth is that we are spending more than ever on this programme.

What has simply happened is that the EU has massively increased its spending on other things. Notably since 2000 it has created its foreign ministry which now has a large budget, it has hired more pen pushers, it has doled out more for “R&D Grants” and has massively increased regional aid. And so while CAP spending increases year on year, in percentage terms it appears to fall. Did Humphreys pick up on how the spokesman was misleading us? Of course not.

CAP is, as it happens, just a massive transfer of wealth from countries like the UK to inefficient producers of foodstuffs, France is the biggest net winner by far, followed by the PIIGS. Europe produces more food than it needs. All that CAP achieves is to crowd out cheap producers of food in Africa (so creating more poverty in Africa which requires more foreign aid from er…the EU) and to subsidise lifestyle careers in France and Southern Europe. Why subsidise French farmers with 4 cows? Why not subsidise coal mines with no coal left, banksters with no capital, typewriter manufacturers with no customers, the Guardian newspaper with no readers? Where do you stop and start?

The State (or an Evil Empire) should have no role in picking which uneconomic sector it subsidises with cash taken from productive sectors. That such a policy, in this case, causes more misery in Africa and is ridden with fraud is just a bonus. The EU should scrap CAP tomorrow.

Regional aid? Heck if the UK wants to send a cheque to support projects in Poland or Greece it could do so directly. Given we are almost bust I think we might decline that opportunity. And regional aid has never worked as a policy anywhere (even within Britain). Creating non jobs is not the role of Government. Creating the environment in which real jobs can appear (i.e. low tax, low regulation) should be but rarely is in this continent. But to be forced to send cheques to an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy in Brussels to allocate is just non-sensical.

The EU could easily slash its spending by 75%. That should be a fair target. If profligate Governments wish to spend their taxpayers cash off to Greece, France or Slovakia to be squandered on corruption, the creation of non jobs or on supporting lifestyle choices that should be a call for individual profligate Governments.

If the BBC had wished to show balance on the matter of the EU budget it might have given less airtime to the spokesman for the Evil Empire and allowed someone on to articulate this third view – that the EU budget should be slashed. The chances of the biased BBC showing such balance? Nil.

Tom Winnifrith

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Caption Contest – Pres Obama & Saddam Hussein Special

2407 days ago

And so President Obama apparently won the second Presidential debate. The polls look close. My money is still on Obama winning and Mitt Romney getting to spend more time with his $77,000 a year taxpayer subsidised horse. But all will become clear on November 6th.

The great issue should be the US economy. It is the economy stupid. Read my lips. As far as I can see President Obama wishes to bankrupt America within four years while Mitt’s policies will leave him needing at least two terms to achieve the same goal. Slow death or quick death – it’s America’s call.

And so, part one of this week’s caption contest is in honour of hopeychange himself

My entry is: “Deficit, what deficit, nice Mr Greenspan says I have plenty of money to spend?”

As an alternative we offer a second picture for which you may wish to submit a caption.

My entry on this one is: “The Nobel Prize for Peace committee decides that the 2013 winner should be posthumous and starts drawing up its short list”

I am sure that you can do better. As ever, the winner (feel free to have a stab on either picture) gets a Piss off Argentina T-shirt.

Last week’s photo showed Reichsfuhrer Merkel meting Greek PM Samaras the day that the EU won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The winner, by universal acclaim, was Britain’s wittiest accountant Jon Pickles with:

Angela: “Keep this to yourself, but I’ve just heard Greece is in line for the Nobel Economics Prize.”

Well done Jon.

Tom Winnifrith

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New Greek Opinion Poll – the Established Order is Destroyed

2408 days ago

There is a new opinion poll out in Greece today which is a bombshell. It shows how the established political order, set in stone since the return to Democracy has been destroyed, thanks to the efforts of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. It is really quite amazing.

Since 1974 Greece has effectively had a two party state. It is a bit like Britain 1945-79 when the Parliamentary Liberal party was able to hold its meetings in the back of a taxi. Labour and the Tories agreed on most things and took it in turns to manage Britain’s decline. In Greece Pasok (nominally left) and New Democracy (nominally right) agreed on the key issues – the need to bloat the state and for the political class to steal as much money as possible – and took it in turns to govern.

The communists ( KKE) took a few seats but the order was established. And so here is today’s VPRC poll:

SYRIZA ( new party, lefties, want bailout but no austerity, 8/10 on the fruitcake scale) – 30.5%
New Democracy ( fat pie eating corrupt current party of Government) – 27%
Golden Dawn ( Nazi scumbags, anti bailout, 28/10 on the fruitcake scale) 14%
KKE (anti bailout – I think – anti most things, 6/10 on the fruitcake scale) 6.5%
Democratic Left (God knows ) 5.5%
Pasok (fat pie eating corrupt party heading for obliteration) – 5.5%
Greek Pirate Party (8 months old, 10/10 on fruitcake scale) 1%

So combined parties of the fruitcake anti bailout fringe now have the support of more than half the electorate and their support is climbing. The parties of the old order now have less than a third of the electorate favouring them and they are both declining.

In British terms imagine former sports presenter and all round loon David Icke heading the largest party, Call Me Dave in second place but sliding and Nick Griffin having doubled his support in four months on a charge with Ed Miliband facing wipeout and just a few points ahead of the Monster Raving Loony Party which itself had doubled its support in the past four months. Unimaginable? That is what is happening in Greece and it will get worse.

Nobel Peace Prizes all round.

Tom Winnifrith

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Nazis on the March in Greece – Blame it on the Nobel Peace Prize Winner

2408 days ago

Over the summer I flagged up to you here the rise of Greece’s Nazi Golden Dawn party. They really are a horrible bunch of folks who “make the BNP look like Julie Andrews” according to one academic quoted in today’s papers. Belatedly the deadwood press has picked up on what is happening. In a while it will work out who is to blame – the answer being the winner of the Nobel Peace prize, the Evil Empire itself.

In case you have forgotten who the fetching bird in this article is, she is Voula Papachristou, a triple jumper who was booted out of the Greek Olympic team this summer for making a racist joke on twitter. She should count her lucky stars. Had she made the tweet while at the Olympics in Britain 2012 she would have been arrested and banged up in Holloway for three months. Voula is perhaps not the brightest spark in the solar system but she is a supporter of Golden Dawn and after that incident became a pin-up girl across Greece.

And so I should spring to the defence of the Evil Empire (in part) in saying that the rise of fascism in Greece ( as outlined in this article in today’s Daily Mail) is in part the fault of the Greek political elite. Since 1974 Greece has been – effectively – a two party state. Pasok and New Democracy are not really that different ideologically, they are just parties run by old men who grew fat on taking bribes from different vested interests. The fat old pie-eaters of the two old parties created a corrupt State and society and thus left Greece in a position where she was in no fit state to join the Euro. But sensing that there were more pies on the way if Greece did join, the fat old men told lies and got Hellas into the Euro club.

So if you are a Greek who do you blame for the mess that is Greece and would you trust those same men to solve the crisis?

The reaction to Voula also showed how out of touch Greek leaders are. Clearly immigration is an issue for Greeks. Frankly I cannot see why someone would go to Greece as an economic migrant, I’d have thought that it would be Athenians trying to smuggle themselves into Upper Volta in search of a better life, not the other way round. But there is unhappiness. Greek leaders should have debated Voula and shown her up for the dumb blonde she is ( trust me, she is thick) instead they made her a martyr. Folks wondered if maybe she had a point and if their leaders were trying to stifle debate.

But to say that Greece’s leaders are bumbling crooks so make it easy for Golden Down ( now running at almost 25% in the opinion polls and rising) is only part of the problem.

I know that Greece needs wholesale reform: mass privitizations, a fall in prices and so the standard of living, and big cuts in Government spending. Academically and as a dry exercise I know that there is no alternative. However the EU imposed austerity programme is destroying Greek society. Real unemployment ( do not believe official Government lies, oops I meant statistics) is 30%. Youth unemployment is 60%. In Athens between one third and 40% of businesses are now shut. Greece has suffered 5 consecutive years of GDP contraction ( something never seen before in peacetime Europe). Greece is seeing folks leave the Cities and go back to family homes in the countryside to eke out a subsistence living – we have NEVER seen an urban to rural move in Europe before. Soup kitchens cannot cope with demand in Athens and the other major cities.

This is unprecedented in modern day Europe. The closest we have seen is post WW1 Germany where the economy just shrank whilst at the same time the State was forced to make large reparation payments (i.e. had its economy controlled) to other richer countries in Europe. And what happened next in Germany? Answers on a postcard please Reichsfuhrer Merkel.

What the winner of the Nobel Peace prize is imposing on Greece is destroying Society as we know it and causing poverty and misery on a scale you simply cannot comprehend. And that is the main reason why folks are prepared to countenance supporting those who offer extreme solutions.

Greece has enjoyed democracy for just 38 years. If we continue in the current vein it may well be that democracy is replaced with something else or, arguably worse, that a democratic society opts to elect – as Germany did in 1932 – a Government whose policies are just unbelievably vile. It’s the Generals or the Nazis/other groupings of nutters. Your call EU. It could, of course, all work out differently but it does not seem to be heading for a happy ending right now.

Tom Winnifrith

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Minoan: Godawful tip starting to come right big time

2409 days ago

http://www.tradingresearchpoint.co.uk/2012/10/17/minoan-godawful-tip-starting-to-come-right-big-time/

Tom Winnifrith

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Merkel in Greece Caption Contest: Early winner: Jon Pickles a genius

2411 days ago

I am calling the result of the Friday caption contest early. Jon Pickles, finance director of ILX Group is officially a genius and his entry is unbeatable. A T-shirt will be sent to Mr P in due course for his winning entry and for showing that accountants can have a sense of humour.

The picture is of Reichsfuhrer Merkel meeting Greek PM Samaras in Athens on Friday, the day the Evil Empire was awarded the Nobel Price for Peace. Stop laughing at the back. It really did win.

Mr Pickles-Genius supplies the winning entry: Angela: “Keep this to yourself, but I’ve just heard Greece is in line for the Nobel Economics Prize.”

Jon wins a Piss off Argentina T-shirt which, of course, you can buy here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Caption Contest – Reichsfuhrer Merkel in Greece Special

2414 days ago

As you may have gathered German leader Angela Merkel has been visiting Greece this week where she has met up with Greek PM Samaras to discuss how the EU austerity programme is bringing health, wealth and happiness to his country. Naturally the people of Athens have been delighted by their complete loss of sovereignty and greeted Merkel with undiminished love and admiration. Or I think that is what the press release from the Evil Empire’s press office will have said.

Anyhow in honour of this happy occasion in the brotherhood of man that is the
European Union I bring you a photo of Merkel and Samaras as they prepare to address adoring crowds in Athens.

To win a Piss off Argentina T-Shirt simply post your caption entry in the comments box below by close of play Monday. Of course you can always buy a Piss off Argentina T-Shirt here.

For what it is worth my entry is:

Reichsfuhrer Merkel: “ Just tweaking my speech, what is the Greek for the phrase “arbeit macht frei?”
Samaras: “ I am sorry but I am not sure that we have a word in Greek for arbeit”

Last week I asked for captions for the photo below:

The impartial judge has pondered and announces that the winner is a Mr TJZ Winnifrith (home address withheld) with:

“Pete Townshend conducts in in-depth examination of the bin outside Jimmy Savile’s old house purely in the interests of research”

Good luck with this week’s contest.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece – Madness upon madness – you could not make it up

2424 days ago

I am grateful to a blog reader Chris who sends me a link to a website that I do not normally visit. Fear not, I do not refer to anything naughty but Autosport.com – for some reason I have never really been into fast cars. Indeed I find the whole F1 circus a bit of an ego-fuelled bore. But this report is just unbelievable. I start with the premise that Greece is bust, double bust and utterly broke. And so I am surprised to read:

Greece has unblocked nearly 30 million euros for the construction of a circuit capable of hosting a Formula 1 grand prix. According to the ministry of development, the circuit will be built in Xalandritsa, near Patras, Greece’s third largest urban area in the hope the country can host a Formula 1 event in the future.

The total cost of the track will be 94.6 million euros, according to Bloomberg, with private company Racetrack Patras SA to oversee the project. Greece’s economy remains in deep recession, with figures showing it contracted by 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2012. In August the coalition government agreed fresh spending cuts totalling more than 11billion euros in order to qualify for the next instalment of its 130billion loan from international creditors.

Greece, which hosts a round of the World Rally Championship, has never had a Formula 1 driver.

So let’s get this right, the Government is ponying up a third of the cost of building a racetrack, subsidising the private sector so that Greece might just get a F1 race. Not even Ed Balls would be that bonkers. Well okay he might be.

Greece is spending money borrowed from taxpayers in other European countries when it cannot even afford to service its existing debts on this folly. Given how most of the Stadia from the Athens Olympics now lie in ruins you might have thought that the Greeks would have learned a lesson or two. But it seems not. I sense that any sympathy one might have had for Greece disappears with this news.

Tom Winnifrith

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Minoan – Better Late than Never: Buy

2435 days ago

http://www.advfn.com/newspaper/tom-winnifrith/10680/minoan-better-late-than-never-buy

Tom Winnifrith

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I am officially a friend of Albania at last – Madlands, Murderlands on the way

2437 days ago

You may remember that I was evicted from the LinkedIn Friends of Greece Group for saying that Albania was a better value holiday destination than poor old Greece. This mortified me, as a long standing Hellenophile, but I know when I am not welcome and so two months ago applied to join the LinkedIn Friends of Albania group. This morning, in a frightening display of efficiency my application has finally been accepted.

I see that the trending discussion is on how to combat drug and alcohol abuse in Tirana. I am ready to contribute my two lekke worth.

I wonder how many other folks on LinkedIn are Friends of Albania but also participate actively in the Friends of Israel and West Ham United supports groups. I suspect that a Venn diagram of these groupings would show me all by myself but if there are any bubble blowing Zionists out there in Tirana who want to strike up a dialogue, I am here now.

Meanwhile another e-book heads towards the production line from Tom Winnifrith. Not me but the silver surfer himself, my father. Following on from the classic “Badlands Borderlands, a history of Southern Albania and Northern Epirus” the follow up “Madlands, Murderlands, a history of Northern Albania” is on its way. It should be available for purchase at a bargain £9.99 before Christmas and covers the period 1200 BC (the fall of Troy) to 2012. King Zog was from Northern Albania and it is the area known for blood feuds. But you knew that already. My father loves the country and having worked with him over the weekend on a short article on this topic I know that this will be a rip roaring read.

Historically I buy relatives and folks like Jim Mellon a Yarg cheese for Christmas. This year there may be an alternative…

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece is crumbling. Is there any way out?

2452 days ago

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/new-economy/2012/0904/Greece-is-crumbling.-Is-there-any-way-out

Tom Winnifrith

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Dan Hannan, Greeks and Corsets

2465 days ago

The crooked pie-eaters who run Greece have served up the usual offering once again today: “Give us the money we need but just a little bit more time to implement the cuts/reforms demanded.” This should ring a bell or two since we have heard this numerous times before. And each time the Greeks have got their dosh, so becoming more indebted, and then found excuses not to implement the reforms fully. At some stage someone must call their bluff.

Ever helpful Eurosceptic MEP Dan Hannan is again offering helpful advice to the Greeks, viz get out of the Euro. His thesis is that a drachma that collapses in value will provide such a windfall in terms of tourist income/increased competitiveness for Greek exporters of, er, um olives and er retsina and er, that is it, that the pie-eaters can then reform/cut away aggressively without risking a complete breakdown of society, unemployment of 50%, etc, etc. In a sense Dan is right. The Euro is a corset and Greece is better off out of it. But….

If the pie-eaters have no-one forcing them to reform they will not institute reform. The whole Greek political system is so based on bribes, supporting vested interests and similar arrangements that with no external pressure there will be no reform. Default and drachma will buy a two year window of opportunity but that opportunity will be wasted. And in two years time Greece will be back where it started. Uncompetitive, corrupt and the only way forward then is permanent mega-inflation (i.e. a drachma falling by 25% a year) to maintain competitiveness. In the end that route also ends in tears.

So Dan is correct in his thesis of what Greece should do now. But anyone who has read this blog during the past two months ( do a search for articles with a tag Greece if you have not) will have seen example after example of the Spanish practices (the old Fleet Street term which I am sure does also apply to Spain) which need to be ended at once. My fear is that without pressure from the Evil Empire and the IMF these practices will never end. So in a sense Greece has to stay in the Euro because its leaders are so woefully inept and corrupt. That is the great conundrum.

Tom Winnifrith

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Light blogging ahead, journey back begins...as Playboy PR girl finally gets in touch

2470 days ago

The bus timetable on the internet said that there were buses at 10 am and 12 noon from Athens to Igounemitsa. My late grandmother (Lesbia Winnifrith) only missed one train in her life and that was when she was so early she caught the one before. My mother’s side of the family (Bookers) only ever turn up on time once – at their funerals. Luckily I did a Winnifrith and arrived at 9 to find that the bus was actually at 9.30. Eight hours later I arrived in Igounemitsa.

This is the ferry port that takes you to Corfu or, in my case, Italy. I am now killing time as the vessel does not leave until midnight. This place is like a half finished Tilbury without the glamour but much hotter. I doubt the “new port” at which I am staring will ever be completed. But enormous ferries still chug into the quayside to load and unload. These vessels are vast and as I sit here in a cafe on the other side of the road it seems as if their sheer momentum could carry them through the building site and across that road. But that would be hard work and this is Greece.

And so the journey home starts. It is light blogging for the next ten days as I travel across Europe by bus, boat, train and plane. And try to get that book finished. I see that there is a scorching weekend in store for Britain. Enjoy it.

And as I prepare to sign off, I have just noticed that I have received an alert from LinkedIn. Lucy Sharp, PR girl for playboy, has finally accepted my invitation to connect. Regular readers will not need to search this website to see how we first came across each other. Anyhow, perhaps she will now show me what networking is all about. Another good reason to go back to London.

Tom Winnifrith

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More Greek madness (you will not believe it) and a national holiday plus a peach of a shot

2472 days ago

It is a National Holiday in Greece. So instead of 25% of the shops being closed (because they are bust) 100% are not open for business. And those hard working Greeks elsewhere are also having a day off. This is not Independence Day as it is in India but a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the ascension of the Virgin Mary to heaven. As a protestant I am not really up on this Virgin Mary stuff but given how hard everyone in Greece toils I am sure that they need a day off.

Last night I enjoyed supper with an Anglo Greek couple and we discussed, among other things, the price of milk and the logistics of moving house here. They are related and do not switch off – this place is crackers.

In Greece you can buy a Lorry or a Van like anywhere else. But to operate it you need a license which costs an absolute bomb. And the cost of that license is passed on via transport costs which are the highest in Europe. And so that is why milk costs 75% more here than it does in the UK. In terms of moving house, what you can fit in a car is okay. You could rent a van. But it is illegal to move furniture in that van (unless you have a license which costs an absolute bomb). And so you must hire in a removals firm which will charge an utter bomb to get back the cost of its license.

What Greece needs is a sharp fall in all prices so that it is competitive and also labour market mobility (so folks can move house to find a job). But a system established to protect vested interests stops all that. Solving Greece’s problems is not just about firing stacks of civil servants, there are vast structures which block free markets operating as they should that need to be dismantled. Is there the will? I doubt it.

Free markets can operate in Greece. I was woken very early on Monday morning but the sound of lots of Greeks yammering loudly in the street below. Peering out of my window this is the scene I witnessed.

Of course this is the cash economy. One wonders how much the taxman sees but the whole street for several blocks was packed with farmers selling their produce. With its sun and good soil Greece is actually very fertile.

I bring you below a few shots I took which may not convey the size of what was on offer but the peaches, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, beans and melons ( for the sake of my Google ranking we have some more big melons on display) is just a notch above what you see in Tesco. The peaches are the size of croquet balls not cricket balls and taste fantastic. This is not some sort of GM Monsanto nightmare it is just what Greece can produce. Another reason to love the place.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Tomograph Issue 4

2476 days ago

This is the last Tomograph for three weeks as I start to make my way back to England. If you are a registered user of the site you will by now have it in your email inbox. It contains an exclusive piece on why Greece’s strong arm policy on illegal immigrants is so misguided.

It also recaps the top ten stories on the blog this week in terms of readership and gives a reminder of the caption contest where so far Nick Bubb, the retail guru, is a strong contender.

You can download this week’s Tomograph here.

You can download archived past issues here.

And in case you do not read our best of the web section (RH of the blog half way down), and have finished your supper, I suggest you have a look now at what has to be the top story of the day from Japan.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard Number 4

2476 days ago

For me the dual highlights of the week were Madonna taking on Putin on civil liberties and the hilarious reaction of Russian church and state and my visit to the best bakery in Greece, indeed my whole time in Zitsa.

This is the penultimate video of this series. There will be one next week and then a two week break as I head slowly back to England. The book will, by then, be almost finished. And I have almost decided on my next move. So it is time to go back to the UK and sort that out.


Video Postcard from Tom #004 by dm_500db406b2995

On the Agenda

1. Greece
2. My plans
3. Next video
4. Central banks, QE and gold
5. Gold stocks
6. Man United IPO
7. Push pull and the markets

Tom Winnifrith

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Going for a Haircut Greek Style

2476 days ago

This is not a reference to the Banksters. They will take another Greek haircut in due course when Hellas eventually defaults. Today it was my turn for a Greek haircut. This is an odd neighbourhood of Athens. We have a corner store (not actually on the corner but 3 doors down) manned by a nice Lady from Bangladesh. Needless to say she is open all hours, the Greek stores are not. Perhaps racist triple jumpers from the Nazi Golden Dawn party would care to explain why this lady’s presence is so bad for the Greek economy?

Next door is the hairdresser. She insisted on me taking an action shot. Well she gesticulated. Thank heavens she only spoke a few words of English. And so after “Olympics…London.. smile” to which I replied “all too awful” which she did not understand I enjoyed a haircut in silence. I find that the worst part of having a haircut in the UK is the attempt of someone who is not interested in me ( and vice versa) to try to find a subject of mutual interest to discuss. I think I would pay more just to have my hair cut in trappist silence.

The only downside of the inability of myself and the lady ( not exactly swamped with other customers – I think I was 50% of her morning trade) to communicate is that her view of what is short hair and mine are a bit different. As her electronic sheers whirred away, I sensed that I can now go several months without having to brave another babble of inanity and associated trim back in the UK. Always look on the bright side.

Tom Winnifrith

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Passing 6 million people in a week & The Fed Can't Say what it wants to say but the Presses are being oiled

2476 days ago

http://sharecrazy.com/beta/daily/7389/passing-6-million-people-in-a-week-the-fed-can-t-say-what-it-wants-to-say-but-the-presses-are-being-oiled

Tom Winnifrith

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The Crazy Economics of a Greek bus ride

2478 days ago

The 4 PM bus from Zitsa to Ioannina arrived on time having just completed the reverse leg. Precisely nil passengers got off. Going back the bus was far fuller. This time the driver had for company both myself and a little old man aged about 93 who reminded me of Geriatrix in Asterix the Gaul. No doubt this little old man also claimed to be ten years younger.

And so here are the economics of these two bus trips:

Costs: drivers wages for 90 minutes plus time until his next journey, depreciation bus bought in 2004 (see below), diesel costs covering 60 mountainous miles, brake fluid costs, central overhead at bus company. I am not sure what that totals but I bet you it is far greater than revenues: 5 Euro 40 cents.

If Ken Livingstone was running this bus company his answer would be to get the taxpayer to subsidise the purchase of new bendy buses (to go round corners on mountain roads) and to run three times the current three services a day in order to stimulate demand. In the real world the sensible decision would be to cut the 4 PM service and run with just the 2 Pm and 9 PM services. But that is not going to happen.

The reality is that most folks in Zitsa either have cars or have access to one via a family member. There are only c600 folks here most of the year. And most of them have no real need to leave the village very often. So there is no need for three services. But a private bus company still runs them. Perhaps that is because in 2004 the Greek Government gave the bus company a 48% grant to replace its entire fleet as long as the new buses were sent on loan to Athens for the Olympics.

The “legacy” (expect to hear that word used in ever more angry terms in the UK over the coming months and years) is that there are now too many buses to meet demand. But it is just a bit embarrassing to have to admit it. And (assuming that a bus has a 15 year life and so is only half depreciated) for the bus companies to have to mothball, take a mammoth asset write-down and expose balance sheet weakness might cause other problems. I am guessing on the last part but as each day goes by I find Greekenomics ever more perplexing.

Tom Winnifrith

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I am not a friend of Greece – It is Linkedin Official

2478 days ago

I used to post the odd thing on the Linkedin Friends of Greece discussion board. I did not do much as it is moderated and they have an attitude to free speech worthy of the 1970s Junta rather than, say, Aristotle. But I was proud to have a “friend of Greece” badge on my profile. I am also a Friend of Israel, member of the West Ham supporters group and a few others. I hope to be a friend of Albania soon, when they finally process my application. But it seems that I am now no longer a friend of Greece.

Now I might have resigned in error after the third glass of sparkling red wine in Zitsa. But i think I did not. My last contact was trying to post a link to my piece suggesting that Greece needed to cut prices by 40% (either by quitting the Euro or by just cutting prices) in order to be competitive. That piece was not approved for the group discussion. And now I seem to be an ex-friend of Greece. Coincidence?

A real friend is able to make helpful suggestions even if they are painful to hear. As a friend of Greece I hope that she: defaults on her debts, tackles corruption in public life, leaves the Euro and deregulates business practices. I hope bent politicians go to gaol and folks then start paying their taxes. If this does not happen the economy will continue to tank, tourists will go to Albania and Turkey instead and there will be misery all round. I say that as a friend of Greece, an ardent Hellenophile.

Barring me from pointing out the unpleasant truth on one small discussion board may allow certain folk to stick their heads in the sand. But it will not stop others from saying what I say and writing along similar lines or indeed me saying it on rather bigger platforms. And it will not stop it being grim reality.

Tom Winnifrith

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Lunch with Kostas and Anna at the best Bakery in Greece – Farewell Zitsa

2478 days ago

I went to Zitsa partly on the Byron trail but largely because I am a foodie. Perhaps that explains the weight issues. Okay, it does. On the Byron front I read some poetry online last night as I sat looking down over the valley. It was hard to think of Byron drenched in a thunderstorm in this place as the temperature zoomed past 40. At some stage I will try to put together a piece comparing and contrasting the good Lord’s brave Hellenic verse flowing with pride at a nation about to be reborn with some of the craven words of today’s Greek leaders. But just to show that Byron is not forgotten in Zitsa I bring you a picture of a street sign. Not perhaps the most interesting way to start a piece but it makes my point.

And now to the most important matter – filling my tummy. I detailed the local sparkling red wine last night here. Frazer Thompson of Chapel Down has emailed me to say sparkling red does not work and gives you headaches. All I can say is that in my attempt to acquire the taste, after three glasses I had no headache. The Zitsa wine festival is in two weeks and I am sorry that I shall miss it. In fact I am sorry to leave Zitsa because a) it is gorgeous and b) I met the most wonderful couple and had lunch with them today and would like to have stayed longer. They have written their version up here. They obviously think I have a screw loose but humoured me delightfully. They restore ones faith in humanity.

Kostas has been running the bakery here for twenty years. He says that he has always loved bread. That is why he is so good at making it. It is the “love.” His bread is incredibly good as are his cookies

But this is more than just an amazing bakery. This is part of the community and that means not just the village community but the wider community that is everyone. And so Kostas has always had a policy of allowing “couch surfing.” Turn up at his place and you can spend the night in his spare bed for free or more if you wish.

Such kindness should have its reward and for Kostas the greatest reward was that a few years ago an American lawyer, Anna, stayed on the couch for a night. Then she came back for another visit. Then they chatted by email for eight months. And a couple of years ago she chucked in the law and married him. She is the one with the online presence but is also now a baker and able to speak good enough Greek to tell jokes – that is always the acid test.

I had read about this bakery and did indeed wander in with the words “is this the most famous bakery in Greece” and within a couple of minutes I had been invited to stay for lunch. I almost felt embarrassed that they were so hospitable but the prospect of helping them devour two fat trout from Metsovo on potatoes with some of Kostas’ amazing bread was just too good to refuse. And it meant that I got to meet their adorable kitten as a bonus.

The trout, potatoes and bread are all cooked in an enormous oven. But although this is their oven it is also part of the community. The other day a neighbour killed a sheep for some celebratory meal. Where do you cook a whole sheep? In the bakery oven, where else. Kostas would not charge for this he just does it. That is how a community works in these parts.

Naturally, over lunch we talked of how the downturn is affecting Zitsa. The VAT on bread has gone up from 8% to 13% and some raw materials prices (diesel) have gone up as well. But bread prices have not been increased. That is a margin hit. But this couple have a sheep farm and – like everyone else in the village – a small vineyard (whose grapes can be sold to the three local wineries) to fall back on. Everyone will always need bread. But I could see Kostas and Anna taking further margin pain in order to insulate others. He puts it thus. In his grandmother’s time life was far worse than today. Ultimately in this village everyone will look after each other and they all own their own houses and can feed themselves. Ultimately what more do you need as a minimum? You need a great view as well. So here is another snapshot of Zitsa, taken from just a few yards up the street from the bakery.

It is not just the sheer generosity of this couple that knocked me off my (tired and smelly) feet. The food was also amazing. I was given a few cookies to take away with me which came in rather handy as my bus only pulled into Athens after midnight. Some of the cookies are Greek recipes. And so I bring you below a plain slightly sugary cookie on the left and on the right a carrot based creation which Kostas says – and I believe him – goes well with wine.

But others are his own creations. Below are a range.



The smell from the bakery is wonderful. As I sat round the corner having a cigarette and sitting under a large plane tree admiring the view, I could smell the cinnamon waiting my way. I felt like I was taking on calories through my nose just sitting there. The one drawback to the job Kostas and Anna do is that they say they cannot smell the bakery; they have become immune to it. If they go away on a trip then after a few weeks away they can once again smell what they are cooking for a while. They do not know (well they probably do) what they are missing. I think I can still smell it now – or perhaps that is the remains of the cookies sitting on my desk.

It is a 40 minute bus ride from Ioannina to Zitsa. I shall be writing about Ioannina tomorrow. If you are anywhere near this part of the world, you now know where the most famous bakery in Greece is. Bad news Anna & Kostas, I shall be coming back. And if you are ever in London, I look forward to treating you to banana and butterscotch pizza as we discussed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Sparkling Red Wine, a curious brew, a wonderful view and big melons – a picture special

2480 days ago

If that headline does not a) generate a retweet from Frazer Thompson, CEO of the excellent Chapel Down vineyard and b) attract some new first time visitors from google searches (scroll down to the bottom gents), I shall be disappointed.

I have finally made it to Zitsa. Here Byron penned verse while sheltering from a thunderstorm on the plain below. His friend Hobhouse commented on the excellent local white wine. But this place is famous not for its white but for its sparkling red, pictured below

It is not fizzy like champagne but it sparkles and has a bite. It is a curious brew. I cannot quite describe it. It is dry and slightly acidic. But I have just ordered a second glass. I think it is probably an acquired taste and so I shall do my best to acquire it. Having walked 25 kilometres today in 42 degree heat I feel that I deserve it.

I did cheat and hitched a lift for the last 12 kilometres of the journey. It was getting dark and given that the proceeding five kilometres had all been uphill I just could not go on. Oddly enough a raft of cars found reason not to stop for a bulky six foot man dressed in rugby clothes, sweating profusely and who – they must have guessed – stank to high heaven. My clothes were wringing wet. In the end a workman in his truck took pity on me. After a hard day in the fields he stank to high heaven too. So we just sat in his can unable to communicate wondering which of us smelled worst. I was truly grateful to have met him.

The view from my hotel room which is on the edge of Zitsa is spectacular. I attach a short video.

It looks out at the whole town perches on the side of a steep slope. It is bigger than in Byron’s day but not by a lot – it is hard to find ground to expand onto. Looking at the houses built on such an acute slope I can never figure out why they do not just fall down the hill. I have wandered into the centre to, ahem buy cigarettes. Old houses and new are just crammed together. In the town square men sit drinking in the open air. The only difference to Byron’s day is that they are watching the damned Olympics. No doubt, according to the EU tweet (see here.) praying for another German gold medal.

And so to the melons, for the new visitors to this website. I love water melons and Greece produces great big ones which ( if you can see the price tag) cost less than half a Euro. Bargain.

Not the photo you were hoping for? Sorry to disappoint. More on Zitsa and Ioannina tomorrow and then I head back to Athens where I shall hope to bring you lots of free porn. That is poverty porn, in case you are a google searcher again brought here by error.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece it is serious: official admits cost of bribes is plunging, industry in depression

2480 days ago

I have noted here a number of times that Greece is bust. I suspect that I shall not win a Nobel prize for that. But you know that things are really serious when the bribery industry admits that its business has fallen off a cliff. And thus I am grateful to CNBC for bringing us confirmation that the last non-cyclical industry in Hellas is in recession. The report out today states:

Greeks, whose country is facing bankruptcy, can no longer afford the expensive customary cash-filled “fakelaki” or “little envelope” bribes paid to public sector workers, according to an official.

It goes on: The health sector and the tax authorities topped the country’s corruption rankings for 2011, said a report by Leandros Rakintzis, tasked with uncovering wrongdoing in the public sector.

“While the crisis has not reduced corruption itself, it has reduced the price of corruption,” Rakintzis told Skai TV after publishing his annual report. “They (civil servants) have lowered their price,” he added.

Ah, well that is a good start. I have pointed out before that Greece needs to cut process of a range of services by 40% to be competitive. It seems that State officials are leading the way. As David Cameron might say “we are all in it together.”

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek bankers on strike – this country is in dreamland

2481 days ago

Throughout my travels in Greece during the past six weeks one thing has become apparent: the Greeks are completely deluded about their fate. They just simply do not get it. There is a large swathe of opinion that wishes to keep the Euro and believes that this can be done merely by slashing public sector jobs and Government waste. They do not think that austerity and the need to be competitive applies to them. Why they are so attached to the Euro which has brought them such misery baffles me. I think some associate it with the vast grants Greece used to get and think those days will come again (dream on).

Others see being part of the Euro club as a matter of national pride. So let me get this straight, Germany is telling your politicians how to run your country stripping you of independence, will soon send over “observers” to oversee the state, you have been bankrupted and humiliated – in all thoroughly buggered by Berlin. When this happened 1943-45 it was not a source of pride, what is different now? Whatever the reason for this deranged love affair with the Euro, the big delusion is that austerity is a public sector matter only.

Certainly hundreds of thousands of jobs have to go in the Civil service and in the Post Office, utilities and railways as they are privatised. But the fact is that Greece will still not be competitive. I detailed HERE yesterday why prices must come down by 40% (either by leaving the Euro or through deflation) if the Greek tourist industry is not to be trashed by that of Albania and, God forgive me for saying this, Turkey.

And then there are the banks. There are stacks of them. I visited 10 within ¾ of a mile this morning trying to find one that would allow me to change some currency. Not my Albanian Lekke – I have them for life – but British £20 notes. Several advertised exchange rates on the door but only one actually offered the service. ATE bank was actually closed. I asked the gaggle of women outside why (fearing the worst) and they happily said they were on strike. Why? In protest because it was being bought by another bank (Piraeus Bank).

Now I suspect ATE is not exactly a cash cow and that this is a mercy killing. I would bet you 5000 Albanian Lekke that Piraeus Bank is itself not exactly rich as Croesus. This is two struggling banks merging to try to survive. And the workers reckon that strike action will stop it? Or do any good? The fact is that most, if not all, Greek banks are essentially toast. Ed Balls seems to think that having a large number of banks is good for the consumer. But if none of them have any money to lend (Greece) or either don’t have it or won’t lend it (the UK) you can have a zillion banks and it will not make any difference.

Keeping all these bust Greek banks going with taxpayers (that is German taxpayers) money allows Greece to pretend that unemployment is only 22.5% (it is really 27%) but it is a pretence. Austerity will also mean that most Greek banks have to merge and go bust and a lot of Greek bank workers will be fired. The pain in Greece if it continues down the current path will, not that folk here realise this yet, be felt across the board.

PS. I had to laugh on my bus journey today when I saw a stream of “men at work” signs in the road. It goes without saying that there were no men at work on the road at all. That is because the Government has no cash. Indeed not even enough to pay to collect signs put up ages ago when there were men at work. In fact since it was 3.30 in the afternoon I doubt there were very few men at work within 100 miles.

Tom Winnifrith

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Butrint - A place to see before you die

2481 days ago

Yesterday, I recounted my epic journey from Butrint to Greece. But I start with the journey of Aeneas in Virgil’s The Aenid. The great man approaches Butrint ( the world heritage site I visited yesterday in Southern Albania) and says:

I saw before Me Troy in minature, A slender copy of our massive tower, A dry brooklet named Xanthus…and I pressed My body against a Scaean gate. Those with me Feasted their eyes on this, our kinsmen’s town. In spacious colonnades the King received them, And offering mid court their cups of wine They made libation, while on plates of gold A fest was brought before them.

Ahem, yes well up to a point. In fact up to no point, that is all cobblers. This place had nothing to do with Troy. It would have had no towers, at that point no colonnades and about as many plates of gold as there were left in the Bank of England after Gordon Brown has been in charge for six months. There is a Scaean gate but this is simply a gate in the wall, given this name by a modern archaeologist after the gates of Troy – there is no suggestion that the gate here was in fact based on anything from Troy (and was almost certainly built well after the fall of Troy). But that is not to say that this was not an amazing place for many hundreds of years, in fact for two millennia.

It was founded several hundred years before Christ as a sort of health spa. The clean fresh waters from the lagoon that surrounds Butrint were meant to have medicinal properties as well as being a rich store of fish.

Certainly the water was clean then and still is. In the blazing heat I was tempted to strip off and dive in but the current looked strong and I am not sure that the few dozen folk there would have appreciated me stripping off. It is not that sort of place. But rather like Epidaurus in the Peloponnese it grew from a health spa (albeit one with spiritual associations) into something much larger. Thus alongside what were the sacred healing rooms we find an auditorium.

In this place, healing ceremonies took place, slaves were freed (manumission) as an offering to the Gods and later on plays were performed. I sat alone in this place undisturbed by a single person, attempting to imagine it in its pomp. That is something one finds hard to do in somewhere like Epidaurus, Delphi or Mycenae as hundreds of tourists gabble on about trivia in a multitude of tongues all around you. The blue dot in the middle is my rucksack listening intensely as I performed a line or two of Virgil in its honour. As it sat isolated in the theatre, for once, there was no-one around to complain about the strange smells emanating from within.

What is so amazing about Butrint is that the earliest walls that surround it are from c380 BC. Without using concrete the folks here created walls using large stones put together in a way with such precision that modern craftsmen would be proud.

At that time ( 350 years before Caesar) back in England we were swinging from trees or regarding a cave as a bit of a bijou palace. These people were terribly advanced.

By the time of Caesar Butrint was already a Roman outpost but the subject of repeated squabbles. But in the period about the birth of Christ, under Roman auspices there was a dramatic expansion of the place including the building of a bath house and a forum. The excavation of this site is far from complete but already we can see part of the forum, a mosaic floor which is as old as Jesus

The place got a new lease of life under Byzantine rule. There were at least nine churches build within the City. I wondered through the ruins of the best preserved relic, c 1500 years old:

Around this time with Butrint again under attack the walks were again strengthened. Thus we see the old wall at the Lion gate strengthened and the size of the entrance reduced by the insertion of the Lion motif. I am tall by modern Albanian standards but in 600 AD I would, at 6 foot, have been a giant. To get through this doorway with a rucksack on my back I had to drop to my knees.

The lion motif (it is a Lion eating a bull) probably came from another part of the site, almost certainly a temple. It rather reminds me one what is, I think, the earliest known surviving carving in stone of a lion, that which tops the Lion gate at Mycenae. Although this is a little bit more advanced.

The next critical rulers were the Venetians. The city itself had long gone into decline and this was essentially just a fortress outpost allowing whoever ruled Corfu a base on the mainland as well as control of the fish that were harvested from the lagoon. The Venetians took control in the 1300s and hung on for a surprisingly long time. They were not kicked out of Corfu until almost 1800 (by the French who then passed it on to Britain after the Napoleonic wars) but it was far harder to hold onto this mainland outcrop.

And so despite building stern looking structures such as an original fortress and later a Triangular fortress across the water from the main island, in the end Butrint fell to the Turks.

I apologise that I am not a great photographer. All I possess is a small camera I use for videos and the odd snap. But a bad workman…. I am no David Bailey. Walk around Butrint and you gain a sense of excitement and purpose stretching back 2000 years. I suppose some sites in Greece are more spectacular. But then the archaeology here is far from complete. Why knows what will turn up next?

And the fact that you can see buildings from 300 BC, 500 AD or 1500 AD all in one place has its own excitement. There is some feeling of the continuity of history. Seeing folks fishing out on the water not as a hobby but to catch food to eat and sell shows a continuity to the present day. I noted in Sarandra that eels from this place featured on many menus. Despite my links with the East End (by residence not birth) I loathe eel so I was not tempted. I also note that frog’s legs featured on a few menus and I suspect they come from this area too.

The real attraction is the peace of the place. Just 40 minutes and a 60 pence bus fare from Sarandra I spent most of my 2 hours trekking around the site in complete isolation with not a soul to bother me. It is not often you get a chance to reflect on such a spectacular place in such solitude.

Admin

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The David Horgan Ireland Rule Works & Almost Farewell to an old friend

2482 days ago

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was 2.30 PM at Butrint and the man said that the Greek border was only 20 kilometres away. Am I man or mouse? Within a couple of hours I rather wished that I had decided that I was a mouse. Those 20 kilometres were 20 Greek/Albanian kilometres. In other words 30 kilometres. It was 40 degrees. My rucksack seems to weigh a tonne and bites into my shoulders. And having peered down the road to check that it was flat, I discovered after a bend at 5 kilometres (i.e. just out of eyeshot from the start) that it was uphill all the way. Oh, as a bonus for the last 10 kilometres the road turned into a gravel track. But the real problem is that my trousers are falling down.

If have two pairs of shorts with me. My swimming trunks and a pair of Irish rugby shorts, old friends for the past 10 years as I have played the odd game for Clontarf veterans and occasionally gone to the gym. But, having lost a few more pounds, they are quite literally falling off. Every few hundred yards I have to break my stride and hitch them up again. It is not that they are any more ripped, smelly or dirty than the other clothes I have with me. In fact they have no rips but do smell like an Orang-Utan’s arse ( today is clothes wash day for my entire wardrobe) it is just that my old friend is of no use to me at all, in fact he is holding me back. And so tomorrow I must invest in new shorts and an old friend joins some clapped out walking boots in the waste bins of Southern Europe. My load lightens by the day.

At least I was fully garbed in Irish clothing. Given how my rucksack eats into my shoulders I wore a short-sleeved Ulster shirt on top with the proud sponsor’s name – Bank of Ireland across my chest and a red hand on my heart. It protects my shoulders a bit more than a T-shirt. Thus I followed the David Horgan of Petrel Resources (PET) rule of making it clear to everyone that you are Irish.

Mr Horgan spends a lot of time in Iraq where he always wears an Ireland soccer shirt. His thinking is that when an Islamofascist killer sees Horgan as he seeks another Westerner to kidnap and behead he will at once recognise that David, as an Irishman, is also a victim of years of colonial oppression by the wicked British and thus pass on by. I am not so sure that they have such a sophisticated take on Western European history 1300 – 1948 in downtown Baghdad or that the syllabus in the local schools includes passages on “to hell or Connaught,” Captain Boycott or the Easter Uprising but so far it has worked for Horgan. Long may he travel safely. I tend to adopt the same principle when flying, wearing a London Irish shirt or baseball jacket. I hope that if hijackers take over our plane they will execute the obvious Brits first, leaving those of us with British passports but who are dressed like a fellow “victim of Imperialism” more time to be rescued.

And lo and behold the Horgan way has other benefits. At 20 kilometres ( i.e. 10 kilometres from the finish of my 20 kilometre trek) a car pulled up and a man shouts out “from Ireland?” Heck, no-one in Albania speaks English so they do not know that my accent is more Oxford than Offaly. Yes, I said, lying openly. The man’s best friend was Irish and so he insisted on giving me a lift. I was afraid that I did not know his best friend but I explained that Ireland was a big country. Sadly, I discovered after a few minutes, that the lift was to last only 800 yards as he then had to go in another direction but that was one hill less to climb.

At last I reached the border. A lot of thinking time on the way. A few articles planned. I saw a terrapin swimming in a ditch. The last time I saw a terrapin in the wild was in the Regent’s canal Hackney. I think, like many in Hackney, it was a first or second generation migrant. This was a native. I ate blackberries along the way. They looked like blackberries and tasted like blackberries but could, I suppose, be a slow acting Albanian poisonous berry which just looks like an English blackberry in which case this may well be my last blog post. Albanians, who are now all rich enough to have cars, looked at me as if I was mad. Only the very old or very poor would walk along the roads here these days. I thought of German soldiers marching along these roads with heavy rucksacks 70 years ago ( I wonder if their rucksacks were as painful as mine?) and hummed Blitzkrieg Bop to myself. Six hours of hell but I had made it.

As you may remember, on arrival in Albania I withdraw what seemed a reasonable amount from a cashpoint machine but this turned out to be 6 weeks wages for the Average Albanian. Despite my best efforts, the place was so cheap and I am so cheap, that I still have most of it left. I had rather hoped to find a hotel just before the border where I could spend more but there was none. In a desperate last roll of the dice I paid an Albanian taxi driver to take from the border to the nearest hotel in Greece in the port town of Igoumenitsa. Er, only 6000 Lekke gone. I still have enough for 3 weeks as an average Albanian. In the old days I reckon I could have palmed it off on Gordon Brown in return for some of Britain’s gold but what to do today?

As I tried to find some Euro to pay for my supper last night the waitresses saw my wad of Albanian notes and screamed Lekke and laughed. I remind you that Albania has less debt (In relation to GDP ) than almost any other European country and its ratio is improving. It has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe (okay not a tough contest to win) and that this is Greece which is, er…. completely bust. What will be worth more in a year’s time I wonder – a wad of Albanian Lekke or a wad of Greek denominated Euro? He who laughs last, etc, etc.

And now Ethiopia overtakes Australia in the Olympics medals table ( I have always been a big fan of Ethiopian food and shall raise a glass tonight to the staff at Lalibella in Kentish Town as we celebrate this great news – for slightly different reasons), I shall continue a day’s rest while I wash my clothes and let my limbs recover. Then I shall resume the trek to Zitsa at the crack of dawn.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece v Albania for my next Holiday: No contest. Albania wins unless...

2482 days ago

I am back in Greece, a country I adore and which my family have been writing about for 130 years (See AC Bradley Aristotle’s Conception of the State 1880 – a book that I have yet to get around to myself). But here is the bad news for a country that depends on tourism for its survival. You are just not competitive. Albania is a better place to go. And, god forgive me for saying this, so too is Turkey.

My last few days have been spent in Saranda in Southern Albania and then walking south from there to Greece. Sarandra and its environs offer me sun, sea, beaches, nightclubs if I want them, peace if I want it and a pretty decent food and drink selection. Most Greek resorts offer pretty much the same. Sarandra offers me culture via Buthrint – a world heritage site (pictures coming later) which is a 40 minute and 70 Euro cents bus ride away. Most Greek resorts are far further away from Hellenic glories.

So why does Albania win? Simple. Cost. My 3 star hotel room in Sarandra had a large bathroom, a comfortable double bed and a spare single bed, wi-fi that worked, air conditioning, two balconies and a reasonable view. It cost 35 Euro a night with no extra charge for breaking a chair. My hotel room in Greece (in a fairly cheap town) has two single bed, a cramped bathroom, piss poor Wi-Fi and air conditioning plus a shockingly awful view. It is not, as was my Albanian room, in the town centre. It costs 50 Euro a night. The average price I have paid during a month in Greece has been c55 Euro a night for rooms that consistently failed to match those at the Royale at Sarandra.

My Greek salad last night in Greece was 6.5 Euro and if you chuck in a frappe and a litre of water there was no change from 10 Euro. In Albania I would have paid 2.5 Euro for the salad and no more than 5 Euro in all, possibly less. And as it happens the choice of food in Albania was greater and the price differences increase once you move to meat and fish. Quality? Albania at least matches Greece.

The Greeks I met before I went to Albania tried to scare me with stories of lawlessness and how the place was crawling with pickpockets. It strikes me that most light-fingered Albanians now ply their trade on the streets of Athens and, to a lesser extent, London and Paris. Those left back in Albania are either fat fingered or just honest. Although language was a barrier in many cases, I found the Albanians warm and friendly and prepared to work hard to please you, something you cannot always say about Greece. I guess poverty breeds a service culture of necessity. Here in Greece at the 3rd hotel out of four my Wi-Fi keeps on snapping. And once again the attitude of the staff can be summed up as “I do not give a damn.”

And so here is the rub. This year I have spent, perhaps, 10% of my break in Albania, the rest in Greece. Next year, as things stand, I (a lifelong Hellenophile) am tempted to do it the other way around. To fly cheaply to Corfu, take the ferry across and have another holiday in Albania. And in increasing numbers my fellow Northern Europeans are already voting with their wallets and opting to save money by going to Albania or, dare I say, Turkey rather than Greece. That trend will continue and so the tourist industry in Greece – already on the ropes – will find life ever more miserable.

Greece has two ways it can avert this. The hard path is to stay in the Euro and cut prices by 40%. Er… you thought austerity meant firing Civil Servants and the rest of Greece can carry on as normal? Think again my friends. You can either go for a 40% cut now or you can be starved out over many years by lack of trade. This route will cause unimaginable misery but it is how your old friends in Germany and Brussels want you to behave. The danger is that by the time you have become competitive it will be too late as I – and others will have started going to Albania or Turkey (okay, I would never do that) out of habit. And habits die hard.

Route two is to default on your debts and quit the Euro now. On day 1 my 50 Euro hotel room costs 500 drachmas. But as the drachma slumps by 40% then a 500 drachma hotel room actually only costs me 30 Euro. Most of the costs of running the hotel are in drachmas so your pain is shared with suppliers. Yes all Greeks suddenly have to pay 40% more for a German washing machine. That is the price you will pay. There will be an adjustment to your standard of living. But since Greece will again be competitive overnight you will then see a massive increase in tourist trade and, indeed, in exports of other goods. So the pain will be eased.

The people of Greece should be aware that their leaders wish to pt for path one. It will be the final ruin of your country. The longer you stay in the Euro the more your misery will pile up while in Tirana and Ankara they will thank you for your folly.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard from Albania

2483 days ago

Greetings from Albania. I hope that I am getting the hang of this video recording technology. Sorry if I am a little dark in this shot but the only place quiet enough to record is my hotel room. I would like to given you, ahem, beach shots but there is too much shouting/background noise from the road and the mosque out there. A strange place.


Tom's video postcard #003 by dm_500db406b2995

On the Agenda

1. Albania past & present

2. Iceland

3. Greece & Spain and the Euro crisis

4. The Fed and the US Election and QE

5. Equity markets

6 ILX (ILX)

7. My week ahead – blog output will be like London buses

Tom Winnifrith

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Off to Buthrint and another Blair joke

2483 days ago

According to Virgil’s Aenid, the City of Buthrint in Southern Albania was established by folks associated with Troy as a miniature Troy. Of course this is all cobblers. The Aenid is essentially a story of a journey. Rather like another book entitled “A Journey” it is pure fiction dressed up as historical fact.

According to the great Roman author, when Aeneas fled Troy with his band if followers he popped in here to find a mini Troy before heading off to Carthage for his fling with Dido before moving onto Rome via Scicly. Of course, in Rome, the Trojans hook up with the Latinus tribe and the rest is history. Yup. If you believe that you also reckon there were WMD in Iraq capable of hitting British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. And no-one would fall for that would they?

But it suited the folks in Buthrint, then known as Buthrotum in honour of a bull that escaping sacrifice tried to swim here from Epirus and then died on the beach here (this time not a Blair myth but one from Teucros of Cyzicus), to be associated with Troy and thus Rome as the Roman empire expanded. Thus while the place pre-dates Rome, its glory rose after Caesar landed in 44 BC.

The attraction of the town is that not only is it a natural fortress but it also sits on a giant freshwater lagoon which was rich in fish. I never really get the Latin obsession with fish. These were the folks who considered a sauce made of completely rotten fish as a delicacy. I think I shall pass on that one. But why would they have been so keen on lake fish rather than fish from the Med & Adriatic. Roach, perch, eel, carp and stickleback or cod, mackerel, turbot, see bass, octopus – your call?

Post Rome and Byzantium and skipping a few hundred years the town has its second wind under the Venetians who also ran Corfu and used this as their mainland base. Again, the fresh fish was, for some reason, a key attraction. Whilst the Turks were repulsed from Corfu, Buthrint could not hold out forever and became part of the Ottoman empire. Today it is a world heritage site having, to his credit, been well cared for by Norman Wisdom groupie and evil dictator Enver Hoxha.

More from Buthrint, pictures included, whenever I can get online next. That maybe some time. My next destination is Zitsa in Northern Greece. With no travel arranged that may take 5 or 6 days during which time internet connection will be “intermittent.” Blogging thus may be sporadic.

Tom Winnifrith

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Conned by the Silver Surfer and his SEO Campaign – Thanks Dad

2485 days ago

I am trying to find a map of Southern Albania and Nothern Greece to plan my trek over the border. Naturally I go to Google and enter that exact term. And I am offered an exact match. I click and what do I find but a long and worthy article on “Southern Albania, Northern Epirus, Survey of a Disputed Ethnological Boundary.” Gripping stuff. And its author? Dr TJ Winnifrith, my Dad, who has only just learned to use email.

Is this some clever SEO manipulation by the Society Farsarotul, the Vlach Society of the USA or does Google just think that all I am interested in is myself, Tom Winnifrith. If it is the latter, Google you are wrong I just want a bloody map. If it is the former, I am shocked that my father mixes with such SEO geniuses. Should you wish to read this excellent article by my father you can do so HERE.

Tom Winnifrith

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When is a Greek Salad not a Greek Salad?

2486 days ago

Er… when it is in one of the countries which has, or has had “issues” with brave Hellas: Turkey, the FYR of Macedonia and here in Albania. Last night for supper I wanted, naturally a salad. A tomato salad, that is tomatoes with er… more tomatoes, was not really going to assist with meeting my 5 a day target. And so I ordered the only other salad going, a “Country salad.”

And for less than 2 Euro I enjoyed the best (and cheapest) Greek salad I have devoured since leaving London a month ago. Why is it termed a “country” salad? Is that because it is normally eaten by country folks rather than townies? Or is it a reference to another country, a country that dare not speak its name here in Albania. I have no idea.

PS The chair in my hotel room has just collapsed beneath me. Clearly in Albanian terms I am still grossly overweight. Better stick to the country salads.

Tom Winnifrith

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Holiday in Albania – Part 1 – National Leave your Gun at Home Day

2486 days ago

The ferry was late arriving and so I have only been here a few hours but already I have been surprised. The little port town of Sarande cannot be described as picturesque. As you approach on the boat a skyline of 6 storey buildings suggest that you could be sailing up the river Sherbourne into Coventry. Perhaps that is unfair, I have not really explored in daytime. More tomorrow. Leaving the port I walked up Enver Hoxha street. They seem to have a bit of a soft spot for their former dictator. I have already bought an Enver Hoxha mug to take home.

Having no Lekke I found a cashpoint machine and approached it nervously given that I had been lectured by Spiros and every other Greek I met about how Albanians are congenital thieves. But the ATM spoke English and offered me a choice of how many Lekke to withdraw. At which point it struck me that I had absolutely no idea what a Lekke is worth. I opted for the second highest amount on offer. I am now sitting on about 6 weeks wages for the Average Albanian. I may stay here a bit longer as I work my way through them but that will be tough as this place is very cheap indeed.

As I wandered towards the town centre a man asked me where I came from? England I said. But where in England do you live he persisted. The truth: I am technically an Isle of Man resident but in fact have no idea where I will live when I return so I just said London. Where in London? Bloody hell. Clerkenwell (it is where Real Man Pizza is). Aha, the man told me that he had lived in Acton for a few years. I did not seek to enquire what he was doing there and on what sort of work permit. He then suggested I might like to use his backpackers hostel. Hmm. I may well be scruffy and smelly and live out of a rucksack but a night in a room full of other scruffy and smelly folk with no wi-fi or privacy and with them wondering what the old geezer in the corner was doing there? Thanks but no thanks. I said I was not really a backpacker and wandered on.

Turning right out of Hoxha street I started down the main road which winds through the town along the sea front. Sellers of street food abounded. Greece used to be like that before they a) got too rich and prosperous to consider such things, albeit on the back of borrowed money and then b) discovered that they had no money at all for eating out even on street food. I like that aspect of Albania. Within 10 minutes I had checked into a 3 star hotel which is costing me 35 Euro a night.
Greece please take note.

My room has a clean wooden floor and a double bed (not a twin designed to prevent naughtiness, but which leaves you falling down the middle twice a night). It has a TV (not that I watch it). It is has very fast and reliable wi-fi and a toilet that works. A shower pumps out water at whatever temperature I request. I can smoke here. I have a fridge and stacks of space. With the 5 Euro Spiros used to charge me for AC I was paying 30 Euro a night but had flaky wi-fi in the reception only, to manually flush the toilet by sticking my hand in the cistern, a shower that had 2 temperatures only (scalding hot and freezing). Elsewhere I have paid 50-60 Euro for places no better than this and all with wi-fi issues and at least one other problem. There is no pool here but I am 10 yards from the beach. Greece used to be cheap and cheerful and Albania a Marxist hell-hole. Greece is now expensive and Albania is cheap and offering a better product.

I will write more on the Albanian economy and life here later. I did venture out for a meal last night. I was surprised not to see a single gun anywhere. Perhaps it was National leave your gun at home day? Perhaps Sarande is a gun free zone, where the folks leave their gear at the City border and take a few days away from blood feuds before leaving, picking up the Kalashnikovs and resuming the slaughter? Actually I just think that Albania needs a bit of PR. I reckon there are more guns flourished in Dalston than here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Last message from Greece – Albania beckons, farewell Spiros and White Fang

2487 days ago

My last missive from Greece for a while. One last swim in the pool. 10 minutes to pack and then I shall be leaving the hotel which has been my home for most of the past two weeks. It is farewell Spiros and White Fang and off to Albania.

I shall miss this hotel. Okay the internet is a bit flaky. But I have not lost at Pool when playing the staff, the frappes are fine and since I am anywhere between 33% and 100% of the guests at any one time I have an almost personal service. Everyone in Corfu is called Spiros (after Saint Spiros) but my Spiros will miss me more – I suspect – than the Spiros who changed my money or the numerous men called Spiros who served me Greek salads. Not only was I 33-100% of his customer base but I was also his source of cigarettes as he “gave up.” Now he might actually have to quit. For Spiros it is cold turkey and no customers.

I will not miss White Fang. Next door to this hotel overlooking the path up to it is a wolf. Spiros insists that it is a dog and has never harmed a soul. But three times (once at 3 am when there was no-one to rescue me) it has confronted me as I returned to my bed. Barking, snarling and flashing enormous white teeth dripping with Saliva, it has become something of a nightmare. I have now taken to walking an extra 400 yards (good for the figure) in order to return via a back entrance and so avoid White Fang. Of course I risk death on a dark road, made slippery by the failure of the State owned water company to repair a leaking pipe for 5 days (because Corfu has so much fresh water, right?) but anything is better than meeting White Fang.

I tried outsprinting the beast and almost managed it. I tried confronting it and shouting but clearly the wolf does not speak English. My threats and pleas were all Greek to it. And so I now avoid it in the most cowardly of ways. I shall not miss White Fang.

Last swim, 10 minutes to pack and I am off. I shall report in from the dynamic, low tax, growth economy that is Albania shortly.

Tom Winnifrith

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Feet Eating Fish and Whitebait: No Thanks

2488 days ago

Greece has not escaped the global craze for opening salons where you can have your feet chewed away be small fish who like eating dead skin. In fact these salons are everywhere but they are having to survive without my custom. Call me a dull old traditionalist but I rather think that humans should eat fish, not the other way round. But it is not the reversal of the natural order that repels me.

It is the thought of where those fish who might nibble at my feet were snacking beforehand. Were they chomping away on the toes of some tattooed junkie from Coventry? Or was breakfast a pair of fat German feet. Before any of my readers in the Fatherland (there cannot be many as you would have to be a fairly masochistic German to read this blog) claim that I am bring up issues of blood purity as a reminder of events 60 years ago which they all claim to have known nothing about but really all did, hang on. This is just about simple hygiene. I just cannot see that it can possibly be healthy.

Nor is it really necessary. As a fairly metrosexual sort of guy I make sure that after I shower or bathe I have a gentle scrape of my feet and remove dead skin myself. So I have quite well maintained feet. I shall spare you a photo. But I do not need fish to assist me. Indeed the whole idea just strikes me as be of those decadent fripperies allowing Westerners to waste (usually borrowed) cash. But it is also a fundamentally disgusting decadent frippery.

The feet eating fish have, however, caused me another panic attack. I rather worry that the total lack of tourists here means that in the local salon some of the fish must be going hungry. And for the same reason so too must the owner. In a desperate attempt to realise cash and knowing that she cannot guarantee enough “meals” for her fish, might she not strike a deal with a local tavern owner and treat some of her employees as a cash crop. I know this is an irrational fear but Greece is an odd place and desperate times call for desperate measures.

As such when I stare at a bowl of whitebait ordered by another customer I just cannot help but wonder. The nightmarish thought will just not go away. For once, I am not ordering whitebait at all.

Tom Winnifrith

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Scales found in Greece (at last) and Weight Loss Update for Abbe

2489 days ago

Finding a set of scales to weigh yourself seems impossible here in Greece. I have asked at hotel after hotel but with no joy. I tried a couple of beauty salons and a place where you stick your feet in a tank of fish but no joy. It is as if in a sort of medieval fairy tale like way, the fat crooks of Pasok and New Democracy who have for the past 30 years eaten all the pies while pretending to run the country, had purged the land of weighing machines. This was a desperate attempt to ensure that no-one could check out how grossly overweight they were after all those pies, as the economy moved into the latter stages of anorexia.

But today I struck gold and weighed myself in a small chemists shop. And dear readers .. I am now just 2 lb away from being officially what the British Heart Foundation describes as a “normal healthy” weight. I shall be off on a run later today to celebrate. Putting this in context, my peak weight was 19 stone six pounds. I am now 13 stone 10 pounds. Put another way I have lost 29.5% of my body weight. My target was to get down to 12 stone 13 pounds by the end of my trip. Now that, in order to bring you on the spot coverage of Greece going bust, I have had to extend my stay until September I am feeling very confident of hitting that target. Especially as tomorrow I am off for a week or so walking with a heavy rucksack on my back in the hills of Southern Albania and Northern Greece. It is safe to say that when I next see Athens in 10 days time I shall be a) very smelly and in desperate need of a shower and b) given that the temperature is in the high thirties, I shall be much closer to 13 stone than 14 stone.

To put my weight into context again ( as only a once very fat weight obsessive can), there are only two readers of this blog (that I am aware of) who have ever seen me at this weight. One is my father. The other is Abbe Aronson, for when I last tipped the scales at this weight I was just about to fly to Philadelphia to declare my undying love for the most beautiful woman in America. She claims we kissed. I am sure i would remember such a groundbreaking event but I cannot. But being a woman of impeccable taste and judgement (then as now) she broke my heart and rejected my ardour. Abbe, I ask you, how many men whose hearts you must have shattered in 1986 can say that ( bar the odd grey hair) they are today in the same shape as they were then? Should Abbe decide that she is now tired of chasing young ladies ( something, for the avoidance of doubt that I can fully understand anyone having an interest in and do not condemn and which, I should clarify lest any reader question this, was a lifestyle choice Abbe made much later in life and was not in any way associated with the trauma of kissing me/not kissing me in Jersey City in 1986), the offer is always open – just hop on a plane to Tirana and I shall meet you at the airport. Let me know when you land.

I digress with my sad tale of, as yet, unrequited love for Abbe Aronson. The battle of the bulge is not yet won but I am now seven or eight pounds down since arriving here and any weight obsessive would be happy with that. One just feels better for it. I felt hot as I sat in a restaurant by the sea waiting for my lunch ( Greek salad with lemon not oil and vinegar) and so removed my T-short and walked across the beach into the sea. I did not feel in the slightest bit self conscious in doing so. In years gone by I know that I would have been rather ashamed of my belly and would have removed my star wars T-shirt at the water’s edge before sliding beneath the water hoping that no-one noticed how fat I was. Of course no-one gave a hoot. But there was always that lack of self-confidence. These days young waitresses in restaurants in Greece seem to want to see my body. This lunchtime was a close as they have got.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek Olympic Racism Bad. Arab Olympic Racism fine and dandy

2490 days ago

I wrote HERE yesterday about how a Greek bird had been banned from the Olympics for suggesting there were too many Africans in Greece. That is racist and she must go. Well whatever, I disagree.

Meanwhile back in London where the games are now purified and in Olympian spirit we can celebrate the brotherhood of man, with unqualified sanctimony, the Lebanese Judo team has demanded that a curtain be erected in the training hall so that they do not have to see the Israeli athletes. They can smell them but not see them. That of course is not racist. The Israelis are only bloody Jews after all. I wonder what would have happened if the Lebanese Judo team had demanded that a curtain be erected so that they did not need to look at any athletes from Africa?

Tom Winnifrith

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A Second Video Postcard from Greece

2491 days ago

I think I am getting the hang of this video technology. I am writing to you from the Connections Bar where there is a high speed wi-fi service and my latest video is whirring its way online. Last time it took 14 hours to get back to the UK. This time it looks set to complete in 150 minutes.

The play list here could have been created by me. Oasis, Nena, Dexy’s, all I need is some Undertones and I shall feel like I am back at Real Man Pizza. Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy the video

On the Agenda

  1. Greece
  2. The Euro
  3. Gold
  4. Oil
  5. Inflation and how that affects your portfolio

A new share tip on the way on TomWinnifrith.com – maker sure you follow me on twitter (@tomwinnifrith) for the alert. It will go out during market hours.

Admin

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Real Greek Tragedies. Petra’s Friends

2491 days ago

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you. Blah Blah blah. Well actually Petra is working as a waitress in Zorba’s taverna and after she clocked off work at midnight we hit the town. I am feeling a bit jaded as a result. It is not that I had too much to drink, just too little food before it. These days three glasses of wine and I am anybody’s. But for the record not Petra’s. Anyhow I suffered for you dear readers. It was all in the name of research.

You see the riots in Athens. You hear the dreadful economic stats. So how about a couple of real lives. You have, I suspect, no idea of how the basic rules which you and I take for granted have just broken down completely. Thus trust and faith in anything is no longer possible.

Petra is 27 and moved here from Hungary nine years ago. She has great legs. I digress. Those legs will in a few weeks be walking onto a plane to England not to come back. There will be no jobs at all here once the tourist season ends. And by the way it has been a rotten season.

Petra was let go from her last place (a hotel) and is owed wages. Not a lot. £100 (1 week’s money). She is trying to get that cash back today. She may or may not get it. The hotel is far from full and I suspect the owner is almost out of cash. He is hanging on praying that August will be better. As a result Petra now works at Zorba’s where she works on the condition that she is paid at the end of each night shift. She cannot afford another wage check that does not materialise.

Is it just Petra being paranoid? I fear not. Petra’s best female Greek friend works in a non tourist business and has not been paid for two months. The owner says that the cash will come any day now. Clearly he is out of cash and all his staff know it. But what do they do? Resign? To get another job? There are no other jobs. The tourist season ends in 4 weeks and is a washout and so all tourist venues are at maximum staffing levels already (some are letting folks go). Sue the company? Greek justice takes an eternity and that would probably push the company over the edge anyway. So Petra’s friend carries on working for free, hoping that one day she will be paid. She does not really believe that she will but what is the alternative?

Petra’s best male Greek friend is 33. He is clever and hard working. Yes I know he is Greek but he really is. In the summer he rents a shop to sell tuch to tourists. In the winter he used to organise a crew to do building work. Trade this summer is 40% down on last year which itself was a dire year. He is barely breaking even. This winter there will be no building work. Just like last winter. No-one has any cash to renovate let alone new build. But there is no summer “fat” to live off. He and his crew will get better at X-Box. Actually he will not. He thinks he is too old to leave but he recognises that he has no choice. He has a friend in Slovakia. And so next summer his shop will lie idle. There will be even less reason to come here.

We discussed going to “Stadium” – the night club. It is Greeks only. There are no younger foreigners here. At 44 I am probably the closest they have. The club now opens just once or twice a week on irregular nights. The locals could not afford more. There is no-one else. It looks like it is past its best. In fact everything does here.

And so we have three young and clever people who are all hard working. Between two and three of them will not be in Greece this time next year. The one nightclub in the village will shut for good as not only will there be no young tourists but sod all young Greeks either. There will be one less shop. There will then be fewer tourists. A society where mass migration and emigration is inevitable, where people either have no job or are not sure that they will be paid for the ones they have is a society breaking down. There can be no trust in any institution whether it be the State or your employer. When society gets to that point, despair can turn into anything.

I shall seek out other Petra’s. Not the legs, just brief stories from real people. It is sunny and I am able to sun bathe, swim and drink diet coke at will. The rough Greek salads are great. I am getting a lot of work done and have space to think about a lot of things. But it is hard to avoid how the locals are suffering. And I know that Athens and the big towns are far worse. Petra’s friends are close to despair and have lost all faith. In Athens they lost faith a while ago. The despair is already endemic. The migration is underway.

Tom Winnifrith

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Voula Papachristou – I am with Voltaire

2491 days ago

You may not have heard of Voula Papachristou but, until last week, she was one of Greece’s few hopes of an Olympic medal. She is not that hard on the eye either. But then the triple jumper tweeted the following “with so many Africans in Greece at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food.” Uh oh. There is not actually any guide relating to twitter policy for the Greek Olympic team so she has not actually broken any rules at all but some folks felt it was racist and so she is not going to the Olympics.

Before my place in the UK squad is also withdrawn I should say that her remark was crass and unfunny and it is arguably racist although I am not sure about that – Voula merely expresses the view that there are a lot of Africans in Greece – too many – by implication she would like to see fewer. Logically, therefore does that mean that anyone who feels that there should be any limit at all on the number of foreigners allowed to settle in any country and expresses that view is a racist?

Unless you agree in absolutely unlimited immigration you are a racist? Really. Perhaps this might be clarified to help the rest of us – are we allowed to believe in any limit at all without being racist? Just for the record, as I explain below, I believe in no limits at all. Back to lovely Voula. The reaction and remark says a lot about Greece and our world and it all makes me feel uncomfortable.

Before you judge Voula, or for that matter me, I would urge you to read the piece above this, Petra’s friends to try to understand quite how what you might regard as the normal rules of society have broken down here. That is the context in which you need to understand Voula.

Let us start with why she made that remark. Immigration is an issue here. As in the rest of Europe the establishment won’t allow the matter to be discussed openly because anyone who believes in limits is a racist so must be no platformed. But with unemployment at 27% and rising there is an issue which ordinary Greeks regard as serious about folks who are obviously not Greeks working here.

So the lovely Voula said, albeit in a way that was meant to be funny but sounded crass in a way that so many twitter jokes do what a large number of ordinary Greeks feel to be true and regard as a serious issue. Personally I would have absolutely no barriers to immigration at all on the condition that an immigrant cannot have access to any form of welfare at all (including housing) until he or she has paid taxes for 5 years. Those way welfare scroungers can scrounge of someone else but those who wish to work should always be welcome. And (assuming you had no minimum wage) would thus make your country more competitive by their presence. So Voula and I disagree on the economics of this matter but, make no mistake, it is economics that is driving Voula and many Greeks to feel this way.

Now the thing about Voula is that she has a bit of form. She is an open supporter of Golden Dawn the racist and fascist whackjob party that got 7% in the recent election. Golden Dawn really is a very nasty party indeed.

And so, even though the lovely Voula, has not broken one single rule the Hellenic Olympic Committee has de-selected her from the Games. She is not banned, you understand, because she has not actually transgressed any code or law, she is just made a non-competitor in an extra judicial process. There is no right of appeal. That is it.

The Olympics are meant to be above politics. Of course they never are but I shall humour the Hellenic Olympic Committee on this one. What I wonder would have happened had Voula been an open supporter of one of the two established parties, the crooked pie eaters Pasok and New Democracy. What, I wonder, would have happened had she been a supporter of the deranged communists of Kappa Kappa? Would her card have been marked? I doubt it and she could have opined on more or less anything. Except this issue. She is not allowed to express her view that there are too many immigrants in Greece.

I rather think that this is one of the lesser problems facing Hellas. But the way to lance the boil is to take on Voula head on and point out that there are not really that many Africans here. Frigging hell, you’d have to be a pretty thick economic migrant to go to Greece in search of work – anyone bright enough to travel thousands of miles in search of work, is probably bright enough to go the extra few miles and go somewhere where there actually is some work. The way things are going, Greeks are soon going to be skipping off to Chad and Upper Volta in search of a better life.

And you should take on Voula and point out that the reason that unemployment is 27% and rising is that Greece is corrupt as hell and needs a big dose of Thatcherism and a floating currency (the drachma) to sort out its economy. Argue the point do not try to suppress discussion as that only gives credibility to evil men at a time when society is breaking down and folks look for those who claim to have definite solutions.

The sad truth is that banning the lovely Voula has given the racists who cannot debate on facts a glamorous pin-up girl who will attract sympathy and allow the evil men of Golden Dawn to argue that the pie-eaters of the establishment are covering up the truth.

And one of the reasons that will have so much traction is the austerity programme. To misquote Leona Helmsley on the subject of tax “We don’t do austerity. Only the little people suffer austerity.” There may be less Euros for the political elite and the sort of establishment fellows who sit on the Hellenic Olympic Committee to steal these days but they are still eating plenty of pies. And as such they are increasingly detached from ordinary Greeks. And that is why what was a 2 party state (Pasok and ND) is one where freaks like Golden Dawn and the, almost as mad but not racist, SYRIZA are now attracting so much support.

That support will grow as either austerity measures bite ever deeper or Greece is chucked out of the Euro and goes bust. Many folks despised ND/Pasok but regarded Euro exit as a humiliation only the 2 old parties could avoid. When the exit does happen there will be no reason to support the old pie eaters any more. Heaven knows what happens next, but the brutal treatment of Voula for expressing a concern which the pie eaters will not discuss or address will only convince more folks that maybe Golden Dawn has a point.

This is a frightened place. The people are scared and uncertain. Read about Petra’s friends and understand why anything can happen. Who knows they might bring back the Monarchy (Phil the Greek for King). They won’t but it would be a hell of a lot less damaging than some of the alternatives on offer. As for Voula. I am with Voltaire. I disagree with everything she has said and stands for and the fact that she supports Golden Dawn means that she is probably pretty thick or a racist or both, but I defend to the death her right to say it. And she should have gone to the games where I would have hoped that she would have come fourth. Behind three athletes from Africa.

Tom Winnifrith

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Reasons to stay in Greece for at least another month – D Day

2493 days ago

I see that Greece is set to run out of money and go bust on August 20th. That is unless it gets more international cash to repay loans due in less than a month. And since it is not sticking to the austerity programme in a meaningful way it may not get the cash. Hmmm what to do?

Of course this is insanity. Greece is borrowing money to repay money. A sort of payday loan. The condition is implementing measures that will send unemployment from 27% to well over 30% so cutting tax receipts and prompting even more civil disorder which is a) costly to control and b) scares off the tourists at the peak of the season so slashing tax receipts even more/ creating more unemployment with associated costs so pushing the country further into the merde. It is sheer insanity.

Clearly there will be chaos and disorder as the deadline approaches. I am your man on the spot. It is a hard life but I feel obliged to spend another 25 days on the beaches before trundling down to Athens for D Day. That is D for default, debt, destruction, damage, deranged, disaster, doom, despair, deliverance (from the Euro), death (of democracy?), drachma (return of), demise Day. Meanwhile I think I shall be converting the £20 pound notes I carry with me in only small batches.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Pheasant in a Pet Shop & a Vlach from Oz by the Pool

2494 days ago

I have just moved hotels. I need somewhere quieter to work and so after a few days near Corfu town I am back in a rather secluded little place down the coast. That is to say, Spiros has welcomed me back with open arms as I am back at the hotel that appeared to have only one room on the booking site but where I was in fact the only guest. It appears that there has been a massive pick up in trade and now, three of the 15 rooms are occupied. How many businesses in Greece can boast of a 200% increase in revenues in just a few days?

I leave my last hotel with a good stack of happy memories (no Swedish blondes sadly) but a couple are worth mentioning. For my father first.

I was sitting by the pool having a drink (diet coke natch) and at the next table were a family from Oz. As the kids and mum went off for a swim the Dad ordered another beer and we started chatting. He had spent time in Islington 20 years ago before he was married and had had a great time. The wife was in earshot so we did not pursue that one. His family moved to Oz from Greece 40 years ago and he was just off to visit the ancestral home next week in Northern Greece – he was set to go to Lake Ochrid.

Heck, I swam there as a child – its waters lap up on the shore in Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia. We discussed this. Why on earth was I there he wondered – most folks go on holiday to the coastline. And so I said that my father studied people called the Vlachs (a small nomadic tribe living in that area whom no-one other than readers of this blog and a few academics who read my father’s books know about). The Vlachs, he cried. My grandmother and grandfather were Vlachs. You do not often meet Vlachs even in Greece these days. But Australian Vlachs, that must be a rarity.

Meanwhile in between the hotel and the tavern where I ate only Greek salads (natch) there was a pet store. A sweet little puppy sat in a cage begging you to rescue him. There were some canaries. But then also some chickens (okay for laying eggs – I get that bit) and in a cage in the corner… a rather scrawny looking pheasant. I know where the dog will end up. The chickens have a half chance of having a decent life as egg layers before they hit the pot but the pheasant…

I suppose it might make a family pet. It could be that someone wants to sit on the sofa with it, stroking its feathers and watching TV. Someone may wish to take it for walks in the park. But I suspect not. The pheasant did not look happy. I suspect that unlike the dog and the budgies and canaries, the pheasant’s next journey will be a short one with an inevitable conclusion. Its solemn gait suggests it may have an inkling of its fate.

Tom Winnifrith

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Visiting The Corfu Synagogue – the Meaning of Holocaust

2494 days ago

I have written before about Joe Levy, godfather to Olivia and my very good friend. We met when he was the handyman who looked after – among other things – a house in Swiss Cottage converted into six flats where I lived with Olivia’s mother. The two houses I bought/co-bought after that were redesigned by me and Joe put my ideas into practice. He is truly a faultless human being, bar his support for Chelsea. He was born here in Corfu and is, as you may have guessed, Jewish.

Yesterday I followed the sign to the “Jewish Quarter.” There is no real quarter just a synagogue which is in impeccable condition, is fully renovated and was being cared for by a rather fat old lady who was talking animatedly in Hebrew to some Israeli visitors. Needless to say she also spoke perfect English. The building is more than 400 years old. And in 1940 there were around 2000 Jews living on the Island – among them Joe Levy's parents.

There is a photo exhibition in the building of life in the 1930s. The Community engaged in a wide range of trades. It was integrated fully. That is no wonder because under the rule of the Venetians, French, British and Greeks there had been a long history of tolerance. On the side of the main hall there is a plaque listing the surnames of those who perished in 1944. There are names that are clearly Jewish: Levi (has Joe anglicised his name?), Israel, etc. But there are Greek and Italian names – this was a community that was an integral part of the wider Corfiot community.

In 1943 the Germans invaded. Most of the Jewish quarter was destroyed. And a year later around 1793 Jews were stuck on a boat and then herded into cattle cars to Auschwitz and Birkenau. 121 came back. Most were liquidated within days. A few families had managed to escape during the Italian rule that preceded German rule. Perhaps 100 or maybe a few more made it off the island and some like “Uncle Joe” found safety, in his case - travelling inside the womb -  in Egypt.

Today there are 60 Jews left here and many of them are incomers, folks who have left colder and less friendly lands to the East. There are but a handful of Corfiot Jews left here. Hundreds of years of history, a vibrant and generous community acting as part of the wider community, almost entirely wiped out in days. That is what happened here. I am not sure if Joe has been back. Like Prince Phillip, born here but who left as a baby, it might be rather hard to come back. Painful memories passed down, perhaps a bit of guilt that he survived and others did not. I just do not know how he must feel.

Some of those names on the board will have been his relations, others friends of his parents, neighbours, work colleagues, children he might have played with and all of that world, all of those lives were, after hundreds of years, just snuffed out in a few days.

Today the words holocaust or genocide are used liberally. It is often used to describe the actions of Israel in Gaza. To use such language demeans it and seeks to negate the scale and horror of what holocaust really means. Israel does not systematically execute an entire community. Yes she kills people in Gaza because each month 200 rockets are launched from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians. Israel responds with an attempt at a targeted response – seeking to destroy command centres or rocket launchers. Civilians are occasionally killed – a function of Hamas locating its operations in the heart of residential areas. But this is an unintentional by product. And it is small scale.

What happened in Corfu was replicated across Europe. It was a systematic and largely successful attempt to destroy an entire culture, an entire people. That is a holocaust. The word should be used sparingly and when appropriate, it should be reserved for crimes so horrible that it is still hard to imagine how they could be contemplated. It is bad enough coming to terms with what happened here 68 years ago as you gaze at a building or look at faded photographs of life before the war. The thought of those men, women and children being herded onto boats, unaware of their destination and possibly their fate and the horror as the journey continued up into Poland does not bear contemplation.

I try to block the whole idea from my mind. One day I shall have the courage to visit a place such as Auschwitz. But not yet. A civilised world would not allow anyone to forget the horrors of what happened lest there be danger of a repetition. A civilised world would not seek to trivialise what happened by using the world holocaust to describe events which bear no resemblance to the liquidation of 90% of European Jewry. Reading the British press and hearing some folks speak, you sometimes question how civilised some of us really are.

Tom Winnifrith

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Shorting Ban: Spain is Bust so too are Italy and France. Let’s be honest for Once.

2494 days ago

http://www.advfn.com/newspaper/tom-winnifrith/7164/shorting-ban-spain-is-bust-so-too-are-italy-and-france-let-s-be-honest-for-once

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard from Tom Winnifrith & Book News

2495 days ago

It is all happening. Or rather it will happen. One minute, from the comfort of a sun bed by the swimming pool, diet coke in hand I am sitting here trying to think how I can advance a long article on the Bombay property market. The next minute it appears that there is another book to be written with a contract winging its way to me from France. Meanwhile I amuse myself with a video recording using a neat little gadget some Welsh bloke gave me before I left London. Recording is a piece of cake. Transmitting is a horror. But at last the video now plays smoothly for all to enjoy.

On the agenda:

Greece
Spain
The Euro Crisis
The Impending Dollar Crisis
Gold
The Middle East and the Oil Price
Avanti Communications, Northern Petroleum, 1Spatial
Cash shells, investment companies
Speculative oil stocks
Risk & reward
The equity markets generally
Lots of cheap jokes

Admin

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A question about sunbathing

2497 days ago

I have never really got into sunbathing and still do not get it. As someone with fair skin the annual two weeks in the sun sees me either retain my natural whiter shade of anaemic white or turn lobster red. There is no real in between stage. Some folks manage to pick up a sensible tan quite easily – I just do not get it. But I am trying and am slowly turning from my normal white to a darker shade of white. In the end my one hour a day will get me there. But something confuses me about those who just lie on the beach all day.

Why they are not burned to a crisp confuses me. I cannot think that it is good for them. But what really baffles me is why they do not get bored. Lying in the sun doing nothing for eight hours would not only turn me into a crisp but just drive me insane. There are articles to write, folks to chat to, things to see and do. Yet I see grown men and women just lie there.

My suspicion is that there is an inverse correlation between how long you can lie in the sun doing nothing and the size of your basic intellect. Naturally this is self serving in that as a short spell tanner this, by definition, makes me a bit of a brainbox.

I am prepared to admit the possibility that the dozens of heavily tanned young ladies lounging on the beach are in fact nuclear physicists taking a quick break in the sun and who, while they improve their tan, are considering what to do with the Higgs Boson particle when they find it. But I doubt it. Intuitively, I just have to believe that if you are able to spend 8 hours lying around doing nothing other than increasing your odds of getting skin cancer, you cannot have a lot between your ears. I am prepared to accept that there is another view and so if any sun worshipping genius is reading this and cares to explain where I have missed a trick, I am all ears.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece is Bust: Does that Bazooka Minoan?

2499 days ago

http://sharecrazy.com/beta/daily/7295/greece-is-bust-does-that-bazooka-minoan

Tom Winnifrith

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Essex: Washing Powder from Greece

2500 days ago

Different countries name the same brands in different ways. And so watching Greek TV this evening I looked very closely as I was urged to buy a washing powder branded “Essex”. I am not sure what this means to the average Greek, do they think that Essex is somehow a sophisticated, upmarket brand?

Do they associate Essex with uber-cool individuals like Graham Gooch, Fat Frank Lampard, Terry Venables and Jamie Oliver or perhaps it is John Constable they are thinking of or Jilly Cooper? Maybe it is the eloquent old charmer John Terry who has the pulling power? Or perhaps they have heard how the metropolitan elite like to spend the summer at Southend before returning to their country dachas near Romford?

But it strikes me that they should be flogging this stuff back in the county that also gave us Russell Brand, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Richard Madely. “Essex – The detergent that leaves everything looking whiter than white” – it would go down a storm in downtown Basildon.

Tom Winnifrith

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A sharp increase in the cost of smoking & Dodgy websites

2501 days ago

No. Not the sort of dodgy websites so central to the training regime of Italian goalie Buffon, I refer to my hotel booking site. As I made my booking (no credit card needed, very handy) a message kept flashing up saying that I was pursuing the last available room and that 6 other folks were also looking at it. Cripes, better hurry up. Having been here for 24 hours it dawns on me that mine is the only room here that is in fact occupied.

So the pool is empty, there are no fat Germans/ Scandinavian pensioners on the sun-loungers, I have a dedicated service whenever I want a cafe frappe (milk but no sugar natch) or a diet coke and I have complete peace and quiet.

My father has managed to install skype on his computer (well my step mother has installed it for him) and so his relationship with that he terms Beelzebub, viz the internet, has just strengthened. We have managed a good conversation yesterday with the added joy of me being able to stay on line hearing him discuss in a very earnest fashion with my step mother for a couple of minutes how they should switch skype off. They got it in the end. He has an email address but needs by step mother to type for him but we will make a silver surfer of him yet.

The only drawback is that there has been a sharp increase in the cost of smoking. The owner of this place is giving up. Or rather he is weaning himself off the habit by not buying a pack a day but cadging 4 or 5 cigarettes off me each day. But given how cheap his hotel is, how cheap cigarettes are and the fact that I have a personal service at all times, it is something I can handle. Anyhow, I am as you know, giving up myself shortly.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Night on a Greek Bus not playing Footsie – Blogging Delayed.

2502 days ago

Some folks seem to think that I am swanning around Greece in luxury, just relaxing. That is not my style. For me it is a back pack and buses and trains, boats only if needed. I have generally been a mainland sort of person and have in fact visited only three islands, Corfu, Crete and Euboea in my 44 and a half years on this planet. I hope that in a week or so I shall start adding to that list. I have never island hopped and now seems as good a time as any. I await advice from Despy as to where to head to… all is on hold until then. Despy, please note.

I am now in Corfu. The 8 hour bus journey from Athens was not comfortable. At least buses have air conditioning these days but I seemed to be surrounded by very tall men and there was nowhere to rest my legs without unintentionally playing footsie. The roads switch from new EU funded superhighways to windy 2 track roads from a long time ago. As such there were bumps pretty much all the way making reading or sleeping impossible.

And so, I arrived in Corfu at 6.05 AM feeling very tired and with a few hours to kill before I could check in to my new temporary home about 10 miles out of town by the sea. Greece being Greece, I had to wander with the rucksack straps biting into my shoulders for a good hour, gazing with awe at the old battlements here, before the most industrious of the locals (not stiff competition) opened up their shops for coffee and orange juice. The latter is, I fear, not so good for the figure but I felt that I merited a treat and convinced myself that walking around with a heavy rucksack must have burned off stacks of calories. I used the same excuse as I worked my way through three lattes when I eventually found a cafe that was open and had wi-fi.

As I wandered through the Old Town I noticed signs for “The Jewish area”. My guess is that this is an historic area and that the Jewish community here is small to non-existent. Olivia’s god-father, a wonderful man called Joe Levy was born here but in 1940 when Joe cannot have been more than a couple of years old his family made a swift exit, heading for Egypt. It is my great fortune that, after a spell in the Israeli army, Joe ended up in London where he has been a good friend for years. My suspicion is that those who did not flee like Joe’s family would not have survived long.

I thought of Joe as I saw the sign. If you are reading this Joe – pizza on me when I return in September and your place at the Chelsea game at Upton Park ( as long as you behave yourself) is also reserved.

Thus much of today has been semi-siesta time. My mind is still turning over with recent events, recent conversations, a couple of articles that are now in my brain but not yet on the web, a suggestion for producing sherry infused olive oil and with the burning issue – what words do I use to start that damned book on gold. Any suggestions more than welcome.

Meanwhile, the two articles are in train. Fear not, the content machine has not seized up completely.

Tom Winnifrith

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Mining Man Meets Playboy PR Girl - Learning with Linkedin

2505 days ago

The harmless sweet looking little old lady I chose to sit next on the overnight ferry to Athens turned out to be the Greek national loud snoring and snorting while asleep champion. My night was thus fitful and so I sit in Athens with not enough energy to do anything but too much energy to sleep.The obvious answer is to scroll through the updates of my various LinkedIn connections: you never really learn much but you can pretend to be working (virtuous) and it should send you to sleep.

Learning that my pal Will Tyndall had joined the group “Cement, concrete & construction” was fairly gripping – I bet they have some pretty fascinating discussion threads going there – truly a cyber place you’d want to hang out. Ghotham Badri urges us all to read “5 reasons you should manager your personal brand.” I suppose I should read it but you know it is not quite “Pride & Prejudice” and I am not sure I am that desperate for stimulation yet. And of course lots of folk have connected with lots of other folk.

That is the whole point of Linkedin. One entry this morning grabs me & has me thinking hard. Damian Conboy, an acquaintance of mine from the mining world (AIM listed Alecto Minerals ALO etc) has linked up with a very good looking young lady called Lucy Sharp whose job is manager media relations at the Playboy Club in London. If you are forced to work for a living I suppose there are worse jobs out there. This is not your normal sort of Linkedin link up for mining executives and makes me wonder about a few matters.

Is there a Mrs Conboy and if so does she use Linkedin? If so then I would image Damian might find himself in the spare bedroom tonight. How did Damian get to meet Ms Sharp and why did my time as a PLC director always involve meeting accounts and lawyers and not birds like Ms Sharp? There is no justice. And does Ms Sharp feel the need to widen her circle of media contacts in any way? On that note it is perhaps time to start writing my book.

Postscript: Can one have too many gorgeous PR birds involved in your life? I guess not. One such creature, wafted in from paradise (not Luton airport) has just been in contact to explain on behalf of Damian that Mr Conboy met the alluring Miss Sharp at a "networking event." Well that has spurred me on. I think I shall plan an autumn of networking events myself, they clearly are a lot more interesting these days than they used to be.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Question: What is the Greek unemployment rate?

2505 days ago

I will give you a clue. The official unemployment rate is 22.5%. Actually that is not a very good clue because like every other economic statistic churned out here in order to obtain/maintain Euro membership it is, ahem… a lie. If I offered you a spread of 25-26 would you buy or sell? Buy you say? You win.

The figures are massaged in a number of ways but here are the main three.

1. If you are long term unemployed (and more and more folk are) you may lose some entitlements (not a lot) and so come off the official tally.

2. If you earn some money stacking shelves part time you get different benefits. I would argue that such folk should count for at least half an unemployed person. The plain truth is that they cannot get jobs.

3. And this is a hoot. The grateful EU taxpayer funds quite large scale 3 month “learning courses.” What do these students learn? Well not a lot but that gets them a grant to improve themselves from the Evil Empire and gets them off the Greek register.

My sources today – yes I have been working – tell me that the real unemployment rate (i.e. economically inactive adults who want work but cannot get it) is 27%. And BOTH rates will rise steadily whatever happens, rapidly if the EU’s austerity and privatization programme is fully implemented.

At what “real unbodged” rate do we reach the stage where society ceases to function normally? 30%? You will be there by September when seasonal summer tourist jobs go. 40%? Implement the EU’s demands in full now and you will be there by 2013. 50%? Heaven only knows. I hope to serve up some poverty porn pictures over the weekend but I have already seen plenty which is pretty shocking.

PS. And before Mark Wadsworth asks: the effect of all of this on a UK house price crash will not be material. If anything it will assist at the lower end of the spectrum as Greece suffers net emigration to other EU countries which are less economically challenged and that includes the UK

Tom Winnifrith

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My Greek 1 Eurocent I shall not spend

2506 days ago

Somewhere I have a 5 trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe which is, apparently, worth quite a bit on ebay although it never had much value in Zim. I now find in my pocket a 1 Eurocent piece minted in Greece which I also intend to treasure as a bit of a currency geek. It will soon be absolutely worthless (right now it is worthless to all intents and purposes) but that might give it a strange value.

It is a pretty little coin about half the size of a 1 penny piece with a picture of an ancient Athenian ship (a trireme) on the reverse. At current exchange rates it is worth about 0.8p so it does not get you far. Long gone are the days when (with the drachma at 150 to the pound) you could get a glass of (piss poor) wine in mountain villages here for 1 drachma. But…

At some stage Greece will leave the Euro. At that point folks will be told that – for argument’s sake 1 Euro is worth 100 New Drachmas. For a while, until new drachma bills and coins are produced anyone holding Greek minted Euro would be allowed to use it at the drachma equivalent so my 1 Euro cent piece is 1 drachma. Since the new drachma will plunge in value from day 1 anyone with half a brain here in Greece is hoarding German/Austrian/Dutch etc minted Euro and trying to shift their Greek/Spanish minted Euro as fast as possible. Because when the great day comes, those holding a stack of 4th Reich Euro notes will at a stroke be better off than those holding Greek minted Euro notes which will effectively be drachmas.
My guess is that the drachma will lose 40% against the Euro within days. And then, as the politicians once again start eating all the pies, it will be a one way bet thereafter.

Assuming the Euro retains parity with Sterling my 1 Greek Eurocent piece will thus be worth less than 1/2p PDQ. In due course when New Drachmas are minted this will be a coin not worth recreating. And after a while it will not even be legal tender. But it is a pretty little piece and two of them together could be mounted and on my wall would serve as a pleasant reminder (as does the 5 trillion dollar bill) of the folly of man when it comes to abusing fiat currency.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Travelling Begins...

2507 days ago

I am being evicted from my hotel. Not I think because they are terrified of an attack by axe wielding Islamofascists following my recent comments about the late Ayatollah Khomeini and bestiality, not because of any licentious behaviour with Swedish birds. Shame. It just appears that there was a bit of confusion about the reservation and so I have decided to leave Crete (for that is where I have been) and head by ferry to Athens for a couple of days. There is a friend to see and hopefully the odd riot or two to watch and I shall take a prurient tour round the shopping district to report on just how bad things are. If you are seeking poverty-porn, I shall do my best to snap any images of urban misery and post them here.

And then? I have not had this much freedom in ages and this break is helping to purge my mind of a lot, if not yet my body of nicotine. I seem to be finding it a lot easier to write than I have done for a while and am enjoying it greatly. There is a temptation to go up to the North West and over to Corfu and back via Albania. There is a temptation to go wandering around the Mani and to once again visit the entrance to the Underworld. And there is a temptation to go island hopping which I have never done before. At this stage I have not got a Scooby but I shall make my choice by Sunday and keep you posted.

Tom Winnifrith

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(Lack of) Service Culture, Internet frustration and Greece

2508 days ago

Do not get me wrong, I adore Greece. Right now I am almost half contemplating not bothering returning to the UK at all. But nowhere is perfect and Greece has its faults (as you may have noticed). The deal used to be with Greece that things did not work properly/the food might have been a bit rough (though that has its charms), etc but it was very cheap. Then Greece joined the Euro and so now you suffer the downside but it costs you more.

My frustration of the day has been with the internet. My room does not have a connection to WiFi. The hotel explains that this is to protect guests from radiation. Er… right. And so while I can write offline in my room to send over copy I must go either to reception or to a cafe up the road. Each has its own distinct drawback.

At the former the connection goes now and again but there is always power. I tried to load after breakfast (muesli and semi skimmed milk natch) but the connection was down. The fat woman behind the desk said “it was working earlier.” I said it was not last night which she first denied but then realised that since she had not been on duty at the time and that she knew perfectly well that the hotel has been offline for 24 hours since her last shift, I might call her bluff. But there was no hint of apology and there has been no urgency at the hotel to fix a problem which has also stopped it taking bookings by email. Heck the economy is going so well, let’s turn business away right? What does it matter?

And so I am sitting in the cafe which stays open from 7 am to 3 PM allowing me to write whenever I want. Its wi-fi link is perfect. The problem here is that the electricity cuts out about 20 times a day, forcing me to constantly save work but knowing that I will occasionally lose some funny line that I am unable to remember later. When the power goes a Greek bird scuttles off flicks a switch and it comes back in a couple of minutes. The pretence is that this is a one-off or is just happening today. But being a regular I know that it happens every day. If I was running a cafe serving meat that needs chilling I would have some concerns about this issue and would get it fixed asap. But this being Greece it just does not happen. I stick to salads anyway so what do I care if this place poisons its other customers with dodgy souvlaki?

It is all part of the way of life here. I remember as a child that we were all here and tried to make a phone call back home from a remote mountain village (Anelion). After lengthy frustration we asked my father “are you sure you know how the Greek telephone system works?” Quick as a flash he replied “I know perfectly well how it works. It doesn’t.” Boom. Boom. It does not stop me loving the place, you just know that things don’t always work and having accepted that as being a way of life, when things fail it is not actually that stressful.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greek Cats on National Kissing Day

2510 days ago

A chance to run a picture of the late Kitosh, much missed. Friday was, as I am sure you are all aware, National Kissing day. I do not take any notice of any National (insert a very silly and pointless thing or worthy cause here as appropriate) Days and so this one passed me by as well. Not that there was anyone around to kiss except perhaps the hotel cat who came close. But not that close.

I say hotel cat in that he wanders in and out of the hotel but does not actually live here. He – and a variety of other painfully thin creatures – live in the general area but are not sent packing by the hotel as they do serve a purpose: pest control, as well as making sad cat loving guests from the UK happy.

The attitude of the Greeks to such creatures is not one that self-indulgent British pet lovers can relate to. None of the creatures are neutered and so they breed away happily. But Malthusian controls ensure there is no population explosion. If the creatures get sick they die. If they cannot catch enough rodents/beg enough food from soppy hotel or restaurant users from Northern Europe they starve. Competition for a lady cat may lead to fights – war will take its toll.

It is the starving that bothers me. My cats have always been fat, well fed and pampered. Kitosh was told by his vet that he was overweight and probably diabetic. One of his replacements is known as Fat Cat. Not without reason. My over-indulged companions would not last a week out here. Neutered, doctored, well fed and constantly being stroked and hugged they would find the life of a Greek cat unbearable.

I find myself not finishing my muesli each day so that, in a covert manner, I can leave under my table a bowl with some oats and semi-skimmed milk for the skinny little creature that pops in and out of this gaffe to devour. So far none of the waiters – who would disapprove violently – have spotted me. My temptation is to go further and collect a plate of cold meats ostensibly for myself but – when –no-one is looking to push it under the table to give my feline friend the sort of meal Kitosh would have accepted as normal but which this creature can only dream of. It might, after all, give him that extra bit of body fat to survive the winter when a lack of tourists means less to eat.

I am sure that our attitude to animals is over indulgent. I cannot imagine many Greek cats get diabetes. But I still feel pangs of sympathy/ a sort of desire to become a crazed cat person bundling up dozens of these poor creatures to “rescue” them each time I come here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Visiting a Greek Post Office – The Dilemma

2511 days ago

I had to post certain documents back to London and so was forced to visit my local Post Office. It was even more instructive than the Bus Station visit of a few days ago. I should say that I ran there (one mile) in the burning heat and managed to run half way back. As part of the weight loss campaign I was quite proud of that.

Arriving at the Post Office which serves a small suburb of not a very large town I stumbled in a sweaty wreck. The place is open from 8.30 AM until 2.30 PM five days a week meaning that its staff (in this State owned enterprise) have to put in a back breaking 30 hour week. They are probably paid for 14 months a year and get to retire at 55 but that is not the point. Did I mention how many staff were crammed into this small office? Five. That is one member of staff for every 1.25 customers that I observed during my 20 minute visit – I needed time to catch my breath, have a cigarette etc.

The office provides a number of services which cannot be cost effective (mailboxes) and – needless to say – does not have an automatic stamp dispensing machine which would have served my purpose as well as that of the lady in front of me. My guess is that by cutting out a few product lines provided as a social service; automating paper based procedures which saw three desks overflowing with forms; opening longer hours and making the staff put in a 40 hour week and by installing a stamp dispensing machine, five staff could become two or three.

But as with the Bus company, here is the dilemma. I know that it would be cheaper to pay the two or three staff I would fire dole money than a full state funded wage but with unemployment at 23% and raising daily those folks thrown on the dole would be almost certainly unable to find work. Their reduced spending power would accelerate Greek economic decline making the country’s debts even less likely to be repaid (not that there is a cat in hell’s chance anyway) and the creaking fabric of Greek society would creak a bit more.

I remind you that this is the only place in Europe where we have ever seen a move from the Cities to the sticks as folks go back to a life based on subsistence farming/welfare rather than just a City based welfare-based existence. It is also a country where democracy (of sorts) replaced Military rule less than 40 years ago. Yes I would still start firing the Postal workers but I would do so with a great sense of trepidation.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Margins on Sun Tan Lotion – I am in the Wrong Business

2512 days ago

I am aware that Call Me Dave does not know the price of a pint of milk. But I wonder if he has any idea what a bottle of sun tan lotion costs? As a fair skinned fellow I am well advised to slap on the Factor 30 and as I am now venturing out for a daily run, swim and for a bit of lying in the sun I thought I better buy something. So after the morning run I did just that and handed over a 20 Euro note expecting most of it back. Bloody hell. It was 19 Euros for spray on and 16 Euros for cream. Either…

The local shops here have a cartel in place knowing that I and my fellow sun worshippers (the 80 year old Scandinavians) have no choice but to buy. If this is the case or if there is some Greek super tax on sun-tan lotion then I am happy to do my bit to help out this impoverished nation. Or…

Nivea, etc are making a killing by selling a mass produced commodity product at a price which must ensure that it is making extraordinary margins.

I suspect it is the latter, given that the Greeks could not organise a piss up in an Ouzo factory. I am in the wrong business.

Tom Winnifrith

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A visit to a Greek bus station tells you all

2514 days ago

Greek buses are privately owned (KTEL) and so are far more efficient than the state owned industries such as the ports and railways that this country will be forced to privatize in order to get more bailouts. But a visit to a bus station today demonstrated just why the medicine the EU wishes to apply (and which ideologically I would apply) will be so unpalatable.

To travel on a bus you need a ticket. With one bus holding, an average of 30 people, leaving every 30 minutes that is about 45 tickets an hour that have to be sold ( I assume a quarter of folks by returns). Buying a ticket takes a couple of minutes and so you really do not need more than 2 people selling tickets. There were of course three on duty at all times. Having bought your ticket you need to show it to a ticket inspector. There were two of them per bus. And a third chap driving the bus.

Now in a ruthlessly efficient world you would install ticket machines and have 1 person on duty selling tickets to those too thick to use a machine. The bus driver would inspect tickets as folks got on board. Suddenly 6 staff becomes 2. At the very least the two ticket collectors should be fired and the driver clip tickets.
Remember that KTEL is a privately owned, relatively efficient company.

The state owned trains and ports businesses make KTEL look lean, sleek and efficient. So when/if these loss making enterprises are privatized there will be mass layoffs. In a country with unemployment of 23% and rising daily that will not be fun. One the one hand I cannot see why the rest of the EU should subsidize this nonsense but on the other hand I am conscious that Greece is a young and fragile democracy with more than its fair share of head bangers lurking in the wings/running the military. You can push folks only so far…

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece v Germany: Up Yours Merkel

2526 days ago

As I am sure you know Greece is my “second team.” Tonight they will be the second team of everyone in Europe as they take on the krauts, oops sorry Germany. I am sure there are folks out there who regard the Greeks as workshy tax evaders led by crooks. Yes, you can make a case for that. However…

The conditions imposed by Germany for Greek bailouts are destroying civilised society in once proud Hellas. If Greece agrees to what is demanded of her, unemployment will zoom ahead from 23% towards 50%, there will be an acceleration of the flight from the Cities to the boonies. And the very young democracy she has may well be over-turned. The lack of basic courtesy and compassion shown by German leaders, notably Frau Merkel, bring back images of the last time Germany tried to impose its will on Greece sixty years ago.

And so we turn to the game itself. I fear that Germany is bound to win – Greece is not very good. But they were not that good last time Greece won a European championship. Why knows? Anything can happen. I am sure that the prayers of a whole continent are with Greece. Mine too. It will bring a brief moment of joy to the starving and destitute of Athens if the Hun are beaten. Fingers crossed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Greece – Now a total sideshow & Election 3 on the way?

2531 days ago

It looks as if New Democracy (yes to the Euro, run by fat old crooks) will win the Greek election if it can form a coalition. But who cares anymore? Reading the wires Pasok ( yes to the Euro run by fat old crooks) has said that it will not join a coalition unless Syriza (no to the Euro, not sure if thin youthful leaders are crooks but as they are Greek politicians I assume so) joins too which it will not. And so quite amazingly Greece might actually need to have another election. Clearly this is the last thing it needs but the nation that gave us democracy is now showing us a variant where nothing ever happens because you keep on having elections. Madness.

It may be that the Pasok and ND crooks can get it together, for once putting the national interest ahead of lining their pockets. There must still be a few things left for a Greek politician to plunder. But this is now a sideshow. Do not get me wrong. I feel sorry for the Greek people but I have believed for eons that it was in their best interest to default on the sovereign debt, go back to the Drachma and rebuild from behind a competitive currency. Now, I suspect that will be forced upon them.

At least with Syriza Greece could opt to go back to the Drachma & default with a bit of pride. With the old crooks in power/no-one in power that last bit of pride will be gone – Greece will be booted out of the Euro.

Greek debt is esse