10 days ago
I came home to the Welsh Hovel late last night to see cat Quincey sitting outside in the yard. In my absence the Mrs had, for a second time, let him escape his new home. after driving almost 400 miles in a day I let rip with a few choice words and then wasted an hour of my life coaxing the wretched cat back inside where I pounced and recaptured him. He has just rewarded me with another shit on the kitchen floor.
The other sight to greet me on my return was a fridge magnet bought by the Mrs at the insistance of Joshua who is very taken with the Welsh dragon we see every day as we walk back from his nursery in England, over the bridge and back into the rain sodden second world.
As you may remember, my daught Olaf is half Welsh and a fierce patriot. She will no doubt be delighted to see similar tendencies emerging in young Joshua after just three weeks in this welfare addicted land.
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.
65 days ago
Don't the skies look glorious above the Greek Hovel? How I wish I was there to see the little snakes emerge after their winter sleep. The weather is improving and thus a digger has made it up the track and so work on the swimming pool for daughter Olaf is, as you can see, accelerating. George the Architect assures me that the olive trees we had to move, about seven, are being watered every day and are recovering well. All is good...
69 days ago
I say start. Bad weather has hampered the workmen with the rains causing walls on the track above Slater slope on the way to the hovel to collapse so making them impassable for lorries and the excavator. But now the work is, as you can see, underway.
Six or seven olive trees have been moved carefully and the rains should help them to bed down at their new homes. And so work has started on what will be an infinity pool, one terrace below the hovel with views out towards Kambos. We aim to have all works finished by some time in May which means that daughter Olaf will agree to honour us with her presence this summer.
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.
91 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
115 days ago
As each anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Holocaust Memorial Day, comes about I find it more and more depressing and painful. I think of the relatives of two of the godparents of my daughter Olaf.
Joe was in his mother's stomach when she and his father fled Corfu while the Italians were still in charge. Then the Germans moved in and all 2,500 Jewish Corfiots were sent on a boat to Piraeus and then by train to Auschwitz. Fewer than 100 returned. I think of Joe's relatives who did not come back.
Iska's mother and one sister left Poland in the 30s for New York. Twelve siblings ( or was it ten?) stayed behind. Iska grew up with no uncles or aunts or cousins in Poland. I think of them.
I also think of my father's best friend, the late Hungarian author Janos Nyiri. He survived. Kind folks hid him. Many of his relatives were not so blessed.
Each year more video footage and photos of the horror of the holocaust emerges. Though the BBC is generally beneath contempt its offering yesterday, The Last Survivors, was television at its best. The Mrs and i were gripped as elderly men and women, the lucky few, explained how they survived, headed back to Germany or Poland and how they felt as they mourned brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and friends, folks from whom - in some cases - they were parted from on the selection ramp at Auschwitz. Left you live (for a while), Right you go straight to the gas chambers.
Amazingly, 5% of Brits do not think the holocaust happened. Many more think that its scale was greatly exaggerated. Two thirds of American millennials do not know what Auschwitz was or is and a fifth had not heard of the holocaust. It is the scale of that ignorance that makes it essential that we all try to celebrate HMD so that younger folks understand why we say Never Again!
But of course some of our fellow citizens, mainly on the left, hate the Jews and or Israel so much that they will not mark Holocaust Memorial day at all. In Glastonbury for a walk to the Tor we stopped off in the town centre by the Abbey for a coffee and guess what flag was flying by the car park. What better day to fly the Palestinian flag.
134 days ago
I am not sure who makes me prouder this fine day: daughter Olaf or son Joshua
As you can see below, Joshua has a new coat thanks to Godfather Lucian. He wore it to nursery yesterday and apparently would not take it off and kept on pointing to the badge to all the other two year olds. Like Lucian and his father he is ready to follow West Ham over land and sea.
Daughter Olaf was with Joshua, Lucian and I at the London Stadium on Saturday for the FA Cup game. Her news, just in today, is that she has been accepted by the PC madrassa formerly known as Oxford University.
I am immensely proud of them both.
165 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I suppose I should declare a bit of an interest in the annual ritual that is the bashing of Oxford University as an institution run by elitist snobs who hate poor people, in that my daughter Olaf spent last week in the City of my birth facing interview panels. We will find out whether she has got in on or around 9 January. But the press, this week, has been all over Oxford as it emerged that, last year, eight of our poshest fee-paying schools managed to get more folks into Oxford last year than the bottom 75% of British schools.
Natch the same sort of folk who argue, on the basis of ignoring all the data provided, that Oxford admissions are racist lined up quickly to shout about what a disgrace this is and how Oxford must really get its act together. And needless to say Oxford did not bother to defend itself in a meaningful way but, again, admitted to its sin in a pathetic and craven fashion and said that it would try to do better.
The high point for state school entrance to Oxford in percentage terms was in the mid sixties. At that stage progressive types decided that grammar schools which gave a great education to bright kids from the working classes were a bad idea and started to abolish them. And guess what? Fewer state school kids ended up going to Oxford. It has been pretty much downhill ever since.
I do not deny for a second that the top public schools give their candidates an extra edge with intensive and expensive preparation for Oxford exams and interviews. I benefitted from that myself. But were that to, somehow, be stopped do you not think that parents who can afford to fork out £40,000 a year in school fees would not fork out a bit more for some extra private tuition. You just cannot stop that.
The real issue is that, whatever we are told about how everyone in state schools gets 3A*s at A level and squillions of A*s at GCSE’s, and however much the teaching unions bleat about how their underpaid (they are not) members perform heroics, far too many state schools are providing a substandard education to the poor kids who attend them. Those kids are taught badly and often taught meaningless piffle with a heavily slanted virtue signalling agenda and they thus have no chance of getting into Oxford.
These days, Oxford Dons are a politically correct bunch who will bend over backwards to get more State school kids in. But they can bend only so far. The sad fact is that our comprehensive school system is failing and that is why Oxford does not have more state school educated students.
And those who it does take are often not exactly the product of sink estates. Folks like Carole Cadwalladr like to boast about how they somehow made it despite having to fight their way in from the Comprehensive system. But like many of the comprehensive kids at Oxford, Carole went to a very good state school with a catchment area where parents had to be well off and middle class to live . I remember the most nauseating lefty in my college was the daughter of an old Etonian ex Labour MP who had grown up in luxury in the leafiest part of London. Natch she went to a state school with other kids from similar backgrounds and then insisted that she had somehow struggled to get to Oxford against all the odds. Just like the crazy cat lady. It was vomit inducing back then and it still is.
So forget the split between state and privately educated students at Oxford. The real divide is a class one. But it is not that Oxford discriminates against the working class it is that the State itself is failing them. Of course folks like David Lammy and the other professional baiters of Oxford will not accept that and nor will they dare to tackle their friends in the teaching unions to do anything about it.
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176 days ago
You may remember that two olive trees had to be moved to allow the hovel to be extended. One perished quickly. The other one appeared to be at death's door by the summer. Thus I applied the sort of fertilizer only a man can apply at every opportunity and as you can see below... it is a sea of green. It has made it. I am not sure if it will bear any olives next year but the fightback has begun.
On completion of this year's harvest six trees must be moved to make way for the swimming pool that daughter Olaf demands as a pre-requisite for her presence. Fingers crossed on that transplant.
Continuing the biblical theme a sinner, that is to say the unreliable carpenter, has repented. Well sort of. He was due to pitch up on Friday to install shelving. But much to my surprise his brother and a workmen made it up to the Hovel today and work is now underway. Six of the eighteen shelves have now been installed and look amazing. I have spent a happy afternoon starting to fill them with books. On that subject more to follow.
194 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
The main item on the shopping list yesterday as Joshua and I headed into Clifton was a new Jeremy Corbyn, Strong & Stable, mug for the Mrs to replace the one Joshua had smashed, in an early sign of his sound gut political instinct. That mission was accomplished. Jeremy Corbyn is already making me poorer and the Sinn Fein/IRA loving old bastard is not even in power yet.
I bought a few stocking fillers for others and a few £4 CDs for myself but the main object I sought was an Advent calendar for Joshua. It may come as a terrible shock to the snowflake generation including my Godless Islington dwelling daughter Olaf, but the word Advent is Latin and means “The coming”. And the coming we refer to is the coming of Jesus. It is a countdown to Christmas day.
And so the Mrs and I would like to start Joshua associating what happens in December with being more than just presents and lots of food. We would like him to know the story of the birth of Christ. Is that so utterly unreasonable?
When I was a boy if we did not create home made advent calendars we would be given ones by our Grandparents that related to the Christmas tale. Kings, Shepherds, Angels, a baby in a manger and all that sort of thing. Behind each window was a picture. Surely such simple calendars exist today?
I am sure they do, but not in Clifton, a swamp of godless elitist liberals, the Islington of the South West. I found a calendar with a different organic fairtrade tea behind each window. There were numerous calendars masking chocolate with images on the front designed not to offend folks of religions other than the one folks like Olaf regard it as fashionable to attack or deride. That is to say the calendars had no Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Kings, Angels or Shepherds.
Folks across this land will celebrate Advent as an excuse for an extra penis shaped chocolate every day without any idea of what the Advent really means. In the same way they will celebrate Christmas or “happy holidays” with an orgy of consumerism but with no idea of why they are celebrating at all. And any attempt to remind them of why we celebrate is laughed off as the ramblings of someone looking back to an irrational old world or an offensive gesture towards those of other faiths.
We battle on in this old fashioned household with our ways from the old world, a world that has existed for 2000 years and was alive and kicking just half a century ago but is now under attack as never before.
210 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Islington dwelling daughter Olaf seems to be in charge of securing public speakers for a posh girls school debating forum. She asked if I knew any funny and controversial speakers. I offered up friends such as James Delingpole of Breitbart and Dominic Frisby but was told that they were Alt-Right, fascists or just not acceptable. I am sure you get the picture. In this world anyone to the right of the Guardian is Alt-Right and should not be offered a platform
As it happens I have swapped a few emails with the great LGBTI and civil liberties campaigner Peter Tatchell so suggested his name. Natch he was deemed ideal so I set to work begging Tatch, offering a donation to his foundation, nudging the school to reply and in the end we have a date in the diary when the great man, who is indeed a national treasure, will explain what free speech and freedom really means to Olaf and her peers.
Having worked damn hard on this for Olaf, I asked if I could come along and Olaf said yes but….
I can attend as long as I promise not to say anything to anyone and to abide by a dress code she has set. That is to say I could wear a dress. Or a Burka. But not a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap and not my Hillary for Prison 2016 T-shirt.
You know what, I reckon young Ms Winnifrith needs to pay careful attention to what Mr Tatchell has to say on the issue of freedom and I would not want to distract her.
266 days ago
Right now I am in a luxury hotel organised by the Mrs for daughter Olaf's last night in Greece and for me to recover in after a ten hour road trip to drop Miss W off at Athens airport."Baywatch" has a great view, a lovely pool, ouzo is on tap, the internet works allowing Joshua to sit like a moron watching Thomas the Tank Engine without interruption and the Mrs is lolling happily. And there is no wildlife diversity to report. Not so back at the Greek Hovel. Let us start with the scorpion.
It seems to have got into the house before the windows were installed but the noise of workmen roused it and led it to its death as it tried to crawl on a rapidly drying polished concrete surface. It got stuck and mist have died an unpleasant death. George the Architect whose foot also appears in the picture has only fessed up to this incident a few dates later having removed the corpse when it was found.
Of course I knew there were loads of scorpions up in the area around the Greek Hovel. A bite would not be fatal but would be painful until treated, especially for Joshua. However, in the five years that I have been up here I have not seen a single scorpion. Until now. I guess I shall be “seeing them” everywhere now as I already “see” snakes everywhere. It is not that there are snakes everywhere but as I see shapes dancing in the shadows or in the gleam of a car headlight my imagination races away.
Next up was what caused the Mrs and Olaf to scream. we were driving back late at night from Kambos to the hovel. we had just come down Monastery Hill, the steep slope thick with wood on one side and with the abandoned convent on the other and must have been doing 20 kilometres an hour. just as we reached the bottom out it shot from the field on my left, bursting through a fence, and cantering up the back track into Kambos... a wild boar.
The Mrs screamed as it rocketed across our headlights, not more than a yard or so from the car. Olaf screamed. Joshua was just burbling on about steep hill, Gordon's Hill and carried on burbling. I braked and then drive hurriedly on. I think I was rather brave for not screaming, my father says I was a chicken for not putting my foot to the floor and bagging a week's worth of supper. Yeah dad, like you would have done that? Really?
The boar was not fully grown but it was large enough. a fully grown boar charging at your car as opposed to across it, would cause real damage. I muttered about this was why I should be allowed a gun. Olaf made some elitist comment about Trump supporters and morons. Anyhow that was also the first boar I have seen although I am sure I heard one crashing through the undergrowth around the hovel three years ago but it was at night and I declined to investigate.
269 days ago
The ruined Frankish castle of Zarnata sits on top of the hill overlooking Kambos and on its nearer side the village of Stavropiglio. I often sit staring up at it, in awe at the largely still standing outer wall which threads its way around the hill, when enjoying an ouzo in Miranda's or from the tables outside the Kourounis taverna run by lovely Eleni. In an attempt to inject a bit of culture to the holiday of Godless daughter Olaf, I led the family on a trek up that hill yesterday, with young Joshua on my back.
If you approach from the Stavropiglio side you are much of the way up already. But the final climb is a rough one with the steep track littered with loose stones. With my son and heir on my back, as you can see below, it was a bit of a slog. The castle is very much a ruin but the small church next door is well preserved but locked so, sadly for Olaf, we could not go inside. Heaven only knows which saint it is dedicated to, I could not make out the sign - perhaps a reader can assist?
As you can see, the views down to Kambos are spectacular. In the second panoramic shot you can just about make out the Greek Hovel if you look closely.
As we left the property and headed back to Stavropiglio I noted the prickly pear bush pictured. I did not notice that i had brushed a pear but by the time we were back at the car a cluster of tiny needles had started to press through my shirt and was causing real pain to my right arm. We drove onto Kardamili with me half wearing a shirt and half Stoupa (topless) where the Mrs bought me a replacement T-shirt before I headed out in public.
270 days ago
Okay, I am biased, but surely you would agree that my son, two in just over three week's time, is pretty good looking. Natch, it goes without saying that he takes after his mum, who sneaks into the first photo. Here he is borrowing her hat at a posh restaurant in Kardamil,i as we took time out from the Greek Hovel to allow daughter Olaf to go and breathe the same elitist air as her Islington kith and kin who tend to swamp this particular town.
270 days ago
This church is in the middle of nowhere on the long climb up from the sea at Kitries towards Stavropigio, the next village to my home one of Kambos. We drove up that road today after a day by the shore. I remember driving past this church with my father and late step mother on her last holiday before she passed away. She was clearly very ill at that point. We stopped the car and myself and Helen went inside. There was barely enough room for the two of us and the small lizard we found there.
My step mother had faith which helped her in those last awful weeks. I struggle with faith. But little demonstrations of the dedication of others such as this, what appears, pointless church, fill me with awe. As an indication of its size, godless daughter Olaf (height five foot two) can just about get through the door without stooping as you can see in the second photo.
Inside the walls are covered with icons and three frescoes as you can see below but which were of no interest to the godless child. I find them fascinating. I recognise a few of the figures and can translate most names but not all.
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.
273 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
273 days ago
At 4 AM I picked up daughter Olaf at Athens airport and by 5.30 AM we were peering down from a bridge over the Corinth canal, at the isthmus. It was light enough to see that the drop was a mile and while Olaf peered, I, suffering from vertigo, gripped the back rail and pretended to peer.
Olaf had been kept awake on the flight not by a crying baby behind her but by a crying brat behind her. I'd been driving all night and so despite one coffee stop eventually we had to pull in at the side of the road for a power nap. By 10 AM we had enjoyed breakfast in Kambos and were up at the hovel. Olaf had pretty soon occupied the one bed, closed the shutters and has been snoring ever since.
I had to wait until mid afternoon when a bed was installed in the Rat Room for my snooze. Meanwhile the workmen laboured like demons to get things finished before frightening Olaf wakes up. The windows and doors are, as I speak all in. The bubbly stuff you can see in the first photo around the top windows in the new wing holds them in. Photo two shows that when it hardens it is scraped out and replaced, as photo four, of the Bat Room door, demonstrates, with the normal mortar grout.
273 days ago
And as a bonus, daughter Olaf and the Mrs will be able to get hot water for their showers. Those of us who remember the, post rugby, freezing showers we were forced to take at Warwick School with some old master perving at us all in the pretence that he had to ensure that we went home clean for our parents, do not need hot water. By the time the stuff has arrived up at the hovel in largely metal pipes it is already a lot warmer than those Warwick showers of old.
But we now have a solar panel parked out in the snakefields which heats our water. How fecking green is that? It gets better, the humanure pits are now almost built (they are complete on three sides, with well crafted stonework, but await wooden slats at the front and a net on top to keep out the wildlife. But the first "deposit" in the pits has already been made and with daughter Olaf already having used the eco-loo we are now just three years away from the first black earth to feed my olive trees. I shall spare you a photo of the deposit but will update you when the pits are complete.
It does not end there. At the end of the project we will install PV cells elsewhere in the snakefields to ensure that we can generate all the power we need. How fecking green is that?
274 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
274 days ago
They all know that daughter Olaf will be here tomorrow morning and that she is a terribly frightening creature. Actually that is a lie but one I have spun consistently and thus the workmen are slogging away as you can see below. There is real progress.
The doors and windows man is sweating like a pig, working like a dervish, as he tries to bring his poor mother back from the dead. Windows, like this one in the room above the Rat Room are being installed at a rate of knots and he promises to have the house secured by tomorrow. The floor men are applying the penultimate polish and glaze to the Rat Room and the ground floor of the adjoining new wing while on the roof the tilers are finishing off.
Not pictured, other men are right now installing solar panels and a boiler to give us eco-friendly hot water all year round. More photos this evening as the various tasks are completed.
275 days ago
George the Architect said that the doors and windows man would arrive this afternoon to ensure that his work was complete before Thursday when daughter Olaf arrives. Mr Window swore on his mother's life. I have bad news for his mother.
Notwithstanding that we have real progress. the floors of the Rat Room and the new wing are now one glaze away from completion as you can see below. The Rat Room has a window and shutters and a door. It also has a door fitted into the new wing and into the Bat Room as you can see below - the final photo is taken from inside the Bat Room. The tiling is, as you can see, also in its final stages.
And so, assuming Mr Window arrives tomorrow as will the floors man (who is very reliable) we will certainly have two rooms ready by tomorrow night with a bed for the Rat Room arriving before Olaf on Thursday. We might even have all the windows and doors in throughout the house making the place wildlife secure. On the current schedule by early next week we will also have a ceiling in the first floor of the new wing and floorboards throughout the second floor. Sadly it is Mr Window who also does floors and ceilings and so i am not betting the ranch on it. But we are making progress.
We should also have the humanure pits completed by tomorrow night. Photos of them will follow.
279 days ago
For the past few days I have been sitting at the Greek Hovel on a large box of books as I tap away at my laptop in the Bat Room. What's wrong with that? Why can't everyone make do thus? It seems as if the Mrs and daughter Olaf have different ideas and have demanded chairs and as you can see...
Rejecting a modern urban twist on the traditional wooden chair ( at 180 Euro a pop) which the Mrs was rooting for, I opted for a more traditional design at half the price. Hand made in Kalamata by the same fellows who are making a bed for Olaf - to arrive on the day my daughter lands in Greece - I am more than happy.
There should have been six chairs but it appears that one of those packed speedily away into the car of George the Architect, my shopping guide, has a defect. I told George we should beware Greeks bearing gifts which, I think, went over his head. He is returning the chair - as he knows the fellows at the factory - to get a replacement. Anyhow I now sit in more comfort as I work, the chairs pro tem rest on the veranda outside the Bat Room which will - next month - be covered in terracotta tiles.
282 days ago
Like a true imbecile I left the cable i use to connect my camera to my PC back in England so I head back from Kambos into Kalamata in a few minutes to buy a replacement. For I have spent a wonderful hour up at the hovel with George the Architect and it looks magnificent. That is not to say that it actually has any doors and windows bar those in the Bat Room where I shall sleep tonight but...
The good news is that they are almost ready. Tomorrow is a bank holiday here, allowing hard working Greeks to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary by eating and drinking in excess. On Thursday or Friday the doors, windows and floorboards arrive at the hovel and will be installed. They are almost ready...here they are at the factory earlier this week being treated and painted.
Fear not daughter Olaf and the Mrs by the time you get here the eco palace, formerly known as the Greek Hovel, will be fully habitable. Okay, no cooker and just one bed and a few other things missing but habitable and secure. George says he is proud of his work and so he should be, the place looks magnificent.
282 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I started today at 4.30 AM GMT in Bristol. I did not have the rub of the green with logistics in Athens and thus I did not arrive at my posh Kalamata hotel until 6 PM GMT, 8 PM local time. I have checked my emails , enjoyed a Greek salad and am just about to order an ouzo. But the really good news comes from George the Architect…the Bat Room at the Greek Hovel is wildlife diversity secure, the power and water is still working and so tomorrow I move in….
Of course, three years ago, I used to stay at the hovel in the one room which was then, at least partially, wildlife diversity secured. But it was only partially secure and as I lay there at night I could hear rats running outside the window and I found sleep almost impossible as I pondered what else might be trying to get inside.
George did not relay progress on doors and windows elsewhere at the hovel which is rather important to the Mrs and daughter Olaf who will arrive, with Joshua, over the coming week. All will become clear as I head up to Kambos and the hovel at just after noon.
The Bat Room may indeed be secure but, unlike here in Central Kalamata, all will be quiet outside apart from the screeches, rustling, squawks and other noises of the wildlife diversity community. It will take me a while to adjust to that and I admit that I feel rather nervous. But I have booked only one night at my hotel. The die is cast after four years of hard work it is time to move in. Fingers crossed.
308 days ago
Okay my labouring in the snake fields is not a fraction as hard as the work the chaps rebuilding the Greek Hovel do but they are used to it and I am not so I reckon our suffering is equal. And here is how we keep going.
When I first arrived at the Greek Hovel there was a fridge but rats were using it as a nest and had chewed all the cables. And so I invested in a small replacement which might not pass a Bristol City Council food hygiene test but works. It is now perched on top of a heap of junk at the top of the main steps next to the gap that is my front door. And inside are bottles and bottles of freezing water.
We do have water at the hovel but having been transported up the mountains in metal pipes it is a perfect temperature for my er ...ahem ...shower. So the fridge is a life saver...
Fear not Olaf, when the works are finished we will be upgrading...just for you (and the Mrs)
310 days ago
Fear not daughter Olaf, I have now laid down the snake repellent at the Greek Hovel. Two canisters, as you can see below, 10 yards away from opposite corners of the house now emit a smell which snakes are meant to regard as foul and so will keep the hovel, if not the snake-fields, free from serpents for three months until Autumn hibernation. Well in theory.
Snakes, have in the past, ignored the foul smell and approached the hovel anyway. But in theory they are already slithering away. Fingers crossed. I was wading through longer grass today as I pruned my beloved olive trees. I trod heavily, as one does, but had no encounters at all with the wildlife diversity community.
I should note, without sounding too conceited, that there was relatively little pruning to do. Whover did the pruning in May did a very thorough job and should be very proud of himself.
314 days ago
Once before I arrived at the Greek Hovel to find workmen proudly admiring a construction made of brand new shiny bricks. Much to their pleasure I had it torn down, an extra days work for them. I rather assumed that the message had got through. You can imagine my horror when arriving at the hovel yesterday to find piles of shiny new bricks in the new wing and the rat room. Cripes!
George the Architect is not around, for family reasons, but his business partner Sofia and a young trainee who acts as translator soon arrived and a heated discussion with a gaggle of workmen ensued. It is the way of the Greek language that a discussion on the most trivial matters becomes so animated that it appears as if all parties are trying to solve some major international crisis. I stood my ground.
In the rat room, the walls are the old ones and are, frankly, not that beautiful. So they will be plastered with a smooth white finish. As such I showed that I can compromise and accepted that in that room, a narrow room, bricks can be used to house the eco-loo and then plastered. They will fit in.
But in the new wing the stonework is magnificent. A brick and plaster enclosure for the eco-loo and shower would simply be wrong. One of the workmen who spoke reasonable English agreed with me and it was agreed that stones would be used. There was a rear-guard action in some quarters. Do I not realise that this will make the bathroom that bit narrower as the walls will be thicker. We worked out the maths and it was agreed that my net loss would be 24 centimetres. I do not see that as a problem. Eventually folks conceded.
Sofia, the trainee and I wandered around the house ironing out numerous other little points as we waited for the doors and windows man to arrive. He, I gather, is also the man who will build the floors/ceilings in the new wing and above the rat room. Eventually a rather large and unshaven chain smoking individual toddled up. Now for the bad news.
The roof, which was meant to have gone on three weeks ago will start to be erected early next week and will be finished by the end of July. But the windows, doors and floors? Er.. September said the man. What the fuck? I was wielding my olive pruning axe and started waving it angrily, as would a Greek, to show that I was cross. I had made it quite clear to George that in late August the Mrs, Joshua and Olaf arrive for a holiday and that while I had no problem with a lack of windows and doors the women of the household would do. The man said he would do his best and started measuring up the windows and doors. FFS why did he not do this weeks ago?
It has been agreed that at least some windows and doors will be installed by the time the Mrs arrives with an aim of getting everything done. Pro tem, at least the bat room has a door, a window, a shower and an eco-loo. It might be cramped but we could all stay in that one room but surely we could at least get the rat room made wildlife diversity proof? Amid talk of how ferocious Olaf can be (what do they know about my charming daughter?) it has been agreed that they will work all hours to hit our targets.
I needed to calm down as the all parties meetings continued, without the windows man who was measuring away. So though in shorts and sneakers, not the jeans and sturdy boots one should wear in the snake fields, I headed off to prune my beloved olive trees. Now and then I was called back to settle another minor point. In the end I gave up as pruning, especially when you are being extra careful as to where you tread, requires concentration and some semblance of tranquility.
Notwithstanding my concerns about snakes and other members of the wildlife diversity community I cannot stress how much I feel at home working in the fields. I accept that I am perhaps not the most efficient of workers and it is also very possible that I may not be the greatest of olive tree pruners or harvesters but as I work, amid the almost deafening but soothing noise of cicadas, there is a real sense being at peace. One can forget about work back home, indeed it helps you to realise that it really is not that important or, at many levels, enjoyable. The frustrations I feel almost every day as I stare at my computer just disappear.
The view, BTW, is of the new wing ground floor looking away from the mountains.
320 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!
328 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
341 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Not even mentioning Father’s Day, which she will no doubt forget tomorrow, my Islington based daughter Olaf honoured us with a visit to the boonies and Bristol yesterday. She was checking out the University in an open day and has decided that if things don’t go the right way at a proper seat of learning on the M40 she will, like all the other Oxbridge rejects, come here. Having checked out the University and come away really impressed she met up with myself, the Mrs and Joshua for lunch.
I walked to Clifton wheeling Joshua and heading via Go Outdoor to buy some more walking socks. It is all part of my training for July 28. The last half mile is all uphill and pushing an increasingly large Joshua I arrived a few minutes late and sweating. Olaf gave me a Paddington Stare. Quite by chance I was wearing my “Hillary for Prison 2016” T-shirt. Olaf blathers on about glass ceilings and how Donald Trump is the spawn of Satan in a way that you would expect from someone who lives in an area where everyone is an asset multimillionaire and reads the Guardian.
So what if Trump is bringing peace to Korea and record job numbers to America’s poor and working classes, he does not want Transgenders in the military and so is a bad man. I get it.
On the way I had asked directions from a Bristol Student, wearing a University T-shirt and helping out on the open day. He had commented on my T-shirt. He assumed (correctly, but that is not the point) that I was a Trump supporter but I responded that millions of lifelong Democrats did not vote for Crooked Hillary because she was a terrible candidate. The student countered that Hillary Clinton had been cleared of all charges which is, of course, not true. That was Fake News from a liberal – he should go to work for the BBC. I rattled off a list of things she is clearly guilty of including bleaching emails, pay to play and using charity money to fund her daughter’s $3 million wedding. The student said “that is your opinion”. I said, “no those are facts and that is why she should be in prison.”
I should have pointed out that his inability to appreciate fact from opinion is why he is at an Oxford Reject university whereas I did go to Oxford. But I did not. Olaf and the Mrs think that it is a bad line to use on Oxbridge rejects as it might hurt their feelings. No – suck it up buttercups you are just not top drawer, get over it!
Olaf and I discussed how useless Mrs May was and why she should go. But who would replace her my daughter enquired? “Priti Patel of course! said I. I never waiver on that point. Priti is a real instinctive Thatcherite, it is in her DNA. She is the chosen one. Olaf was not so sure. She said she wanted Mayor Khan to be PM.
FFS. I have written that it is not his fault that everyone in London is going round stabbing everyone else. But his weedy response on the stabbing epidemic which seems to involve increase the rate at which he demands the useless Met arrest Katie Hopkins for hate crimes, and then the way he splashes cash on and backs causes which are either dangerous and evil or just plain virtue signalling nonsense is just laughable. On the former matter there is the way he allows the Jew Haters to march on Al Quds day, frankly condoning their hatred and certainly not condemning it. On the latter, Khan and his £90,000 a year cycling Tsar have moved on from branding cycling racist and sexist. His big thing this week was campaigning to make Wikepedia more gender balanced. I kid you not. He wants more women profiled and more women taking part.
Is that really a priority for Londoners? Well maybe up in the leafier parts of Islington where there are no stabbings it is seen as a vital issue. It is the sort of thing the Dems campaigned on in 2016 not caring about matters like jobs for folks in the rust belt or poverty in the farm states. And they wonder why Trump swept the flyovers?
There are surely very few people who still think Sadiq Khan is up to the job as Mayor of London, I rather suspect that Olaf is the only person in the whole country who thinks he should be PM. I know it is hard to think of someone who would be more useless than Theresa May but Mayor Khan might just be the one.
360 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
On Friday, the Irish voted to legalize abortion at up to 12 weeks. It is now Sunday and the BBC - my only English language TV here in Greece - is still covering this story with a manic obsession. "What a modern nation Ireland has become: a gay PM, abortion on demand, the Church in tatters, cue picture of joyous crowds." Okay, it does not mention its joy at the collapse of the Irish church but it makes its views clear with pictures of nuns scuttling away from polling stations looking miserable.
Meanwhile back in the UK the same folks who reckon that the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit did not really understand the issue and should have left it to the politicians and experts, cheer on the result. What a great thing this referendum was, prattle Owen Jones and the rest of the metropolitan elite. More hypocrisy for tea Gina Miller?
The campaign wsas deceitful. Those who supported abortion talked again and again of sad cases where women were carrying a foetus that would not survive birth or one created as a result of rape or incest. It is hard not to accept that such women should have a right to a termination.
Occasionally some campaigners strayed off line and mentioned a foetus that we knew would be handicapped or have Down's Syndrome. Surely they argued a woman carrying such a foetus has a right to an abortion. Really? Are they saying that the life of someone with a handicap or with Downs' is worth less than the life of a healthy human? The Nazis took a similar line. I challenge anyone holding that view to walk with me to Woodlarks on July 28 and to tell the campers there that their life is worth less than yours or mine, that they have fewer rights, including the right to life, than you or I.
The reality is that the vast majority of the 3,000 Irish women travelling to the UK for abortions each year and the many more who will now have abortions in Eire will be killing healthy babies created as a result of consensual sex. By using extreme cases the YES campaign have persuaded Ireland that it will allow thousands of such babies to be murdered every year.
Abortion in Ireland will like abortion in England , it will now be just another form of birth control, largely for those who could not be bothered to use other forms. Yes a woman should have a right to control her body but that right does not trump the right to life of another living being. The reality that those crowds of young folk and feminists celebrating in Dublin this weekend choose to ignore, is that they are celebrating the right to murder a living being because it is an inconvenience, it would change the lifestyle of the mother.
The law in Ireland was inhumane in that it denied abortions where there was a compelling moral case, for instance where the baby could not survive. I, or rather an ex-wife, have been in that position. I feel that our conscience is clear. But the laws that will now be introduced are nothing other than the legalisation of murder. I suppose we are meant to regard this as progress. My uber liberal daughter Olaf will call me a dinosaur but I do not see this as progress in any way shape or form. And Olaf, I do have a right to a view even though I am a man. Half those babies who will now be legally murdered would have been male. All would have been humans.
This article first appeared in my weekly Tomograph Newsletter. To have that mailed to you at no charge register HERE
362 days ago
As you may have gathered, both the Mrs and daughter Olaf have suggested that lavatories are a bit of an issue at the Greek Hovel. Both are unconvinced about my solution of eco-loos. Well girls, prepare to be shocked. The first eco-loo, made by the same chap who crafts the doors and the Bat Room Bed which has also arrived, has landed as you can see below.
The bed raised a bit of an issue. The slats are of the wrong wood so are being sent back. The eco-loo will be up and running shortly but will only be "christened" in July when the humanure pit has been created at what is becoming the eco-palace.
In case you are worried about smells. There are three points to make. First - put the lid down. Second there is an extractor fan thingy in the loo closet and, thirdly, in the closet there will be a bucket of fresh sawdust and after using the eco loo you are mewant to throw in a handful or two. That soaks up liquid, negates smells and also is part of the decomposition process in the pit which after a couple of years will be yielding rich "black earth" which will be used to boost the yield on the olive trees.
I am sorry to be so graphic but these things need explaining to folk like Olaf.
368 days ago
Daughter Olaf has agreed to join me at the Greek Hovel in late August but only after making detailed enquiries about sanitation. As you can seem the bat room now has a ceiling, a door to keep out the snakes and a shower! What more could a young Lady want? I shall be in The Mani by next weekend so more photos soon.
374 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
And so as summer looms daughter Olaf is preparing for an exchange with a Spanish student to help her with A level Spanish, not that she needs it. And so her teacher reads out a few details... this will not be a problem unless you are a militant atheist.Er...
It turns out that the exchange student is a devout Catholic and thus while in England godless Olaf will have to go to Church with her new pal at least once a week. Three church services in a month will be about the same as the godless Islingtonite normally manages in a decade. I cite this as evidence that God has a sense of humour. Olaf says "humph" and is not convinced.
Does this mean that I cannot introduce her to xxxxx xxxxx, a pal of her mother's who is camper than a row of tents asks Olaf. Of course you can say I, just make sure that you know the Spanish for "This is xxxx and his soul will burn in the fires of hell."
As you say at Christmas, dear Godless Olaf: "happy holidays."
382 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
390 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I could not sleep this morning as I pondered me and drink. My prompt was the ramblings of a pal who was, I fear, drunk in charge of a keyboard. In days gone by I too was a heavy drinker.
In the years before I met Big Nose, the mother of my daughter Olaf, I was all too easily seduced by the culture of Fleet Street. Lunch with PR Man John Reynolds was a ritual in those days on the Evening Standard. 4 bottles. 5 bottles between two .. one lost count after a while. But it was not just JR, there were temptations everywhere.
Big Nose was a health freak and to get into her good books I sobered up big time and also quit smoking. But after she ran off with her graduate trainee things slipped and for a good number of years I drank far too much once again. It is one of the main reasons why I have type 2 diabetes. It is utterly self inflicted.
But for a good few years now my consumption has been really very modest indeed. I may joke about having ouzo for breakfast but the reality is that I drink very little. There is an occasional blow-out, maybe twice a year. If I am forced to go to a social occasion with my wife's friends I drink a few glasses to dull the pain of public sector workers bleating on about how they are exploited and work far too hard for too little money as opposed to we wicked capitalists. But the Mrs wisely allows me to skip such gatherings these days. And so I might have an occasional glass of wine over supper with the Mrs. that really is it.
I reckon that in the bad old days on Fleet Street i could very easily have been throwing 80 units a week down my throat. These days I suspect I average less than four. I just don't like losing control and even a few glasses of win sees me feeling rotten for at least a day. Heck I am fifty, there are not so many days left on this planet that I can afford to go wasting that many lying in bed "sleeping it off."
And I look back on some of the daft things I did, said or wrote when completely hammered. Well the truth is that I can't remember a lot of it.
The worst part of being a drunk is the blackouts. You wake up in the morning and slowly recollect what you did the night before. Or part of it. You fear what you might have said, done or emailed. Thankfully much of my heaviest drinking was in the pre-email era. Part of you knows what you might have done but you can't quite recollect the full detail and pretend it was not that bad. As the hangover eases you get the odd recollection. But if you dare to make enquiries only then do you discover the full horror.
Part of the problem of being a drunk is that folks just make allowances and so you just get away with it. Heavy drinking is part of our culture. Certainly in my profession it always used to be. I am pretty sure those days are gone now and most journalists like everyone else imbibe only mineral water at lunchtime. Maybe that is for the good.
For me I am not sure what changed me. It is partly physical in that my body really can't handle booze as it once could. And in a similar vein I do take my diabetes relatively seriously. Taking my pills and drinking very little goes a long way to keeping things in check. But it is also in my mind. I enjoy being in control of myself and waking up in the morning with a clear head is a real joy. So it is an active decision not to drink as I once did.
The only downside of being sober is that you get to see those who are still drunk in action and when the initial smugness evaporates you realise "heck: that was me - what an arsehole."
Having said all of that the Mrs has invited two of her lefty Swedish sociologist pals over for lunch today....
411 days ago
This was not intentional but I just happened to be walking by and I thought the two photos below would annoy the Mrs, Godless liberal daughter Olaf and others so here goes.
The first is of the Trump Building on Wall Street. The second is of Trump Tower itself in midtown. All hail to the chief!
430 days ago
My mother used to bake all of our bread back in those hippy dippy days of self sufficiency in Byfield in the 1970s. As a diabetic it is not perhaps top of the skill set I seek to acquire as I consider my own future after the world of shares but none the less the Little Kitchen is a small local cooking school about 500 yards from where I live and I was delighted when daughter Olaf said she had enrolled me on a course there as a birthday present. I headed off through the snow yesterday to join four other souls who had braved the weather and our teachers.
Obviously this is Bristol so the men had hipster beards and I thought it wise to keep some of my views to myself. I was not wearing my Hillary for Prison T-shirt, on purpose. The very nice chap next to me was a vegan. You get my drift. Anyhow we learned how to make and each made a herb fougasse, a white three seeded bloomer and cinnamon buns. Other than the second photo which shows the efforts of our teacher, all that follows is my own handywork. The three seeded bloomer is something that I am especially proud of.
452 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
My father has been watching the rugby like a hawk. Here in Greece I have been unable to watch but have kept in touch via the internet and calling my father after each game. Now this may not go down well with England supporters but in an Irish supporting family it was a perfect team as both our favourite teams won.
The "Old Country" defeated Wales. That has been a bad fixture for us for a while and in recent years my father and I have found ourselves exchanging the comment "at least that will make Olaf happy" after the final whistle. My daughter has a Welsh speaking mother, Big Nose, and is a strong nationalist. But this year we had no need for that consoling thought.
Incidentally I loved this tweet from BBC Sport
Get Involved - There seems to be glowing sunshine in every part of the United Kingdom today, apart from Dublin. So where are you watching from? Send me your pictures on #bbcsixnations
You don't need to be a lifelong supporter of Irish Republicanism to see the flaw in that tweet but perhaps some basic history lessons might be helpful at the State funded fake news channel.
As for the other team whose victory we cheer? Our second team is, of course, anyone playing the Old Enemy. So there were cheers in both Shipston and Kalamata as Scotland put England to the sword. The win is all the more pleasant becuase of the pre-match swagger and arraogance olf the England team, manager and supporters. Pride, as they say,...
Next up for the men in Green it is Scotland in Dublin. Win that and the championship is almost in sight...
469 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
519 days ago
16 year old daughter Olaf believes in Santa Claus as the patron saint of consumerism but like the rest of the metropolitan elite thinks that those of us who think Christmas has anything to do with Jesus are clinging to the "old ways" and are fair game for year round ridicule.
But fair dos to the godless creature she has sent us a bauble for the tree.Natch it has nothing to do with Christ the Lord but..Instead it reminds us that, under her mother's influence, she has become a bit of a die-hard cottage burner. Whereas young Joshua is already wearing Ireland pyjamas Olaf is Welsh and proud of it. The message on the bauble means Merry Christmas in the language of the subsidy junkies to the West of Offa's Dyke.
Meanwhile Joshua has learned two new words: tree and bauble and is very happy taking down the latter and scuttling off to hide them.
620 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I see that my Oxford Contemporary Jacob Rees Mogg is under intense fire from the liberal left, notably for his views on homosexuality, abortion and because he has never changed a nappie. A woman who once campaigned to lower the age of consent to 14, that is to say the niece of Lord Longford, woman of the people Harriet Harman reckons the nappie offence makes Jacob a deadbeat dad.
Jacob's views on the gays and abortion are driven by his Catholic beliefs. On abortion he believes, as does the Pope, that life begins at conception and all who have life have rights. So even if a woman is a victim of rape no abortion is permissable as the murder of one soul is never justified whatever the evil inflicted on another. It is a logical position. It is far more logical than those who say that some foetuses have a right to life while others of the same age do not.
Jacob is logical but, in my view inhumane. He would regard me as a murderer. Before my daughter Olaf was born weighing 1lb 4 oz at 26 weeks, 16 years ago my then wife was pregnant with what would been our son. Sadly we were told that he had stopped growing and was alive but would never be viable. Jacob would argue in his logical way that we should have gone to term or whenever, say 34 weeks, and given birth to a dead baby. Instead we opted to put a neede in it and my wife suffered a dead birth at 26 weeks.
I know that that loss still haunts her and me. I know when our son's "birthday" is and each July 16 I think of that awful day in UCL. But I do not regret curtailing both the suffering of my ex wife Big Nose or of our son. Jacob views what we did as murder. But I understand his logical approach to abortion as I understand his logical belief based position on homosexuality. I note that he says he would not try to change the laws to ban either which I regard as a positive since I disagree with him on both counts.
There are howls from the left that Jacob's views make him unsuitable to hold high office. I can think of other reasons for that but find it rather pleasant to see a man stand by his principles as opposed to, say, Tim Farron who caved into a liberal media wolf pack, sacrificing principles for electoral gain. Or not in the case of Mr Farron. Perhaps rather than just a small number of very rich metropolitan elitists deciding whether Rees Mogg should be elected to high office why not let the people, the electorate, decide if his principles disqualify him. Or is the idea of democracy one that the liberal elitists find just too terrifying after the Brexit vote?
Ms Harman's objection to poor Jacob was driven by her innate belief that folks like her know how other people should live their lives, that Nanny State and its operatives can intrude into the family unit. Mr Rees Mogg seems to have an agreement with his good Mrs that she bears the kids and - with a nanny - looks after them. Mr Rees Mogg does his bit by inheriting vast amounts of cash and making a good whack himself.
In the Harman household, Harriet had the carreer in politics while her hubbie had to wait until the great feminist got him a seat which had previously been reserved for a women only short list. Mr Harman, aka Jack Dromey, presumably changed lots of nappies in the early years but in later life kept himself busy favouriting gay porn tweets. Jacob would not lecture the Harmans on how to make their marriage work or how to live as man and wife becuase he accepts that is decision for individuals not the nanny state.
There are many deadbeat dads in Britain. Those who fail to provide for their offspring leaving it to the welfare state and who, in many cases, provide no male role model cause real problems for society in a way that - as a father - Mr Rees Mogg clearly does not. Surely even Ms Harman recognises that?
636 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
My daughter Olaf remains in the doghouse for showing a lack of respect for her old dad when , for the second year on the trot, she messed me around with summer holiday plans. The upshot is that I have not seen her since Joshua's Christening in late June and until she can learn that one should do what you say I am not particularly minded to change that. Notwithstanding all of that I was naturally keen to hear how she had fared in her GCSE's.
Yes I know that I have written about how grade inflation has made a mockery of Britain's exam system and I stand by that. But given how thick most millennials are GCSE's are still a hurdle for many.
Olaf is a bit like my sister T who used to emerge from every exam saying how badly it had gone. The rest of the family exchanged knowing looks and, sure as eggs are eggs, on results day T came top of the year in everything. And so Olaf had braced us all for bad news. And you wonder why her mother has a big nose...
10 A* and an A in drama. Olaf is appealing that as she thinks there has been a mistake. I hope they put her down to a B to teach her a lesson. No, I don't really. But she was awfully smug about her results. And she has every right to be.
692 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
16 years ago it was a terrible day. A 26 week pregnant wife - Big Nose, a rushed Ceasarian, a tiny little creature weighing 1 lb 4 oz emerging and being stuck in a fish tank in intensive care at UCH at once. She stayed there for three months. Who would have thought she'd be sixteen today, eating cake in bed and opening presents and phoning her old dad afterwards?
Naturally she disagrees with my views on abortion even as they relate to 26 week old foetuses. Why, she asks, should a woman not have the right to terminate at any time if the father was a rapist? Dear daughter: the sins of the father should not be vested on what is a viable life form whether that life form be 26 weeks old or 16 years old. You, of all people, should know that.
If a life is viable it should not be terminated. The right to life surely trumps all other "rights". Moving away from the "rights based" world in which millennials live, let us talk of the obligations we all have to our fellow man. Do you not think we have a duty to stop murder? And is not killing a viable entity murder?
We will not agree on this. Nor will we agree on Donald Trump or many other issues where my proudly Godless daughter Olaf is mainstream Islington. She knows that i am not and, indeed, teases me that I think too often about things like God and Christian beliefs and other relics of an old world that, she argues, is no longer relevant. But we can at least debate. And so today we discussed Gladstone, slavery and Hawarden and the holocaust and a wish we both have to visit Auschwitz and the rise of anti-semitism in Europe today. She is pretty sound on that matter although yet to come to support the only democracy in the Middle East. She knows her history in a way that so many young folks do not and that gives her a sense of where she has come from and what it means to be half Welsh and less than half English with some Irish chucked in, a true Brit.
That she cares passionately about certain issues is laudable. In the end she will accept we can do little to change anything on this earth, and like her old man, find herself thinking about other matters. But for now I celebrate her idealism even if she gets it very wrong now and again, having not thought through things in a logical matter. That is obviously the fault of her mother Big Nose. Despite that it is always a pleasure talking to her, my sadness is that I have not spent more time with her as she has grown up. That this is not entirely my fault is no consolation.
694 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Tomorrow my daughter Olaf turns 16. I still cannot quote believe that "the miracle baby" has reached this landmark. I call her a miracle because she really should not have lived. 16 years ago her mother's preeclampsia got so bad that the doctors told us that Olaf was not growing so we had to extract her or face her certain death. Olaf emerged aged 26 weeks weighing 1lb and 4 oz. It was eight weeks before the doctors talked about when she would come home, not if. Folks around the country prayed for the miracle baby and she made it.
It was because of babies such as Olaf that the limit for abortions had been reduced from 28 weeks to 24 weeks. It was agreed that it was monstrous to fight to save 26 week Olaf in one room while killing a 26 week foetus down the corridor The fact that Olaf was viable at 26 weeks meant so was that foetus so abortion had become murder.
These days babies have survived at as little as 22 weeks. And so surely it would be reasonable to reduce the abortion limit from 24 to 22 weeks? Where is David Alton when you need him? But the Trades Union for the greedy doctors, the BMA has other ideas and has set out new demands at its annual conference.
The motion passed was dressed in the language of women's rights and called for the abortion limit to be increased to 28 weeks. At least that is a moderate proposal than that of the Royal College of Midwives which signed up to a campaign to decriminalise terminations all the way up to birth. RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick stated that “abortion is part of the role of the midwife”.
Polls show that most women are happy to sacrifice this "right". A 2017 ComRes survey showed only 1% wanted the limit increased from 24 weeks and indeed only 1% wanted abortion up to birth. 70% of women want the limit reduced.
Not only is an abortion of a foetus which is old enough to survive, clearly murder but that act also raises questions about whether the NHS should spend vast sums fighting for babies such as Olaf at 26 weeks. Surely the money spent on Olaf's birth and excellent care at UCH could have saved three or four other lives if redeployed? Well maybe it could. And if it is okay to murder a 26 week old foetus how soon before the "death panel", to use Sarah Palin's great phrase decides that fighting to save 26 week or 23 week foetus's is not a priority?
Just a smidgeon over half the foetus's that are saved at 22 weeks up to 28 weeks are women, albeit little women. The same is true of the foetuses that are murdered at 24 weeks when they could survive. These women have rights too.
Our society is driven by demands for "rights" for various groups of selfish adults. We are told there is: a right for the state to pay for remedying privately bought boob jobs for the vain which have gone wrong, a right for hugely expensive sex change therapy and a right to force the taxpayer to pay for pills allowing gays to have casual with reduced risk of resultant HIV infection (but a massive consequent increase in the spread of other STDs which the taxpayer has to pay to treat).
Anyone who argues against the "rights" of a minority to get whatever they want paid for by the money tree uis a bigot even if the case they makes is a logical one. But there is surely a greater right? That is the right of a viable entity not to be murdered.A right to life. So caught up in this PC madness are the greedy Shipmans and the nurses that they simply cannot see that.
For my daughter's first birthday I baked her a *Porter fruit cake. I had not tried the recipe until last weekend when I baked another and at Joshua's christening, in a brief interlude, we sang Happy Birthday to Olaf and she blew out the candles. The miracle baby is 16. She had a right to life and she has made such a wonderful use of it. She makes me proud every day and she is living proof of the evil that marches among us that has taken hold of the BMA, the destruction of values that really matter in a world where selfish demands are confused with human rights.
*A Darina Allen recioe where instead of milk you use Guinness or another black beer - trust me it is amazing!
695 days ago
There seems some scepticism from, inter alia, daughter Olaf, that any progress at all is being made in turning the Greek Hovel, our 100 year old farmhouse, into a habitable palace. Ye of little faith! Let me show you three photos.
The first is the view from the only room which has been inhabited in modern times. that is to say it is where I have stayed. The ghastly modern metals windows and plastic shutters have been removed. This view is across the valley to the other side where the deserted convent and not a lot else is situated.
Photo two is from some old stonework from the 1950s when the Hovel was rebuild after being torched by the commies in the Greek Civil War. as you can see it is rudimentary.
The third photo is of a window on the front of the house as you approach it. Beneath that window there used to be concrete breeze blocks put there in the 1980s by former owner vile Athena. As you can see they have been removed and replaced by old stone which has been crafted in a far more attractive way than the work from the fifties...real old style.
The workmen are now working their way around the hovel removing ugly concrete plastering from the fifties and later and re-pointing old stone work so that it all looks like our newer work, that is to say as it would have done a hundred years ago. See Olaf, that is real progress.
700 days ago
It has been troubling me deeply that in the plans for the Greek Hovel, the room known as the bat room will not be connected to any other part of the house. Since this bedroom will be for daughter Olaf, who will be 16 in exactly one week's time, I worry what happens if she gets scared by a noise at night or sees a snake? Heading out through her front door into the dark is hardly practicable. So I have changed the plans.
As you can see, from this picture taken in the rat room, a hole has been knocked between the bat room and the rat room which will be connected via the big new extension to the rest of the house. George the architect was worried that the wooden door, which we will install, might not be very high but I assured him that it would only be used in emergency and that Olaf is not very tall anyway.
But she is sixteen said George whose own daughters are not yet one years old. I nodded. "Pretty soon she will be bringing a boyfriend here and so you won't have to worry". He laughed. George, my friend, you will not treat these matters with such levity in a decade and a half's time. I was not laughing and explained what lay ahead to him. Some subjects are better not discussed or even contemplated.
738 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I have been updating you on progress on what was known as the bat room but is now know as Olaf's bedroom at the Greek Hovel. The initial task was to dig out the earth and rock floor so that there was 7 foot of headroom rather than 5-6 foot in what was once where the animals lived. I should say that my almost 16 year old Islington dwelling daughter did not respond with great excitement to the first photos HERE. Fear not Olaf, things are looking better.
For starters we have installed a light in the room so you can see where the bats are. I am such a loving and supportive father. But as you can see the digging is almost complete. In deed in the second photo, showing a bit of belly which is all my mother -in-law's fault, you can see that I can raise my arms and still not touch the ceiling. There is a clear seven foot gap.
What more could a girl want? Olaf, your bedroom is ready. Only kidding. we need to install windows, a door that keeps out the wildlife diversity, a polished concrete floor, re-do the walls so they are WD proof, plaster the ceiling,m install a shower and an eco-loo and so much more. But it is a start is not Olaf?
741 days ago
My almost sixteen year old daughter Olaf has so far declined to visit the Greek Hovel. It was something about the homemade eco-loo. Or was it the hosepipe that is my shower. Or perhaps it was the snakes, rats or scorpions. Honestly, kids today. No gumption at all. But Olaf will be delighted to see how much progress has been made on what will be her bedroom when she stays, what is currently known as the bat room.
This is the room underneath, what is currently the only habitable room. Its light is broken and its one shattered window and door with holes in it have allowed various members of the wildlife diversity community easy access. My guess is that in days gone by it was where the sheep or goats sheltered for there is no evidence of it having had a fireplace.
About half the floor was dirt covered and beneath that a mixture of rocks and soil. But on the far side of the room a giant rock bubbles out of the surface. On that far side the gap between rock and ceiling is only about five foot.
And so the plan is to dig out the soil and hack out the rock so that, without damaging the foundations, we create a gap of seven a half feet. Buy the time we have laid a floor, which will be polished concrete so giving a marble like appearance, there should still be seven foot of headroom. As Olaf is not that much over five foot that will be fine. Indeed it should fit more or less anyone.
One of the stones recovered has been set aside by the workmen. I can see why. It looks as if it has been hewn by man. I am not sure what it is but it merits further investigation I think, don't you?
As you can see we have extracted large numbers of big stones which will be used when we rebuild and extend the Hovel.
And there is also a vast amount of red earth which, pro tem, is parked on the other side of the wall.
The workmen are now on their fifth day and this job is almost finished as you can see. Next up...tree removal.
749 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Of course these two good folks have a lot in common. They are both part of the metropolitan elite who think that the real downside of Brexit is that there might be a shortage of folks to serve them organic semi-skinned macchiatos at £6 a pop in ponsey London cafes. They both know who I am and say that I swear too much in podcasts. But they have a deeper bond. And it is once that marks them out as total freaks. Today is May 4th. you know the 4th of May. May the 4th be with you! Still Paul Scott does not get it, nor will Olaf who I am seeing later. Today is Star Wars Day.
I have seen every Star Wars film. Some ( such as 1 which is in fact IV) I have seen dozens of times. I can recite lines. I am sorely tempted to put my religion as Jedi on the Census. I have Star Wars T-shirts either bought or gifted to me by a wife who understands that she is next best thing to Princess Leia Organa. Sorry but no woman can compete with the Princess. I am a 100% out and proud Star Wars geek.
But surely everyone has seen at least 1 Star Wars film? You have to be very odd not to know who Darth Vader is or that he is Luke Sykwalker's Dad? And also Leia's father. Well some folk are just not normal. Both Paul Scott and Olaf proudly boast that they have never watched a single Star Wars film. Freaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaks!
798 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
I like to boast that I spend fewer than five day a year in London so much do I loathe the place. But as, bad, luck would have it I am drawn to the capital today on personal business. And thus when my soon to be 16 year old daughter, known as Olaf, called to ask if I was free to attend her parents evening - which happens to be tonight - I was able to say yes.
Olaf's mother, Big Nose, is ,it seems, away on business and thus someone else has to go along to be told how clever and charming our daughter - who has just won a 6th form scholarship, is. With her father's brains and her father's charm clearly dominating the genes of Big Nose, how could there possibly be any other outcome? And for the avoidance of doubt Olaf does not have a Big Nose either.
This will be my first parents evening for 13 years and I am sure it will be fun. But then the calls came in. you will be clean and smart won't you? You will have a bath? FFS this is ridiculous. I realise that all the other Daddies at this posh Girls school in North London (Big Nose pays the fees) are investment bankers and City lawyers who are - like Romans of old - washed down thrice daily in lavendar water by East European slaves, or EU migrant workers as they are called today. I cannot compete with that.
But I was able to reassure a panicked daughter late last night: I have shaved ( now twice in 18 hours), showered ( twice in 12 hours) had my hair cut, bought new black jeans and am wearing a new FabIndia shirt and a coat that is just a few months old. I will polish my boots and buy new smart laces when I arrive at Paddington shortly. Okay I won't look like an investment banker but this is as smart as I get.
And just for Olaf's sake I will try my hardest not to offend liberal elitist sensibilities in Hampstead later with any wisecracks about what a good fellow Donald Trump is, the joys of Brexit or how great it is that folks like Mrs May and Madame Le Pen are breaking glass ceilings everywhere these days.
802 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
My father was bracing himself all day and watched the rugby to the bitter end. Today he will be with the rest of Shipston's small Irish community in the Horseshoe drowning their sorrows and wishing Scotland the best of luck against the Old Enemy. I could not watch after half time such was my sense of foreboding and - to the delight of the Mrs - switched to watch a Miss Marple I had seen many times before. The Alzheimer's is still at bay, I knew the killer at once and even why he did it.
The only consolation is that my almost 16 year old daughter, known as Olaf, will be happy. She will have been watching with her Welsh speaking mother Big Nose in their Islington townhouse screaming obscenities for the whole match. That will by my conversation with Dad later on today: "At least Olaf will be happy, let's move on."
In years gone by I would have taken this defeat and a really mixed Six Nations really badly. After the Autumn Internationals I had quite high hopes for the Old Country this time. But as ever they have been dashed. But I am actually caring less and less.
The old 5 Nations and then the Six Nations was once a joyous tournament of marvellous simplicity. Pert of the joy was that quirk that Grand Slams and Triple Crowns mattered more than a Championship table which was somehow ignored. But professionalism and political correctness have changed all that. What is it with bonus points and the constant reminders from the BBC that the Women's six nations is equally important? I gather Ireland are the reigning Women's champions and the England match will decide that title for 2017 but the women are so much less good than the men, whatever the BBC might say, and I really don't care. But the BBC rams it down my throat: I must care.
The cynical cheating that runs throughout professional sport is now part of Rugby too. The constant rule changes left me struggling to keep up as a player but the pace of change now leaves me utterly confused. I just can't be bothered to care about the Six Nations that much these days. I no longer set my calendar around it and think of trips to Rome, Dublin or Cardiff.
Of course if Ireland were on track for a Grand Slam I would be happy. But would I really really care like I used to? Would I seek out other folks wearing Green shirts with whom to share the joy? It is, I fear, a hypothetical question for another year but the answer is, without doubt, No.
902 days ago
On my way to Heathrow I stopped off at the Woodlarks campsite in Surrey a place where I have had an involvement since the birth of my daughter Olaf almost sixteen years ago, as I explained HERE. This site provides holidays for folks who are severely disabled and who would otherwise not get any sort of break. It is not a fashionable charity but it is one I have supported financially and which readers have supported over many years. To all those who have donated both to the Christmas festivities for 181 kids and also to the ongoing work here is the proof that your cash has made a difference.
I was greeted by the man behind it all, superhero Nick Richards. Nick had been working hard with two volunteer lads who are themselves chaps with special needs but who have laboured away to create something special this Christmas.
The tracks you see here will soon have a sleigh on it in which Santa will arrive.
At two or three places throughout the site sheds have been transformed into magical grottos where Santa will hand out gifts. What will arrive today in time for next week are massive snow machines to ensure that this is really a magical Christmas experience.
What you cannot see in that photo above is Nick lying on the ground pulling strings to make those figures rotate and move.
As we wandered through the camp and the woods around it we came upon the swimming pool. The building you see is a specially constructed changing room allowing campers to change before being hoisted into the very well heated pool in special lifts. For many of the campers this is the only place they ever get to swim. There won't be swimming next week but next summer the pool will be buzzing and much of the work on the pool was funded by readers of my scribblings.
Next week Nick and his team will bring real joy to kids who lead difficult lives. Thank you to all who donated to make next week special.
But Woodlarks is an all year round centre of happiness. If you have a few quid spare this Christmas and can donate that to a great cause you can do so HERE
902 days ago
— Tom Winnifrith
Those who have been reading my scribblings for long enough will remember that my daughter was born weighing just 1lb 4oz at 26 weeks. that was almost sixteen years ago. It was three months before UCH said that it was "when" she came home not "if" and even then we were warned there could be all sorts of problems.
We were told that there was a good chance she might develop Cerebral Palsy. it was at that point that the amazing Nick Richards of Woodlarks got in touch and our association has continued to this day.
Olaf, as I have been calling her since her early years, has grown up in a way that would make any father proud. she goes to a posh girls school in North London, paid for by her rich City lawyer mum Big Nose and is a star. And so last night I got a breathless call "Daddy I have won an academic scholarship for the sixth form." In a hothouse school that is quite some feat. It means 10% off the fees, not that Big Nose needs the cash, and Olaf's name on a board.
She may be a bit of a cottage burning Welsh nationalist - I blame Big Nose - but in all other respects, bar her support for Crooked Hillary, she has her head screwed on the right way.
My father says he won a scholarship too. I think Big Nose claims the same. So that leaves me as the odd one out but, as I always am, very proud none the less. And though I may not have a scholarship I still have my uses when it comes to assisting with history essays.
PS. If I believed in the honours system which I do not as it is utterly corrupt and I am a Republican anyway, I would nominate Nick Richards for a gong as I know of no-one more deserving. Maybe Big Nose will donate the 10% savings to Woodlarks?