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

It's okay Nigel I have voted with a treble pleasure

4 days ago

As I am often abroad at election time I organise a permanent postal vote. Thus from Bristol in the South west region my Euro Elections ballot paper arrives and has been filled in (and posted) as you can see below. It is a treble pleasure.


I get to vote against Boris Johnson’s ghastly elitist sister standing for ChangeUK and also against slimey Euro loon Lord Adonis standing for Labour. Natch as a keen Brexit supporter who wants to see the Westminster swamp drained, Mr Farage’s Brexit Party got my vote. As a West Ham supporter I think I am about to experience the novelty of rooting for a winning team.


The mrs, who is a card carrying member of the Labour party organised no postal vote and so that is one less vote for the commies. 


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Photo Article update from the Welsh Hovel - a sight to delight daughter Olaf

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.  


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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Malcolm you misunderstand IQE

10 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/42475/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-malcolm-you-misunderstand-iqe

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Oakley's cousins arrive at the Welsh Hovel

26 days ago

Since the sad demise of my once morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley late last summer, my two year old son Joshua has not stopped talking about his friend who used to sleep by his cot, keeping watch every night. Our old house in Bristol is “Oakley’s House” and while you and I know that the old boy lies at rest next to the body of Kitosh and across the yard from that of his long time companion Tara who is under the rhubarb, Joshua and his mother and I have agreed that the three legged one has “gone to the jungle” where he is happy. But there is a gap in all of our lives anmd so yesterday we told Joshua we had a treat.


We headed up to the RSPCA facility in Wallasey where we had identified two four year old rescue cats who looked just like “da King” and so when we arrived we told Joshua we were going to see Oakley’s cousins. The RSPCA don’t normally house cats with families with a child under four but Quincey (playing below) and Sian (keeping watch) are very friendly I told a white lie about how Joshua was almost three and by the time we filled in forms the lady had marked him down as actually being three. The staff saw Joshua and the Mrs playing with Oakley’s cousins and there was no doubt that we were well suited.


The Welsh hovel is pretty cold but compared to their cells at RSPCA Wallasey it is balmy and both cats have settled in well. For a week or so they must stay in two rooms then there will be another two weeks roaming the whole house before they are unleashed on the outside world. As I type Sian is nuzzling my keyboardwhile Quincey is rubbing against my leg. Oakley would be delighted to see how friendly his cousins are.


The only moment of sadness was saying goodbye to the other cats at the RSPCA. There were a couple of adorable young cats, one of whom looked just like Mrs Chav’s pussy, who had been there almost since birth last August. Sian and Quincey have passed through RSPCA Wallasey twice in their lives, poor things. If you can spare a home and live in the Grim North…. 



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Photo Article - walking around Stourhead with the Mrs and Joshua, the end of the Booker family memory lane

51 days ago

And so to the end point of the trip down Booker family memory lane with the Mrs and Joshua - a vist to the gardens at Stourhead just over the Dorset border in Wiltshire.  Do you want to save £17 on an adult ticket by joining the National Trust said the lady? Er...

The price is bloody steep. My paternal grandfather Sir John Winnifrith, was Director General of the Trust but, as I have noted before, he must be spinning in his grave at its silly virtue signalling on global warming, LGBT issues and, just last week, on Brexit. So our answer was no. 

The gardens were designed around a newly created lake by Capability Brown. Again they are part of my Booker family memory trove. Serena Booker, my Auntie Cly, used to come down from London with friends and they would perfom, in costume, Gilbert & Sullivan on rafts on the lake. The performances would be on summer evenings with the laeside illuminated by torches and with my grandparents and others sitting on blankets on the grass eating and drinking. It is a happy memory of Cly and what a bright spark she was before her early death.

Back to the present, Joshua loved it and was out of his buggy running along the path as you can see below. The Mrs and I have been several times and it is wonderful place to visit. If you do go and fancy lunch, book early as the pub is always packed.

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Photo Article: the place where my mother "saw" the ghost

52 days ago

Continuing my trip down Booker family memory lane with the Mrs and Joshua in Dorset on Saturday, we headed away from Knighton and towards the edge of the Bryanston Estate, for it was there that the ghost of the grey lady is in residence.

When I say that my mother, who moved to Durweston aged eleven, saw a ghost I exaggerate. There is meant to be a ghost here, that of the grey lady. My mother never claimed to have seen it but said that when riding past here her horse used to shy and behave in a nervous manner in a way it never did at other times. Was it sensing something odd?  I have always felt uneasy driving past this old lodge, feeling there was something there but that was almost certainly because of the stories mum had told me.

Anyhow, no ghosts were seen or sensed this weekend at least.

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Photo Article: Knighton House & Durweston Church, wandering down memory lane

53 days ago

Having shown the Mrs, and a rather disinterested Joshua, the family gravestones I wandered around the Churchyard looking at other stones and saying hello/goodbye to a few other folks: Marjorie Portman, Mr & Mrs Fudge, etc - the great and the good and the ordinary folks from a small village. The reason my family came to Durweston (pronounced Durreston) was that in 1950 my grandparents bought a big old house, Knighton, and turned it into a girl's prep school. It still runs today and we sneaked in as you can see below.

After the death of my mother, my sisters went to school at Knighton ( aged seven and five). They were too young, missed both my mother but also my father, and, I sense, have very mixed memories of it. My memories are of visiting smiling grandparents who spoiled us all, of a staff common room where everyone smoked and the gin flowed and where we enjoyed the real treat of Schloer. It is the first place I played croquet. I remember my father racing Uncle Chris Booker in the pool on the hill with my mother watching. I guess that must have been 1975 when both men were in their thirties, fit and ultra competitive.

I remember being the only boy on the big lawns outside the house as dozens of little girls wearing the uniform red dungarees skipped and played around me. You could roll down the slopes on those lawns it was such fun. Joshua did yesterday. And we explored the giant yew tree next to the house that I used to climb. It is a bit steep for Joshua and it has spread so wide that now as you wandered towards the central trunk Joshua starting talking abiout the Deep Dark Wood and the Gruffalo.

I remember going to a Knighton House carol service with my father and sisters at the church in Durweston. I suppose that must have been after mum but on a cold, dark evening when Christmas was magical and mysterious it was that I thought of, in a happy way, as I went inside the village Church yesterday. And then we were off down the next part of memory lane.

 

 

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Photo article: pancake day comes two days early

80 days ago

I was chatting to the guys at my local Italian greasy spoon the other day and they 'fessed up that they buy ready made pancake mix. Just how pathetic is that? It takes ten minutes to whip up some batter, just how lazy have we all become?

The Mrs phoned me as I was doing my Woodlarks training walk to say that she and Joshua had been to church and that he had greatly enjoyed seeing pancakes flipped and then eating them and so could I make some more that evening? Given that she has a new job in the Grim North so is not here during the week, it was resolved that we would indeed celebrate Shrove Tuesday two days early.

The first one did not work out so well. I was a bit out of practice on the flipping and screwed up. So Joshua had that one - with some spare minced beef. Using up leftovers before lent we really were getting into the spirit. Thereafter my flipping scored perfect sixes and the one below was served with honey for the Mrs as we watched Endeavour post Joshua bed-time. 

Rather losing the Lent spirit, the Mrs suggests we should have pancake day more often than just once a year.

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Photo article: rowing with the Mrs, I win and Joshua gets a much needed haircut

80 days ago

There is a bit of a cycle here. Joshua's hair gets longer and longer. I say "he looks like a girl I thought we had agreed not to raise him in a gender fluid way." The Mrs says "oh but look at his sweet curly locks." I say "you cannot be serious" and in the end I prevail and I take the little lad off to the barbers where we both have a hair cut, he gets a bit of chocolate as a bribe to behave well and we go home. At that point the Mrs coos, says how sweet he looks and admits that I was right which, as you can see below, I was.

When the Mrs has a hair cut I make a point of saying how great it looks as all sensible husband's know to do. Natch the reverse is not true. Anyhow the cycle of denial and acceptance will all be repeated in about three months time. 

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Photo Article: My first training walk for Woodlarks 2019 - Part 3: the second half

88 days ago

On May 25 I shall again join the rogue bloggers (now a band of 8) walking 33 miles from Horse Hill to Woodlarks to raise money for this amazing charity. Serious training started today with a 12 mile walk from my front door to the Swan at Swineford with a slight detour to the cashpoint machine in my local high street. Evidence of the second half of that trek is below.

You left me just after the half way mark at Hanhan Weir.  From there the track headed through fields alongside the River Avon up to Keynsham and it was not really muddy at all and utterly nettle free. It was a breeze.  The lock at Keynsham is, I think, the deepest of this entire waterway but I did not tarry as the Mrs had called to say that Joshua was recovering from his earlier temperature and that they would join me at my journey's end.

Thus I headed on past Keynsham, stopping briefly to admire a fisherman land a young pike as you can see below. By two thirty the Swan at Swineford came into sight.  My feet and legs really don't feel bad at all and i am pretty sure that I could have done twenty miles or more without struggling which, with three months to the big walk, is good news indeed. Next weekend I must seek out a fifteen or sixteen mile route to tackle.

As I start to crank up the training, I ask you to consider making a small donation to Woodlarks and supporting all eight rogue bloggers (I am not the only one training this weekend) HERE 

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My first training walk for Woodlarks of 2019 - off to Swineford, donate today! Part 1

89 days ago

You know what fun I have with training walks. Getting wet. Getting lost. Scrambling up nettle infested steep hills as a result of getting lost. It is all part of the build up to May 25 and the 33 mile Rogue Bloggers for Woodlarks Charity walk. Today is the first serious training walk: 12 miles from my front door to a pub in Swineford. I shall carry a camera, my laptop and a phone so will post photos along the way…

The first stretch to Hanham lock is not that tough, paths most of the way although the last mile of that six miles is rather muddy. From memory, the path after that deteriorates badly as I track the river Avon.

The idea is to meet the Mrs and Joshua for lunch but the little fellow is running a bit of a temperature so I might just wan der part of the way back from the Swan at Swineford and call a cab or maybe I shall just call it a day at the Swan. I will see how I feel.

I shall post photos all day over on www.TomWinnifrith.com and I hope that with eight rogue bloggers now signed up for this year’s event in May you might think of me striding through the nettles and make a donation HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: From the Grim North my Argo folly compounds itself

96 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/41019/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-from-the-grim-north-my-argo-folly-compounds-itself

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article two - snowballs and cat in the snow

111 days ago

Having started last night, as I showed here, the snow carried on till well after noon so we woke up to, perhaps, ten inches of global warming in some parts of the garden. The cat belonging to the Chav family next door went for a brief walk, as you can see below but thought better of it and is now back in our kitchen sleeping on the sofa. the little creature almost lives here now, my catnapping has worked. Joshua also enjoyed the snow.

This was his first snowball fight. I gather that snowballing is banned in many state schools on grounds of "elf 'n' safey" but Joshua, his godfather Johnny an d the Mrs and I had good fun this morning. Kids may be safer but they really don't know what they are missing out on. The Mrs and Joshua are pictured below.

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Photo article - the snow started last night, more global warming today

111 days ago

I was woken up at 6 AM by the Mrs snoring and peeked out of the window. It was still snowing. Snowballs with Joshua thought I and my heart leapt. This was the scene last night outside our front door here in Bristol with the global warming falling fast. A weekend trip to my father is, I suspect, on hold.

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Photo Article: climbing Glastonbury Tor with the Mrs and Joshua

115 days ago

As I reflected in my weekend Tomograph newsletter, our time in the South West is drawing to a close. God willing and with fingers crossed, by mid April, the Mrs, Joshua and I will be in the Grim North. And there is thus a determination to enjoy our last couple of months here revisiting places we know well and going to see a few things which we have never seen before.

On Saturday we enjoyed a short walk around the Victorian cemetery at Arnos Vale which we know well, it was where Joshua’s christening party took place. The Mrs and I have enjoyed some quality time at Stourhead where, back in the seventies, my late Aunt Cly used to be involved in evening performances of Gilbert & Sullivan on the lake, which I remember going to with my grandparents.

There is Salisbury Cathedral where there is a memorial window to my mother and aunt and I should also find time to visit the graves of the two of them and of my grandparents further down the Stour valley. I am sure there are other places we should visit which will spring to mind.

Yesterday, for the first time I visited Glastonbury Tor. Joshua was persuaded that we were on a Gruffalo Hunt and was a real trooper climbing up towards the Tor. But the wind blew hard (now it sounds like The Bear Hunt) and I ended up carrying him up the steepest part and then all the way down again. We did consider (as happens in the Bear Hunt) going home at one point but there was a collective determination to reach the tower at the top which, as you can see, offered brief shelter. 

The views over the Somerset Levels are spectacular. It was an ordeal getting there but my boy was a trooper, insisting as he held his mother’s hand on the steep climb that he was helping her get to the top. Whatever.  Next weekend I think it is Chew Lake, the scene of many happy walks over the years.

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Photo article: catnapping the Chav family cat going well

119 days ago

I have noted before, how the cat belong to my next door neighbours, the Chav family, has been sitting in the flower bed next to our back door, fleeing her own house where there is now a very bouncy young dog. With the Mrs away, Joshua and I have now re-opened the cat flap used by the late Oakley and are providing food.. our cunning plan is now working well.

The chav's cat enters and leaves at will and when allowed will walk elsewhere in the house. She sits on chairs and, judging by the hairs on my coat which I threw on the sofa last night, our new friend spent the night at our house and is even getting to the stage where she is not afraid of Joshua and allows him to stroke her. It is not as if our neighbousr seem to mind...

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Photo Article: Joshua's Goat

123 days ago

 My two year old son Joshua has a tendency, these days, to say that everything belongs to him. So it is "my house", "my car" and pictured below is "my goat." Of course it is not.

It is a goat that lives near the woods about half way between our house in Bristol and where my training walks meet up with the River Avon. The old boy seems much loved by the community and so, invariably, when Joshua and I arrive there is someone else talking to him and handing him food. He must be one of the best fed goats in town.

When we move to the Grim North, we hope to have some land and Joshua and I are lobbying hard for the purchase of both goats and chickens, on the basis that we can find someone to tend for them when we are in Greece. The Mrs is not so sure about this cunning plan.

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Is my wife’s Bristol "tradition" just a middle class fantasy? Anyone want a broken pushchair covered in cat hair?

133 days ago

The house is now on the market as we prepare for a move up to the Grim North. We already have five viewings lined up for Saturday so keep your fingers crossed. Ahead of that day I have been working hard at clearing out six years of accumulated junk in the garage.  There have been one or two rather good finds. There was a package marked fragile.

It must have arrived two or three years ago and for some reason I had not opened it. Lo and behold it is a 14 year old ( I guess it is now two or three years older) presentation bottle of Whiskey from my friend, and comrade from the Clontarf veterans rugby team, John Teeling and his sons eponymous distillery in Dublin. How very pleasant. Thank you John.

There is also an awful lot of junk.  The Mrs claims that there is an old Bristol tradition of leaving items outside your front door on the street for folks to just take away if they fancy. I rather suspect that this is the sort of Middle class fantasy about the good old days of community spirit and genteel working class poverty that Nick Hornby waffles on about in Fever Pitch. And as with Hornby’s Highbury I sense the working class Bristol of old that the Mrs thinks still might exist, never really did.

But who am I to argue. And so being a good German I have put out on the street a slightly broken pushchair, covered in hair from the neighbour’s cat who often sleeps in our garage. Oddly there have been no takers to date. I can’t think why.  The Mrs agrees that if everyone resists this great temptation by tomorrow it will join a lot of complete rubbish making a one way trip to the recycling bins. I will bet the ranch that it will be making that trip.

Meanwhile the garage is 80% cleared and cleaned and now looks almost smart. I hope that those viewing are duly impressed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: on Brexit which sort of remoaner are you?

150 days ago

This article is for my public sector employed, Guardian reading, wider family. It is for the oh so middle class lefty sociologist pals of the Mrs and for my business partner Darren Atwater who, being Canadian, is on the wrong side of history on everything and is by definition a deluded lefty. When it comes to Brexit, which sort of remoaner are you?

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The Carol service at a packed St Cuthbert’s

157 days ago

I have never seen our local church in this unfashionable bit of Bristol look this way. That is to say full. But it was packed with more than a hundred souls last night for carols by candlelight. It was all rather touching. As I belted out some of the old favourites in my own tone deaf way and as Joshua ran around misbehaving it felt like Christmas had actually begun. The story almost came to life. I did feel a sort of bond with my fellow worshippers – ordinary folk, shepherds not kings.

In part the place was packed as we were joined by the flock from the sister church of St Anne’s. In part as this was a service for children, all far better behaved than Joshua.

Lefty vicar Ian started, as you would expect, with an elf n safey warning about candles. He had ensured that buckets of water were placed by the walls lest an accident occur with one of the candles we were each given. Joshua was a bit disappointed that he was not allowed to hold our candle so headed straight for the nearest bucket of water before the Mrs intervened and led him off to make a complete mess of the child’s play area. Discussions about whether we could go with him to Midnight Mass continue.

Ian was on sparkling form. For once in his life he managed to avoid mentioning the poor Palestinians and their oppression by you know who. I did not have to bite my lip this time. Being the CofE there were the usual ritual mumblings by Priest and Parishioners notably the modern version of the Lord’s Prayer which still sounds all wrong to me. Thine is the Kingdom is right. The Kingdom is Yours sounds wrong.  There was also the now traditional message from the Pulpit about how Jesus was a refugee and how we should think about other refugees at this time of year, blah, blah, blah.

But it was mostly readings and carols – the Christmas story in full. I came away feeling as if it really was Christmas and almost able to wish joy to my fellow man. For me that is a major step forward on my normal mood, soured as it is by writing all day about the multiple sins that take place in the world of finance.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article - the tree arrives for dressing this weekend: I guess Christmas is almost upon us

160 days ago

Today, Joshua and I opened the 14th window on his Advent calendar (the shepherds and a quote from Luke 2 v 15): the countdown continues. Don't tell most folks but there is no Christmas tree in the Gospels but it is now part lof Christmas and this morning my son and I picked up the seven footer below for £35.

When I was a young boy we dressed the tree on Christmas Eve while listening to the carol service from King's College on the wireless. We had real candles, red ones in little golden cups.  That was then. Now in dressing our tree even this weekend we will be viewed by most folks as leaving it far too late.

Joshua and I head to see my father in Shipston tomorrow so I guess it will be a Sunday treat as Christmas tree dressing is something the whole family should do together and the Mrs is out at (yet another) University drinks party this evening. An additional Sunday treat, I noticed today, will be the first carols by candelight service at our local church, St Cuthberts. 

For what it is worth, the picture behind the tree shows the Christ Church first eight from 1927 (bumped Univ) with my paternal grandfather seated on the right. 

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Tom Winnifrith Bonus Bearcast: tales of total woe from my local estate agent - and how to profit from it on the short tack

160 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/39939/tom-winnifrith-bonus-bearcast-tales-of-total-woe-from-my-local-estate-agent-and-how-to-profit-from-it-on-the-short-tack

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs has to give a lecture on “Greed is Good” – will she do so as well as Gordon Gekko?

164 days ago

The Mrs has been to see her new colleagues in the Grim North and has been given her lecture schedule for next term. And on it is a talk called “Greed is Good”. Of course it damn well is.

Greed drives capitalism, it drives free markets. It spurs on progress, advances in medicine and technology. Greed has caused life expectancy to surge and given us all material comforts our forebears could not even have dreamt of. Greed will give us new greener means of transport and will take the human race to other planets.  Greed is not only good it is great.

The problems with capitalism occur when the Government butts in either to prop up failing companies or industries or to regulate good companies out of business. Such behaviour encourages recklessness and criminality and stops the invisible hand from allocating resources in the way society needs and deserves and would enjoy if greed was calling all the shots.

As a child of Thatcher who worked on Wall Street in the good old days of the mid-late 1980s, naturally I leave it to the great Gordon Gekko to express this better than I can. Somehow I suspect that this is not quite the message that the Mrs, the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty, will be delivering to the snowflakes after Christmas.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel - Problemo: It's all Greek to me

166 days ago

In a couple of days time I head back to the Mrs, in Bristol, and so I thought it prudent to start washing my clothes and that it might earn me major brownie points if I washed the bed linen as well. And we now have a washing machine up at the hovel. Prudently I handwashed a pair of underpants and a pair of jeans and put them outside to dry. But all of my socks and much else besides was put into the washing machine with some detergent in the right place. Problemo.

As you can see the washing machine and the instructions are all in Greek. I selected a wash at random and switched it on. The machine started beeping. A timer came on and after two minutes and nineteen seconds it went off to be replaced by a sign saying 4 degrees. The machine carried on beeping. It was locked. My socks are trapped and nothing has happened. After about an hour of beeping I could stand it no more and turned the wretched machine off. No more beeping but it has stayed locked. I am without socks. 

Thankfully George the architect is here later today. He can translate and I might just be able to retrieve my socks or maybe even wash them.

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - something that has not happened here in years, maybe decades

166 days ago

When the Mrs and I first came to see the Greek hovel in 2014 ( or was it 2013) it had been abandoned for many many years. And those who remember my early photos will remember why. You just could not live up here. So today we have a groundbreaking first as you can see below.

I have just prepared the first meal cooked at the hovel in what must be years if not decades. Mushrooms and a local orange flavoured sausage for breakfast. It may be no great culinary triumph but it tasted good and it marks a new milestone in bringing this place back to a habitable condition.  Okay I have no plates or forks, so had to eat from the pan using a knife, but it is a start. 

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Why can’t I get an Advent calendar featuring Jesus?

194 days ago

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.

Tom Winnifrith

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“A familiar face” I shouted (a stroke of genius)

194 days ago

After a good lunch of fish and chips Joshua and I started to make our way back from snooty Clifton, where we had been Christmas shopping,  to our unfashionable Edwardian suburb at the edge of Bristol. The theory was that it would be a good walk for me and that we might find some more Christmas presents on the way back.

As we wandered down the hill an older man came into view, a good friend of the Mrs.  He had been round for supper at least twice and is not a completely barking mad commie like most friends of my wonderful wife. I just could not remember his name.  And so as he approached, in a stroke of genius, I said very loudly “Now there’s a familiar face” and stretched out my hand. The man looked a bit confused as we shook hands.

For a moment I wondered if I had made some terrible mistake in greeting a complete stranger as he was clearly rather confused as to who we were.  So I doubled down and pointing to my son in his pram said “surely you remember Joshua?” Er yes he said .. how are you? I sensed that he was now bluffing. So I said “Its Tom the husband of R”. At that point he sort of remembered, if only by association, and we chatted briefly; he remarked how Joshua had grown so large as to be unrecognisable; and agreed that he must call my wife for a catch up.  He was clearly a bit embarrassed so I strode on.

About ten minutes later I finally remembered his name. E. But my bluff had worked. My own failing memory had been hidden. If I can remember this handy hint and stroke of genius it will come in handy next time I bump into someone whose name I cannot remember.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Joshua is no mug

200 days ago

This is a demonstration of the great political divide in our household. The Mrs drinks her Fair Trade organic ethically sourced tea from her Jeremy Corbyn Strong and Stable mug, I drink my mass produced capitalist coffee from my Iron Lady/Iron Duke mug celebrating two great Prime Ministers.  And as you can see below Joshua has today smashed one mug.

That’s my boy!

He also now has a much repeated phrase. As we negotiate on matters like one more bite of supper then bed we reach an agreement at which point I say “The art of the deal”. He replies “As the great man says.” The Mrs is not impressed.

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Photo Article: One final walk in the hills above the Greek Hovel with Joshua & new wildlife diversity

205 days ago

And so on the final afternoon at the Greek Hovel we invited over the elderly lefties from the village up in the mountains. They were rather scared of the track so I had to go fetch them from Kambos and drive them up.

Almost immediately on arriving they stared into the sky and started shouting "Chrissy, there is Chrissy". I stared up and saw a very large bird of prey.  I like the numerous birds of prey that circle the hills above the hovel as they eat snakes and rats. Good job. The more birds the better. But why Chrissy?  And the size: this bird was very large indeed, why was that?.

Chrissy was their nickname for a bird based on the Greek word Chrysos (gold). For this magnificent creature was a golden eagle. These birds have large territories so though they may all look the same the odds are this was indeed Chrissy. He or she was truly magnificent.

Later that day as the Mrs said that she had important work to do, preparing a lesson plan to fill the heads of impressionable young folk with left wing nonsense, Joshua and I went for a walk.

Or rather, as you can see below, I walked with my son and heir on my back and we headed up the hill behind the hovel towards the house of my neighbour Charon. It is a jolly steep climb and the track soon turns to grass. The view down to the hovel was a wonderful one as the sun started to set.  

Walks with Joshua soon turn into nature lessons. And so we saw a large grasshopper sitting on a wire fence and, real excitement, the skin shed by a snake. I tried to explain that to Joshua but I am not sure he got it, saying "goodbye snake" as we wandered onwards and upwards.

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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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A full length video of the Greek Hovel inside and out

207 days ago

It was more than four years ago when the Mrs bought the Greek Hovel, an abandoned farmhouse with one (barely) habitable and certainly not wildlife proof room set in 16,000 square metres of olive trees in the foothills of the Taygetos Mountains. Today the hovel is almost complete as an eco palace, the video below shows you all, inside and out.

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel Joshua says its "my bed" as workmen eff it up

208 days ago

As we headed to Kardamili on Thursday we got a call saying that workmen were arriving with bunk beds for the Rat room and would assemble them. I gave instructions. The Mrs insisted they needed no supervision. My heart sank. Natch I was right as you can see below.

The very expensive beds from a posh shop in Kalamata are designed to be assembled however you want. So natch the workmen assembled them in a way that won't allow folks to open the window. The upper bunk should be on the other end of the lower bed and so slotting nicely into the wall which I had measured carefully. Any fool could see that. Except , of course, the workmen assembling the bunks.  George the architect will now have to ensure the beds are reassembled before I return.

Joshua naturally loves them - as you can see  and has proclaimed them his beds! Maybe next year. 

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel… dead cat not bouncing

209 days ago

You may remember my joy this summer when my old friend the black and white cat, to whom I had given milk as a kitten, wandered by with her two kittens. Brace yourself this is not a happy tale.

On Wednesday evening with it almost dark I stepped outside of the Bat room  to see one of the kittens racing past.  A few minutes later as I put Joshua into the car to head down to Kambos I could see the kitten sitting on the drive and miaowing and I could hear its mother answering in the distance. I thought no more of it.

On Thursday afternoon after a day spent in the rain in Kardamili we returned home and at the bottom of the drive saw the kitten as you can see below. Rigor Mortis had set in and with a workman’s spade I flipped the body into the bushes so that Joshua would not see it and be upset. The Mrs was traumatised enough, I could not handle both of them blubbering.

Today I saw the cat. No kittens at all now just herself strolling across the hovel in search of prey as is her wont. All alone. I’m sure she is very sad.  I certainly am. The incident has brought back memories of poor Oakley and the Mrs and I are starting to think about a replacement.

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Photo Article from Eleni's Kourounis Taverna - Joshua reads the Gruffalo ahead of a castle walk on my back

211 days ago

A quiet day in Kambos and at the Greek Hovel for both the Mrs and I have deadlines and important work to do. Right now Joshua is watching some moronic rubbish on his mother's smart phone up at the hovel while the Mrs and I tap away like dervishes. This morning the Mrs, whose deadline is more pressing than mine, got to work in lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna, while Joshua and i went on a tough walk which he deemed to be "exciting" largely as I kept falling down. 

Below you can see my boy, over breakfast, studiously reading the Gruffalo - the English not the Shetland version. Thereafter, as in the summer I put him on my back in a special carrying pack and headed off to try and climb to Zarnata Castle from the Kambos side rather than through the village of Stavripgio. As in the summer I failed to make it to the top. I got a lot closer, making it to the outer wall but it is now topped with wire fencing and unlike some Ottoman warrior of the fifteenth century I could not breach the defence.

One trouble is that the track, stopped a couple of hundred yards shy of the wall. Thus I had to walk along terraces and then clamber between them which with Joshua on my back, and noticeably heavier than in the summer, and the ground slippy after the recent rains, was not easy, Three or four times I slipped. I ensured that each time it was me landing on the ground and Joshua was protected from any harm and as a result my trouser are now stained with the red Maniot earth.  Each time I'd ask Joshua if he was alright and he'd day "yes, daddy are you alright?" I said yes and we continued on, eventually heading back down the road, along which we marched up the hill into Stavropigio.

The joy of that climb is that you can look back at Kambos spread before you and then if you peer closely enough you can see the Hovel as the hills behind the village start to turn into mountain. The other joy was a coffee for me and an ice cream for Joshua at the other end. After such a trek we deserved it.

Walking back to Kambos was all downhill. I sang Molly Malone and one man went to mow, Joshua did not seem to mind. One day Joshua and I will make it up that hill and find a way to the castle.

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel – one step at a time

216 days ago

The carpenter and his assistant were hard at it again today. This time, as you can see below, building steps from the second floor kitchen up to the living area. They asked what I thought. Cala said I, lying.

I did not have the heart to tell them that a couple of the small panels were ill fitting and need to be replaced. I could not face another one of those hang-dog expressions of gloom. But before you think I am going soft, George the Architect pitched up and I have asked him to relay the good news. He has also laid down the law with regard to work that must take place PDQ, i.e before the Mrs and Joshua arrive via Athens on Monday afternoon.

Inspired by a comment from a reader as to how to motivate the workers I have asked George to let it be known that we have planning permission on a second house further down the snake fields, where the ruin used to stand before it was pulled down to provide stone for the main house. This is true and George will imply that there could be work for all of next year for builders who deliver this year. 

That is not exactly true, I am minded to defer this work for a while and enjoy furnishing and living in house one without guests or relatives dropping in. But it seems like a good carrot.

I am now braced for my personal Bulletin Board troll Wildes to lambast me for creating more jobs and wealth in Greece by building another house in an area where no Greek actually wants to live. No doubt he will explain why this is an act of evil and exploitative capitalism.

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel - guess what? Progress er ... slower than expected

217 days ago

I left here six weeks ago and was promised that the workmen would remain on the case. Guess what?

I arrived to find my old pal the windows man hard at work. At last.  The first two photos are of the living area above the new wing and the Rat Room, the next two of the kitchen which leads into the area above the Rat Room; the last is of the ground floor of the new wing, the master bedroom. To be fair we do now have floorboards throughout the second floor. But they need staining and that will not happen until the weekend. The Mrs and Joshua arrive on Monday afternoon at the same time as a huge sofa for the living area.

Where there is a min ladder in photo four there will, by tomorrow afternoon, be a step leading from the kitchen to the living area.

The final photo shows the staircase which I climbed without too much problem. When it gets a rail it will be very manageable, steep though it is. But the master bedroom is a store room for timber for the a veranda and for much else. I was stern and instructed George the Architect to read the riot act which he has done. It will be tight but we might be ready for the Mrs and Joshua. Pro tem I shall again sleep in the Bat Room where, to their credit, they have fixed the flooring beneath the shower so it no longer floods the whole room.

At least a fridge and washing machine have arrived and the Range Cooker is in transit from Austria. We are getting there.

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Video: Dominic Frisby sings "maybe" - sheer comedy genius

220 days ago

The Mrs and I come from opposite ends of the political spectrum but were both in stitches as we watched the latest video from my pal Dominic Frisby. Watch to the end..this is genius

 

Tom Winnifrith

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The BBC hit job on Justice Kavanaugh continued all day

228 days ago

As I note elsewhere, I celebrate Brett Kavanaugh joining the Supreme Court but I’d rather that Donald Trump had nominated someone who is far more conservative. Naturally the BBC, the state funded British broadcaster and purveyor of fake news, which serves as a media hub for elitist metropolitan liberal group-think, took a rather different tone.

Having reported enthusiastically for a fortnight that the nomination was in trouble even as the holes and inconsistencies in the evidence put forward by accuser Christine Blasey Ford become ever more apparent and as she was shown to be a serial liar, the BBC finally realised late on Friday that the game was up. Natch it failed to apologise for its earlier coverage suggesting that Blasey Ford was purer than the driven snow and that Kavanaugh was a wrong'un at every level. 

But instead it focussed its report on the several thousand assorted snowflakes, man hating feminazis and other sufferers from full blown #TrumpDerangementSyndrome who protested in DC, doing their best to delay or block democracy in action.  Okay 324,996,000 Americans were not protesting but the 4,000 extremists, screaming as loud as they could in DC, spoke for America, according to Britain’s Pravda.

As to the actual proceedings, there was final day admission from the BBC that Kavanaugh would be appointed but with every report this was followed by the words “despite the series of allegations of sexual assault made against him.”

Yes allegations were made. One of the three coming forward to join this circus, claiming Kavanaugh organised gang rapes, had already ‘fessed that she made it up. Accuser two was barely more credible and that left Christine Blasey Ford whose story had changed many times and had more holes in it that a mountain of Swiss Cheese. The FBI had investigated Ford’s fiction and concluded it did not stack up. Yet was the BBC offering any balance in this respect? Of course not. It just showed another placard held up by some work-averse liberal accusing the good Judge of serial sex crimes.

Such has been the unadulterated bias shown by almost the entire British media on this issue that, as I have dared to suggest to folks over the past week, old fashioned idea such as “innocent until proven guilty” or natural justice.” I have been met with almost universal disapproval. It is as if I were suggesting that Hitler had his good points as well as bad, which, for the avoidance of doubt, is not a view that I hold.

It makes me feel that Joshua and I should move to a solid red state well away from the coasts where we might find ourselves among folks who have similar beliefs. I have suggested this to the Mrs but am met with a Paddington stare. She is not convinced of the merits of my idea.

Tom Winnifrith

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Progress report from the Greek Hovel – storm Zorba hits my olives

233 days ago

I am beginning to think that God is not pleased with my restoration work at the Greek Hovel and is punishing me with an annual plague of my poor olives. Last year it was the hail storm ten days before harvest that destroyed the crop almost entirely, leaving my field carpeted with rotting berries and my neighbours crying into their ouzo and facing economic misery.

This year it started with the flies which destroyed, maybe, 20% of the crop. Then last week storm Zorba hit southern Greece.  Winds of up to 100 kmh were reported. Waves on the seafront hit five metres and the rains caused flash floods.  Up at the hovel the sea is ten miles away and so not an issue but e wind and the rain?

I called George the Architect this morning to check on progress and to warn him that I’d be there in less than three weeks. Such warnings tend to accelerate work.  I was assured that the planks for the second floor would arrive avrio, that is to say tomorrow.  Most things in Greece are scheduled to happen avrio.  But George insists that the flooring will be completed by the start of next week.  We discussed the Range Cooker on its way from Austria, fridges, wood burning stoves, balconies and sofas and then it was the olives.

George had headed up to the hovel specifically to inspect them.  That will have been some trek. From the top of snake hill as one winds through other folks trees up to the hovel the mud track will, thanks to Zorba, be reminiscent of the Somme battlefield 102 years ago. But he made it and as he has his own trees he knows his olives and reckons that the storm has taken another 10% of the berries the flies did not get.

However, before God intervened twice, this was set to be a bumper harvest so – assuming no further interventions from the Almighty – it will still be a pretty decent year. I am negotiating with the Mrs as to when I head out, treat myself to a new electric machine for harvesting and start what will be my fifth harvest. I am already excited by the prospect. To those who have volunteered to join me as replacement Albanians I should have dates soon for the great undertaking.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: I'm not joking, the Mrs and I are looking at buying a house in the developing World, that is to say Wales

238 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/38486/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-i-m-not-joking-the-m-rs-and-i-are-looking-at-buying-a-house-in-the-developing-world-that-is-to-say-wales

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Birthday for Joshua turning two

245 days ago

Cripes how time flies. Joshua turned two on Sunday. His sister came down opn Saturday and as you can see in the first photo Joshua likes wearing women's clothes, well shoes anyway.

Four birthday cards were exactly the same... it was a Thomas The Tank Engine themed day. I sense that a card not featuring Thomas is now not viewed as a proper birthday card.

My father sent Joshua three pairs of socks (Thomas, James & Percy) and some Thomas pyjamas - that was a big hit as you can see below.

The Mrs, pictured below, and I gave him a tricycle which we can push. That is a mega hit with him and good exercise for me. I am afraid at this point I mislaid my camera so have no pictures of a splendid banana cake with two candles in it which I prepared or of some fantastic home-made pizza created by the Mrs.

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Photo article - the burial of Oakley

246 days ago

The lady at the vet called during last week and in a very sweet and sympathetic manner said that the ashes of the King of cats, the late Oakley, were ready for collection. And so on Saturday morning I drove to the cat hospital and said who I was and why I was there. "Would you like to settle your account before collecting?" said a mean faced old shrew. It was not a question.

£286.14 poorer - and that was only a fraction of Oakley's bills from the last two weeks of his life - I was presented with an ornate bag containing an ornate cardboard box containing Oakley's coffin which you can see below. Shake it and you can hear, what I hope are, his ashes inside.  

On Saturday evening with my daughter supervising Joshua who was watching Paddington bear the movie for the fifth time in a week, myself, the Mrs, Oakley's biggest fan our friend and neighbour Mu and hipster pro cat-sitter Terry headed to the back garden. The coffin was placed in a hole about a foot away from where the wooden urn of Kitosh's ashes was laid to rest and is, I hope, now rotting away. 

We all said a few words, a few tears were shed, we each raised a glass of Metaxa and toasted "the King" and then the urn was covered with earth which we have marked with a stone pro tem. We'd like to plant something there preferably a herb as Oakley really liked smelling mint or lavender. But the earth is underneath our fig tree and the vine in the garden only makes it even more shaded. So dear readers: what pungent herb would prosper in such shade? Answers in the comments section below.

Last night as I climbed into bed was one of those times when I really missed Oakley. Both the Mrs and I thought at the same time, how we wished he was there, launching himself up onto the duvet only to annoy us with a fishy kiss at 4 AM and a demand for his first breakfast.  Joshua still refers to this house as Oakley's house but he is mentioning him less and less. He seems to accept that he is not coming back.  

 

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - stairs and ceiling arrive

248 days ago

George the Architect has been in touch and has sent more photos of the progress being made in turning the Greek Hovel into an eco palace. Boy I wish I was there rather than in Bristol. I bet Joshua does too. All we need is for Priti Patel to sweep to power, shut down the "university" where the Mrs teaches and another 50 odd joke left wing madrassas for future Tesco shelf stackers, and we could all move right away. Pro tem I can just dream.

As you can see below, the ceiling on the big new wing is now in place. This is the master bedroom. You can access it via the Rat Room or from outside via two floor to ceiling door/windows at either end. But what to do if you are upstairs in the huge new living area and do not fancy a wander in the dark? Simple, there is a trap door and beneath it a ladder running along the wall of the bathroom. 

Next up the floors on the new wing and then some shelving, the cooker, freezer, wood-burning stove, washing machine, sofa and bunk beds for the Rat Room have all been ordered and should arrive soon. It is all happening out in Kambos.

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Oakley Funeral date set – The Mrs has a book on the death of Mog for me to read to Joshua

253 days ago

Amid a flurry of calls on various matters including an invitation to meet the new Headmaster at Warwick School tomorrow to discuss Geoffrey Eve and another abuser from the "good old days" - a matter on which I have received shocking new information overnight- I have received a call from the vets. The ashes of the King of Cats, Oakley, are in an urn and ready for collection.

And thus there will be a small ceremony on Saturday. My daughter will take Joshua for a walk allowing a few of us to bury the urn close to that of Kitosh whose ashes were finally laid to rest here a few years after his demise and to say a few words of farewell. There is not room underneath the rhubarb plant where the body of Oakley’s Companion Tara lies.

Meanwhile, the Mrs is in Belfast on a piss up, I meant serious academic conference. I have been left strict instructions about washing, cleaning and other matters that can wait until Friday afternoon a couple of hours before she gets back. I have also been left a book called Goodbye Mog which I MUST read to Joshua.

Mog is a cat who lives with a ghastly family of tedious do-gooder liberals and my right-on sister has sent a number of Mog books for Joshua to read.  I make a few changes as I read them to my lad, to make Mog’s dreary Guardian reading family a bit more entertaining. Your son wants to dress up like a Greenham Common woman? Fine. But allow me to explain to Joshua that this is not normal. Dirty Harry does not dress like that because he is a real man. Comprende? The daughter is a vegan? Whatever – that is why she looks like she has cancer.  Eat some of Mog’s food FFS and get healthy you pathetic snowflake.

But this book, borrowed from the library, is about Mog’s demise and what happens next. It is predictably drippy but I will obey orders. I’m a good German. Last night, Joshua and I watched the Paddington Movie but maybe tonight I shall inflict Mog’s demise on the poor boy. And then we can watch an old Clint film to cheer him up.

Tom Winnifrith

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Arguing about money with lovely Eleni and her husband Nicho

255 days ago

Lovely Eleni was the first person the Mrs and I met in Kambos, the village closest, bit not close, to the Greek Hovel. We had landed at Athens at 4 AM and were driving to the Mani before we had even seen the Greek Hovel or thought of the idea. We stopped off at this taverna in a village whose name we did not know and asked if there was anything they could create for breakfast.

The woman was lovely Eleni, the village was Kambos, that was late 2013 or early 2014 and the breakfast was an omelette. The rest is history. Since we bought the hovel Eleni, as a speaker of some English, has been a God send, negotiating with Albanian helpers, advising on everything from snakes to deal with power cuts and just being someone to talk to.

But now I have argued with her and her husband Nicho. My lunchtime bill came to 6.50 Euro. I handed over seven or eight and said keep the change. I always do that at Eleni’s or at Miranda’s next door. I just do not want lots of Euro coins to weigh down my trousers and so just hand over coins to get rid of them.

A few minutes later I realised I needed some milk so headed back in as the taverna is also a general store. I don’t know what a small carton costs. Greek milk is expensive for reasons of Greekenomics that we can cover at another time but I guess the pice is 1-1.5 Euro. No don’t pay said Eleni and her husband. They insisted. So did I. After a bit of too and fro I put a 2 Euro coin on the counter waved and walked out.

Too often I am gifted a free coffee or some other titbit in Kambos. Don’t get me wrong, it is charming and not something you tend to experience in the tourist villages by the sea . But I am aware of my relative wealth and that Kambos is not a rich village, in financial terms anyway. And so I find such generosity, which I cannot imagine enjoying in Britain, a little hard to take in.

 Anyhow, that’s the closest I’ve come to an argument with Eleni in more than four years.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Walking with Joshua in Greece this summer

257 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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Photo article - more classic Oakley

257 days ago

Following on from the photos accompanying the obituary earlier this week, the Mrs offers up three more examples of classic Oakley, the King of cats. In the first he is still playful in his final year, in the second he shows his, rightful, contempt for Peppa Pig which engrosses Joshua and Paddington and finally he is simply majestic is he not?

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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 - walking to Zarnata Castle the other way with Joshua

260 days ago

The easy way to go to Zarnata castle which overlooks Kambos is to head to the next village, Stavropiglio, drive up past the church and clamber the last 400 yards up a very rough track, almost a non track. I did that the other day with the Mrs, daughter Olaf and Joshua on my back as you can see here - the views from the top are amazing, you can almost see the Greek Hovel. But there is a tougher way.

The Mrs wanted to do some important work on Sunday so I put Joshua on my back as you can see below and endeavoured to trek up the whole way from the Kambos side. The photos below give you some idea of what a climb that is and Joshua is not getting any lighter. sadly there are no signs.

Paths forked, ran out and crossed back on each other. Pretty soon, Joshua fell asleep and offered no guidance. In the end I just could not make it to the outer walls but instead cut around the hill to the upper reaches of Stavropiglio where the outlying houses were old but deserted and crumbling. we found a nice old church but as we wandered on met more and more barking dogs.  We retreated back into Stavropiglio for a glass of milk for the lad, woken up by the dogs, and a coke for me. Walking home we stuck to the road.

It is thus an adventure uncompleted, a challenge for another day.

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RIP Oakley 2001 to 2018

261 days ago

As if the Mrs has not suffered enough during the past five years, today she has the unenviable task of explaining to our, almost, two year old son Joshua why, when they arrive back in Bristol there will be no Oakley to greet them. For yesterday afternoon, Oakley went to a better place.

Joshua adored Oakley, He calls the Greek Hovel, where I am staying on for a few days, “Joshua’s House,” The house in Bristol is “Oakleys house”. The “King of cats” he called “Oakley da King” and repeated the phrase endlessly. Da King would go to sleep next to Joshua’s cot to keep him company and would head into his room to listen to bedtime tales. He must have known more about the Gruffalo than any other cat.

I first met Oakley seven years ago when my previous companion, Kitosh, died very suddenly having travelled with me from London via Paris to the isle of Man. Grief stricken I headed to the MSPCA where two older cats were sitting unwanted and unloved. There was the very affectionate Tara, who passed away a couple of years ago, and another one who hid in his hutch but was, I was assured, very friendly, if very fat and lazy. That was Oaks.

They travelled with me after my rather hurried departure from the tax dodgers and for a while stayed with the pizza hardman Darren Atwater in Hackney. I know that Darren and his Mrs are devastated by the news. It was during this time that Oakley developed cancer and had his leg amputated. We were told that the big C would probably return within five years but that he was so fat and old that it would not be an issue.

At one point, even with three legs, Oaks tipped the scales at 6.6 kg. So he went on a diet. But in the past year his weight has plunged from 3.7 kg to just 2.7 kg and it was almost certainly the cancer that got him. There is a guilt in that his final days were spent without us. But he was receiving many visits a day from professional cat sitter Terry the hipster plus numerous visits from admirers such as Mu and Godfather Johnny. Perhaps it was a day spent with a junior doctor (Johnny) and being forced by the cruel Shipman to watch the hammers lose on MOTD that proved the final straw, oaks slept loyally in a West Ham blanket.

When Terry the most excellent hipster cat-sitter found him yesterday he had lost all his energy was not eating or drinking and was rushed to the cat hospital. By the time he arrived his eyes were losing colour, jaundice was setting in and there was only one outcome. The Mrs and I both had tearful final conversations with him, well monologues. He did recognise our voices, he really was fading fast. We told him we loved him and said goodbye. I am glad that Terry rather than the Mrs and Joshua had to go through those final hours. Sorry if that sounds selfish.

We will bury the ashes in the garden with a small ceremony as we did when the ashes of Kitosh were interred.  Tara’s body was buried rather hastily underneath a rhubarb plant before Joshua could notice.

I think back to five wonderful cats I have owned. There was Big Puss ( aka Jesus) a gift from Uncle Chris when I was young who earned his blasphemous nickname by sleeping in the straw of our crib back at Byfield. He lived to a ripe old age, fathering many children. Poor babysitter, the great, Neil Masuda had to bury him. His replacement had enormous triangular ears and being born in 1982 was named after the bomber with huge triangular wings sending Easter presents to the Argies at that time. Vulcan lived a long life and died peacefully sparing my father a trip to the vets he could not bear to make even though it was the only option so decrepit was “Vulcs”. Then the much travelled east End lad Kitosh and then Oakley and Tara.

In my worst times they would lie in bed with me as I watched old videos and were a great comfort. Oakley was always keen on jumping into bed even when with three legs it involved taking a long lollop up and launching himself like a missile. Not having him launch himself into our bed to offer up big fishy breathed kisses as a reminder that it was time for his first breakfast, will leave a big hole in the life of myself and the Mrs.  As for poor Joshua, I just don’t know what the Mrs will say.

I am not sure I can face another pet death. I have had a cat in my life for almost all of my own existence but Oakley really was the king. There could be no substitute.

I take consolation that the King is now at peace with no more suffering. Below he is pictured with his long time companion Tara, with Joshua and alone

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel - wildlife diversity edition: the Mrs and Olaf both screamed

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.

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Encircled by sheep at the Greek Hovel

270 days ago

As I am not poisoning frigana I leave the big iron gates at the end of the Greek Hovel open to all. It saves time for me, the builders and for any shepherd who wishes to use my land. Not that many do right now so brown is the grass.

And thus yesterday afternoon as the Mrs and I dozed on the bed of the Bat Room we were woken by very load bells and bleats, the unmistakable sound of sheep. We normally hear these sounds from the other side of the valley, up past the abandoned convent but these noises were coming from far closer than that. And so I opened the door and there was a sheep. I stepped outside and there were several dozen sheep just wandering around the house.

Herding them was not a wizened old man or crone, leaning on his or her staff but a brown dog which barked fiercely at me. I beat a quick retreat and closed the door. For another ten minutes or so I could hear sheep wandering around the house. I was encircled. I had a quick look outside the door and there was a sheep but where was the dog?

And then they were gone, the sheep and the terrifying dog had disappeared. Our brief period of having company up at the hovel was over.   

Tom Winnifrith

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Hatches, matches & despatches – a tale of two cats from the Greek Hovel & Bristol

270 days ago

Shall we start with the good news, the bad news or more good news? Well let’s start with Oakley, my once morbidly obese but now painfully think three legged cat who is back in Bristol. While we are away we have a professional cat minder Tim, a bearded young man who sends us photos of him and Oakley nuzzling up together and looking happy, hence his name, the “cat molester.”

The bad news a couple of days ago was that Oakley was again off his food, very lethargic and had been rushed to his £300 a night  (with drugs) cat hospital. We waited nervously and there was a message about “managing the pathway”. But old oaks is a resilient chap and after being rehydrated and given anti nausea drugs he has been discharged.

The cat molester is putting in extra, non billable, visits and a small army of Bristol well wishers are popping in to watch TV with the old boy who is now on his food once again, and in high spirits. I fear that, aged 16, his best days are behind him but for now all seems well. But these near collapses are becoming more frequent. The writing is, I suspect, on the wall.

Meanwhile here in Greece, the wild kitten who I gave milk to at the Greek Hovel four years ago and who pops in now and again as a grown cat came back again last week. She sat there doing nothing about fifteen yards from me under a tree. And then I noticed… she had two kittens with her, playing in the rocks behind. I brought Joshua out and the Mrs and they stared, my friend the cat just sitting there proudly.

The Mrs decided that evening not to eat her supper in full but to bring back the meat for the kittens and cat. I tried to explain that, like Aslan, they will visit when they wish and that might not be for weeks and you can’t just leave the meat out as that will attract other, unwelcome, members of the wildlife diversity community. But that was to no avail. So the meat lies in our fridge, slowly degenerating as we await another visit which may be tonight or may not be for months…  

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: the Greek Hovel starts to become an eco palace

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?

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel – disaster averted

274 days ago

As you know, young Joshua, is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. The highlight of his year was meeting Thomas on the Watercress Line  with godfather Lucian Miers.  The Bard of the Boleyn gave him a plastic Percy which makes real noises and that goes everywhere. But for some reason his favourite train is bossy Gordon. He is also very fond of my Mother-in-law.

And so Joshua’s pride and joy is a metal two inch Gordon which comes with a separate tender. Everywhere we go out comes Gordon and Joshua runs him up a surface, my arm, a sofa, whatever saying “Gordon’s Hill”. Occasionally Gordon gets stuck at which point I say loudly, in a Gordon type voice “The Indignity!”

And so as I prepared to hand the Mrs and Joshua over to her brother-in law for a few days away from the building site over at his familial home 50 miles the other side of Kalamata, out came Gordon and the tender as we met up in the lobby of my usual hotel. Joshua played happily, we chatted and it was time to go. We packed up everything but where was the tender? Disaster!

As we go swimming in the sea in the bay of Kalamata Joshua looks over to the land on the other side in the far distance and says “The Mainland!”. That is because we are all on the isle of Sodor. And so, we lied and said that the tender was on the mainland and panicked about how we would replace it.

Yesterday afternoon as I returned to the hovel, the excitement of a day dealing with bureaucrats in Kalamata got to me and I fancied a lie down in the Bat Room. The Mrs will be impressed because before clambering on the bed I did actually take off my walking boots and, praise the lord, from beneath the flap above my ankle, what tumbled out….

The sense of relief as I phone the Mrs with the good news… Gordon’s tender really is on the mainland.

 

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Frantic hovel tidying as the Mrs arrives tomorrow

279 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/37793/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-frantic-hovel-tidying-as-the-mrs-arrives-tomorrow

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Fear not Olaf & the Mrs: chairs arrive at the Greek Hovel

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.

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Photo article - so close to completion of the Greek Hovel

281 days ago

George the Architect says he is proud of his work at the hovel. And so he should be. For four years we have worked on plans, tweaked, re-tweaked, waded through layers of Greek bureaucracy and now we are almost there as the photos below show. I am proud too. I know I am not an easy client and so I have had walls pulled down and rebuilt and made big changes as we went along but they have worked.

the biggest change was in insisting that the old flat roof be removed from the former kitchen'living room on the second floor. Now you stand there and gaze up into the timbers of the wooden roof above you.

As you walk out of the kitchen, there will soon be wooden steps but for now you just haul yourself onto a brick wall and if you are brave enough walk across the beams to the balcony which runs outside the room above the rat room and the upper floor of the new wing looking up into the Taygetos Mountains. Suffering a bit from vertigo George had to offer a helping hand but gingerly i made my way to that balcony and the view is spectacular. 

Ignore all the wires hanging from various parts, they will soon be boxed in and tidied up. Try to imagine it without the wires and with floorboards. In a few days you will not have to imagine! One photo below shows the tiles, old style in colour and texture and laid the old way, interlocking. We are now so close. Close enough to discuss with George matters such as the humanure pit, where to put solar panels and PV cells, the type of freezer we want and how to get our chosen cooker from Austria. There is the choosing of terracotta tiles to surround the house ( better wait for the Mrs on that front) and the buying of beds and the insertion of book shelves. These are but little details, in the overall scheme of things we are almost there! 

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Photo Article: My bedroom at the Greek Hovel - not as frightening as I had feared

281 days ago

My memories of sleeping at the Greek Hovel are of bedding down in the room above the Bat Room, terrified about what form of wildlife diversity would creep in, twitching at every noise outside and sweating in insufferable heat. as such I approached my first night in the bat Room with some trepidation leaving the light on before I headed into Kambos to guide me back in in case my torch failed.

What with the Bat Room lights, the stars and my torch visibility was good when I got back at around midnight. I locked the door firmly and tapped away on my PC for a while. I have rigged up an internet link and so was able to send my photos back to London to be uploaded here.  Finally i could postpone sleep for no longer and so crashed out on the mattress with my torch in one hand and my new olive pruning axe close to the other.

But it really was not that bad. There was the odd sound outside. But walls that are almost two foot thick deaden the impact and it was clear that there was no wildlife diversity inside other than one mosquito. As to the heat, the thick stone walls are meant to keep the place cool in summer and hot in winter.  And to a great extent the theory holds up so far. I think that i shall invest in a fan to please the Mrs and Joshua when they arrive but the temperature was a lot more bearable than in many Greek hotels I have stayed in where air conditioning is not on offer.

With hard working Greeks enjoying a Bank Holiday today there were no workmen on site to rouse me and I snoozed happily until ten in the morning local time when a compelling urge to prune my beloved olive trees roused me from my slumber. For we farmers there is no day off.

 

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Photo article from the Greek Hovel: Doors and windows

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. 

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A great and exciting day looms – I move into the Greek Hovel tomorrow!

282 days ago

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.

Tom Winnifrith

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Oakley Health Report - it seems as if there is life in the old boy yet

288 days ago

Last week I reported on how the, once morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley had lost 1 kg since April and was in a bad way. It got worse on Friday when the vet suggested that it might be cancer of the stomach but the only way to find out was to do a biopsy which would require an anaesthetic which may well polish him off. Oakley was only nibbling at titbits of smoked salmon, honey glazed ham and other treats and we had a long discussion about quality of life and er..you know what.

The vet said that I should think about that but gave him an injection to try to stop his nausea, and to stiff me with another bill for £46. Sadly, I wandered home and when the Mrs returned from her mother's with Joshua in tow we talked it through. I suppose that, after a few days with the mother-in-law, talking about having your cat put down counts as light relief.

But then things started to change.

Oakley started to eat again and eat cat food to boot. Now he is eating like a horse. In hobbit fashion he demands three breakfasts and several lunches and supers. He is drinking from his bowl and pissing and shitting on the doorstep. it is just like the good old days. He does appear to be a bit less anorexic and he is moving about a bit more than he was , although he was never the most active of creatures. So thank you for all your kind wishes but "da King" as Joshua calls him is better. Long live da King!

Tom Winnifrith

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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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Poor Oakley, once morbidly obese now just skin and bones

295 days ago

It was not that long ago that my three legged cat Oakley tipped the scales at over 6 kg and was, rightly, described as morbidly obese. The vet warned us that he must diet. It is so very different now.

The old boy is now sixteen and has been my almost constant companion – bar a short spell lodging with Darren Atwater – since the death of his predecessor Kitosh  in 2010.  He, and his partner Tara, now residing underneath the rhubarb in our garden – were rescued from the MSPCA shelter in the isle of Man. No-one wanted them, kittens were picked up at once, the two older cats just sat there. But I was charmed.

Oakley was down to 3.7 kg in April but he has been off his food and also vomiting of late and yesterday we walked up to the vets and he is now just 2.7 kg. we must go again today for yet more b blood tests and Oakley is complaining loudly that he is not being offered breakfast. Right now for him meals are tinned tuna or smoked salmon, he will at least nibble at such treats.

He was never the most active of cats but although he can still hobble upstairs and, with a great running jump, manage to get onto a bed he is doing less and less.

Joshua adores  Oakley who sleeps on the floor next to his cot. “Oakley da King” is wonderful with kids. His only problem is with people who use hoovers. But it does not look good. He has reached a ripe old age despite the cancer which saw his leg amputated six years ago. But as the Mrs and I discuss it there is a sense that we will enjoy his company, the bad breath kiss that serves as a wake up call, for not that much longer.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article from the Greek Hovel - Doing what the Bulgarian pooftah wouldn't

308 days ago

I explained a couple of days ago how a sweating, lying, wretched Bulgarian xxxx was too much of a pooftah to do as he was paid to do and bring a van load of goods from Bristol right to my front door at the Greek Hovel But we made it thanks to my heroic Greek workmen as you can see below.

The books, tables, wall art and chests of drawers plus four Belfast sinks were transferred from the white van of the wretched Bulgar to my hire car, a jeep and a workman's lorry as you can see in the first photo below.

The sweaty Bulgar did little of the shifting, that was down to myself and two burly Greeks. Up at the hovel we shifted the stuff inside the now completed and secured bat room. The second photo shows a heroic Greek carrying a Belfast sink as if it was a pillow case. The box in which the sink was has strict elf 'n safey wording about how it must be lifted by two men. Maybe it is the overt and shocking sexism of that warning that caused the Greek to ignore it?

And now everything, including a new purpose built mattress for an unusually sized bed, sits in the bat room waiting for my return in a few weeks when I shall be staying up at the hovel awaiting the arrival of the Mrs, Joshua and Olaf. 

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Photo Article - through the keyhole, whose books are these?

310 days ago

When I visit my dad, he urges me to take away one or two of the zillions of books in his house. Naturally I want to please him and do as requested but I am equally conscious that the Mrs reckons that our house in Bristol has too many books and that my suggestion that she bin her sociology books to make way for more of mine is not a runner. And now Joshua is collecting book after book as well...

The solution is to take boxes of books to the Greek Hovel. Some I have read some I keep knowing that one day I will read them. Others are there so that guests at the Hovel will have a wide variety of reading material. I have designed the hovel to have plenty of book space as you will see in due course.

Most of the books now sit in boxes but one box broke and thus future guests can see a bit of what is on offer. Uncle Chris Booker on the EU, Dom Frisby on Bitcoin (someone might be interested, surely?), books on oil, a Wilson biography, Gore Vidal, a David Lodge trilogy which now seems oddly dated though it is not that old,  my fellow Christ Church reject and Hertford scholar Evelyn Waugh and of course books on the Mani and Greece. plenty to enjoy in the years that lie ahead.

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

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!

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And now the PC bastards want to ban Zulu because it’s racist – natch

330 days ago

This weekend in Folkestone there was set to be a charity showing of the film Zulu to help raise cash for the arms forces charity SSAFA. Members of the charity voted to show the 1964 classic portrayal of the battle of Rorke’s Drift but, like cycling, they are clearly just racist. 28 virtue signalling busy bodies have written to the Council demanding that the showing be scrapped stating that:

“We believe that the choice of the film Zulu, with its inaccurate portrayal of historical events and its distortions and racist overtones, could have a negative effect on relationships within the changing and richly diverse communities here in Folkestone….

The so-called epic story of ‘honour courage and pride’ portrayed is far from the truth about what really happened.This film glorifies the myth that was created in 1879 after the humiliation of the British military de-feat at the battle of Isandlwana…

The Battle of Rorke’s Drift was, in reality, little more than a footnote after a far more important, and far more gory battle earlier in the day, 11 miles away at Isandlwana.”

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

There is another movie about Isandlwana where 4,000 British soldiers were wiped out by a 20,000 strong Zulu force. Made in 1979 Zulu Dawn is worth watching as well. In reality both battles are just part of the events of the Anglo Zulu wars of 1879. The first battle was a great defeat for Britain the second a bit of a triumph as 156 Brits held off 4,000 Zulus suffering a dozen casualties while the Zulus suffered almost a thousand. 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded after Rorke’s Drift.

The 1964 film Zulu references the earlier defeat at Isandlwana in full. It does have some poetic license. Most of the ordinary soldiers were from the Midlands not, as in the film, from South Wales. But in how the battle was fought, the evacuation of the hospital, the retreat to smaller and smaller redoubts and the characters involved it is fairly accurate.

The Anglo Zulu wars were not as the PC clots imagine a battle between black and white but between two empires. The British Empire in Africa brought railways, Christianity, farming on scale that ended famine, the rule of law and the end of slavery. The militaristic and authoritarian Zulu empire engaged in slavery, plunder and indeed genocide of smaller tribes.

When my PC Mrs or my Islington based daughter start to berate the evils of the British Empire, I cite the conquest of the Zulus as a clear example of a way in which the British made the world a better place.  Our empire had its faults but it was a far more pleasant one in the way it treated the various non Zulu tribes of Africa than was the Zulu empire.  Indeed after we British won the Anglo Zulu wars the Zulu people themselves were able to enjoy a peaceful existence under British oversight which they had been denied in the decades of aggressive military expansion that had proceeded our arrival.

If schools in Britain today taught history in its full context rather than simply lecturing our kids about our “shameful” Imperial past, no one would be terming the 1964 classic as having racist overtones. But they don’t.  This time common sense has prevailed and the showing is going ahead. Almost 18,000 folks took part on a poll run by the local paper and just 7% think the film should be banned.

I wonder how many of those 7% have seen the film they want to ban or understand the context of a clash between two empires where the Brits were not actually the bad guys? I suspect very few. But times are a changing. How long I wonder before the 1964 Michael Caine classic will like most of the comedy from the 1970s be deemed offensive and removed from our screens entirely.

Tom Winnifrith

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Just why am I paying for so many BBC staff to live it up in Russia at the World Cup?

331 days ago

ITV is a commercial network and covers the World Cup well enough. So why does the BBC need to bid for matches and cover it at all? Its remit should be high quality public service broadcasting not competing against commercial networks – using taxpayers cash – to show commercial propositions? But okay, we do not live in a low tax libertarian paradise, so there has to be BBC sport. However…

Just why on earth do we need such a huge variety of highly paid experts to be flown out to all parts of Russia to be paid large salaries, wined, dined and housed all on the taxpayers tab. Could not the studio guests be in London? 

In the interests of equality, virtue signaller Gary Lineker is joined in the studio not only by a range of has-beens from the men’s game but by some has-beens from the English women’s game too. Just how do they add any more insightful commentary? And would their observations on VAR or Gareth Southgate’s tactics be any less worthwhile were all the pundits back in blighty?

And then all the different BBC channels TV and radio all need their folks there on the spot. Some of those reporting for the more obscure channels know less about football than the Mrs who has, at least, been to a couple of real games and knows that West Ham won the FA Cup in 1964, the Cup winners Cup in ’65 and the World Cup a year later. Even the Mrs can see through talking heads on the obscure channels who know nothing at all.

Sometimes the experts forget who is watching or listening and discuss what a great old time they are all having.  They forget that folks back home who earn a fraction of what the BBC stars pick up, are picking up the tab for the whole great circus.  As ever the case for privatization grows ever stronger.

Tom Winnifrith

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Guardian harpie Christina Patterson – the BBC fails to haul her up for the most disgraceful Donald Trump smear

335 days ago

Stranded in the car with the Mrs, I found myself forced to listen to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 as it discussed Donald Trump  with the author, the Guardian writing metropolitan liberal elitist Christina Patterson. Listeners who liked Trump were invited to call in so that Christina could brand them as racists because she thinks all Trumpsters are racist. Keep it up liberal moron! Every such statement makes #Trump2020 even more of a shoo in.

Remember when Crooked Hillary branded Trump supporters as “Deplorables”. We took that as a badge of honour. Trump’s poll ratings improved. Smearing half the electorate is just not that smart.  You kind of know that liberals like Patterson are losing the argument when they are forced to both deny what is fact ( Trump’s poll ratings at this stage of the cycle are very good indeed and getting better) but also just to resort to smears and insults.

One deplorable on the phone complained that folks don’t get a fair view of what trump actually does thanks to the biased media citing, inter alia, the BBC.  Natch the BBC presenter insisted in a pompous manner that it was fair, free and impartial, to quote loathsome fake news expert Jon Sopel, as Trump “owned him” a couple of years ago.

The BBC then demonstrated exactly why it is not fair or impartial as Patterson discussed Trump’s policy on tariffs claiming that “it will hurt exactly the people he is trying to help, the white working class.” Consider that statement and let it sink in.  Trump’s tariff plans are trying to help the entire working class in the rust belt, a working class that is both black and white.  He has not inserted or talked of any measures to ensure only whites benefit. His anti illegal immigration policies, whatever you think of the, do not impact on working class blacks (or whites) in the rust belt except in that it might reduce competition for lower paying jobs.

What Trump is trying to do is to help the working classes. It was Patterson who inserted entirely without justification the word “white” to create fake news. The facts are that wages among black workers are rising faster than ever. Black unemployment is the lowest since 1972 having fallen sharply since Trump took office. The Dems may talk the talk on tackling black poverty but Trump walks the walk and that is why he increased the GOP vote among black voters in 2016, from 2012, and much to the annoyance of folks like Patterson, will increase it again in 2020.

But Patterson does not like facts. So she made something up and smeared Trump in a horrible way – rather like the Kylie Morris of C4 News "make America white" smear of 2016. And the BBC being “impartial” just let her get away with it completely.

Tom Winnifrith

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Sunday's 14 mile training walk for Woodlarks goes horribly wrong ( but extra long)

339 days ago

It started well. I had planned a route from the Conham River Car Park on the outskirts of Bristol, along the Avon to Bath. The signs said it was 14 miles. What could be more pleasant?

The first two and a half miles, to the Chequers Pub at Hanham Lock is my normal training base for my five miles during the week walks. The path is clearly defined and even at 8.30 you meet a constant stream of joggers (often shapely lycra clad young ladies), cyclists (invariably lycra clad men who could do with losing a few pounds) and stacks of folks walking their dogs. There is a rather glamorous older lady on a horse who I meet now and again.

Joy of joys, I saw a Kingfisher for the first time in the wild. What a glorious sight as it took flight. I rather assumed that the whole walk would be like this. It was not.

Shortly after Hanham the path rather disappeared and I found myself walking through fields. Sometimes patterns in the grass suggested there was a path somewhere, often there were no patterns. At the edge of each field a metal kissing gate gave me renewed hope that I was on the right track.

I ploughed on, making reasonable time but at the village of Swineford the track stopped altogether and I found myself staring at a road and a not yet open pub, the Swan. I could see no sign so wandered along the road towards Bath for a third of a mile and finding nothing wandered back again. I met a man and asked directions. I retraced my steps heading back along the road towards Bath as instructed. After about a mile there was a footpath market down towards the river.

I took the path but by the time I got to the village of Kelston I had my hands above my head as I pushed through deep nettles. I do not wish to sound like some angry townie rambler but, well, I was an angry townie rambler at that point. Cut back your fecking nettles Kelston. Wandering through Kelston I met other walkers: a young man who, like me. had a back pack and who overtook me and than raced on ahead and then four folks who looked to be about sixty who I overtook! Hooray. That was a first and I had nine miles under my belt already at that point. I paced on, conscious that the skies were darkening.

It was at this point that not looking in more detail at the route proved my downfall, for I should have crossed the river. I did not. As I continued, I noticed that the paths had disappeared altogether, that there were no walkers and that I was walking through fields packed with cows who seemed not entirely familiar with ramblers. The terrain got tougher and tougher. There were no paths. No kissing gates just rusty old farmers gates to mount but I convinced myself that keeping the river to my right would get me to Bath.

Eventually I reached a field with only one exit. I had to jump a stream, clamber over an old rusty gate that cannot have been used in decades and I found myself in field with grass up to my chest. As I wandered through it, I saw big red signs at the end “Private land No Entrance, Ramblers and working Class People will be shot!”. Okay I made the last bit up but I recognised the game was up and seeing an exit at the top of the field I started to climb a track that cannot be used more than once a month.

It was a hard old, very steep, climb of 400 yards or so which left me breathless but at the end I was at a road and I headed right towards Bath. The views overlooking the river valley far below were spectacular and pretty soon I reached the outskirts of Bath. I walked almost to the Centre where the Mrs met me with her motor.

Thanks to getting lost twice and my unusual route I easily managed fifteen miles. I really did worry at one stage that I was completely lost and that there would be no way out other than swimming the river. I have no blisters to report which is good. I know that as an ex smoker a few years ago I’d have been gasping for breath but my lungs seemed fine. In that department I could carry on all day. My feet and legs were fine at the end and I am fairly confident that I could have carried on at my 3mph pace for another couple of hours or so, without collapsing but by the time I got home they were sore and seizing up. So all the articles I planned as I marched past the cows must be postponed. It was straight to bed where I slept like a log.

On balance, I have learned a valuable lesson about reading maps more carefully but I take heart from my stamina and so plan a 20 mile walk this weekend coming up.

This is all in preparation for my 32 mile walk on July 28 with fellow financial journalist Brokerman Dan who, I suspect, is already doing twenty mile walks without breaking a sweat. He is a smug bastard! So far we have raised £7,639.16 ( or just over £9,000 with gift aid). As you laugh at the idea of me scrambling up a steep slopes through grass tall enough to get me panicking about snakes; as you consider the pain of my legs stiffening yesterday and ponder me staring carefully at each cow I approached to make sure that it was not a bull, I am sure you can donate a tenner to a great cause. Please do so HERE.

Tom Winnifrith

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Daughter Olaf berates my T-shirt and wants Mayor Sadiq Khan to be PM – should I disown her?

341 days ago

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.

Tom Winnifrith

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Walking, walking, walking – update on my training for Woodlarks, another day of humiliation

345 days ago

I see that  Brokerman Dan, who will be walking 32 miles for Woodlarks with me on July 28, has tweeted about completing a 15 mile training walk. In the smug looking selfie that accompanied the tweet the old bastard looks fresh as a daisy, as if he had just strolled to and from the local corner store. If only it were that way for me.

On Saturday or Sunday I shall be doing my weekend long walk. Last Saturday I managed ten miles. The target this weekend is 12-14 miles along the River Avon starting at bath and heading West. Do I stop at the Chequers pub ( 11.5 miles) or can I make it to the Conham River car park (14 miles) and get the Mrs to take me back to the pub by car? Decisions, decisions.

Pro tem it is back to five miles every other day – my weekday training. Yesterday saw me do just over 3.5 miles in an hour on a constant uphill gradient of between 4 and 7 ( whatever that means) at the local gym run by Perry the Tory here in Brislington, Bristol. The body builders who are the gym’s other clients did not giggle but at the end I was sweaty and smelly but not actually that breathless and easily able to walk straight to Joshua’s nursery and wheel him home. That involves a couple of steep hills as well so a  good five miles in all and lots of hill work.

I worry that the Woodlarks walk has a lot of hills along the way.

I am not sure that the girls who look after Joshua at his nursery were that impressed by his sweaty and smelly dad. I tried to mumble something about training and a 32 mile walk but decided quickly that the best thing to do was to get him out of there as soon as possible with a promise that we could go visit the snakes and rabbits at Pets at Home over the way.

Today is a day off although I shall do the one and a half mile walk to pick Joshua up just to keep my hand in so to speak. Instead I have sent a few emails to encourage folks to make their donations.  After about three weeks of fund raising Dan and I have raised £5718.16 ( with gift aid that is £6,815.210). That is 28% of our £20,000 (without gift aid) target so not bad.

But most of you reading this article have  not yet pledged. To those that have I am grateful and will not let you – or myself – down. To those that have not, I am sure that you can spare a tenner. Go on, think of me trying to explain away how smelly I was to Joshua’s carers, think of the muscle men laughing at me, think of my humiliation, laugh and donate a tenner HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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Farewell to the Greek Hovel & Kambos - 240 trees and out

354 days ago

I have just enjoyed a cracking lunch of beef in tomato sauce and peas at Miranda's in Kambos. Actually it is not called Miranda's any more as it has a new owner but I stick with the old name. The prices have not changed. That will be 5 Euro.

I have also downed two litres of water after pruning twenty more trees up at the hovel.

Skipping, okay I exaggerate a bit, up and down the terraces to the most snake infested long grass, in the far reaches of the hovel's lands, was tiring work in 30+ degree heat. I am shattered and must return to Kalamata soon to wash my trousers which contain ten days of sweat and blood - from when I cut my hands and arms on saw or frigana. I wipe them on my poor trousers which now feel like cardboard and carry on. Anyhow the Mrs suggests I wash them before returning home. I say suggests but it is not in an optional sort of way.

So I have pruned 240 trees and there are, perhaps, a dozen more in the furthest reaches that are un-pruned. I shall tackle them next month. I have far more trees than I thought. Four years agon on prune one it took three days and Foti the Albanian trousered 210 Euro. There are more trees now thanks to the ones that we discovered as we cleansed the frigana forest. Okay it has taken me ten stints of a couple of hours a day but it has not cost me a cent. I feel good about that.

Now its farewell to the folks in Kambos and back to the bloody UK. Next time I come here the hovel will have a roof, ceilings, more doors and windows and a bed in the snake proof bat room. And I shall therefore be staying here not in Kalamata. It is all very exciting.

Tom Winnifrith

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Yet again ashamed of my old University Oxford

355 days ago

My father, like his father and brother an Oxford man, despairs at the way Oxford has become a term of abuse. Seemingly a week goes by without it being attacked for being elitist, a place where only the children of the 1% attend and for being out of touch, or for it being shown to be home to very silly people. Former graduates like Robert Peston, most of the BBC and the Guardian editorial team line up to say how ghastly it is. And the spineless craven fools who run the place do not bother fighting lie with fact but just cower and grovel.

My dear wife took real pleasure in reading a passage from the biography of an, apparently, famous comedian. He went to a state school and then Oxford. Or was it Cambridge? It matters not for both are tarred with the same brush. He recounts that on his first day a posh chap strolled over and said "who is your father?". The comedian replied. The posh chap said "never heard of him and walked away". Thus my Russell Group educated Mrs is reinforced in her belief that Oxford and Cambridge are packed with stupid snobbish members of the upper classes. And therefore the really intelligent folk go to Russell Group universities. Whatever you say, dearest: you lot are cleverer than me and my peers, we only went to Oxford because we were all posh.

Of course Oxford is nothing like that and the comedian just made up the story. He is on the side of the people. and the people want their prejudices reinforced. The latest row, lead by the Matthew Hopkins of the racism industry, David Lammy MP was a claim that Oxford discriminated against women, blacks and folks from the North East. Some headline data emerged and Lammy was off. Peston said he was ashamed to have gone to Oxford. The BBC and the Guardian shrieked with delight with no-one actually bothering to crunch the real data.

In my day there were a reasonable number of right wing Dons at Oxford. The great Norman Stone was a family friend and a real hoot socially. My economics tutor the late and great Roger Van Noorden (as in the Van Noorden Index) would have crunched Lammy's data and spat it out as garbage in minutes. But even in my day, the vast majority of Dons were lefties and folks like Stone were starting to feel the heat. These days the Oxford Dons are almost all ball breakingly PC and the idea that they would discriminate against women, blacks or those with a regional accent is ludicrous. White public schoolboys on the other hand...

And so while Peston et al virtue signalled someone who knows about academia and learned more in his time at Oxford about data than Peston did, Toby Young actually crunched the data. The headline is that the BME percentages at Oxford are almost the same as in the wider peer group and black applicants are actually proportionately more likely to get in than white applicants, it is just that there are far fewer of them. In other words there is no discrimination at all by Oxford. Yet it grovels "we must do better" because no one dares confront the Witchfinder General and his media pals to say they are talking pure cock and adding nothing to the cause of racial harmony by pushing such a false narrative.

In that respect I, like Peston, am also ashamed of going to Oxford, I am ashamed of its collective cowardice and also for obviously teaching Mr Peston quite so badly. Young's demolition on twitter follows:








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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Recording in what seems like a sauna to avoid the snakes

355 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/36356/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-recording-in-what-seems-like-a-sauna-to-avoid-the-snakes

Tom Winnifrith

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Things I won't be doing dear reader: running for office in Texas & going to Belize on a snake tour ( or at all)

360 days ago

A kind reader in the land of the free emails with praise about my article on the Irish murder referendum HERE and makes a couple of suggestions. The first is that i should move to Texas and run for office.

Sadly I must decline that, as the Mrs says that the only red state we are allowed to visit, let alone reside in, is Tennessee where she is hoping to bump into Deacon Claybourne and pay homage to Nashville. So I guess that career option is out. Texas has, of course, produced the finest politician in US history, the saintly libertarian Doctor Ron Paul and it is a fine place full of God fearing, gun owning, hard working decent folks, but I must say no.

And so it is suggested that I join my reader on a trip to Belize to see real snakes. I should say that visiting Belize was never on my bucket list anyway. But having been provided with the details of the poisonous snakes that live there by my dear reader, here, is is definitely not a place that I will be heading to.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Olaf it's here! The first eco-loo lands at the Greek Hovel

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.

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Photo Article: Joshua learns a new word in Sweden - "outdoors"

385 days ago

The new words are being learned thick and fast now. I cannot remember from days gone by how much a 19 month old should be speaking but the Mrs and I agree that Joshua is very clever. We disagree from which side he gets the "very clever gene" but you, dear reader, know that it is mine. Not all words sound quite right. Joshua's fave character in his favourite TV show and book, is Gorguan, or as you might say Gordon in Thomas the Tank Engine.

In Sweden words such as goat, fishing and nice appeared as well as "pest" our nickname for our son. Another new word is outdoors which, as you can see below, is an exciting place.

Joshua has his first wellies and so walks don't always involve buggies these days. Although wheeling him in a buggy then offering him milk is a great way to get him to sleep. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: a week in Sweden by a lake

385 days ago

Once again no fish were in the slightest effected by my fishing. That is no shock but the Mrs, myself and Joshua enjoyed our week by a lake in sub 10 degree Sweden, about 20 miles from Gothenburg, where the Mrs used to work and knows a lot of folks.

The photos below are in order: our wood house, the marshy land next adjacent to it, the view up the lake from just beyond the marsh and then two views back down from half way up the other side, where Joshua and i went on an near daily walk.

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: 'fessing up to what the Mrs and I were up to last night & the deafening silence at Advanced Onco and Frontera

403 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35431/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-fessing-up-to-what-the-mrs-and-i-were-up-to-last-night-the-deafening-silence-at-advanced-onco-and-frontera

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: paying Homage to Donald Trump in New York

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!

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - why won't the Mrs come to see the new Death Wish as her birthday treat?

414 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35211/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-why-won-t-the-mrs-come-to-see-the-new-death-wish-as-her-birthday-treat

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: the investment case for gold and two shares I am likely to buy next week

415 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35197/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-the-investment-case-for-gold-and-two-shares-i-am-likely-to-buy-next-week

Tom Winnifrith

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The Sunday service ..Dr Johnson would not have been surprised

416 days ago

I shall not name the Parish as that would be unfair on a female vicar who was enthusiastic and welcoming and on a large congregation of good folk but the service we attended on Easter Sunday morning was not one for the traditionalists, that is to say me. Dr Johnson would, no doubt, have viewed it as evidence that his famous bon mot on a women preaching was bang on the money.

I suppose I should have been alerted when, upon entry, we were presented with no hymn books or order of service, for everything we had to sing or say appeared on screens throughout the church. Seeing the screens excited Joshua who had immediately said "Peppa" very loudly but was somewhat disappointed when his porcine heroine failed to appear.

When I told my father that the service included a short drama session depicting the resurrection he knew which way this was heading. We had already had the same story relayed to us via the gospel (not KJV but a rather newer version) so why do we need it a second time? It is the way parts of the CofE try to "get down with the kids" and relate to "a younger audience".

In the same vein the vicar's sermon managed to include the theme music from EastEnders and also a cartoon flashed up on our screens of some folks in a swimming pool which the vicar used as a metaphor for faith. In front of us a mother, with kids dressed in the sort of home made wooly jumpers designed to get them beaten up at school but so beloved of the sort of middle class Christians who raise their hands to the Lord during hymns, nodded approvingly.

The folks in the congregation were welcoming and did not mind Joshua running around happily once he realised that Peppa was not appearing on screen. They are far better people than I can hope to be and I am sure far less judgemental, except when it comes to LGBT issues (pro), Brexit ( anti), capitalism (evil) global warming denial (akin to holocaust denial), Israel (the bad guys) and other things on which the CofE tends to be utterly judgemental.

It is just that, like my father, I find the attempts of the CofE to "relate" to a 21st Century audience just a but of a turn-off.

The Mrs says that is because my world view is from the nineteenth, not even the twentieth, century. Heck, I reply, the nineteenth century was not all bad and she gives me a Paddington stare.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: I just love it when my father in law and I talk about his birth in Madras, it so annoys the Mrs

423 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/35089/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-i-just-love-it-when-my-father-in-law-and-i-talk-about-his-birth-in-madras-it-so-annoys-the-mrs

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Joshua's first haircut

450 days ago

Until now my young son has had a rather eccentric hairstyle with plenty of curls and no great pattern - he takes after his paternal grandfather. After some resistance, the Mrs relented at the weekend and took him to the hairdresser. The expression on poor Joshua's face suggests that it was not a total treat but he's now smart enough for a job interview.

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Photo article: Proving I am a real man... pyromania at last at the Greek Hovel

454 days ago

You know that I am a feminist. Child care, nappy changing, shopping, washing, cooking, I dxo more than my fair share. But there are some things that only women can do. Breast feeding for example. And there are some things we men do: snake killing, ouzo drinking and.. lighting fires.  My repeated failure to burn off the olive branches and frigana I cut down last year at the Greek Hovel has thus been somewhat emasculating. And it got far worse yesterday before it got better.

After meeting George the Architect I tried again to create a bonfire. Sure, lawyers letters from Roger Lawson went up in smoke but nothing caught. I retreated to my nearest village of Kambos disheartened. On my way down snake hill I saw a roaring blaze in a field by the side of the road. That was bad but worse still was that it was being tended by its author, a fair maiden of the olive groves, a woman. FFS that really was a kick in the gonads.

Thus after lunch at Miranda's - an excellent calamari cooked in a sardine based sauce and some mountain greens boiled and doused in lemon for 7 Euro since you ask - I determined to return to the hovel for another go. Running out of Lawson's letters I started to use empty concrete sacks to set the pyre on fire. Occasionally one took but then spluttered and faltered as you can see below.

Almost despairing as the afternoon wore on and the air started to chill, I resorted to the traditional methods of using a handful of long grass to set the fire going. It was still a bit wet but there seemed hope. But hope turned to despair after several more failures.  One last try thought I and picking a huge bundle of grass and adding in some twigs I set it alight and plunged it into the heart of an enormous pile of rather damp branches, twigs and dried frigana leaves.

Alleluliah! The Lord rewards those who persevere and something caught. Very soon I had a real blaze going so big that I am sure my neighbours on hills miles away must have seen it. They won't be laughing at me in Kambos anymore thought I.

As you can see below, pretty soon darkness was closing in but I wanted to stay until the fire was done. Flames reached up into the night sky. And before long I turned around to stare into a pitch black sky. I could see nothing at all, not the hovel not even my car fifteen yards away. But I worked on, not leaving until the whole pile was gone and the flames were starting to turn to embers.

I was not back to my hotel until nine O'clock. I spoke to the Mrs about how I felt that my manliness mojo had been restored and she told me that I was talking complete nonsense. But I am sure that if you are a man you know what I am talking about, don't you?

 

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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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Whatever the BBC thinks, I am not discriminatory in not wanting to date a woman who used to have a penis

495 days ago

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And beauty is not skin deep - or should not be. I fancy the Mrs not only because she is physically attractive but for a range of reasons including her brains, sense of humour and her past experiences which I can understand. But now apparently that is not acceptable. If a woman's past experiences include being a man and going through surgery and hormone treatment that may be something that one may not find so attractive. In fact it is something that would deter me from trying it on.

But apparently that is, according to the BBC, arguably bigoted. That it runs a story where high profile trans India Willoughby asks the question as to whether refusing to date a trans is "discriminatory" shows how out of touch the state funded broadcaster is.

Who we date is because we discriminate on a range of grounds. Put another way we all have different tastes in who we date.

And whatever India or the BBC think "women" who used to have penises and be men are not quite like other women in ternms of their poast experiences, their ability to lift weights, and other matters. Such woman may be your squeeze of choice but they are not mine. Just as I am happy being married to a Guardian reading lefty while you may not be. It is down to taste.

What next? Perhaps if we are discussing what is a matter of taste you need to think about your CD collection.
No Motown in there? Hell's teeth you don't listen to soul or gospel either. Well I guess that makes you a racist as you are "discriminating" against black music. The logic is the same. Or rather complete lack of logic. This is sheer more complete insanity. And of course it is your taxes that funds the BBC which engages so enthusiastiacly in this insanity.

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Joshua's apparent hatred of Santa Claus

526 days ago

There is no doubt that my angelic one year old son Joshua will be blessed with a visit from Santa Claus on the night before Christmas for he has been a good boy. The Mrs will be equally blessed for she has been a good girl. Notwithstanding the fact that he has just vomited in the kitchen, my three legged cat Oakley will also be rewarded with a stocking. Indeed, Santa will be a busy fellow. The mother-in-law is joining us to brighten up my Christmas and I gather that Santa will also be visiting her. to reward her for her good deeds in 2017, The only question is will daughter Olaf, be so lucky? She is a godless creature delighting in liberal delusions who thinks that Christmas is just one great consumerfest and nothing to do with Jesus. Should Santa really reward such heathens? But back to Joshua...

At his nursery a grotto has been established where parents can leave a present for Santa to hand out to their little darlings at the end of a given school day. And thus as I go to pick Joshua up in the evening, a big fat man with a white beard, glasses and a kindly smile sits there in his red suit waiting to greet the little children.

On Monday I was carrying Joshua to the car. He was smiling as he greeted me and in a good mood as I slung him over my shoulder like a small sack of spuds. So when I saw Santa I put him down, facing the old man. Joshua stood, looked and then started screaming and bawling in a way he has never before. After a minute or so of trying to console him and persuade him that Santa was really a well intentioned old geezer I just apologised and carried him away.

Tuesday came and Joshua and I were walking home so he was in a pram. I wheeled him from his classroom towards the exit and he was happy. Then he spotted Santa. Again cue screaming and bawling. I hastily agreed with Santa that he and Joshua were just not meant to be friends and we scuttled away. Today was a noon pick up so no Santa. I think that means no more encounters with the bearded old boy. I am struggling to explain Joshua's hostility. Perhaps he thinks it is Jeremy Corbyn?

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: UK Oil & Gas today shows why a death spiral is a one way bet (down!)

531 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/33165/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-uk-oil-gas-today-shows-why-a-death-spiral-is-a-one-way-bet-down

Tom Winnifrith

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Boys, girls, make-up and sexism in 2017 - the strange world of the BBC

534 days ago

Before she leaves in the morning, to fill the empty heads of impressionable snowflakes with left wing nonsense, the Mrs always switches on Radio 4. As I wander into the Kitchen to make morning coffees I am treated to some real gems and insight into the mad mindset of the state funded fake news outlet and the mindset of an utterly out of touch metropolitan elite.

On Women's Hour today a lefty academic and a mother were discussing make up for kids in schools. The host summed it up thus. So when girls wear too much makeup they are condemned but if boys experiment with the same make up they are applauded for experimenting....

Right so the schooling system is just sexist.

I give up. Are boys really universally applauded for experimenting with make-up in 2017? Maybe in zone 1 London, where the 1% dwell, they are but I sense that most of us in Britain really would not be happy with schools applauding such things. And is it really sexist to suggest that 11 year old girls sexualising themselves at an early age is not that wonderful either?

I'm sure that very few folks in Britain share the values of the BBC on this matter. But maybe I am wrong and am just old reactionary who is out of touch with the modern world and the BBC really does speak for the nation as it is today. Somehow I think not.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article - so why can't you eat your olives at the Greek Hovel?

534 days ago

 

About six of the trees have much bigger olives. These are black (not green, purple, brown and black) and are often almost an inch long. The oil is not good for drinking, instead these olives are cured in brine and then eaten.

I have suggested that picking these olives and curing them might be her job but she has other ideas. When we are installed at the hovel on a more permanent basis this will be another challenge for me.

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Photo article: the Greek Hovel Olive Harvest 2017 a final report and plans for 2018

536 days ago

I have not reported back on the Greek Hovel olive harvest as after each day's labours I have been just too dog tired to do anything. What can I say other than on many of the trees it was hunt the olives so bad had been the storm and it was very hard, boring work. But by Saturday noon I had three sacks filled to a greater or lesser extent with tens of thousands of tiny olives all harvested by myself. Enough is enough thought I, surely this is 80 kg and the 15 litres of oil I'd like to take back to the Mrs.

As they emptied the bags into the hopper at the Kambos press I began to think that maybe I had not harvested that much after all and sure enough the little piece of paper that followed my olives through the various stages of pressing told the stark truth - 54 kg. But that should be at least 9 litres thought I and bought two 5 litre cans from the Kourounis taverna. At least I knew that I would not be troubling the limits on my Easyjet baggage allowance flying back to Britain.

The final scores: seven and a half litres. that is enough for a year's personal use (I'm not David Furnish you know!) and Christmas presents for the usual folks but perhaps in smaller bottles this year.  The big fat controller looked at my paper chit as I asked him how much I owed for the pressing. "Good eating Thomas" - for that is my name at the olive press -  he said and ripped up the piece of paper. 

Though I am knackered I could not have beaten God on this one. Next year I am treating myself to a late 50th birthday present: a second mat and an electric twerker. I want to do a full harvest without paid Albanian labour. Now all I need is a couple of willing volunteers to help me: no pay but free accommodation, what say you all?

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Photo Article: Can I buy your sawdust? I said to the man with the sweetest kitten - he looked puzzled

536 days ago

George the architect is a modernist. I am a traditionalist. And thus at every stage of the design and reconstruction of the Greek Hovel he has an idea, my heart sinks, we discuss it and we reach my conclusion. And so last week we took a trip to a windows, shutters and door factory in the neighbouring village. I say factory, it was a big shed with - as far as I could see - the boss and just one employee.

The matter of shutters was not up for dispute. The Mrs had sent over a photo of her favoured - traditional - design. George tried to suggest we look at newer ways which...I cut him off. The Mrs has decreed, we don't argue. So that was settled. Doors were also settled in that we had sent photos of the big external door at Paddy Leigh Fermor's house down the road in Kardamili. Take away the grill and we are there. Again. Don't argue with the Mrs.

So we entered the factory and George and the boss took us over to a demonstration window frame which was clearly of the modern style. Complex machinery allowed the windows to tilt open as well as be flung open to let in the snakes. I let George and the boss gabble away for a while. I was distracted by the two factory cats and a small kitten which was playing happily.


After a few minutes George and the boss looked at me. I know that the window is expensive, modern and that when the complex joints and bolts break it will cost an arm and a leg to get a little man out from Kalamata to mend it, especially as he will have to order in new parts from Germany which will take weeks.  Besides which our house was first built in 1924 not 2014. So I said no and looked at the windows of the factory itself, old style and simple. The message got through.

So we moved on to discuss which wood we should use and after that I looked at the big bags of sawdust piling up and asked "what do you do with that - can I buy it from you?" The man looked puzzled, he just gives the dust away to shepherds for winter bedding for their flocks. Of course he'd be delighted to help but he still looked  confused.

George had to explain to him about how you use sawdust with an eco-loo. Not speaking Greek I'm not sure into how much detail he went. But the man nodded and understood. Another problem resolved.

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Photo article: Joshua reads like an Australian

544 days ago

I carry some photos of Joshua with me and, having met him in the summer, folks here in Kambos always ask after him. I show the photos from the christening and they agree that he is incredibly handsome and has a lovely smile. Natch he takes after his mother. Anyhow, I miss him terribly and, to console me, the Mrs has sent over three photos. As you can see in the third he is already very keen on books although happy, for now , to read like an Australian, that is to say upside down.

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Arsenal football players on the AIM Casino - do not touch 'em with a bargepole

554 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/32697/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-arsenal-football-players-on-the-aim-casino-do-not-touch-em-with-a-bargepole

Tom Winnifrith

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What is God punishing me for? A sneak preview of hell

562 days ago

My one year old son Joshua delights with playing with mobile phones and TV controls. Thus poor Sam Antar got a 3 AM call from me in New York when my son managed to press a few buttons in the right order. Just a few minutes ago I got a phone reminder of something important. I do not actually know how to set such a reminder but Joshua has managed it. At least it was not at 2.58 AM like last time.

He has also fiddled with the remote controls for the TV and done something I just cannot unscramble. The net result is that the only channel I can now watch is BBC 1. God, how have I sinned? The Mrs is away until Friday night so until then no Frasier, Midsomer, Lewis, Dalziel & Pascoe, The Sweeney, Morse. Instead it is just fake news and annoying overpaid luvvies preaching at me. It is either a preview of hell or a good excuse to catch up on some work.

Tom Winnifrith

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Joshua Christening Photos

568 days ago

I was just looking at a memory stick the Mrs was playing with and up came numerous glorious photos of the Christening of my son Joshua this summer. I know many of you sent us best wishes for that day so I share just three of them

First the group photo. In case you are wondering about the location, it is a Victorian cemetery near us which is a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful spot both for its permanent residents and those, like us, visiting for the day. And yes that is my Dad at the very back on his one excursion from Warwickshire this year. 

Below that is Joshua himself with his one of his godparentgs, my good friend the bear raider Lucian Miers. Should I shuffle off this mortal coil before Joshua makes one of his great decisions in life it is Lucian's job to take him to see

West Ham and make sure that he has no funny ideas about supporting Bristol City.
Finally the Mrs and I giving a speech. Naturally she had the last word. And the first. And most of the rest. Rightly so.

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The BBC's John Simpson tweets fake news on Brexit teachings in Universities as academia squirms and dissembles

574 days ago

Tory MP Christopher Heaton-Harris seems to be in a spot of bother in certain circles for writing to university vice chancellors asking for a list of those lecturers who were running course material on Brexit and asking to see that course material. That is what actually happened but the BBC's senior reporter John Simpson tweeted out something rather different. This is fake news surely?

Mr Heaton-Harris has his suspicions as to how the fortress of the liberal elitist left that is British academia is teaching our young folks about Brexit. So do I. Academia voted overwhelmingly to remain and as we have seen time and time again on campuses across the West those who dissent from what is deemed the orthodox view, that is to say the Guardian editorial line, are just not tolerated. Whether it be on global warming, transgender rights or Brexit the debate is settled and dissent is just not allowed.

But it could be that the Universities are teaching Brexit matters in an even handed manner with professors giving equal weight to arguments for and against and allowing their students to make up their minds. I hope that is what is happening. Mr Heaton-Harris made a request so that the facts are known. That seems utterly legitimate.
He did not, as Simpson asserts, demand details of anti Brexit teachers. That would be wrong but it did not happen. Yet the most senior BBC reporter tweeted that it did. It is fake news. Why am I forced to pay a poll tax for the bloated salary of a tweeter of fake news, or lies as they used to be called?

Academia, including my Mrs, has reacted with outrage. I managed to stifle a laugh as she complained about the burden of work that would fall on stressed academics in complying with this. Surely they could find ten minutes during the forthcoming reading week, or during the 26 weeks a year when they do research during student holidays, to email over their lectures on this subject?

But the Mrs and others also bleat about Government interference in academic freedom. The move was branded "McCarthyite" by Prof Kevin Featherstone, head of the European Institute at the London School of Economics and "sinister" by Prof David Green, the vice-Chancellor of Worcester University who likened it to Newspeak and the Thought Police from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Of course it is nothing of the sort. There is no proposal to ban anything. But surely as the taxpayer funds academia we have a right to know what is being taught? Had a Labour minister asked that all academics hand over course notes on immigration to establish that it was being taught in a fair manner would there be any objections? Of course not. It is right that all such matters are taught fairly and in a balanced manner with real debate allowed and indeed encouraged.

If academia is, indeed, embracing such an approach to its teaching of Brexit it has nothing to fear or to hide. The way that it has attacked Mr Heaton-Harris with such venom only confirms the suspicions of folks such as myself that, in at least some cases, its approach is far from balanced and that, like global warming, it regards Brexit as "settled science" with only one possible viewpoint deemed acceptable.

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Would you Adam and Eve it? Breakthrough at the Greek Hovel it is all systems go

583 days ago

It has only taken three and a bit years but the final planning consent has now arrived. We can now start putting a roof on the Greek Hovel and extending it to more than double its original size. George the architect has been in touch and it is all systems go. However, there are, Greece being Greece, a few minor issues.

There is the little matter of my neighbour who is still demanding a silly amount for the few branches we cut off his olive trees to allow heavy machinery to get up the long track to the hovel. George suggests compromise. I think otherwise. There is a discussion with another neighbour about the excavations needed to create an "infinity swimming pool". George assures me that this is a "good neighbour" but I rather fear the outcome.

But there is nothing to stop the trusty band of Greek Albanians from re-starting work on the house itself. Fingers crossed it will be completed by next June although, since that is George's prediction, I am thinking that next September is more likely. But at that point the Greek hovel will become a green palace, generating all of its own power from PV cells and recycling all the waste from the eco-loos and other waters into improving the yield on my olive crop.

On that note the olive harvest looms. I am mentally preparing to fly out in just over five weeks time to once again work in the fields with George the Albanian and his gaggle of female co-workers. I cannot wait.

I was intrigued to see on a Bulletin Board the other day that one particular knave was still pushing the idea that I had fled to Greece to evade justice as I was afraid of charges of market abuse. I cannot remember when this myth started but it was many years ago. Suffice to say, all the regulators know exactly where I am in England for most of the year and it goes without saying that calling out a fraud or a daft stockmarket promotion as such is not market abuse.

How I wish that I lived in Greece all year round even if it did encourage stockmarket halfwits to push this myth even more. I suppose when obvious scoundrels promoting fraudulent shares spread lies like this, one should take it as an endorsement of your work.

Bring on the closure of sociology departments across Britain and an unemployed Mrs might just be persuaded to agree to a move. But until then I fear that I must remain in old Blighty for the bulk of the year.

Maybe when the Palace takes shape I can persuade the Mrs to join me in early retirement in the Hellenic Republic? Fingers crossed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Britain's craziest divorce case - how is a business making £40k worth £1.1 billion?

592 days ago

https://www.shareprophets.com/views/32002/britain-s-craziest-divorce-case-how-is-a-business-making-40k-worth-11-billion

Tom Winnifrith

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Bath Spa University, the transexuals and the sheer cowardice of liberal academia

604 days ago

This is a bit sensitive as the Mrs is a senior lecturer at Bath Spa. This morning I wished her well as she headed off to campus to fill the empty heads of impressionable millennials full of left wing nonsense and told her that I hoped she enjoyed the book burning or whatever else was planned by her cowardly employer today. For Bath Spa is in the news.

Therapist James Caspian paid Bath Spa (until 2005 a college of Higher Education) to do a thesis on people who decide to reverse gender reassignment operations, what is termed " "detransition" in the politically correct Newspeak of 2017. Caspian is no dangerous evil right winger but is a counsellor who specialises in therapy for transgender people. He had observed a number of men who had had their gonads chopped as part of becoming women and then opted to reverse that call. Data suggests that c5% of trans folks decide to detransition.

If 5% make that amazing decision I wonder how many others consider it? We are constantly told by the trans community that they are imprisoned in the wrong body and all have a right to trans. Frankly that may or may not be the case but surely the incidence of detransitioning and contemplation of detransitioning is a worthwhile study. To ignore it seems wrong. But Bath Spa has now told Mr Caspian that he cannot do his study.

He stated that"The fundamental reason given was that it might cause criticism of the research on social media and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university and they also added it was better not to offend people," and Bath Spa appears not to disagree.

In the past, Universities encouraged debate, free speech and academic enquiry. No doubt some folks were offended by suggestions that the earth was not flat or that man was not created in seven days by God. Would Bath Spa have shut down research which investigated alternative theories too? Its decision is sheer cowardice by an institution obsessed with political correctness.

One can only imagine that the decision to detransition is the most appalling one to make. If academic research might allow fewer folks to suffer such torment what is to be lost in pursuing it?

I trust that Mr Caspian will be drummed off campus in a torchlight parade tonight while his research notes are thrown onto a fire also containing the books of Germaine Greer and anyone else questioning the one true narrative when it comes to transexuals. It would be offensive to allow any further debate on the matter.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Joshua unwraps a Birthday Present - Report the Mrs to social services

613 days ago

Once he twigged that playing with the wrapping paper was not the real present, Joshua started to get the hang of having a Birthday. This gift is not from me but from the Mrs. For imposing a lifetime of misery on the lad it is she who must be reported to social services.

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Off to learn French with 364 days old Joshua - another great idea from the Mrs

616 days ago

This has to be one of the sillier ideas of the Mrs. Instead of politically correct nursery rhymes or sing and sign, which is even more PC, my son and heir and I are off to French lessons for babies.

I accept that my Frog (O Level grade B 1984) is a tad rusty and when I go to France I am always a tad rusty but can get by. But my poor son can only speak about five words of English, less than your average Jihadi seeking asylum and a life on benefits in this blessed Isle.

So I am not sure that my Frog will improve that much while Joshua's attendance looks to be utterly pointless. But...a) who am I to argue with the Mrs as she heads off for another day of vital work filling empty millennial heads with left wing clap trap and b) there are likely to be some fit young mums sharing in this exercise in total futility.

Bon chance a moi, as we say here in Bristol.

Tom Winnifrith

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A last lunch in Kambos, Gary Sausage holds court, excrutiating embarrassment at the creperie

624 days ago

With a day to kill before flying back from Greece to what the Mrs calls home but I call Britain, there was time for one last lunch in my "home village" of Kambos. First a brief stop off at Joshua's inheritance, the Greek hovel, where a bulldozer had arrived and great progress has been made. I have photos of that, of my olives and also of my prickley pears but they can wait. For the main event, in a village whose great attraction is that nothing ever happens, was lunch in the main square.

Three of the main four tables at Miranda's were occupied. At two sat local Greeks sipping slowly at cool beers. At a third, Gary Sausage held court. He is a Brit but a permanent resident not of Kambos but of these parts. He is not really called Mr Sausage. I have no idea of his real name and I am not sure if anyone else knows either. But since he makes his living importing pork pies, British bangers and the like for those other ex-pats who - for reasons I cannot fathom - have a yearning for British food, he is Mr Gary Sausage.

The name has a naughtier sub text. Gary arrived here with his wife. In these progressive times I suppose I should make it explicitly clear that his wife was a woman. I say was because she appears to have tired of his charms and returned to Blighty. This information would surprise you as Gary Sausage is both rotund and also just extraordinarily camp. My gaydar is clearly very defective because I just assumed that he was one of life's big fat fairies. Think Christopher Biggins in shorts.

What is more, Gary Sausage always holds court when I see him in Kambos. He is always surrounded by a gaggle of British ladies who, like him, are in their sixties and have seen more than their fair share of Mediterranean sunshine and who seem to hang on his every word. Gary Sausage is the only straight man in the West to have this power over women. Anyhow he was holding Court on a large table strewn with rapidly emptying plates and bottles. Gary Sausage knows who I am, though since I have no cravings for pork pies or marmite, we have never talked.And so as the Mrs and I walked, with Joshua in his pushchair, towards the fourth table there was a fleeting acknowledgement from the great man before he refocused his attentions on his gaggle.

Miranda's was thus pretty full for a late lunch period. It was surrounded by empty plastic chairs ans empty plastic tables from the ghastly new creperie. On one of those tables sat the half French half Greek owner and her Greek father - the interlopers. They talked to themselves for they had no-one else to serve or to chat too. If someone passed by they would smile. The old man caught Joshua's eye and smiled. Joshua smiled back. That looks like a rarity.

The plain fact is that the locals are not using the creperie at all. And the last tourists have all gone, not that there was any sign that they were using it either. You do not need to be Richard Branson to see the gaping hole in the business plan going forward. And everyone in Kambos knows that.

There will come a day this Autumn when the creperie will not bother with the charade of opening its doors and laying out tables for customers who will never come. Perhaps the froggy will have another go next summer. I hope not. But pro tem the excruciating embarrassment goes on. The owner and her Dad sit there because they have to pretend they have a business and have tp keep smiling.

We all know that their fate is sealed and many of us look forward to the demise of the creperie and a return to the old order of the square being "owned" by the Kourounis taverna, Miranda's and the shop where I buy poison for frigana and get my strimmer mended. For now, however, we avoid catching a French eye, avoid having to smile back, avoid the sheer embarrassment of it all.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video - Joshua in action, why I could not write any articles yesterday

625 days ago

As you may know, I hit the keys on my computer so hard that after a while the figures on them wear off. Then they become so damaged that they stop working altogether or only if you hit them repeatedly very hard. At that point hipster Marxist, the pizza hardman Darren Atwater, says "why don't you get a new Mac costing loads of moolah from the money tree?"  and I go buy a new keyboard, which looks like what I have been using all my adult life, and plug it in. Joshua types like his Dad as you can see in the video below...

As it happens my son and heir got so carried away that he smashed the connecting cable. So I could not type anythiong all day until we got to Kalamata where the Mrs popped in to see my pals at Germanos. Now I have a magic new keyboard with both Greek and English letters, to help me learn to speak bubble, with the " symbol creating an @ and vice versa and which connects to my PC by magic rather than cable. So i am back. Meanwhile here is Joshua in action. 

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An empty Kambos creperie says what Lovely Eleni is too nice to say - the intruder is toast

629 days ago

A meeting with George the Architect at the Greek Hovel went well. Joshua inspected his inheritance. The Mrs fretted about where to put the washing machine. For a house that is half built with no doors windows, roof and, in the case of two and a half rooms, walls, I reckon she may be getting ahead of herself.

After that a visit to our local village of Kambos and for 12 Euros we share two courses and a quarter litre of Rose at Miranda's. Miranda herself has retired but the food is, as ever excellent. Chicken in a lemon sauce with potatoes (not chips) and a Greek salad all made with fresh local ingredients. Perfect. Miranda's was packed out - that is to say all six tables were occupied.

Afterwards coffees at the Kourounis taverna run by lovely Eleni. It is agreed that her two year old daughter will marry Joshua in due course. The dowry, free Greek salads for life. well actually I have not negotiated that bit yet but the wedding has been agreed. The Kourounis taverna is pretty busy and conversation turns to the ghastly creperie which had absolutely zero customers during our time in town.

Eleni is ever the diplomat but she is no fan of the bossy French woman who has parked her tables across the square and intruded on life in a village where nothing is meant to change and rarely does. But the lack of customers has not gone un-noticed and there is a small smile noticeable as she notes that the business plan keeps changing. First it was crepes, then pizzas and now coffee and toasties. And now the summer is over, the tourists who might have stopped in as they drive from Kardamili to Kalamata or vice versa are all gone. And the locals will stay in the four of five long established watering holes of Kambos.

The creperie is, methinks, toast. Eleni's smile tells you it certainly is not hurting her trade though it is an annoying eyesore. I reckon by the time I return for the olive harvest in November the creperie will be shuttered up. Good.

Tom Winnifrith

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What will my wife be giving me tomorrow? 4th Wedding anniversary looms

630 days ago

Natch, the same as last year: grief. Of course I jest. The Mrs says that she has a treat lined up for me when we return to the UK. I am more organised and on our fourth anniversary have arranged a real treat for her in Kalamata. It involves olive oil but there is no need to furnish you with the full details. In a way, our bigger celebration, is 15 days later - the first birthday of young Joshua Patrick.

He is developing fast. One of his endearing little tricks is to smile and wave his hand to say goodbye as anyone leaves his presence. Last night the boy would not go to sleep and so for a while he was allowed out of his cot and into his parents' bed. At a certain stage I stood up to attempt to return him to the cot. He sat up smiled and waved goodbye to me from what was now his bed. I had to laugh. Eventually he was persuaded to head back to the cot and for five hours we have all slept peacefully.

But back to the Mrs, a woman who first picked me up at Gatwick airport and on an Easyjet flight that followed. Using the chat up line "have you read this article in the Guardian" she somehow won my heart. Like every marriage there are bumps in the road but come Friday we will both really be celebrating four years of wedded bliss.

Tom Winnifrith

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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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Off on a road trip with Joshua to see his inheritance and the snakes

636 days ago

It is the 50th birthday party of the sister of the Mrs today. The sister in law is married to a bubble and we are staying in their house in his family village about 90 minutes the other side of Kalamata from the Mani. The party is on a boat so Joshua is not invited and I am showing solidarity with my 11 month old son and we are going on a road trip together.

The destination is the Greek Hovel. The workmen are not on site so it will be just myself, Joshua and the snakes up there as we inspect his inheritance. Joshua does know the animal sound for snake. He waves his hand from side to side in a snake like movement and hisses through his teeth. He has seen a picture of a snake in the Gruffalo but yet to meet a real one. I think he knows that they are bad things and not like Oakley ones where you can pinch them and try to push them around. 

Then to the nearest village to the hovel, Kambos, to see my friends and for them to see the son and heir. I am charging my camera tonight for a full photoshoot and will bring you the results over the weekend.

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.

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The lady at the Sainsbury's checkout looked at my son Joshua and said "what a gorgeous little girl"

649 days ago

11 month old Joshua and i greatly enjoy doing a Sainsbury's shop together. we discuss what we need to get from the shopping list in my head. Or rather I talk as i wheel him around in the trolley and he sits there gurgling and smiling sweetly at anyone whose eye he can catch. At the checkout, as I tried to fish out my credit card, the lady caught his eye, he smiled and giggled and she said " what a gorgeous little girl".

er..he's a boy said I. She corrected herself and repeated "what a gorgeous little boy " several times just to make sure I realised that she realised that my son and heir is not a girl. The problem, of course, is that the Mrs insisted on dressing him that morning in dungarees with thin red and white stripes. The stripes are so thin that your first impression is that his dungarees are pink. So he's a girl right?

It is not just the pink it is the dungarees. Sure Kevin Rowland from Dexy's wore them as do male folks in the Waltons but I associate them with my sisters and the other little girls at my grandparent's Prep School Knighton House or with Bananarama or with rather butch female protesters at Greenham Common. The Mrs has a pair but they are rather fetching, as of course, were Banaarama. But overall, Dungarees are clearly for girls and so is pink. I am not bringing up my son to have options about whether he wants to identify as a boy or a girl, he is a boy full stop.

And so, on our return from the shops, we played with his soft football while watching a word at war video. And I am trying to explain to the Mrs that I'd rather not have a trans baby with gender confusion issues. Its time to buy him some toy guns and more blue trousers methinks.

Tom Winnifrith

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The young woman asked me to undress and then fondled my genitals

656 days ago

I tried to look on the bright side all week. Most folks with an enlarged testicle do not have cancer. After his fondling session, my Doctor had said it was almost certainly a result of a dibetes induced condition. And anyhow the five year survival rate for testicular cancer is now 90%. And my advanced age puts me at low risk anyway. None the less, Friday's appointment at the Bristol Royal Infirmary was something I dreaded. My father and my wife shared that dread and so on Friday the Mrs and Joshua came along too for moral support.

As we sat in the waiting room, Joshua lighten the mood of all those in for various scans by smiling and giggling happily. Thomas Winnifrith was called. He had to be recalled. I am Tom to everyone bar the NHS so sometimes fail to respond to its missives. I stood up and followed a pretty young nurse down the corridor and was ushered into a room and told to wait.

On instruction I was wearing loose clothing which for some reason had made me think I was to be scanned without having to undress. So when a pretty young woman walked into the room and asked if I minded her attending to me I said fine". At which point she told me to lie back on the examining table and take my trousers and pants down to me knees. Whatever...

My father is, at this point, suggesting that this article is veering into territory that a Gentlemen certainly does not discuss but being no Gent I continue...

The lady covered my nether regions with a sheet of paper and told me to hold my penis back and then put some really rather cold gel on my right ( normal size) gonad.I winced. "Does it hurt". No! Said I loudly, terrified they would now be chopping both gonads off, it was just cold.

Her scanning machine rolled across the gonad and she occasionally manually intervened and after a very short time she pronounced that it was fine, problem free. I may have known that already but it was a relief anyway. Onto the left gonad, tyhe swollen one. Her fondling and rubbing with the machine seemed to take ages making me more convinced there was a problem. There is.

But the problem is merely a small build up of fluid caused by that diabetes induced condition which, thanks to antibiotics is in full retreat. It will disappear naturally. There is no cancer. Phew. She handed me a tissue and turned her back as I cleaned up and pulled my trousers up. Relief all round. My father was very happy - on this occasion talking openly about a matter which a gentlemen should not discuss at all. The Mrs was happy. Joshua giggled and smiled but he always does anyway. And i felt a massive weight off my shoulders.

Of course the whole experience focuses the mind. My step mother died of cancer just over a year ago. My father is holding his own but fights the same fight. None of us are going to live forever. And so much of what we do on a daily basis is utterly pointless and far from enjoyable.

I really do enjoy writing but, as I have discussed before, in my last years at the old place I was subject to extreme censorship. Twice in the past week external partners have caved into demands from folks who have issues to hide to impose blanket restrictions on what I can or cannot say. If i am to carry on writing that is not going to be sustainable, I do not know - given my type 2 diabetes  and years of smoking and drinking too much if I have 5 years left, one or 30. But in what time remains, I'd rather do something else than write or podcast under any form of censorship.

Tom Winnifrith

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You private sector workers spend your whole day watching cats on the internet said the Mrs... ok, for once a fair cop, awesome video

657 days ago

The Mrs is of the view that while she and her fellow public sector workers slave away with inhumanly long hours, myself and the rest of the productive sector, the private sector, the wicked bastards who earn less and have less job security than the State employed saints and who risk their capital to fund the Government payroll, sit around all day watching cats on the internet. Just to reinforce the view from underneath the great Money Tree, below is a quite awesome video of a cat from the internet. Cats are just the coolest creatures on this planet are they not? 

 

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My Grandfather Sir John, a hardline socialist would spin in his grave as Remoaner Polly Toynbee demands more cash for farmers

659 days ago

In her Guardian column today arch remoaner Polly Toynbee took time out from tending to her Tuscan castle to bash Brexit because it will hit British farmers so badly as they lose subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy. Natch, the BBC took time out from the month long LGBT-fest to make way to report this breaking news from its sister publication and thus Toynbee opined on Radio 4's Today Programme. It was classic Toynbee and I am so glad my late grandfather Sir John Winnifrith, a true socialist and friend of Tony Benn and a campaigner for No! in 1975 was not around to hear it. He would be incandescent as he really did believe in "for the many not the few."

As ever, Toynbee started off by patronising we ignorant Brexiteers by telling us why we voted as we did. Apparently we voted for Brexit to preserve the British Countryside. Jeepers. And there was I thinking we voted for Brexit because we were all racists or just plain stupid. It is so good of Polly to let me know why I really voted as I did.

Toynbee went on to say that the end of CAP subsidies will see many British farmers go bust. Of course we put more into the EU than we take out so it would be very simple for the UK to carry on subsidising our farmers but just not have to pay to subsidise those in France, Germany, Italy etc. No British subsidies for Tuscany but more for the Shires...one can see why Toynbee's neighbours are so angry about it all.

But then Toynbee played her trump card saying that Liam Fox and the wicked Tories were trying to open up the UK to new markets which would allow more cheap food to enter Britain from outside the EU. Food prices would go down so some British farmers would go bust.

Now what was that that Mr Corbyn said about for the many not the few? The Mrs said "but is it not good for us to have locally produced food?" Of course for folks like this household and Ms Toynbee, when she is in genteel leafy North London as opposed to Tuscany, paying more for your food is not really an issue. We can afford it. But we are the few. So too are the farmers. The many are those who are struggling to make ends meet  and for whom cheaper food would be great news.

That was what concerned my Grandfather in 1975. No longer being the senior Civil Servant (at MAFF) he could speak out. He warned that being in the EU meant external tariffs on non European food which would increase the cost of food. That was a bad thing. Though my grandfather had, via scholarship, gone to Westminster and Oxford he was all too aware that his father was a country vicar descended from blacksmiths and labourers. His mother was illegitimate, her mother a servant. My grandfather, though wrong on most things, cared deeply about those Toynbee pretends to care about, the poor and the working classes. But Toynbee never actually meets such folk and her outburst today shows that she really does not care at all.

As an evil right winger I believe in no subsidies. If British farming cannot compete with cheap food from abroad then so be it. Turn the countryside into theme parks for foreign tourists. Create real jobs and give our citizens cheap food. Do not expect profitable industries to be throttled by taxes needed to support the unviable. That is in no-one's interest. I would not expect La Toynbee to agree with that analysis, nor would my grandfather have supported it. But my solution offers a lower tax burden ( so helping the poor), real sustainable jobs not bought unsustainable jobs (so helping the poor) and cheaper food. What is so dreadful about that grandpa?

Tom Winnifrith

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I am so 100% excluded from the Inclusive lavatory at the Guardian's fave cinema

661 days ago

It was off to the cinema today with Joshua for a mother and baby screening at the Watershed cinema in Bristol. This is the uber PC movie theatre which is oft praised by the Guardian and likes to show the sort of utterly shite films that the Guardian loves but which would make any right minded person either puke or fall asleep or both. Remember The Lobster - the worst film of 2015? Watershed audiences loved it.

The Mrs came too and, to be fair, today's offering, The Big Sick was jolly entertaining. It is the story of a mixed race couple in the USA. A fearsome Asian mother-in-law who is keen on arranged marriages and strongly disapproves of her offspring's choice of partner. Hmmmmm, now why does that ring a bell? I really do recommend the Big Sick.

As i wandered back from the screen I spotted a new feature " The inclusive lavatory". We already have men's women's and lavs where you can change a baby nappy. But now we are offered an Inclusive Lavatory. All you have to do to use it is be either disabled or trans-sexual. I am sure both the disabled and the trans community are delighted to be able to exclude the rest of us from their inclusive lavatory but do they feel happy been included in the same tent?

The joys of life in 2017 Britain are never ending.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Dessert Gooseberry Crumble, not so good for the diabetes but...

677 days ago

As i explained earlier, it is my duty to pick fruit in the Shipston garden created by my father and late step-mother. And thus I cleansed most of the dessert goosberry bush.

The resultant crumble is perhaps not ideal for tackling my type 2 diabetes but it prompted the Mrs to say, without any need for encouragement "you are a good cook.". She enjoyed it, as did Joshua and as did I. I shall be good again from tomorrow. Life without the odd treat is just so terribly dull.

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Sing & Sign - can I really endure this come the autumn, even with the fit young mums and for you darling Joshua?

678 days ago

Sing & Sign is not to be confused with politically correct poetry. The latter is on a Wednesday at our local library or will be until, that place is shut down. As the Po faced poetry dominatrix explained this week, Bristol City Council is being forced to make big cuts. Well of course there is no cut in its donation to the Pride festival, the City council can afford a fully staffed press office, to fund Chess Tournaments and to make donations to very rich charities such as the Terence Higgins Trust as well as Womankind Bristol Women's Therapy Centre Ltd, Independent Sex Workers against Violence, the Hype Dance Company, the Bristol Zimbabwe Association and a whole raft of other valuable causes. But it must close down our library here in the white working class district of Brislington because of the wicked Tories. Whatever.

At these meetings the babies are given a paper badge with their name on it. Joshua usually eats his before we are too well advanced. We then sit in a circle and sing PC rhymes. So there is no drunken sailor but we now talk of lazy Katie which seems a bit sexist to me but what do I know?. Natch we are not catching anything by its toes. We mums are meant to make signs now and again to represent stars, or bobbins in a sewing machine or whatever. It is harmless enough even if the library gives us pro foxy woxy propaganda on the rates to take home with and to brainwash our offspring.

Afterwards we mums take our children to the cafe next to the Conservative Club for a coffee. I have been doing this for a few weeks now and with the Mrs back at work I really don't mind this aspect of Primary caring. I am on first name terms with a couple of the other mums but not yet having earnest discussions on mothering woes.  That will come.

Joshua enjoys eating his badge and we sing rather less politically correct versions of the songs together as we walk home. The word crocodile in row row row your boat becomes feminist in our private version. Joshua's mother has not banned that and, to her credit, laughs along with us.

Sing and sign is several miles away and I attended ny first session yesterday with the Mrs who has - like the other mums there - enjoyed a whole term. Other than the Mrs, there were six mums who were all at least 15 years younger than me and half of whom really could have been a daughter sired after University. But I was not there to oggle but to decide whether to sign up for another term.

The idea is that babies learn the signs for objects. Joshua now has a certificate saying he has learned 176 signs. Dog, cat, tortoise, fox, toothache, stop! The list goes on and on. The mums sing utterly inane songs making a sign to represent key words in them. The babies sit there not having a scoobie what is going on. They are now crawling around looking, I assume, for a way out while the mums sing along with the dull tunes and make daft signs. The truth is that the Mrs and the others now know 176 signs and the babies know sweet FA.

Afterwards I suggested to one of the mums that by the time our offspring had learned the sign for a dog they might actually be saying dog. Might it not be better to focus in on teaching them , you know, er, English as my mother taught me. Of course I was put firmly in my place. Times have moved on and it has been shown that signing stops tantrums and advances your child's learning. Hmmm. In double blind studies with a statistically large sample? I somehow doubted it but have learned not to argue with the mumbo jumbo of the birthing industry.

So come September will I sign up or will I take Joshua elsewhere on a Thursday?. On the one hand a couple of the mums were really pretty acceptable eye candy but on the other hand, I know - like all of the little babies present - exactly zero signs. Do I really want to sit on a mat, take my shoes off and learn from the beginning to chant this vacuous nonsense and make daft signs?

It is sweet that the mums believe this clap trap and I sense they get a social kick out of it, all heading off for lunch afterwards. But they do not even hand out name labels for Joshua to eat so I think we may be passing on this one, in favour of some quiet father and son reading of Ayn Rand instead.

Tom Winnifrith

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So what part of India does your wife come from, said my Dad

682 days ago

It is the sort of conversation I only really have with my father. We sit here tonight in Shipston. With the Mrs having taken Joshua back to Bristol, I am with the old man for a couple of days. We are killing time ahead of the BBC news. I write the odd article, he reviews old family papers, something that is the focus of his life these days. Have I discussed the Ightham murder of 1908 on these pages? No? Well, maybe another time.

Of course I knew what my father was fishing for. But I could not resist. "Nottingham" I said. "Where is that?" he asked, assuming that it was an obscure hill station established by the Britishers somewhere in the sub-continent. "Near Derby" I replied, "on the river Trent." "But where in India is she from? He persisted. "Nowhere. She was born in Nottingham, she is as British as you and I"

Alright, alright said he "where are her parents from?" I replied truthfully. "!Nottingham." He laughed. Game over. The in-laws have been in the grim North for 50 years so I reckon they are pretty solid Nottingham-ites but the little game was played out. I told him that they were born in Chennai, what he and I might call Madras.

He headed back to his papers, me to answering dull emails.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: We 3 crooks of the AIM are, stealing money we travel so far..

685 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/30177/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-we-3-crooks-of-the-aim-are-stealing-money-we-travel-so-far

Tom Winnifrith

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Alive but not kicking

689 days ago

Until ten minutes ago the the Mrs clearly thought that I am a wimp and that man flu is a made up disease by those trying to evade nappie changing. Au contraire.

I walked home from the Stingrays gig last night. It was about a mile and a half and up hill. By the time I arrived back at the front door it was raining, albeit gently. I climbed the stairs, fell into bed and collapsed.

I think I was up and heading to the loo about four times during the night. On one occassion I returned to bed covered myself with a duvet and a shiver went right up my body. I was shaking. Today I have been useless. Even my three legged cat Oakley looks active in comparison. Just walking up the stairs is hard, my legs ache with every step.

The Mrs smiled but I knew she did not believe me when I suggested that I have picked up a cold from young Joshua. That was until about ten minutes ago when she said she felt all bunged up and her legs were aching and retreated to bed herself with a lemsip. Women can get man flue too. It's all Joshua's fault. We are agreed.

At 7 PM today I switched on my PC for the first time to approve articles by others. Nothing from me today and the laptop will be switched off shortly. It is a day when I really can't be arsed to do anything.

Tom Winnifrith

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I am such a goddamn fucking feminist - loving life as a primary carer of Joshua

692 days ago

I never thought that I'd be revelling in changing nappies, watching a baby throw his food everywhere and all the other joys of motherhood n the months leading up to my 50th birthday but I am loving it. The Mrs is away for a few days "working" and returns to full time work in ten days, in as much as that is not a contradiction in terms in the public sector and especially on liberal arts campuses. And so, right now I am the sole carer for nine months old Joshua and in ten days time I will become the primary carer. I am such a fucking feminist - I am almost tempted to chuck in work altogether and then go for a divorce taking the Mrs to the cleaners saying that I had to quit my job to look after Joshua. Only kidding.

Of course changing nappies is not really fun. All that stuff about how its okay if it is your kid's shit is just horse. Shit is shit and when he pees on you as you change it makes no odds that it is your kid's pee.

The only thing I really do not like is dropping him off at nursery (where he currently goes two days a week). As I hand the little vermin - as he is known - over to a charming young lady he realises that i am heading off and starts screaming his head off. I remember the same thing happening 15 years ago with my Islington elitist liberal daughter Olaf. Of course when he sees you at the end of the day I know that he will have calmed down about 30 seconds after I left and the reunion is a joyous occasion.

The Mrs has left me a stern three pages of notes on routine, food, drink and other matters. The truth is that I have shown a bit of flexibility on the regime, okay I have ignored her notes almost completely, and Joshua and I have experimented with the food. Sometimes not by design. I tried to follow the instructions making his morning porridge today but the end result looked nothing like what the Mrs serves up. But the little vermin wolfed it all down, disaster became triumph. Maybe I have it right and the Mrs has it wrong? You never know.

Yesterday it was runner beans and cream cheese for the vermin. And he loved it. Tonight its broad beans and pasta for Joshua. Broad beans and salmon for his diabetic dad. All new experiences. And after supper a mad rush to tidy up three days of mess created by the three amigos (myself, Joshua and Oakley the Cat) before the return of the Mrs who will no doubt be expecting her supper to be ready as well.

Women, they just do not understand how hard we exploited house husbands have to work...

PS. As I mix with the "other mothers" and wander round with Joshua I am yet to hear the words I dread but which will come sooner or later - "how nice of you to look after your grandson"

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article - Joshua's Christening was today

696 days ago

There will be a couple more photos later in the week but for now just one from what has been a great day. I have been hard at work all weekend cooking for folks last night, baking a birthday cake (more on that later in the week) and preparing for what was a lovely and special day for myself, the Mrs and Joshua - his Christening. Hence there has been little in the way of writing.

The vicar was well behaved, managing to avoid mentioning how the poor Palestinians are oppressed by the wicked Israelis for a whole service. There was even a prayer for we long suffering and oppressed business people, For a brief second I thought we were no longer pariahs in this land.

Afterwards folks wandered down to the local Victorian cemetery for a buffet lunch and a few drinks a speech by the Mrs and a few humourous words from myself. Pictured below is Joshua with his four godparents and the Mrs. From Left to Right, my old friend the bear raider Lucian Miers, Little step sister Flea, the Mrs, her cousin Johnny (a junior doctor!) and her friend Jo, another one on the state payroll.

Tom Winnifrith

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

700 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"

704 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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The Mrs to brainwash Joshua at Bernie Sanders event - looks like I may get outvoted on fleeing Corbyn's Britain

719 days ago

I suggested to the Mrs, a Guardian reading sociology lecturing paid up member of the Labour party, that she should start looking at Irish websites to see where we will flee in the event of a Labour victory on June 8th. She seems unconvinced. Worse still, our household is a democracy and eight month old Joshua will get the casting vote.

I have done my bit. He waves his arms enthusiastically as I chant "lock her up" if we see Hillary Clinton on the TV. He is a quick learner. I have amended certain nursery rhymes so that they give out a powerful message on the virtues of hard work, thrift and self reliance. But the Mrs offsets this by taking him to Politically Correct Nursery Rhyme classes run by the crackpots at Bristol City Council. No more drunken sailors, etc.

And now I discover that Bernie Sanders is in Bristol tomorrow. I have suggested that if it is okay for Bernie to have three houses we should too but I fear that is not what the old fool will be discussing. Joshua will be brainwashed with a lot of nonsense about how Corbyn is the answer to all our problems, global warming, the evil Trump and other matters. How I pray that he will loudly utter his first words "lock her up - drain the swamp" at an opportune moment.

I fear that he will not and the emigration vote is thus looking like 2-1 against me. But I still have hopes that Joshua may see the light with a bit more prepping. The Mrs is beyond redemption

Tom Winnifrith

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Sitting in a garden centre in Bristol I dream of the snake repellent shop in Kambos

725 days ago

The plants the Mrs and I have planted in our back garden have almost all suffered death by cat defecation. That is to say my fat, though no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley hads shat them into oblivion. And so during my brief UK visit I have led a drive to re-plant. To complete that task the Mrs, Joshua and I headed to a garden centre here in Bristol today. Before stopping to pick up a few herbs (me0 and some flowers (the Mrs) we sat enjoying an expensive coffee and watched the masses head by.

I could not help but reflect about how in two days time I shall be sitting in the Kourounis Taverna in Kambos, the nearest village to the Greek Hovel, enjoying a coffee at half the price and looking at folks wander in an out of our own garden centre run by Vangelis.

Here in Bristol there is no need for shelves of poison for your frigana or snake repellent or hard tools small farmers use for clearing ground or for some part of the process of caring for, nurturing and harvesting the olives. That is what dominates the shop in Kambos, it is a place for folks doing a real job.

Of course it has plants too which one can buy. But they are mainly vegetables or herbs. There is no money or need in Kambos for vast arrays of colourful weeds, oops I meant flowers. Here in suburbia there were any number of colourful weeds to choose from.

There were even little olive trees for sale at thrice or four times the price of a sapling back in Kambos. Of course the British trees will never generate an economic return, they are mere ornaments. If I told my friends in Kambos that my neighbours in Bristol will pay 30 Euro for an olive tree that would never create oil they would think folks here were very strange indeed. They would be right of course.

The garden centre in Bristol was packed. I guess it is what baby boomers do on a bank holiday weekend in Suburbia. There were probably more folks in that centre during the course of this morning than live in Kambos, and all the British suburbians just buzzed about, picking up things, lining up to hand over more cash than they should really be spending and then crawling home through the traffic with cars laden up with things that are not really needed.

And this is meant to be relaxing? Whatever. I shall be back in Kambos by Tuesday lunchtime.

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: Joshua goes to see his inheritance ( the Greek Hovel)

731 days ago

It has been agreed with the Mrs that Joshua is to inherit the Greek Hovel on condition that any other family member can use it at no cost. And so the lad was taken to see his inheritance. Unlike his mother, also in the picture, he made no complaints about eco-loos, the lack of a shower, rats or snakes. I feel the place will be in good hands.

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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Diary of a diabetic day whatever + 1: still seething

737 days ago

I am now, once again, doing regular resting of my blood sugar levels. And after a break of a few days I am again taking my medication. Being by myself since Sunday lunchtime has assisted in a no alcohol diet and a meal schedule which is regular and healthy. I wonder could I spin out a diet based on two Greek Salads a day plus raw oats into a 30,000 word diet best-seller? Probably not.

But the damage done by the previous week and not taking my pills has been profound. I started this campaiagn against type 2 diabetes with an off the scale reading of 15.3. Before the arrival of "the family" I was scoring 7s and 8s in both of my twice daily readings. And heading lower and within sight of being "normal". Yesterday, my first full day back on the pills and with the right lifestyle choices I scored 12s and 13s. I started today at 11.9. I now have 10 days of "family time" here and back in the UK where I do not care who I offend: some things are more important than others. I am furious that three weeks of great work has been undone in such a short space of time.

It may upset all and sundry but I will eat alone during that time. I cannot seem to explain to the Mrs that communal eating since she arrived with her parents has involved wine on the table, over-ordrering of joint dishes and interminable waits for food - as others dither on their choices. When bread lies in front of me, this and the other stresses are just a suicide trip. If I had any self discipline I would not be in this mess right now. I don't. My bloods this morning are 11 point fucking nine. They were sub 8 and trending lower. All this stress is doing me no good at all.

A reader put it this way. You are invited out to a friend's house. His Mrs says that a massive Chinese takeaway has been ordered and will arrive in five minutes. You offend her by saying you cannot eat any of it. But you woud offend her more by barfing over her carpet in reaction to that meal before dropping down dead and sliding into the sick.

When I return here I have been thinking of buying a mountain bike and ditching the rented car. That would get me down to Kambos from the Greek Hovel, where I plan to stay on a camp bed, even in the event of a snake bite. And cutting myself off from the outside world and its temptations is what my body really needs more than anything.

Tom Winnifrith

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Diary of a diabetic day ..whatever: a disastrous week

739 days ago

I have not even bothered to test my blood sugar levels for the past few days. I know they are up. I can feel a couple of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes making a minor comeback. Last night, for instance, I felt the need to piss several times. Net result: no sleep. And it is all so predictable. I could kick myself. Or certain others.

The theory was simple. Come to Greece and shock my body into beating back the diabetes. I have done it before. I know what to do. It means physical workouts every day either in a gym or up at the Greek hovel or both. It means no booze. It means no stress at all. And it means a limited and largely carb free calorie intake with meals at regular times. And it worked gloriously until last Saturday, eight days ago. At that point I was getting blood sugar readings that were in the "normal range" for diabetics. And I was happy. I was on track to end the shock treatment and be able to just "manage my way" to an even better score and that could even happen in the UK. 

But eight days ago my wife, eight month old son and the parents of the Mrs arrived. We transferred to a base in Kardamili, a town that I do not really like and the routine went out of the window. I have spent one day and a couple of short sessions up at the hovel in the past eight days but my exercise levels have fallen off a cliff. Other folks just could not be abandoned and no-one other than I wants to spend any real time at the hovel.

Then there is the food. The Mrs, quite rightly, points out that I lambast fat welfare junkies who demand State aid to stop being so fat, because what you put into your own body is your own choice. However, the reason that I have type 2 diabetes is that I do not have great will power when it comes to food or drink. Nobody is perfect and I am far from perfect and this is one of my many weaknesses.

If I had will power I would not be in this mess to start with. Surely she understands that? 

Meals are now communal. My mother-in-law, who I should stress has a heart of gold,  fusses about ordering, asking for things that are not on the menu and then insulting waiters later on. The end result is that there is invariably too much food on the table but also long delays for the meal proper during which time, like Joshua, I just eat bread. I have it with oil, Joshua likes it plain. Wine is ordered for the table and I end up having just one glass.

The drinking is in fact worse than that. My mother-in-law and my dear father have a few things in common. Their faith ( laudable) but also a staunch political mindset made only possible by living in a post fact era. My mother in law is entitled to state  that the pound has fallen by 25% since June 23rd 2016 ( it is down by 2% actually) and that post Brexit the UK will not be allowed to export to anywhere in the world at all. I am sure my father would love to hear it and they could remoan away together.  But I do know a bit about economics  and happen to know this is not true. But there is an insistence this is fact.

Yesterday evening I hit the ouzo in response. I had three small measures.

That may not sound like a lot but ten days ago I was on one unit of alcohol a week. Now it is 3 or 4 a day. The Mrs says "we are on holiday" as if it does not matter. She does not have type 2 diabetes which was "raging off the scale" just weeks ago. I do. She is not being told by her GP that there is a good chance that she will be dead within five years. I am.

So for me it bloody well does matter as I try to explain. I was doing a great job of shocking my body back into shape and avoiding stress so that I had a better than evens chance of making it to 55 but the past week has seen a dramatic reversal. Forget the mother-in-law (a committed Labour supporter) insisting that, whatever the Mrs and I believe, Joshua must go to a fee paying school, I am not going to be alive to make that decision, the way things are going.

This afternoon we part company for a couple of days. I head back to Kalamata while the others stay here in Koroni. I intend to restart shock therapy and when we all meet again I have asked the Mrs if she minds if I eat alone. That did not go down well.

Next weekend there is the return to Britain. I am there for just a few days but am meant to be seeing my GP to discuss my blood sugar levels, medication and how things are going. He is worried that I do not take my diabetes seriously. I think perhaps the Mrs should come with me so she understands why the past week has been such a total bloody disaster for me. I take the prospect of having a heart attack at 52 all too seriously and am trying my hardest to avoid that in a way that I can achieve. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Sitting in Kambos speaking French - looming competition for lovely Eleni & FFS I am NOT a Kraut

744 days ago

There was I sitting in the Kourounis Taverna in Kambos having taken the Mrs and Joshua up to see his inheritance, that is to say the Greek Hovel. The Mrs and I were enjoying a Greek salad prepared by Nicho the Magician, that is to say Eleni's other half and Joshua was enjoying a few bits of bread and smiling at all passers by. A lady came up and introduced herself.

I already knew who she was. Nicho had pointed her out as the French lady. She rather stands out as her mother was from Cameroon. Non white folks rather stand out here. Until recently the Mrs, has on her visits, been 100% of the non white community.

We spoke in a mixture of French and English. Thanks to the chain smoking WW2 tank hero Harry Owen who taught me at Warwick School my French is not that bad. But her English was better. early on in our conversation she asked if I was German. I think my body language made it clear that I took this as a grave insult. Do I look like a fucking Kraut FFS? Apparently i do. The woman blundered on by saying she only said so because I was tall, like a member of the frigging master race. Whatever.

It turns out that her late husband was a bubble and so her daughter lives in Kambos and is going to start a creperie this summer. She pointed at where it will be... about twenty yards from the Kourounis taverna and just next to Miranda's. Now Miranda's limited menu does not include crepes but in the summer Nicho the Magician gets out a special machine and his crepes are most excellent. Naturally, as a good diabetic, i shall not be indulging but the kids love him.

This new entrant to the scene means that with a population of 536 (539 including myself, the Mrs and Joshua), Kambos has two ouzeries where you can get nibbles, coffee and ouzo. Plus three places to eat ( and get ouzo).

Naturally, lovely Eleni will retain my business. Accusing me of being a Kraut is not the way to win me over.

Tom Winnifrith

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Taking the Mrs to the Greek Hovel - a mass snake encounter

745 days ago

The Mrs, myself, Joshua and my parents in law are staying about 15 miles South of the Greek Hovel in a nice hotel by the sea. As I mention here, I have very mixed feelings about Kardamili and would really rather be back in Kambos. But this break is not about me. Today, we escaped the in-laws and took Joshua to see his inheritance, that is to say the Greek Hovel. The Mrs has not visited for almost a year and was keen to see how the building was going. I was just delighted to be out of Kardamili and able to do some manual labour.

The half way point as one goes on the long and winding road/dirt track from Kambos to the hovel is the crossing of the dry river which winds its way along the valey underneath the deserted convent. Get over the river and you are soon climbing snake hill and on your way up our side of the valley.

In winter the river is full enough to spill over the road and after especially heavy storms it can be many inches deep as it crosses the track. As we head into May the river has almost entirely disappeared. As one heads towards the hovel there is just one deep-ish pool of water. It is covered in green algae and must be both the temperature and consistency of soup. I have not investigated first hand for reasons that will become clear.

This last remnant of river is about four yards from where my car door would open if I dared to get out. For the past two or three days I have been aware that there were black "shapes" cutting their way through the algae. They were clearly moving. They were long and thin. I stared at them long and hard and was pretty sure what they were. One day I got out to go have a closer look but then heard a nose in the bushes and quickly got back in my car and wound the window up.

As the water level goes down I guess there is less surface area and a moving shape becomes more visible. And thus as we drive past today I peered past the Mrs in the passenger seat and stopped the car quickly. "Look" said I. The shape was very visibly moving as only a snake would do. And it was not alone. It was a veritable snakefest and the Mrs had not even arrived at the Hovel yet. It is a good job her husband is such a brave snake killer. Notwithstanding that I drive on quickly.

Tom Winnifrith

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Yeeeees - Christmas comes early at West Ham, but I did not dare look

747 days ago

I did not want to hex my beloved West Ham so not only did I not seek out somewhere to watch the game but I switched off my PC so I could see nothing on twitter. In fact I made sure that I did not know the result until this morning. Here in a Greek Hotel as the bubbles tucked into their breakfast a loud YEEEES went up.

After a season of utter woe and failure to beat the Spurs at home means a) the team we despisre most in the Premiership will not win the title. Instead it will be won by the marginally less hated Chelsea. More importantly 42 points means safety. Though West Ham is currently 9th there are stacks of teams on 41, 40 and 39 points who will overtake us. But Swansea cannot so West Ham is safe. We are stayin' up cos we are stayin' up!

For the past few weeks West Ham's twitter account keeps on talking about how a top ten finish is what is on our minds. Bollocks.

From years of experience, West Ham supporters always look down not up when we look at the table. I have wasted far too long in recent days working out how we stay up when, as I assumed was a cert, we lost our last three games (home to Spurs and Liverpool) and away at Burnley whose home record is cracking and who might well need the points badly.

But now I don't have to worry about how Crystal Palace v Hull turns out. Or pray for Everton to beat Swansea. It is far better to stay up by beating the scum and dashing their title hopes than by relying on Hull taking points off Palace or vice versa. In fact there is no better way to stay up. Even the Mrs has noticed and mentioned it as she phoned from Heathrow. 

A joyful call to my daughter, whose veins flow claret & blue, awaits

Tom Winnifrith

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After three years...building work starts at the Greek Hovel. Laptop off!

748 days ago

I left Heathrow at midnight Greek time. Having picked up a stomach bug in London the flight and the bus journey from Athens that followed were less than comfortable. Wearing a jacket and winter coat from London I was feeling pretty awful by the time I arrived in 29 degree Kalamata at 10 AM.Thank heavens my hotel had a room ready for me to wash and dump my coat in. I headed straight to the Greek Hovel feeling extremely tired.

The good news is that after three years of planning woes work is now finally able to start. If there was an Olympic event in Government inefficiency, Greece would win gold, silver and bronze.

Gregori the Greek Albanian foreman and two assistants had already demolished most of the illegally added structures on top of the snake veranda. By the close of play tomorrow they will all be gone as will the, illegally added, platform on the other side of the house facing the deserted convent and the, illegally constructed lavatory, that does not work.

Tomorrow is a big day. For starters I join the work team. It is agreed, Gregori will kill any snakes we find with his bare hands. But with all the noise he and his two assistants are making the snakes will be in full flight to my neighbour's land. They will be working an eight hour day. My plan is to start at a couple of hours and build that up over the summer.

The other big news is that the Mrs, Joshua and the parents in law are arriving in the evening. We switch hotels to one in Kardamili. My commitments at the hovel might mean a bit less time with the mother-in law but we must all make sacrifices in life.

Anyhow, for the past three weeks I have been able to do a bit of financial writing as I do just a spot of manual labour. It is now full on work with a target of having one habitable room by late summer and the rebuild complete by the time of the Olive harvest in December. As such, that means less writing, I shall just keep my hand in with photo articles from the building site. You cannot get more exciting than that can you? That is what I call page bait!

Tom Winnifrith

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What do Britain's top share blogger Paul Scott & my daughter Olaf have in common? They are freaks that is what!

749 days ago

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!

Tom Winnifrith

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Poisoning at the Greek Hovel - what about the poor sheep and goats?

754 days ago

A reader asks how do I ensure that, when the land around the Greek Hovel has been poisoned, the various herds of goats and flocks of sheep that wander the foothills of the Taygetos do not roll on by for a fatal meal. The land will be pretty bad for their health for at least a week. Its a fair question with a three part answer.

Firstly I have told lovely Eleni what I am up to. Since all the shepherds and goatherds frequent the Kourounis taverna she has warned them what is afoot. Secondly word about Nicho the Communist and I going to poison the snakefields has spread throughout Kambos and is the subject of much hilarity. The Englishman from Toumbia - snakes - Nicho - sober - you get the gist. So everyone knows what is happening anyway.

And finally...I have shut the gate. There is a rickety metal structure at the end of what you might term the "drive" but is really just a continuity of the mud track which leads to the hovel. Normally the gate is left wide open as a sign to all shepherds and goatherds that our land is a common resource. But when I am poisoning I shut the gates as a sign. The gates are very much on their last legs and your average sheep could open them with a good shove. I suspect that the gates will not last the year. I have plans, not yet discussed with the Mrs so do not alert her, to build a great wall around our land and with it large new wooden gates.

I have discussed this with a man called George - that would be George the wall builder as opposed to all the other George's in Kambos - and shown him what sort of wall I want. Once, like the Patron Saint of the Old Country, I have purged my land of snakes, the wall will help keep them out. And it will also keep out any unwelcome visitors from Britain who might object to some of the things I write. Like Donald Trump, I like walls.

Pro tem I make do with an old wire fence that keeps nothing out and a gate whose only purpose is to signal that the land will, for the next ten days, be under poison. So readers, no sheep or goats will be harmed by what Nicho and I are up to.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Nicho The Communist, the Goats and a lesson in olives

758 days ago

Fourth time lucky. At the agreed time, Nicho the Communist wandered into the Kourounis taverna in Kambos for our trip to inspect the olives at the Greek Hovel. I had left him the previous day five hours into his binge with George, George and anyone else he could find as he celebrated St George's Day. He confessed that he had continued celebrating until late at night on a taverna crawl round Kambos - there are four places to drink in our village of 536 souls.He had that look, that I remember from my own days of heavy drinking, that says "I am never going to touch alcohol again." But of course you always do. Having not touched the demon drink for almost ten days I am feeling a little smug. Excuse my smugness.

I drove us up to the Greek hovel. We discussed snakes which are all now out of hibernation. "It is their time" he said in a way that reminded me of the Lord of the Rings. Now starts the fourth age of man. Or in Kambos, Gandolph, or Papou, announces Now is the age of snakes. But conversation was a little hard when your companion obviously just wants to go back to bed. He did however note that the Hovel is a lovely place but, as we crawled along the long and winding and very bumpy track looking for snakes to run over, just a bit far from the village. "I like it that way" I assured him. "No-one can find me."

Arriving at the hovel we immediately met a herd of goats. Whose are they asked Nicho. I did not have a clue but said that I did not mind. Nicho was less certain pointing out that they will eat my olives. And indeed that is the case. Sheep walk on the grass and tend to eat only things that lie on the floor. Goats jump on rocks and will eat anything, frigana included, but do have a penchant for olive tree leaves. Nicho went up to an enormous billy goat and told it to bugger off. Which it did. I assured him not to worry. I do not mind losing a few olives if I also lose some frigana. More importantly, snakes do not like goats.


The purpose of our trip was to check out my wild olive trees - trees whose fruit cannot be processed into oil. I seem to have been a little confused on this matter. The two trees I had identified as wild as they produced big black olives which George the Albanian shuns when we harvest, are in fact not wild olives. Those are olives which you need to cure to eat as opposed to pressing for oil. Aha. I told the Mrs later that this was women's work and a job for her. She seemed unconvinced.

But as we wandered to the far reaches of the property, at either end, we did indeed discover at least 20 wild olive trees. Nicho says that he will monitor them this harvest and we will splice on domestic olives for next year so upping my yield. But it gets better still. As we wandered across the land we identified spaces for at least another sixty new trees to be planted this October at a cost of 8 Euro a pop. The net result of this all would be to increase my harvest, ceteris paribus, by at least 50%.

George the architect looks at a non olive tree and says "the Foresty Commision has said we must not chop it down.". I look at these trees and the undergrowth that surrounds them and say "that looks the sort of place snakes like". Nicho looks at that tree and says "I will chop it down so we can plant more olives." I like Nicho's attitude.

So this weekend we are are to poison the frigana which has made a resurgence in certain of the further reaches of the property and will chop down some trees. Nicho has ordered the poison already and he assures me that the areas we deal with will be brown and weed and frigana free within a month. And that the poison will also drive the snakes onto my neighbours' lands. I like the sound of that. We start at 9 AM on Saturday. I cannot wait.

Tom Winnifrith

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BREAKING: Big News on the Trouser Front - a happy diabetic writes

759 days ago

Given that my new Greek blood sugar testing machine is all over the shop (I have had readings of both 236 and 125 today) perhaps I should revert to trouser size as I await new strips to arrive for my British blood sugar testing machine. There is dramatic news on the trouser front after my revelation earlier that my 36 inch trousers are falling down.

I tried on a spare pair which claims to be a 34 inch waist. Now admittedly they are those stretchy sort of black jeans which, I suspect, flatter to deceive. But when I last tried them on about six weeks ago, I could not pour my body into them. This morning they fitted comfortably. I did not even to breathe in. That is a result and three quarters. Heck, the Mrs and I chatted on skype again and she - without prompting - said that my face looked thinner. I don't hear that often.

Meanwhile my morning gym session saw my run increased from 2.47 km in 22 minutes to 2.63 km in 23 minutes. Tomorrow the target is 2.77 km in 24 minutes. I am not quite up there with Matt Lofgran, my favourite gun owning, god fearing , hard working, tax paying AIM CEO who emails me to say he does 7 km in the rattlesnake infested desert, but I am getting there.

Matt also says that he has eaten rattlesnake. I am not planning on making snake part of my own calorie controlled diet but if I kill another one, I will put it in a fridge and Matt is free to come and collct it at any time.

Tom Winnifrith

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Diary of a diabetic day 21: Trousers now a real issue - they are falling down

759 days ago

This is all great news if a tad embarrassing. Very healthy eating, lots of exercise and no booze is definitely helping me shed the pounds. As i wandered back into the hotel elevator yesterday evening I looked and with my trousers slipping down my boxers were clearly visible. However much I hitch up my 36 inch trousers they keep on falling down. What good news.

This is not the weight loss you can suffer while eating like a horse as a result of type 2 diabetes. This is weight loss caused by burning more calories than you take in. No booze helps. But other than a few portions of grilled octopus I have not eaten meat for ten days. I am existing largely on raw oats in the morning and Greek Salads for the rest of the day.

Here in Kalamata as I prepare for my morning session in the hotel gym the sun is shining and wearing a pair shorts, which are also starting to slip, is okay. Up at the Greek Hovel sturdy boots and long trousers are needed in case i step on a member of the wildlife diversity community. Luckily I have two spare pairs of black jeans with me, bought at various points of my weight gain/loss cycle so I hope to find something that fits. I don't want you thinking that i am anorexic. far from it.

My stomach is too large but the trends are positive. And yesterday's gym run was up to 2.47 km in 22 minutes. Today's target is 2.6 km in 23 minutes. Things are heading the right way and all the symptoms of diabetes, which a Gentleman does not discuss, are in full scale retreat.

What is my blood sugar level? God only knows. The Greek machine I bought the other week has given me results from 120 to 236. I am getting more than the odd result saying that I am in a "healthy range." But then I get a result starting 2 with a 2. I am just plain confused. The Mrs will - I hope - fedex me some good old British testing strips today and so I have a clear idea where I am. But given the weight loss, healthy living and retreating symptoms surely the trends are good?

Tom Winnifrith

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

760 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 8 - unexpected virtue

772 days ago

The main purpose of this holiday is for the Mrs to meet up with a series of her friends from her time when she worked as a sociologist here in Gothenburg. Not a lot of people know it, but the Mrs is a fluent speaker of Swedish and is thus, as I write, yakking away in a wine bar in town about the evils of capitalism, Trump, patriarchy etc etc etc. Meanwhile, myself and, almost seven month old, Joshua are in a small rented house on a small, very windy and bloody cold, island somewhere out to sea.

Having had a virtuous porridge of raw oats, skimmed milk and a banana and a virtuous lunch of salad and a fishcake I was hoping that Joshua and I might sample the one restaurant on this island. After an afternoon nap we set out to explore and having found the one shop (closed as it was well after 6.30 PM) we eventually found the restaurant. It was also closed and will remain so until Thursday.

We thus wandered back to the small house where Joshua enjoyed milk, a nappy change and after Molly Malone and the Fields of Athenry sung in his father's most dulcet of tones. He now slumbers soundly. As for his father, I really could do with a bit of Trevelyan's corn as the only food going is more raw oats, skimmed milk and another banana. It may be good for the type 2 diabetes but I feel a bit of a sense of deja vu. Guess what is for breakfast tomorrow?
 
My blood sugar this morning came in at 10.4 which, I know you will say, is more than twice what it should be but on day 1 it was 15.3 so I feel that things are going my way. And having pushed Joshua's pram for what seems like a half marathon I reckon I am doing okay on the exercise front too.

Tomorrow the Mrs has charge of Joshua as she heads into town for more yakking with her lefty pals and, I suspect, more drinking, I am left free to go fishing for sea trout. I do not expect to catch anything at all other than a cold, but it should be more good exercise as I head to the far side of this island. But if I do hook a plump sea trout... it would make a pleasant change from oats and banana.

Tom Winnifrith

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Floreat, floreat schola Warwicensis at Twickenham today

785 days ago

Driving through the Warwickshire villages where I spent my teens, as I have gone to and from the hospital, it is hard not to feel some nostalgia for the old place. The same music blares from my car as it did 30 and a bit years ago and at least I am starting to formulate the play list for my 50th birthday early next year.. The Mrs is not going to like it. She is far more George Michael than Jon Bon Jovi.

Each day I have driven past Warwick school, where I have some unresolved business, I note an email sent to OWs about two rugger matches at Twickenham today. Both the U15s and and the U18s are in the national schools cup final.

For a school that excels a musc and the arts also to be so strong at rugby and also cricket is pretty amazing and I shall be following the results closely.

I wonder if they still have the old school song? Floreat, floreat schola Warwicensis? Here's hoping they do today.

Tom Winnifrith

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Did Joshua just say his first word? Can you guess what it was or was not?

791 days ago

Those of us who are hip trendsetters and thus watch Midsomer Murders (think Graham Norton, Mr & Mrs Adam Reynolds and myself) will remember the battle that the second Inspector Barnaby has with his Mrs as to what will be the first word that their baby says. "Mummy" she repeats often as she states at her daughter."Daddy" says the Inspector again and again. Natch, her first word is Dog, for we all know that - until his retirement - the star of the show was Sykes.

And thus the same battle is raging chez Winnifrith with Joshua now aged six months and a few days. But here too there is a third contender and I am doing my bit by repeating the phrase "Oakley is a cat and he says miaow" as my son sit on the sofa with the third amigo.

Joshua and Oakley get on like a house on fire. The morbidly obese three legged cat likes food and sleep and so does Joshua. Indeed the cat will sit next to Joshua's cot when the baby is screaming just saying nothing until Joshua goes to sleep. He is a great babysitter.

And thus this morning the Mrs and I both thought that Joshua's gurglings were actually a word. Yes it was Oakley. Not just once but, with a bit of prompting, several times. Okay it might have just been Oaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeee gurgle gurgle but it might have been Oakley. Debate is raging.

Tom Winnifrith

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Mrs Boot the Farmer - Saints Preserve us, PC madness for children

810 days ago

I find myself reading a book called Tales of the Farmyard to my, almost, six month old son Joshua. The lad probably is not following the stories clearly, at this stage he just about knows that a sheep is big, white, fluffy , has four legs and goes baaaa while a cat is like Oakley so is black and white, less big, has only three legs and goes miaow. As I read "The Tale of the naughty sheep" by author Heather Amery, I felt the need to explain a few things to Joshua.

The sheep in question is one of seven owned by the farmer, Mrs Boot. Mrs Boot also grows flowers, has a dog and two kids. She has no ring on her hand and I see no sign of Mr Boot. I can't see many signs of much else on the farm but she employs a labourer to assist her.

As I explained to Joshua this was simply to show that women can be the boss. But a farm with just flowers and seven sheep is, I suggest, not capable of sustaining Mrs Boot and the two little Boots as well as the labourer. How is this farm funded, I asked Joshua. Is it down to massive EU subsidies or is everyone on income support? This was naturally a good discussion to have with the lad to ensure he grows up as a right thinking member of society.

The Mrs suggests that Mr Boot works in the City and Mrs Boot cleaned him out in a divorce settlement and that this is subsidising her farm. So I also flagged up that possibility to Joshua as this will provide a useful entree to the works of Ayn Rand which we will be starting shortly.

In this tale, one sheep is very naughty, eats lots of Mrs Boot's flowers and then escapes. In the end he wins a prize at the local show and comes back to eat more flowers. That is because at Mrs Boot's farm sheep are just ornaments. I changed the ending for Joshua. The naughty sheep came home via an abattoir and appeared on the supper table.

Books like this are not written for folks like Joshua but for parents who have never seen animals killed on a farm. They are for a generation that really does think that meat comes from Sainsbury's and always arrives wrapped in plastic and who think farming is a gentle rural existence where there is no such thing as animal death and where Mr Foxy Woxy, the fluffy sheep, folks like Mrs Boot , the dog and the chickens all live as one great big happy family.

The sooner Joshua and I move onto Atlas Shrugged the better.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: For whom the (front door) bell tolls

812 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/27513/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-for-whom-the-front-door-bell-tolls

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Pancake day in Bristol

813 days ago

The pizza Hard man Darren Atwater says that my pancakes look all wrong. That is because he is from Canada so wants big fat fluffy pancakes drowning in maple syrup which is how the folks of North America aim to take obesity rates all the way up to 100%. Back in the old world we prefer thin crepes which can be tossed in the pan.

As I nipped out to buy a lemon I saw the local shop was selling ready made pancake mix. FFS some folks are so unbelievably lazy. I bet the pack mixture contains stacks of chemicals and sugars and it is just so easy to make batter yourself. Two eggs, 200 ml milk, 75ml water, 4 oz flour, a pinch of salt and 1 oz melted butter and 10 minutes left a batter with a perfect consistency which made six large pancakes for the Mrs and I - three each. The one below is only at the start of cooking before anyone complains



The first four were savoury - the remains of last night's bolognese, avocado and cheese. Then folded.



For the pudding banana with a touch of maple syrup on one bit and sugar and lemon on the other. I prefer our old world ways but tried a bit of both.

It really is so easy and flipping the pancakes in the pan is fun and a chance to show off to the Mrs. Next year my son Joshua - who will start weaning in a few weeks - will get involved in the day. And his old man is a bit of a Master Chef after all.

And now it is Lent. What shall I give up. My daughter's Godfather Joe Levy always said that as part of his Judaism for passover he gave up bacon. How to trump that devotion I wonder?

Admin

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Photo Article Coal Not Dole (in English & Welsh). Of course that was not the choice

819 days ago

As a momento of the trip that the Mrs and I paid to the Welsh mine turned museum at Blaenavon I bought a nice new mug for her morning tea which you can see below. She is after all the woman known as the deluded lefty until she married me. My own coffee mug celebrates two great British PMs, the Iron Duke and the, greatest of them all, The Iron Lady. We are, as you know, a divided household.



Natch I make the tea for the Mrs for I am a progressive equal opportunities sort of chap. we all are on the right. It is the left, the Mrs, who supports servitude.

The choice, according to striking miners in Wales and elsewhere was cole not dole. The problem is that although that phrase is catchy, less so in Welsh, it was untrue. The blessed Maggie dd not see why the hard working taxpayer should see his or her taxes used to subsidise mines where there was so little coal that they were just not economic. Quite right Maggie!



No-one should have their business subsidised by the state, not evil banksters needing a bailout, middle class "freelance" journalists writing shite no-one wants to read, and not coal miners. It is economic madness to drive profitable businesses creating real jobs to the wall by taxing them to maintain businesses which are just never going to be viable.

A year after Maggie left office UK coal output was exactly the same as before the miners strike. But the numbers employed were 66% fewer. The strike was not about coal not dole it was about the the economics that sent Britain Bust in 1976 vs the economics that drove the Thatcher boom of the 1980s. You can't fit that on a tea mug but it just happens to be the real story.

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A last picture of the ruin at the Greek Hovel - it comes down this summer but will be a Phoenix

823 days ago

Just over a third of the way between the Hovel and the far end of the land lies an old ruin. I think it was a house once and in a sense it still is. For inside the ruins there lived a snake all of last summer and the summers before. I heard it many times as I rushed on by. When foolish enough to prune the olive tree at its edge last summer I saw a snake shape disappearing into the grass. This is Mr snake's house. But not for much longer.

In a job that I shall supervise not actually take part in, for one very obvious reason, all the stones will be removed and taken to the main hovel to be used in rebuilding and extending it. That is one way that we can ensure that the new hovel even in its extension which will, on its own, more than double the floor space, retains the appearance of the old in terms of stone type. As a bonus Mr snake will have to fuck off and find somewhere else to live - I suggest the other side of the external fence.



But then the ruin will be a phoenix. For what we embark on this year is just phase one - the hovel and the pool demanded by my daughter, she who must be obeyed, as a condition for visiting. The planning permits we have submitted also allow for phase two which is to turn the site of the ruin into a new house with three rooms and a garret study for me.

At that point we would have seven bedrooms plus a massive living space with additional sleeping space on the sofa. The Mrs wants to invite her sociology pals and they can sleep in the Phoenix. I have few friends but hope that folks like Abbe Aronson, the woman who broke my heart in 1986 and whose birthday it is today (Happy Birthday you old lesbian who have caused thirty years of misery and mental trauma for myself with your callous rejection BTW) will pop over for a visit and, natch, stay in the hovel itself.

Right now I cant' wait to supervise the tearing down of Mr Snake's house, but the Phoenix will - one day - arise in its place.

 

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Photo article: A new bridge is spotted under the double murder bridge near Kambos - I must investigate

828 days ago

You may remember that, some three years ago, one of my fellow residents of the Greek village of Kambos hooked up with a pal in Kalamata to murder two drug dealing body builders. I have viewed it as rather indelicate to enquire as to what has happened since but it was a clear cut case. The bodies were dumped from an old bridge that crosses the deep gorge on the road back towards Kalamata.

These days there is a brand spanking new (EU funded) bridge that cross the gorge. For 90% of the year there is a dry river at the bottom, the rest of the time it is a gushing torrent. Right now, since the snow on the Taygetos Mountains has not melted it is dry.

The old bridge was built when the road to Kambos - the village nearest to the Greek Hovel - was first constructed in the 1970s. You can still access it via a road strewn with rocks but it is driveable and a simple detour from the main "highway." Hence you can dump bodies there after you have murdered someone.

For no reason at all I took a detour yesterday to the murder bridge and - for the first time - spotted an even older bridge underneath it. It looks very ancient indeed and can only be wide enough for pedestrians and sheep. It must have been used in the pre-road era and has thus been abandoned for years. I have no idea how old it is or who built it but you can see it below.



With the river dry and the snakes asleep now looks like a good time to investigate. When the heroic  Paddy Leigh Fermor walked into the Mani and towards his first stop in Kambos - a village he was jolly rude about - he recounts walking along a river valley and discovering the bones of a man killed in the recently ended civil war. Paddy, like the folks in the Mani, fought with the Royalists and one assumes that the skeleton was that of a dead commie as no-one had paid it any attention.

In April the Mrs and I plan to cross the Bridge that is the real killing fields of European drama, that between Denmark and Sweden, as we take Joshua on a road trip. The Mrs used to work in Sweden so will be yakking to her former colleagues in the world of sociology, I plan to go fishing with Joshua, whose second name, for reasons you can guess, is Patrick, or Paddy. But for now it is an old bridge in the Mani that excites me.

 

 

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Photo article: My cunning plan turns out to be not so cunning after all - I now know what hell is

830 days ago

I had this really cunning plan. And the Mrs thought it was cunning too. What could possibly go wrong? God punished me for my conceit.

The plan was to get off the bus from Ioannina not at its final destination of Athens but some 70 kilometres early at the Corinth canal service station and to catch a Kalamata bus - coming from Athens - there. 140 kilometres and maybe three hours on the road saved. Genius.

And so I got off only to be told that the next bus was in four hours. Worse still, this was the only service station in Greece with no internet. Fuck! And fuck again!

But I am a determined fellow and so started to walk towards the bridge over the canal. There will be no pictures of the 2000 metre drop down to the canal itself as I suffer severe height sickness. I have peered over that bridge once before and that is enough for one lifetime. But I did stumble upon a Goody's which is a hamburger chain whose offerings make those of MacDonalds seem like the best dish at the Ivy. What you see below is described as a 3 Euro cheeseburger and, not having eaten all day, I managed to eat it all but it was utterly disgusting. It was, however, the price for free internet.

But then two things happened. Firstly it appears that the total and utter bastard Bill Gates wanted to give me another upgrade. The result you can see below. I watched that screen for three hours.

Meanwhile some bastard decided to hold his kid's birthday party at the Goody's. FFS inflicting that on your offspring is the sort of thing that should get you reported to social services. Thus I sat there at a screen that did not change, in the one warm place going as dozens of kids screamed, blew whistles and had a great old time. When St Peter finds me wanting he will send me back to Goody's for an eternity of my PC never restarting as I am surrounded by screaming brats and am forced to eat the worst burgers on this planet. 

Thank the Lord, the clock turned 8.15. The computer failed to restart but at least I could seek refuge in a warm and crowded bus to Kalamata. Needless to say it has managed to cleanse itself in minutes now that I sit in my hotel room by the sea. Damn you Bill Gates once again, my loathing for you knows no bounds.

Tom Winnifrith

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

831 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.

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The Drunken Sailor thrown overboard by political correctness in the Nursery

855 days ago

At home with Joshua, the Mrs and i regale our son with the nursery rhymes we knew as children. I guess we both grew up in households that were, in many ways, small c conservative, whatever my mother's views on self sufficiency and other throw offs from the hippy world of the late sixties. To these rhymes we add my own creations. The first verse of yesterday's was:

"I m tapping my hand on Joshua's belly,
He also has a bottom which is often very smelly
He watches world at war with Daddy on the Telly
I'm tapping my hand on Joshua's belly"

And so on...

Joshua also goes to a class at the library which since it is run by the fascist lefties of Bristol City Council is a temple of political correctness. Thus there are new Nursery Rhymes which are so banal that I shall move swiftly on and ignore the eminently forgettable dirges. But there are also changes made to older ditties. The one where a minnow is meant to have a toe, because we can't use the N word so have to tell our kids that fish have feet ,is gone altogether. Rightly so.

But so too is the Drunken Sailor. I am not sure if it is because the sailor is a he and babies need to know that role models are gender neutral or if it is his fondness for the rum that offends. But to the same music Joshua must now listen to "what shall we do with lazy Katie?" Whatever. Back at chez Winnifrith the drunken sailor is still a drunk and still on board.

Tom Winnifrith

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Joshua Photo article - Reporting the Mrs to Social Services

859 days ago

I must take the blame for turning my daughter into a diehard West Ham supporter and as I inflict a lifetime of relegation battles and cup humiliations on her I accept that I may well be reported to social services for torturing her thus. But I want everyone to know that I am not responsible for young Joshua's new T-shirt which he is wearing below. Oh no...

I found it in my stocking on Christmas Day which means that it is either Santa or the Mrs who needs to be reported to Social Services as my four month old son starts down the path of misery as a member of the claret and blue army.

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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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My morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley: The Birthday Boy is now taking the piss

864 days ago

It was Oakley's birthday last week. Thank you to those who left messages for him on his facebook page. He is now fifteen. But I need to record that he is now starting to behave very badly indeed.

Naturally my Guardian reading Mrs gives the cat the run of the house whatever the scale of his crimes. And thus at about four in the morning he comes, from his main bedroom, the nursery, galloping up the stairs to the main bedroom. After wandering to the end of the bed in a circular direction as if he was attempting a Fosbury flop he launches himself on the foot of the bed.

He has now taken to marching to the top of the bed, ignoring the Mrs and lying on the pillow directly on top of my head. If that does not wake me up he may stick his claws into my shoulders. Naturally it is deemed a "breach of his 'uman rights" not to allow him in the room. Thus this is a daily ritual which only ends with me waking up and as I amble downstairs Oakley shooting passed me to start bleating in the Kitchen for food.

I offer him some food and head off to switch on my laptop. By the time I head back to make myself a coffee Oakley has scuttled off back to bed where he sleeps on my side gazing at the Mrs. But not before he has left me a present on the front doorstep. Sometimes its wee, at other times worse and now and again both.

I am beginning to think that I might raise with the Mrs the issue of my 'uman rights rather than those of Oakley. Surely mine trump his? You might think that, but as I describe his latest crimes, the Mrs just gazes at Oakley and whispers sweet nothings to him. In her eyes he can do no wrong. I am at the bottom of the 'uman rights pecking order in this house.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Why we must read accounts from the back forwards and Sirius vs Cloudtag

869 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/26311/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-why-we-must-read-accounts-from-the-back-forwards-and-sirius-vs-cloudtag

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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Avoiding two hours of George Michael - there is a God

877 days ago

"His family and fans are devastated, a tweet from Elton John, the world Genius is used too often but, an icon of a generation, RIP ( insert name of celebrity here) yadda, yadda, yadda." I never liked the music of George Michael.

His personal life was far from perfect but let us gloss over the fact that he drove cars when off his head on drugs and move quickly on as to how he campaigned for LGBT rights. I agree with George that who you have sex with is your decision and yours alone. Most of us agree with that. But the assertion that it is your right to have sex with complete strangers in public places because you are gay is something George & I might disagree on. Cottaging is not an essential human right for the gay community or is it, these days, a hate crime to make that assertion?

The Mrs loved George Michael. As part of our marriage vows she agree to come to watch West Ham at least twice a season (she has Welshed on that one) and also not to inflict any more than two George Michael/Wham songs on me in any car journey. She has kept to that one. But yesterday, as we set off on a two hour trip to see my father,  I feared that every radio station would be playing wall to wall George in tribute.

Luckily it was Boxing day so most stations were on pre-record and so oblivious to the demise of Saint George who, according to the BBC, was already sitting at the right hand of the father teaching the Angels the words to Last Christmas.

Frantically the Mrs looked among the CDs for her "best of" Saint George collection but it seems that she had taken it inside the house some weeks ago to inflict on poor Joshua on days when I was elsewhere. I was thus spared for a whole journey. There is a God.

Tom Winnifrith

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Great lines for New Year's Eve with the mad lefty friends of the Mrs, Marine Le Pen could be a winner

877 days ago

I have begged for a pass but it seems that I am committed to spend New Year's Eve with the deluded lefty friends of the Mrs, public sector workers the lot of them. The venue is, I think the house where the Mrs attended the 2015 General Election "victory party" which included that classic line "This can't be happening, I don't know anyone who votes Tory". I was almost sorry I missed that one.

But as we end 2016 and look forward to 2017 no doubt they will all be reflecting on Trump, Brexit, the Italian vote, Labour being a total joke, the War in Syria going the right way and all present, bar me, will be celebrating none of this.

My father advises me to stay sober and to bite my lip. My wife advises biting my lip knowing that I will be unable to endure this without an ouzo or four. But if provoked I have been contemplating a few winning lines. How about:

"Do you think it is wrong to fancy Marine Le Pen far more than Angela Merkel?"

"After Hillary, if Marine Le Pen loses how do you think we should tackle glass ceilings in 2017?"

"My wish for 2017? Clue - I'm wearing a Hillary for Prison-T-shirt, when do you expect her to get arrested?"

"Me too, yes I voted for Jezza - are you another Tory4Corbyn"
"You are in the Labour Party, - are you in the Jew hating part of it or are you outside the mainstream?"

"Yes, I was reading about that, the other day, in the Daily Mail"

"So looking forward, how will you be celebrating the triggering of article 50?"

"So you've married your (same sex) partner - another piece of social change only the Tories were enlightened enough to implement, its so good to have progressives in power don't you think?"

Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments box below. I don't think I can beat the Merkel/Le Pen line for when I encounter a particularly sour faced lefty, but perhaps you can do better?

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: My signature dish: Portuguese three pig & two bean stew

883 days ago

This is my signature dish. Whenever the Mrs has friends around this is what I prepare. Everyone loves it. Where do we start? With two large onions which are finely chopped and sweated with olive oil in a large pan.



When they are fully softened you add six peppers ( roughkly chopped), two small chillies and 12-15 large tomatoes, blanched so the skin is removed. Then just leave that all on a slow heat.

You then take 2lb each of pork (diced), bacon ( use cooking bacon and dice although here I used one packet of breakfast bacon as well) and chorizo ( again diced to 1 cm cube max. Each in turn is fried in oil with the oil left in the pan. The order is pork, bacon chorizo.

You will see that at the end the pan has a residue which is heavily chorizo based. Add water and rub off anything left on the ban by the meats, using a wooden spoon.

 

 

 

By now the vegetables will have been cooking for 30 minutes and you add all three meats and liquid from the pan which should ensure that there is liquid up to the top of the meats. Simmer for another hour.


At that point add in two types of beans. Here I used butter beans and kidney beans. The original recipe is from Darina Allen of Ballymalloe and she uses black beans but I don't need to open the book for this dish these days and have tweaked. Mix and stir and after half an hour the stew is ready to eat. It can be left on a very low heat throughout a party and just has all sorts of flavours.

We tend to offer guests the stew with rice (that is the Mrs at play). I rather prefer Darina's Irish suggestion of colcannon ( mashed potato with kale or cabbage and I add in a few spring onions as well).

The quantities above, with a good helping of colcannon, should serve a good portion for at least 15.

 

Admin

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The Mrs would not allow me to call our son Ebenezer as Scrooge gets an awful press

886 days ago

I thought it was a good name. Unusual and reminiscent of an era when Britain made things, was a truly prosperous nation and before we all demanded shelter from cradle to grave in the safe space underneath the great Money Tree. But the Mrs disagreed. And so our son is called Joshua not Ebenezer.

I saw a production of the Christmas Carol last week and poor old Scrooge got a really hard time. In the first part of the tale he is a hero, a wealth creator, a provider of employment, the sort of man we can all admire. Then those pesky ghosts arrive and in the space of a night they turn him into a Guardian reading liberal with a spine made of Jelly. The play ends with him giving Bob Cratchit a huge pay rise.

What we are not told is that as a result of pushing Bob up to a "living wage" the firm of Scrooge & Marley got into severe financial difficulties and was forced to cease trading. It was okay for for the Cratchits. With seven kids, the welfare state looked after them and Bob signed up for housing benefit and the full works. With food banks providing all the junk food the family needed, Bob was able to spend the vast welfare cheques on fags and a subscription to Sky TV.

As for poor Ebenezer, he was mentioned as a model employer in a column by Owen Jones and was given an MBE after hiking Bob's pay but when the firm went under there was no whip round at the Guardian.

Instead it called for an enquiry into the dividends Scrooge had paid out many years previously, in better times. Ebenezer was stripped of his gong and died in penury and disgrace.

The moral of the tale is that Ebenezer should have told the ghosts (played by Owen Jones, Polly Toynbee and Keith Vaz) where to stick it and carried on creating wealth as a heroic Victorian entrepreneur. Instead his life was ruined and he ends up a pathetic figure who no right thinking individual can do other than pity.

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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The feral kitten at the greek Hovel who looked like Kitosh is now resident as a magnificent cat

894 days ago

It was in the summer of 2015, I think, that I made the acquaintance of a feral kitten at the Greek Hovel. The timid little thing was terrified of humans but I managed to persuade it to take a few saucers of milk. I did so because I love cats and who cannot love a sweet little kitten? I also thought how much it looked like Kitosh, pictured, the cat I owned before Oakley. And there was self interest at play as well.

I have now and again wondered if the little kitten had survived the winter as I have not seen it since. Until, I think, this week. Now it could be another young cat with Kitosh type markings or my memory could be playing tricks on me. But earlier this week I saw this magnificent beast striding through the olive trees beyond the ruined cottage, presumably on the hunt.

I made that sound you do with your lips to attract cats and it turned and stared at me. It gave me a look that said "whatever" and turned away to move on. Again, late ;last night the same cat strode close to the hovel and looked at myself and the two women as we thrashed olives wildly, and then just wandered off.

Feral cats eat both rats and snakes. So having such a beast regard the hovel as home turf is damn good news. I hope it is "my kitten" but the real news is that we have a vermin catcher in residence.

Now and again as the Mrs and I chat we wonder how our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley would fare against a rat or a snake. The conclusion is not that well. I suspect he would just sit there giving it a stupid "what are you" look. The Mrs thinks he would run as fast as his, three legs, could carry him. Oakley has his own charms. The feral cat/kitten is, however, a magnificent hunting machine.And my joy that it is batting for team Greek Hovel is very real.

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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Day six of the Olive Harvest at the Greek Hovel - bad marks Peter Greensmith

896 days ago

Adam Reynolds and the Mrs are in my good books for returning phone calls and thus giving me phone breaks today. Peter Greensmith of Peterhouse did not and so ensured more toil and torture for me. Bad man Peter. Anyhow the sun shone all day and we toiled away as ever.

I am now getting so quick at my main (old ladies) job of seperating leaves from olives on a big metal grill that I found myself under-employed and so promoted myself to the job of thrashing branches, chopped down by George the Albanian, to cleanse them of olives.

Needless to say I clean one branch in the time it takes the ladies to clean three but I hope that every little helps. The end result is that we have finished the terraces on the mountain side and George thinks we have finished the top main level although I think there are a few tress in the far, snake infested, corner that we have missed. So we just have the short terraces ( two of them) on the Monastery side, the best trees in the area either side of the house and the poor trees in the other snake sanctuary, rocky ground by the entrance to the property, to go.

George ended today with the words "avrio, Kambos, ferma" which means he thinks we will be done tomorrow evening. He is the expert but I think he's missed out the main snake area which, as they are sleeping, and as I risked life and limb to clear it of frigana and prune the trees in the summer, is not on. If I am right it may be a Saturday finish. We shall see.

If it is tomorrow there will be no afternoon writing for me as it will be to Kambos to watch the press and have an ouzo and a settle up with George with lovely Eleni translating. Bring it on. The torture is almost over.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Oakley, Joshua and the silly hat

903 days ago

As you may remember, the Mrs forced me to go to a chavtastic shop called The Range to purchase a Christmas hat for our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. It appears to be part of a cunning plan for home made Christmas cards. How very spiritual.

Anyhow, Oakley bore the ordeal of his photo-shoot in a silly hat with a tremendous dignity. Or perhaps it was just too much of an effort to object.

These days babies are all dressed in silly costumes to make them look like bears, dogs or tigers so Joshua - who at 10 weeks is now almost as heavy as Oakley - also played ball without objection. There were a few who worried how Oakley would react to the new arrival. As you can see, he is utterly relaxed about the situation

 

 

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Grounds for divorcing the Mrs, 7 stages of grief (part2) & the stocks on AIM to short

911 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/25368/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-grounds-for-divorcing-the-mrs-7-stages-of-grief-part2-the-stocks-on-aim-to-short

Tom Winnifrith

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Visiting the Christmas store for Chavs, the Mrs makes me feel so ashamed

912 days ago

Not only does the Mrs insist that I need to buy a Christmas hat for our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley but she then tasked me with making the purchase. And thus I found myself in a store called The Range which is a consumerist paradise for poor people with no taste whatsoever. You want a masturbating Christmas gnome for your garden? This is the place to get it. Ghastly Christmas decorations utterly unrelated to the nativity in 15 shades of gold and silver for your council flat are what you crave. Come along to The Range and you will be spoiled for choice.

I waited until after dark lest anyone recognise me and wandered in moving swiftly to the pets section where, naturally, there was an abundance of Christmas gifts for your dog and cat. The Mrs had mentioned getting a whole Santa outfit for poor Oakley but sadly while there was one for dogs it was probably too small for Oakley to pour himself into.

But there was no complete escape. There was no Santa hat but there was an elves hat complete with brown ear muffs and a strap to keep it in place. Naturally Oakley will pose with patience in this hat, for our home made Christmas cards but I'm not so sure that it is a terribly spiritual message about the Season of Goodwill that we will be sending to our nearest and dearest.

I could not help but wander along aisles and aisles of complete and utter tuch. It was voyeurism as I gazed at a world that is just not mine. I suppose I should be thoroughly ashamed for being such a complete snob. But the place really was ghastly, an emporium of bad taste.

Consoling myself with the purchase of a packet of dried banana chips, the healthy option, I headed to the counter and with some shame put the chips and the elves hat on the counter. Having parted with £2.49 I buried the hat of shame deep in my pocket and headed home, a much postponed job completed.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs has Moved me into a Premier Inn at a Motorway Service Station

918 days ago

It is not quite as grim as it sounds but I am indeed writing to you from a Premier Inn at a Motorway Service Station which is my new home. well for one night only. It is all the fault of the Mrs.

It was she who decided that we would stay in Hemel Hempstead last night after our Christmas party in London. That meant that whilst I gave the fraud talk yesterday the Mrs could meet up with her sister who lives in Hemel and it also allowed us to drive up rather than take the train.

At some stage yesterday I worked out that since I had no need to be in London until Thursday and my only meeting today was at Saracens (a 25 minute drive from Hemel) I might as well stay here all day and head back to London tomorrow. As I headed off to Saracens the Mrs said she'd find a room, our hotel having no spare spaces for tonight. I got back and the Mrs said "Its a Premier Inn but its near the station so very convenient"

I think she meant the Railway Station but seems to have got a bit confused. we entered the zip code on Sat Nav and before long we were on a motorway. As we puled up to my new home the Mrs said "Don't blame me I'm not your P.A". "Too right" I said "If you were I would just have fired you." I have stayed in some fairly grim places in my time but this is right up there among them.

But at least there are few distractions, in may ways this is an ideal writers' retreat.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: Four Christmas Puddings almost ready - thank you Darina & Myrtle Allen

921 days ago

You are meant to make your Christmas puddings six weeks before Christmas to allow them to age and mature and so, leaving it to the last possible moment I have now just done that. The recipe is from a cookbook from the Queen of Irish cooking the amazing Darina Allen although she says that it is from her mother in law Myrtle, the founder of Ballymaloe. I think that Myrtle is still with us though she must be 92 by now and I am lucky enough to have visited the famed cooking school near Cork several times.

I say that I used Myrtle's recipe but I am sure that she and Darina would agree that you are allowed to play around with recipes a bit. Thus while I stayed true to the baked apples and most of the fruit I felt compelled to add in some nutmeg, mixed spice and cinnamon. And instead of Irish whiskey it was the remnant of some old Scotch but also some rum which was lying around and which no-one here drinks in any great quantities.

I think that I may have overdone the rum a touch but as of now I have steamed for 6 hours each of four two pint puddings. As a divorced Dad I get two Christmas meals to prepare and the remains from the second ( the Mrs and myself) will head up to Shipston for my father on boxing day.

Then there is one for the sister of the Mrs and her crazy Greek husband and finally one for Susan Shimmin of the Real Mani which I shall drop off in a couple of weeks when I head off to the Greek Hovel for the olive harvest. I can't see Susan compalianing that there is too much alcohol in her pudding.

Admin

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The Four Words that Made Me the Most hated man in the room

933 days ago

This was the strap on an article posted on LinkedIn. aka facebook for really boring adults. It is a great headline which arouses interest but I really doubt that "I'm an emergency surgeon" was quite the answer you were thinking of as you hit the link. I am sure you could do better. For instance, when with the mad public sector working bunch of lefties who are the friends of my Mrs, I could come up with:

I support Donald Trump

Brexit is excellent news

Oxbridge is a meritocracy

Trickle down cuts poverty

Socialism does not work

Homosexuals over-represented on Corrie

Get a real job

Like xxxx says.  This is where xxxx is Peter Hitchens/Melanie Phillips/Chris Booker/Ann Coulter/Mark Steyn or any other heroes of our age. 

Anthony Weiner to babysit?

You know the list goes on and on and on... bur right now that Trump line can't be bettered. Trust me, I have used it already and it went down a treat.

I really don't think "I'm an emergency surgeon" gets anywhere close.

Tom Winnifrith

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Me of Little faith - Happy Hammers with my daughter

938 days ago

Would we try to find somewhere to watch the game? As we wandered back from kicking a football around at the park this was what my daughter and I discussed. Chelsea at home in what used to be the League Cup, I was convinced we would lose 6 nil and admitted as much.

I am sorry but I cannot suffer like that. Daddy "ye of little faith" she said. I think I have been watching West Ham long enough to know what i am talking about, we were bound to lose.

At about 9.20 after Bake Off as she prepared for bed time I asked "so what was the score?" We had manged to block out any thought of the inevitable humiliation looming in East London. We rushed downstairs and switched on a computer. 2 nil to West Ham with 20 minutes left. Nervously we watched the screen as the minutes ticked away.

90+4 and Chelski pulled one back. "Surely even West Ham cannot blow it from here?" we both said. West Ham fans starting chucking chairs at the stockbrokers, lawyers and headhunters (as in City workers not NF Supporters) at the away end. "Shocking" we said to the Mrs and smirked to each other.

And then the whistle went. We win 2-1. "I told you so" i said to my daughter. "Ye of Little faith" she replied. Next up in the cup, Manchester United away. No point in watching that either - we are agreed.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: baby Joshua with his grandfather: now about West Ham and Social Services

949 days ago

As you may know, my daughter is a diehard West Ham supporter. She is also, incidentally, a total goal machine for her top of the table side. Her membership of Slaven Bilic's claret and blue army is good for me as it is someone to talk to after a game: The mrs is not interested and has never been to a game with me. I am ticked off by my daughter when I start talking about relegation but we can share the joy after the mighty Irons get a result as we did yesterday.

We deserved to beat Palace. Okay Palace missed a penalty but we should have had one when Cresswell was brought down in the area. Giving him a yellow for diving was an appalling call by the ref and we all know that Noble would have scored from the spot. So the three points were well deserved. Now we can look forward to better days ahead.

But on balance, being a West Ham supporter has more lows than highs. And thus it has been suggested that I should have been reported to social services for inflicting such misery on my daughter. Surely her life would have been happier had she supported Chelsea or Man United like the other kids? Whatever, the die is cast..her veins flow claret and blue.

But what of little Joshua? We live in Bristol not London and so there is the option of supporting City or even Rovers. The latter would mean cheap tickets, fun games and the expectation of underperformance giving true rapture when victory is secured. Derby games against Swindon, what a pleasure. With West Ham the bullbles fly so high but then always fade and die. With Bristol Rovers, if a bubble even gets off the ground it would be a cause for wild celebration.

I think it would be a bridge too far if young Joshua supports a "big club" like the other kids so Bristol Rovers could be the "third way." But on the other hand, if the Irons wins the next game we are mid-table and my daughter and I can start dreaming again. Surely Joshua would like to join in? Social services really cannot complain if we are mid table and have the odd cup run can they?

Meanwhile Joshua has met his grandfather as you can see below. I offered to let the Old man change a nappy but he declined. I think it is not a thing that folks of his generation did. Indeed he seems rather nervous of holding the baby at all but was, none the less, glad to meet up with the latest Winnifrith.

Tom Winnifrith

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My weekly Sainsbury shop, I am addicted to this exercise in despairing at modern life

957 days ago

I am the main shopper in this household, spinning down to the local Sainsbury once a week to provide for myself, the Mrs, Joshua and, most importantly of all, my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. I work with a mental shopping list and wander around in track suit bottoms to blend in with my fellow shoppers. I plod slowly trying to take in the full horror of life in modern Britain. It is addictive but each week I return to then emerge in ever greater despair.

It is three weeks to Halloween or, for my Manx readers, Hop-tu-Naa. And thus there is a whole aisle stuffed with junk for the festival. 95% of it is either plastic or sugar filled high cal treats to rot the teeth of the nation's young. I wonder what percentage of those celebrating Halloween know of All Soul's Night. I wonder if they can guess from the Manx festival why we, in a (nominally) Christian country, celebrate anything at that time of year at all.

I remember Halloween when I was a child. There was no trick or treating although we might have been making a guy as in "penny for the guy" at this time of year. My mother made toffee apples, we played games with bobbing apples. Perhaps there might be a bit of the fudge and black toffee she was making for November 5th on offer. But there was none of this commercial nonsense.

I note that there are large rows of pumpkins already on sale in Sainsbury's. Buy one now, carve it and watch it go mouldy next week. But still we are urged to buy and carve anyway. I wonder how many of those who do buy and carve will do anything other than throw away what is inside. You can make a cracking pie (it is sweet and so a pudding) or wicked pumpkin soup but how many bother? For my manx readers carving a turnip for Hop-tu-Naa, what you scrape out can be the basis of a fantastic creamy crab soup. But in 2016 Britain we just carve and bin.

Next to the Halloween aisle is the Christmas one. The yuletide started some tiime in early September at Sainsbury's but now, eleven weeks ahead of the event, it is in full swing. The Noel aisle is, like that for Halloween, stuffed with plastic junk or junk snacks. None of it will be anywhere other than clogging arteries or landfill sites by the New Year.

I think back to Christmases in the 1970s to when we decorated a tree brought in from the garden on the 24th and ensured that it was back in the garden by twelfth night to prepare for another year. I remember that Christmas stocking chocolate was such a novelty that we really cherished it, eating it over days to savour the pleasure. I think back forty years when the Church was part of our lives. Do the fat little children of 2016 wandering down the Christmas aisle demanding more sweets from their parents, know why we celebrate Christmas at all? And if they do, do they care?

Eventually I made it to the counter. As a treat for today (for the Mrs, myself and Oakley) I bought a three fresh kippers. The woman at the checkout stared at them and said "I have never seen them like that, they always come in plastic don't they?" Saints preserve us.I thought of trying to explain but my mind was deadened by 45 minutes of shopping and staring so I just stared back blankly

I returned home and want to show the Mrs pictures of a ruined Irish castle with enough fresh water and land to be self sustaining and to urge her to adopt my plans for a Greco-Irish existence away from this appalling modern consumerist existence. I do not. I know that she will stare at me with a look that says "he is barking mad, if I humour him for a while he will calm down: Sainsbury's brings out the worst in him, it will pass."

The madness is in the eye of the beholder. that my anger will pass is another matter. It will not. I shall be back at Sainsbury's in a week and will be annoyed by something else. Last week it was the array of cooking chocolates. It was all so unnecessary and wasteful. Next week I don't know what it will be but it will be something.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs has switched channels to watch Graham Norton - surely this is grounds for divorce?

957 days ago

I managed to tolerate her reading inane women's magazines but this really is a step too far. There was I, having done the weekly shop and cooked a full supper after a hard day's work , happily watching Newsnight. The BBC's finest metropolitan liberals had just explained to me how Brexit had ruined the economy anf how Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win the election by cheating, when the Mrs switched channel to the Graham Norton Show.

Three actors pushing their new crap films, a comedian with a ghastyly scouse accent plugging his next tour and another pushing her new book. All are asked soft questions by camp Irish pixie Mr Norton. A fawning audience laugh at ever inane comment made by the celebs or Norton. The female comedian tells a joke about a gardener offering to trim her bush. Ooooh er what a clever sexual double entrendre. How everyone laughed.

It is true Soma for the masses. And the Mrs is lapping it up. I am dying for the baby to wake and up and scream for a nappy change. "I'll do it, please, anothing but this TV torture".

What do you think? Is forcing me to watch the Graham Norton Show reasonable grounds for divorce?

Tom Winnifrith

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Diane Abbott brands my wife a racist for backing Brexit.. whatever

967 days ago

According to Labour Health Secretary and rentaquote lardbucket Diane Abbott the 17 million folks who voted for Brexit did so because "they wanted to see fewer foreign looking people on the streets". Brexit voter = racist. Interesting.

Just before the vote I was at a party for the 50th wedding anniversary of my wife's parents who, as it happens, were both born in India and are clearly people of colour. One thing that struck me as we chatted away was how many people in the wider family were planning to vote for Brexit. My wife voted for Brexit as did her sister. Even her husband who did not have the vote as he is Greek supported Brexit. Polls show that across the Labour heartlands large numbers of other folks of colour voted to leave.

In the simple analysis of Diane Abbott my wife, all those other folks of colour and millions of working class white Labour voters are now all racists. In fact, there are many reasons why folks voted for Brexit and there are many reasons why Labour is languishing in the polls.

I suspect that having a woman who sent her son to a selective school but wants to stop the rest of us having that opportunity via grammar schools, lecturing us all that if we don't think as she does on Europe we are all racists, is not going to reverse the erosion of Labour support. Nor will it make those 17 million people branded racists like The Mrs regret voting for Brexit.

It might however make the Mrs contemplate abandoning the party of which she is a member and which she has voted for. since she was 18 Clearly folk like her are not wanted by Labour any more.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Racist Bear joins the household

970 days ago

The presents for baby with no name continue to flood in. Last week saw a box arrive from the colleagues of the Mrs who had taken time off from filling the empty minds of impressionable millennials with left wing nonsense, to send us some gifts. There were flowers and chocolates for the Mrs but nothing for me as I am a patriarchal white man who exposed himself as an evil capitalist in a lecture given to the students of the Mrs. For the baby with no name there was a balloon and a small teddy.

But Teddy Bears are, like the Mrs, meant to be brown. This bear, as you can see is white. He is therefore now known as "racist bear".

In this house that is known as irony. The worrying thing is that many of the colleagues of the Mrs would regard it as a serious and valid critique of the world of stuffed bears.

Tom Winnifrith

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Pizza Hardman: how about naming your son Thatcher Winnifrith?

978 days ago

Given that the pizza Hard Man Darren Atwater is Canadian, thus by definition a deluded lefty, you have to give him credit for the idea. We now have only 41 days to find a name for my son and there is still no resolution to the dispute between myself and the Mrs. Maybe I should tell the Mrs that my best man gets the casting vote in the event of a deadlock and that he is going for Thatcher as a first name?

The mother-in-law, retired NHS doctor and diehard socialist has put her foot down. I sense that Darren is now not in her good books. But before she gets any ideas I have made it clear that Blair is not an option. Nor for that matter is Jeremy or Owen

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley tormented by Pokemon and the working classes

981 days ago

Like Labour front bencher Emily Thornberry, our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is terrified of actually meeting a member of the working classes. Thus when a man fixing the bathroom wanders in or the cleaners arrive, as soon as they start speaking Polish he bolts and hides. Maybe Oakley is a racist and does not like Poles? Actually It is not that they are speaking Polish as on the odd occassion we have found Brits who will eschew welfare to work for £12 an hour, he also runs, especially when he hears a hoover revving up.

It is not that he is scared of people. When we have guests, even the mother-in-law who visits tomorrow for an extended stay, he is most affectionate. But when a member of the working classes crosses our thresh-hold, Oakley runs upstairs into a bedroom and buries himself under a duvet. He will only emerge when the house is once again free of the working classes.

I wonder why he became such a snob? I suspect it is the middle class Guardian reading public sector employed pals of the Mrs teaching him bad habits. "Oakley watch out there is a white van pulling up outside! Run...he has a real job and might vote Tory!
"
Meanwhile No 1 friend of Oakley, Mu, who is a novelty among the friends of the Mrs in that she actually has a job in the productive part of the economy, is still acting like a crazed Millennial and playing Pokemon Go on a daily basis. And on her last visit she once again detected a Pokemon above Oakley. He was, as you can see, not impressed.

Tom Winnifrith

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A moment of true cot humiliation

983 days ago

Once again the Mrs and I tried to assemble the cot yesterday afternoon. It ended with me swearing and she insisting that I was not celebrating the impending birth and bursting into tears. I am really excited by what is happening but not by trying to make this ffing cot. We agreed to try again later.

At about 4 AM today I sensed that the marital bed was a bit empty. I was there. Oakley our morbidly obese three legged cat was sprawled out at the bottom and purring loudly but the Mrs had disappeared. I roused Oakley to point out that there was a space at the top of the bed with stacks of pillows and he sought out more lebensraum accordingly.

I headed downstairs and there standing smugly in her study, the nursery to be, was the Mrs and a fully assembled cot looking just like the one on the box. That was a man's job and I failed, She knew it.I knew she knew it. Humiliation defined.

Tom Winnifrith

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Can I divorce the Mrs for reading Prima Magazine? the case for an Asteroid strike on Britain - women's magazines

987 days ago

Facing her first, unexpected night at the Hospital the Mrs found herself without a book or laptop. As such she needed to buy a general interest Women's magazine. We stared at the selection in the Co-Op before we wandered back towards the ward.

One publication was focusing on a new interview with Catherine Zeta Jones as she pumped her latest movie. This is a woman who has revealed her secrets to magazines and the TV so many times that the whole world already knows everything about her right down to the size of her cervix. In another magazine Claire Balding was promising to reveal all. What? You are a lesbian Claire? FFS I never knew that. You've been keeping that as a well guarded secret have you not? Has it been tough being gay at the BBC? Do you think its affirmative action programmes are effective enough? Oddly this all rings a bell or two as well.

Perhaps magazine three featuring Mary Berry pumping her new show might be of interest? Gosh Mary you have a sweet tooth and eat lots of cakes. Well I never. Maybe you should become a cook? BTW Mary, did you know that Claire is a lesbian and that Catherine likes acting in films?

Finally it was Prima magazine on whose cover was Hermione Norris pumping her latest TV show, the return of Cold Feet. The Mrs loves that show and I admit that it was not complete torture. I also have a soft spot for Hermione for her part in Wire in the Blood so it was Prima Magazine that was purchased.

Jeepers. It took me about two minutes to establish that from cover to cover it was vacuous piffle. To think that folks actually earn a living putting this rubbish together and that vast numbers of Britons buy these publications. Gosh it is a depressing reflection on modern Britain. Bring on the asteroid strike.

Pro tem do you think that the Mrs buying and reading Prima Magazine is grounds for divorce? That might sound a trifle harsh four days before she is due to give birth but Prima truly is appalling.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs is back in Hospital - has anyone got a "Junior Doctors are greedy bastards" badge?

988 days ago

The baby has again turned around and so the Mrs is back in hospital. as we are now only five days short of due date I guess this is the final stint. I am finding it very hard to bite my lip as I experience the NHS first hand.

The nurses and doctors all seem to wear badges saying things like "Save the NHS" or "I support the Junior Doctors". I am tempted to ask "Save the NHS from what? Another year of inflation busting funding increases? Losing its place as the world's fifth largest employer? Being unable to cope with all those ghair removal operations for transexuals? Coping with reports in the Guardian that it has too few black and women senior managers? I know this most politically correct of organisations is apparently sexist and racist which is why, according to the Guardian, it is not better managed. You could not make this left wing shite up could you? But it is a pleasure to see them all squirming to be the most PC kid on the block.

Naturally I do not quiz the staff but a bit of me wants to get a badge saying "Junior Doctors are greedy bastards" or " I stand with the bottom 98% of who pay the wages of fat cat doctors in the top 2% who are still bleating as they are greedy and, on 40 hours a week max, lazy bastards." Maybe that second message would not fit on a badge but you know what I mean don't you?

What happens next to the Mrs? The junior doctor said that she did not really know enough about the subject. Great, have a pay rise love. So we must wait for a consultant to do his rounds. He was not there yesterday afternoon. One assumes he was doing some private work to top up his £137,000 a year NHS pay. Or perhaps he was taking his son back to Eton. Or off at the golf course. But he is doing a round this morning. What time? On that matter, as on much else, the junior doctor seemed unsure. We all know how busy consultants are don't we?

Tom Winnifrith

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Grounds for Divorcing the Mrs...she just cannot be serious!

992 days ago

Given that she is due to give birth to our son in nine days time I might just forgive her but the Mrs is pushing her luck.

Among the very few possessions of mine that are allowed in the house as opposed to the garage are a signed and framed Mark Cavendish shirt which, given what team it is from, is actually quite rare and a framed and signed Geoff Hurst 1966 Replica shirt. That is far less rare and so worth less but as it is from the year West Ham won the World Cup it has sentimental value. And it reminds me of a girl I knew once.

When I say my possessions, I should note that they are not actually mine. They are owned by FIML which is owned by a Trust of which I am not a beneficiary but the Mrs is. I am worth nothing and always will be just in case I get sued for libel by a company that, unlike my current adversary African Potash, is not a nailed down fraud and is not advised by the stupidest lawyers on this planet. But I am the guardian the possessions of the Trust and I rather like the shirts anyway.

The Mrs would rather have a poster for a mythical country called Palestine on the wall and so my shirts sit hidden behind a sofa. They will go to the Greek Hovel if it is ever ready. But back to the divorce.

The Mrs said "I think we should sell the framed shirts on ebay or give them to Oxfam." Bloody hell, if that is not grounds for divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, what is? Saying she has bought a season ticket to Spurs? Investing all her money in African Potash shares? Vetoing calling our son Thomas? Putting my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley up for sale on ebay? Few crimes could be worse than the one suggested today.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mother In Law sends a card - as the Mrs & I celebrate our third wedding anniversary

994 days ago

The first time I met my parents in law it did not go terribly well. I understood fully that a man who was at that stage worth minus £200,000 was, at 44, materially older than a darling daughter and who had been married before was not exactly an ideal potential son in law. Indian families want their daughters to marry up not to marry a bankrupt bum who is a proven marital failure. I understood.

My mother in law had been trying to arrange for the Mrs to get hooked up with a nice Indian dentist from Plymouth. That is the sort of son in law she wanted and at every level I failed to meet the required standard. It was bad enough when her elder daughter fell in love with a Greek, we all know what the Bubbles are like don't we? Now the younger daughter was dating a bum with no money who was also a Tory voted and had a dim view of the NHS. Did I mention tht my Mother in law was a doctor?

It goes without saying that when the Mrs broke the bad news that the boyfriend was to become the husband, the subject of a pre-nup came up pretty quickly. That was then.

There was a lovely wedding at a Byron family home in the grim North which the Mother-in-law worked on tirelessly. The financial position has changed dramatically since our first meeting 42 months ago. I have earned big brownie points by quitting smoking (unlike the bubble brother in law) and, fingers crossed and notwithstanding my advanced years, a grandson will arrive shortly. And thus a card addressed to both of us arrived yesterday.

In face the envelope was marked with the surname Winnifrith for both os us. That is how my parents in law view us. They also know that their family originates from Madras. The Mrs, being a deluded lefty, retains her surname and thinks her family come from Chennai. Whatever....I am with the in-laws on both matters.

If a daughter of mine announced she was dating someone who was in my position of a few years ago I too would have been horrified. How things have improved all round. The Mrs has enjoyed , an excellent presented and cooked, breakfast in bed and is now having a lie in with my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. It is not going to be a full working day for them. Or for me.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Hillary for Prison 2016 - a new T-shirt arrives but the Mrs is not impressed

1013 days ago

It has arrived. My Hillary (Clinton) for Prison 2016 T-shirt is here. I think it looks great. But the Mrs is not sure that she wants to be seen with me if I am wearing it. The intolerance of the liberal left is frightening. As you can see below it is magnificent.

Tom Winnifrith

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Heading to the shop with my New University Rafia Bag - as least its not the Sociology Association One

1022 days ago

Jeepers!. Folks must have thought I was a deluded lefty as the Mrs sent me off to Sainsbury's with a rafia bag emblazoned with the name and logo of her "new" university on it, so as not to use any plastic bags. It could have been worse, the Mrs does have one from a recent conference she attended. It boasts the emblem of "The British Sociology Association." It might as well say "mad middle class Guardian reading lunatic."

At least if I meet any comrades from the Labour party it might continue to fool them that I am as barking as the rest of them and not a closet Tory4Corbyn or indeed Tory for any other lunatic who will lead the People's Party to Destruction. Actually on that note my local MP, the nutso Kerry McCarthy has invited me out in Bristol tonight.

Despite being mad as a nest of snakes herself, telling folks that meat eaters were as evil as smokers and should be treated accordingly, Comrade McCarthy is backing Owen Smith to be leader having quit Comrade Corbyn's front bench where, improbably, she spoke for him on farming. What else would this vegan extremist be speaking on in the Labour asylum?

Kerry wants me to come and hear Owen Smith and warns me I ashould book early to avoid disappointment. I bet that even nutso McCarthy can't say that with a streight face, Comrade Smith's rallies so far have been so badly attended he could have held them in a telephone box and there would still have been standing room at the back.

Anyhow, back to the bags the Mrs foists on me. I do my best to ensure that no-one thinks I am a lefty by wearing either a Mark Steyn or a Ron Paul T-shirt but I sense that in this rather traditional part of Bristol such statements are rather lost on most folks.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Reason Not to Visit the Mother-in-law: calling a woman a "bird" in Nottinghamshire now a hate crime

1039 days ago

Nottinghamshire Police Force ,led by the admirable Sue Fish, and working with the Nottingham Women's Centre has become the first UK police force to classify sexual harassment as a "hate crime" but what the Nottingham Rozzers define as harassment is terrifying. As the Mother-in-Law lives in Nottingham I must now steer well clear of her because I am - in that County - now guilty, on a regular basis, of acts which can constitute hate crime.

The Rozzers state:

Misogyny hate crime, in addition to the general hate crime definition, may be understood as incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.

Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission."

The joy of our Orwellian hate crime laws in Airstrip One is that it is not the Rozzers or the law that defines whether an action is a hate crime. Here I quote the bible of authoritarian Britain, the Guardian newspaper:

Police record as a hate crime any offence perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on any of five protected characteristics: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity. It is open to police to add another category – such as gender – if they notice a trend...It is enough for a victim to say they believe the offence targeted at them was motivated by hate because of their disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or transgender status for it to be recorded as a hate crime.

Ends.

Please remember the use of the word trend for later.

More importantly, I hope that you now understand the sinister way that a hate crime is not a hate crime because a specific action has been taken but merely becuase the "victim" feels that an action has been taken which is hate crime. Wolf whistling at women is something I have never been able to do, I just can't work out how to.

But I would not wolf whistle at a women in Nottinghamshire or anywhere in the North as it is an unpleasant act per se and - as I have noted many times before - in the Northern welfare safaris most women seem to be obese, tattooed monsters, allergic to hard work and less intelligent than your average sparrow.

So the chances of me wolf whistling at a woman in Nottingham are very low but if I was to transgress would it really be a crime let alone a hate crime? In Nottinghamshire it is now both if the bird who is whistled at thinks that it is. Oh fuck I used the word "bird" to refer to a woman.

Apparently that is so demeaning that it can also be classified as a hate crime if some stroppy cow with PMT thinks so. I fear that had I accused a specific woman of being a stroppy cow with PMT I might again be in the soup were I in Nottingham.

I am now writing from Warwickshire where the rozzers say they have no plans to make sexual harrassment a hate crime. Phew. I can therefore use the phrase PR bird or PR bimbo in my writings withour risking arrest. But were I to be writing from the house of my mother-in-law I could theoretically face a vist from Sue Fish's finest, investigating my hate crimes for using such phrases.

Orwell would be terribly proud of Sue Fish and her colleagues in the Nottinghamshire filth not least because, I suspect they cannot prove a "trend" of sexual harassment and thus actually have no rights whatsoever to implement this law but are just seizing the powers anyway. The releases from Nottinghamshire Police give no hard data to substantiate the claim of trend, indeed the issue is not even mentioned.

Meanwhile when should I explain to the Mrs that to ensure my liberty I cannot risk any more visits to the in-laws?

 

Tom Winnifrith

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What is it with the younger generation? Now they can't find a row of beans?

1044 days ago

Having recently noted the failure of my step brother T and the Mrs, collectively the younger generation, to know what a potato plant looks like, I suggest to my father that I might include broad beans in his supper tonight. "All gone" he says. "Really?" I responded "who said so?" er...it was your step brother T.

My mental inventory of the last time I picked broad beans in my father's garden here in Shipston makes me suspicious. And it seems that young T thinks that broad beans also grow in plastic bags at Tesco. I return after just a few minutes with twenty pods which means that there must be at least fifty beans - easily enough for supper.

Moreover, admittedly hidden among the raspberry bushes to further confuse young City dwelling Guardian reading professionals, there are another three untapped plants.

Next up is the issue of a surfeit of raspberries and strawberries. Quite simply we have too many for my father and I to deal with. Another crumble now beckons as we are now enjoying the red fruit with almost every meal and we need a bit of variety.

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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Is the Mrs reading Grazia Magazine grounds for divorce?

1054 days ago

Back in the UK I sit at my desk looking out on a quiet surburban road. It is all very different to the view from the rough table at which I write at the Greek Hovel. I see people, cars and neat brick walls rather than olive trees, sheep, the abandoned monastery and the wild of the Mani countryside. Here in Bristol, I also spot in a magazine rack next to my desk a copy of Grazia magazine.

On the front cover is Harry Potter star Emma Watson offering her opinions on things I don't care about plus pictures of other celebs whose names I do not recognise. Grazia is an inane magazine for women.

I ask the Mrs "surely you did not buy this?" because spending cash on such matters is surely grounds for divorce. Last time such a publication entered the house, the Mrs claimed to have found it on a train. This time she claims that her friend Katie brought it with her when she trekked down from the Grim North for a visit the other day.

I detect a pattern here. Surely catching your Mrs reading such piffle, however it came to enter the house, is a valid reason for divorce?

Tom Winnifrith

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Plucking up courage and heading back into the fields...sssssnakes!

1057 days ago

After yesterday's encounter with an adder I was not exactly gagging to go frigana cutting today. The only real patches left are thick bushes whrere the shoots can be up to six foot tall and where, one imagines, snakes regard it as an ideal place to sit around waiting for prey. Or me. So I procastinated, swapping emails with David Lenigas, and writing a long piece on Tony Baldry, a loathsome scumbag former Tory MP who makes your avereage adder seem like a nice piece of work.

But I was conscious that I had enjoyed a few ouzos the night before and so needed to spend some time toiling in the heat to burn off those calories and so, in the end, plucked up courage and headed off to the fields.

Full of petrol my frigana cutter is pretty heavy but whereas I carried it two handed at the start of the summer there is now real muscle in my arm and I carry it one handed and can indeed wield it with one hand if needs be. Maybe when I get back to Bristol the Mrs will do a blog post on how muscular my arms have become.

It would be fair to say that I trod more carefully than usual as I waded through the long grass towards the bushes. I attacked from the edges peering carefully in every now and again to see if I could see anything moving. Gradually the bushes thinned and I could see through to the other side. This was a snake free zone. I slashed with renewed vigour.

After forty minutes I was surrounded by cut branches with yet more thrown over the wall to the terrace below.When I approached this small terrace it was surrounded on all sides by a wall of frigana which has now gone. I can now see clearly down from the top terrace all the way to the fence. I still ponder how I managed to miss this little forest two years ago when I thought I had cleansed our land. Frigana simply does not reach six foot in two years we must have missed this little area of the land. But now it is cleansed.

I doubt that I shall entirely clear the land of frigana by the time I return on Saturday. But as I wander around I can see large expanses of leaves turning golden brown which, when I arrived, were bright green frigana.

This may not be the final push into Berlin where i am the Russians and the frigana is the Nazis, but this summer can certainly be seen as the siege of Stalingrad. it is the beginning of the end for the Nazis and with dead Germans lying across the lands of the Greek Hovel, the frigana boys have taken one hell of a beating.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article: the road to Mistras

1059 days ago

You want photos of Mistras? You really should for it is truly an amazing place but patience dear friends, let me first tell you about our journey there. The Mrs was in charge of logistics....yes, I know, but I am a feminist so I did not kick up a fuss.

And so it was decided that we would take the older road from Kalamata to Mistras which is about 60 kilometres door to door. The Mrs informed me that it would take an hour and a half.

You are 'avin' a bubble I proclaimed it is me driving not my father.  Thankfully my father was some years ago told very firmly by his offsprng that his driving days were over. Folks who drive at 15 miles and hour, mostly on the correct side of the road may not have accidents but they cause them. The Mrs insisted she was correct.

Ninety minutes later after about fifteen thousand million hairpin bends through the mountains I had to concede that she had been right all along. As  a vertigo sufferer I don't always find these roads the most pleasant to drive but I guess with all my trips in the area around the Greek Hovel I am getting used to it.  Next time we might perhaps take the newer road. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article: Oakley's Greek cousin in action

1059 days ago

Who would believe that the fine cat below is the same species as my morbidly obese three legged moggie Oakley. The latter, for some reason, has a deep aversion to the working classes and so when middle class folk arrive he is uber-friendly. When tradesman arrive it is rather different. Right now plumbers are installing a new bathroom for the Mrs and Oakley is spending his entire working day cowering under the duvet in the top bedroom.

Back here in the Greek mountains I was driving down from the hovel last evening and towards the end of the track through the olive groves about 200 yards before snake hill I spotted this cat.

Though domestic in terms of gene pool, he or she lives totally in the wild up here in the area around the hovel. They are afraid of humans but not of snakes, rats, mice, lizards or indeed more or less any other member of the wildlife diversity community. All are considered fair prey for supper.

Oakley, who could not catch a cold, would not last up here for more than a day. Like the Mrs he is not cut out for hovel dwelling and would be demanding a move to a posh hotel by the sea, very quickly. His cousins are in their element and the more members of the wildlife diversity community they devour, the better.

Tom Winnifrith

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Visit to Paddy Leigh Fermor's House part 3 - My father holds Court

1065 days ago

And so our party finally made it through the large blue door which marks the entrance to the house that Paddy built in Kardamili. Turning right along a terrace open on one side we found ourselves with the rest of the group in the library. This was all rather different from the Greek Hovel.



My father finds movement hard and so soon plonked himself on a chair and within minutes the group was aware of his views on the EU ( a good thing, shame you on you Dad, your father would be mortified) and that he had been there before to have lunch with his friend Paddy. Dad neglected to mention that as our guide he had forgotten the way here or indeed what the place looked like, the posh Brits who dominated the party were in the presence of a friend of Paddy's and my father was in his element.

Have I mentioned how the two men met? My father was lecturing at the spectacular fortress of Monemvasia on the vlachs - a Nomadic tribe in Northern Greece. There is no connection at all between the Vlachs and Monemvasia here in the far South so I assume it was some sort of academic junket. Amazingly, thirty folks turned up and one of them - driving three hours to get there - was Paddy. There the friendship started.

My dear wife says that I have too many books. She points out, correctly, that I do not read that much and argues that she should be allowed to give them all to a Charity shop. I say that I will read more when I re-balance my life and become the primary carer for our son. Bedtime reading little one: have we finished that Ayn Rand yet? Okay time for a bit of Mark Steyn. Between Bristol and Greece we have more than enough room, in fact we need more books!

Paddy certainly had books. There are those in neat bookshelves as below and then just piles and piles of books in every room. My stepmother and I started to hunt for what would really please Dad, sight of a copy of his book on the Vlachs which he gave to Paddy. It was like hunting for a needle in a haystack and eventually we gave up. But my father was still in the library with folks hanging on his every word. Or at least that was what he said was happening as we collected him and started the trek down the long path.



At this point he was propped against me for support as we edged down the hill. On the other side was a middle aged American lady who appeared to think that she had just met the real thing. My father told an old joke about his bad greek once leaving him boasting that he had 25 penises ( he meant chickens) and the lady roared with laughter. Maybe I did too the first time I heard it but that was many incantations ago. Eventually we reached the car and the lady departed sadly.

We Winnifrith men, like Paddy himself, we know how to pull the birds in Greece.

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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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - one week to Brexit?

1068 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21501/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-one-week-to-brexit

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: The warnings of Soros & the Wonderful Mrs

1069 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21405/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-the-warnings-of-soros-the-wonderful-mrs

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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Tom Winnifrith's shortest bearcast ever: putting the Mrs first & flagging up Advanced Oncotherapy is "in sights"

1075 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21309/tom-winnifrith-s-shortest-bearcast-ever-putting-the-mrs-first-flagging-up-advanced-oncotherapy-is-in-sights

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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Thunderstorms and flooding in the UK and here in Greece: Brexit must be to blame

1079 days ago

I gather that back in the UK you have all had a spot of bother with thunderstorms and tornados. Has David Cameron managed to blame a surge in support for Brexit yet? Just watch out little people, if you back Boris and Priti you are all going to drown and here are a list of 100 experts who support that claim. Okay 98 of them are on the EU payroll in some way, shape or form but they are frigging experts and you are little people who cant be trusted to make your own minds up. So either start building an ark or vote the right way!

As it happens the mountains above Kardamili are also covered in dark clouds and the thunder sounds ominous. The Mrs has conceded that there will be no sea swimming today and I have opted not to head back to the hovel for a spot of snake spotting and frigana slashing. It is clearly set to tip it down. Is Brexit to blame for the Greek deluges? Apparently Dodgy Dave's NBF President Erdogan of Turkey blames it all on the wicked Kurds.

Update: it is now tipping it down, the lightening is lighting up dark skies and the thunder is noisier than ever. We sit in our hotel room and I say to the Mrs that we must look on the bright side, at least this rain is really good for our olive trees. She says: even better, it means that you wont make me go and see them today! The cheek of it all, what could be more enjoyable than olive pruning at the snake safari that is the Greek Hovel?

As it happens I am rather glad to be in a warm and dry hotel room with air conditioning right now rather than at the hovel. By now the mud track, which leads from my front door to the top of snake hill where the road turns to concrete, will be filling up with puddles and driving will become less than easy. The snakes love water and will be out and about. And the one room I live in will be dry but either freezing or boiling, a fridge or a sauna - not a place to be trapped inside by a deluge.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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How many frigging olive trees does the Mrs own? I now prune into uncharted and snake intense territory

1080 days ago

When the Mrs bought the Greek Hovel we were told that there were around 120-150 olive trees here. A few are wild so bear no fruit but still we had a lot of trees. I am now convinced that the number is far greater as I navigate the far reaches of the land. I do so more conscious than ever, after yesterday, that I am not alone as I work.

There is 16,000 square metres of land here. Okay knock off 500 square metres for the house, the ruin and the "drive" but that is still a lot of land. Looking out at the immediate garden which is olive tree rich and, roughly, 100 square metres contains eight trees. Elsewhere on the property the intensity of tress is far less but a bit of basic maths suggests that we must have well over 150 trees here.

What also convinces me that we do have more trees than previously thought is that I have now been pruning at between 8 and 15 trees a day pretty much every day for at least 20 days. And I still have a stack of trees to go. The trees I tackle now appear not to have been pruned for many a year indeed I somewhat doubt that they were harvested in the past given how deep they were buried in frigana bushes. But that frigana was hacked back big time two years ago and poisoned and chopped aggressively last year. Now I am wading into what must be the last redoubts of the frigana, the last bits of this land which it clings to and, in doing so, I am exposing yet more trees.

The problem - as I am sure you have guessed - with a foray into land which has not seen human visits for many a year is that I am very much not alone. I tread heavily, carefully and slowly but the grass, frigana and other bushes are thick and hide many things. I hear creatures moving around me more often than I care to consider and I find myself thinking what happens if I do meet a you know what? How brave will I be? Will I stand my ground, armed with axe, saw or frigana chopping machine or will I run away screaming. And then suddenly it was not exactly a hypothetical question.

There I was yesterday and after about two hours in the fields I was tired, my limbs ached and I was almost ready to call it a day when I heard something. I spun around and the grass and bushes were moving in a clear S-shape pattern. They were at least moving away from me. I stared transfixed at where the snake appeared to have come to rest. I could not see it but was acutely aware that it was blocking my path back to the Greek Hovel. A dilemma indeed.

And thus I found myself swinging right - that happens a lot as one gets older and grows up - and clambering up a wall to take an indirect route home. That saw me discover three more trees that have not felt man's tender love for many a year. They were duly pruned before I heard another noise. Enough is enough, time to head back to the hovel.

However, as I push on to the far reaches of the land here, there will inevitably be other encounters. I am now on the lowest terrace that surrounds the property on both sides, I find trees up against iron fencing that marks our boundary and which are protected by thick bushes.The work must go on. Not only do the olives deserve a prune but the land here must be cleared for only then can myself and George the Albanian undertake the replanting programme we plan for the spring.

My sense is that around 40 of the 200+ trees here are either wild or in such bad nick, for whatever reason, that they need to be replaced as they will never yield us anything. Moreover there are now vast stretches of land which two years ago wre covered with frigana but which are now clear and where olive tree density is perhaps only 1 per 100 square metres or less. I had calculated, from experience, that this property would generate 600 Euro ( bad year) to 1800 Euro (good year) revenues from oil.

I can see that my maths was all wrong.Not only can we almost double the number of yielding trees but with a bit more care of the whole estate, pruning, watering and fertilising it should easily start to yield 1500 Euro (bad year) to 4500 Euro (good year). And then when I buy another field.... Bear in mind that I could live on well under 800 Euro a month out here and I am sure you can see where I am heading. That sort of maths would allow me to spend all my literary time writing not terribly commercial articles about life in Kambos and up here at the hovel. Sod the stockmarket. What fun!

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself. I still have another ten days of olive tree pruning and frigana clearing, perhaps more. But at least I shall have company at all times.

Tom Winnifrith

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A welcome addition to the wildlife diversity at the Greek Hovel...Hello Mr Cat

1080 days ago

For some reason I awoke early this morning. It is probably the knowledge that the Mrs lands at 11.30 Greek Time and so I have a fair bit of scribbling to do to ensure that you get your daily dose of golden prose and poisonous malice. As is my wont I threw open the front door ahead of doing to an olive tree what only a man can do. With a speed my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley could not even contemplate a small cat shot past me.

I am pretty sure that this little black and white creature visited me two summers ago when I gave it some milk. It is a little larger now and will be one of the numerous feral cats that roam the hills around here. There is clearly a domestic cat gene or two in it but it is wild and terrified of humans. What it was doing on the snake veranda last night I cannot imagine.

This member of the wildlife diversity community is most welcome. I am by nature a cat person but out here I want as many cats as possible roaming the property. For not only do they eat mice and rats but they will also attack snakes too and wll kill them for food. Before I could reach for a camera, Mr cat shot off into the fields where, after yesterday, I must wish him the happiest of hunting.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: On the toast rack are CIC Gold, xCite and Gulf Keystone & what's happening at TrakM8?

1080 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/21273/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-on-the-toast-rack-are-cic-gold-xcite-and-gulf-keystone-what-s-happening-at-trakm8

Tom Winnifrith

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Charon visits the Greek Hovel - gosh this is awkward

1094 days ago

I was on the phone to the Mrs who had some good news to relay when I heard the unmistakable voice of my neighbour Charon outside. Then he banged on the door saying "Tom, Tom." I had no choice. He knew I was there. I could not hide. I opened the door.

When I say neighbour it is not as if he is just round the corner. As the crow flies his place is about another mile up the mountain. By road it is a two mile trek and Charon had walked over and was there on my doorstep topless and sweating.

It is not that I don't like him, it is just that he insists on speaking English to me. His English is better than my Greek but not a lot better. And so we have long exchanges of words which really cant be described as conversations. Sometimes I get out my Greek English dictionary and try speaking Greek words. However we go about it it is painful.

The one bond we used to have was the common language of cigarettes. The poor man was out of fags and so asked me if I had one. He was clearly in great need of a fix. I said "stopped" and waved my arms to express finality. He asked "why?" Trying to explain about playing soccer with my nephews and nieces on St Valentine's day and feeling like shit after five minutes would have been tough so I made a coughing noise.

"Oh no!" he cried and looked alarmed. I tried to say just to stop me coughing but I think he now worries that I have been diagnosed with cancer. Looking a bit shaken by my bad news he trudged off in the direction of Kambos. Another two mile walk for him to pick up fags at 4 Euro a packet.

Cheap fags have not tempted me back. Nor has the fact that everyone in the Kourounis taverna smokes away like there is no tomorrow. If I can quit smoking I can do anything..maybe even learn Greek.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo Article- day 6 at the Greek Hovel and first snake seen & photographed

1106 days ago

I am not actually living the hovel yet. I move in tomorrow for reasons I shall explain later. But I am driving out there each day to work on pruning the olive trees and cutting the frigana. After the mice yesterday today's wildlife diversity included a couple of lizards and...a snake. And how brave am I? I felt nervous as I approached but, just for you dear readers, I have a photo.

Okay, it was on the road and was dead but I still felt pretty scared as I walked up to it. It could like some horror from Greek mythology suddenly come alive again and then grow 99 heads and attack me. I am not sure what sort of snake it was but it is now the only variety of snake I really like, that is to say deadus deadus.

In Greece the etiquette if one sees a snake while driving is to swerve. That is to say to ignore anyone else who might be on the road and to swerve to kill the serpent. My own road kill tally is two. Well I am claiming two. Last summer I ran over a viper on my motorbike but I am prepared to concede that it might have been dead already. Anyhow I rekilled it. At least I can claim an assist, surely?

The other serpent was on the other side of the mountain road down to Kardamili. I swerved violently and took it out. The Mrs, who was with me at the time, muttered something about patriarchy, machismo, hormonal mid-life crisis issues and the possibility that a large truck might have been coming the other way. I could tell that she was not impressed.

But when in Greece....

Tom Winnifrith

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Hooray! The Mrs votes Tory for the first time ever...a small step

1109 days ago

The first time I encountered the woman who is now known as the Mrs but was formerly "The Deluded lefty" she made her views known by passing me her copy of The Guardian saying there was an article in it that I might find interesting. Since I fancied her big time, and still do, I did not respond "you must be kidding you daft lefty" but dutifully read the complete and utter piffle and feigned interest. On our second date I did not hold back as we had a big row over affirmative action.

But our relationship has survived. Her pals who are even more deluded than the Mrs quickly branded me as "the fascist boyfriend" for thought crimes like going to Lady Thatcher's funeral rather than having a party, for voting Tory and for believing in capitalism, Israel, freedom etc, etc.

The Mrs is this morning cheered by hearing news that the University Lecturers - greedy and lazy bastards - are going on strike to get even more money for doing sod all work. They better hurry up as pretty soon their 10 week summer vacation starts and they might actually have to cut into their Tuscany break to head back to Britain to man ( sorry, person) a picket line.

As a sociology lecturer, the Mrs has mad left views hard-coded into her DNA. She has never voted anything other than Labour. Until today.

Okay in the Mayoral and waste of space Police & Crime Commissioner elections she stayed with the party of the Jew haters. But in the local contest, in what is a very marginal ward here in Bristol, she has for the first time in her life voted Tory. As you may remember I took her to meet the two Tory candidates in our local coffee shop and they impressed her greatly by saying how much they hated the Tories. This seems to have warmed her lefty heart.

As it happens our Tory candidates are hard working local chaps while the incumbent Labour councilors are just Middle Class lefties who live miles away in a more affluent part of town and take victory among the plebs where we live for granted.

I am not saying that the Mrs has been converted to the cause of capitalism, free markets and freedom but it is a small step. One step at a time. For now I can celebrate that she has started on the road to redemption. I have offered to take her to the Conservative Club tonight so that she can meet with her new comrades but that seems to be a step too far.

As the greatest ever Prime Minister said on the occasion of the recapture of South Georgia from the Argies, "just rejoice at that news." Boy is this a video to make you proud

Tom Winnifrith

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Can I divorce the Mrs for reading Marie Claire?

1115 days ago

On the train back from London I did my best to sleep. The Mrs, on the other hand, pulled out a copy of Marie Claire which she now insists that she did not buy but had just "found." I glanced over. There was an article on how women could be more successful in their careers.

Point 8 -Smile. Apparently it makes everyone feel happier so will help women climb the greasy pole. Point 11 - Say Thank You. jeepers it was total rubbish. How about working hard, don't demand special treatment and - in the private sector at least - you will be rewarded on merit? Oh no.... point 7 - praise your colleagues to make them like you. Whatever....

I turned away and tried to count sheep and get to sleep but was woken up by the sound of tearing as the Mrs ripped out a particularly interesting article on skin potions costing an arm and a leg. Apparently 78% of women feel better if they do not have a skin condition. That, according to the article, was a scientific fact. Really? Do 22% of the female population either not care or positively embrace the idea of having stacks of zits or facial warts?

When I pledged to stay with the Mrs for better or for worse, in sickness and in health and for richer or poorer there was nothing in our vows about how an intelligent woman could give me grounds for divorce by reading such complete and utter airhead fodder piffle.

Surely catching your Mrs reading Marie Claire should be like a wife catching her husband reading kiddie porn, an automatic grounds for divorce?

Tom Winnifrith

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An hour at the hypnobirthing "taster session" felt like an eternity

1120 days ago

Hypnobirthing is apparently a way to make pregnancy less painful and stressful and so the Mrs and I went on a "taster" session with a private company charging an arm and a leg for full courses. I would rather have spent an hour watching paint dry as it was from beinnning to end both excruciatingly awful and also a really unpleasant sales pitch for old rope.

We were one of five couples. I was the only person in the room who has been through this birth process business before and the naivete of the other members of the Bristol middle classes present was jaw dropping. We started in a session where we split into three groups and had to say how many weeks we were, what our names were and what we brought us to the session. Honestly, I relayed that I thought the whole thing was a total con and I was there becuase my Mrs wanted me to be there. Our group spokesperson had to summarise what the 4 folks in our group thought but for some reason omitted my remarks.

This was a session about beng "nice" to everyone. A woman who was 28 weeks and had a face like a horse yacked on about nothing and like the others I applauded as if she had just relayed book two of the Aeneid in its origainal latin from memory.

As the salesperson woman with a whiny voice droned on showing slides which claimed scientific backing for theories about relaxing and showed slides proving points based on very small data samples I found myself dosing off. I awoke to hear that we were going to learn a relaxation technique for when we are about to give birth and were warned that this might cuase us to fall asleep.

Oddly at this point I felt wide awake as I struggled to supress an impulse to laugh as the woman intoned in a nasal drone with the emphasis placed on all the wrong words about how we were to relax. My Mrs was taking this all very seriously so I suppressed my laughter as the woman talked A grade poppycock. At the end she asked if the group all felt refreshed. How could they after six minutes of mumbo jumbo fake hypnotherapy meditation and pretending to fall asleep? But all profressed themselves utterly refreshed, no-one daring to challenge the hypno-emperor to point out that she was wearing her birthday suit.

At that point we had to watch a video of a woman giving birth? Is this a bit sexist but while I cannot wait to see my own wife waddling along to give birth seeing some whale from Essex in the altogether as she sprogs a little chav really is not my scene. My toes were curling.

Finally we were told what the full course would offer other than a chance to part with several hundred quid. Some more breathing techniques. Wow. Like that seems like a bargain. Instructions on things you need to know before the big day like making a Birth Plan? At that point I piped up and said "but the NHS does that with you anyway does it not?". I got a stern look and was told this was not the case. Oddly enough if you go on the internet you will find that I am right and the salesperson wrong. I rather knew that because, uniquely among the 10 would be parents there, I have actually been there before. If I think about it hard enough I could probably do a birth plan from memory.

However, I had by this point lost the will to live so did not argue. The high pressure sales techniques continued. Go with hypnobirthing and you will use fewer drugs on the day we were told. What? You pay these charlatans vast sums so that you get to turn down free drugs? Who would be mad enough to go with that option. Hmmm. Tempted by the hard sell £35 discount if you book within 48 hours of the Taster session it seems that every single couple was in, my Mrs included.

The sales techniques were almost those of the loathsome charlatan Darren Winters. It was hard sell wrapped up in nicey nicey cotton wool. The product remainds me of Winters offering in that early all of what is offered is availlable either from the NHS or on the interweb for sweet FA. But the Mrs is nervous. It makes her happy. And so was I going to kick up fuss? Naturally I did not. that is about my own urgent need for a relaxing life.

Tom Winnifrith

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The only candidates slagging off the Tories are the Tory candidates, my lefty wife is thinking the unthinkable

1128 days ago

The Mrs has got it into her head that we need a new bathroom. And as such she has become an almost obsessional reader of tap and sink porn mags. I wander up to bed at night and there she is lying there with a mag full of different shaped taps. This sordid publication is hidden under the duvet being read by bedside light. She knows that I disapprove. Now it seems that mags are now not enough and so I was told that on Saturday I had to go to not one but two bathroom showrooms with her. It was live tap porn. I had a cunning riposte.

The two men standing for the Tories for council were holding a meet and greet at the local coffee bar on Saturday morning. And so I said "you come meet the local Tories and I'll do the tap porn thing" knowing that as a lifelong deluded lefty the Mrs would never agree to this. To my surprise, her addiction to that tap porn meant that she agreed at once and so at 10.30 on Saturday I introduced the Mrs to the younger Tory candidate with the worlds "This is the Mrs, she thinks all Tories are evil and hates you." I was still hoping that I might get the Mrs to storm out thus getting me out of the bathroom showroom ordeal.

The younger Tory replied "We hate the Tories too". This surprised both myself and the Mrs. It seems that the main Tories in Bristol had messed with the local leaflets making great claims about our candidates which the candidates, showing some honesty, said were not true. As the younger Tory laid into the evil Tories the Mrs looked a little confused. Then the older, bearded Tory, piped up admitting that for all bar a few months he had been a Labour supporter since 1992. He had only rejoined the Tories a few weeks ago and did so with no conviction at all.

This all came as a bit of a shock to the Mrs. For the Labour leaflets here in Bristol blather on about keeping public lavatories open and dealing with green shit and that sort of thing. They do not say "we hate the evil Tories" but that is the message the Mrs wants to hear. And now she is hearing it loud and clear from the local Tory candidates. Both local Tories are good local men active in our community. The two Labour candidates are middle class trades union officials who live in posher parts of Bristol, visiting we poor people only when forced.

Maybe the tap porn has made her a little crazy but the Mrs is genuinely thinking of breaking the habit of a lifetime...

Tom Winnifrith

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its 3Pm and Pizza Hardman Darren Atwater starts to panic - I really do feel ill

1129 days ago

It was 3PM and no articles had appeared on either site. last week I think I was averaging eight or nine a day and, so having filed only a handful yesterday, the complete lack of material was startting to ring alarm bells back in Clerkenwell. But Darren's texts went unanswered.

I truly feel rotten. Since Saturday noon I have been off my food, just about managing half of a small portion when the Mrs took me out to lunch. Life is about lying in bed with Oakley, drinking lempsip and orange juice and occassionally getting up to watch a back episode of Grantchester with the Mrs. She leaves Bristol at 3AM tomorrow for a business trip to Helsinki and I am really not sure how I shall manage the logistics of that.

Pro tem it is another lempsip and back to bed with the morbidly obese three legged cat.

Tom Winnifrith

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It seems as if I am to be a father again, change of life plan

1143 days ago

Life is full of surprises. I was not expecting to be unemployed and worth minus £200,000 at 44. But that was just a challenge and one that has been overcome. TW 1 - Offshore asset strippers Minus a hell of a lot! And I was not expecting to be becoming a father again aged 48. But there we go.

It is not as if this venture is unplanned. It has not been easy but the Mrs is now at week 17 and touching wood and fingers crossed all is on track. With God's blessings the baby should be arriving in early September. Changing nappies at 49, hmmmm - again it was not something that I anticipated happening but I am really looking forward to it.

The Mrs works in the public sector so naturally has obscenely generous maternity leave on offer. As a taxpayer I would normally be seething about this, but on this one occassion I celebrate being a beneficiary of our uber-generous State before it heads into bankruptcy. But the time will come at some stage in 2017 when the Mrs has to return to work or opt to be a housewife.

Firstly the Mrs is a feminist. Secondly she is markedly younger than me and has a full career ahead of her. I, on the other hand, am now in my 26th year in the workplace. And thirdly, being in the public sector, the Mrs earns a fair old whack for a job which is not that hard in term time and is a breeze in ludicrously long holidays. As such it is back to the Salt Mines for her and I will be becoming what is known as a "latte Daddy".

I think that involves heading to the posh parts of Bristol to have coffee with, and chat up, the posh young mums and impress them all with how much of a new man I am. Gosh I wish my husband was as sensitive as you. Yup I know Henrietta. Whatever. It sounds like anew diversion. The finances look comfortable and it is time to start a new chapter of life. That means organising two more shows ( UK Investor 2016 on April 30 and 2017) and starting to reduce the writng as of this autumn.

I enjoy writing but want to produce different things when not chatting up the posh young mums of Clifton. So it will be all change come 2017 - writing for pleasure not as a job.  This, by the way, is not a late April Fool.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 2 April - Domestic Servitude for me & the Ronnie Corbett issue

1146 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19808/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-2-april-domestic-servitude-for-me-the-ronnie-corbett-issue

Tom Winnifrith

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Holiday Priority for the Mrs: Getting Oakley's minders to send photos and updating his facebook page

1151 days ago

When you are away for a short break what is the priority of the Mrs? It goes without saying that it is worrying about how our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is doing.

Is he alright? Is he lonely? Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Has he done a naughtiness on the doorstep? Who is talking to him? And thus there are a stream of texts to Oakley's army of carers, back in England.

Back come a stream of replies, the old boy is fine. And today an added bonus...a photo of him in action. Or rather in lack of action. Needless to say Oakley's facebook page has now been updated as you can see HERE

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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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 8 March: Solgold & Rose Petroleum - just doing the ffing maths!

1171 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19277/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-8-march-solgold-rose-petroleum-just-doing-the-ffing-maths

Tom Winnifrith

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Bringing my daughter up to support West Ham - no longer a Social Services offence: 1965 arrives

1176 days ago

For some reason my daughter is a soccer nut and has followed her father over land and sea (okay I exaggerate) as a diehard hammer. When she trains with her club it is in her West Ham shirt and shorts (Christmas present) and after big games we always have a chat. I have just received a delivery at the front door from the West Ham store.

You see it had a special offer a few days ago - a replica Cup Winners Cup shirt from 1965 for £19.65. So natch I bought two, one for me which I am now wearing - having taken off my Pride of E13 T-shirt which the Mrs had suggested was a tad in need of a wash - and one for the daughter. I shall post it later today and know that she will share the thrill I enjoyed whe her shirt arrives.

There have been times when I wondered if Social Services would be concerned about how I had introduced the daughter to The Irons. After all, that is signing her up for a life of disappointment, misery, relegation, losing to shite teams in the FA Cup, listening to posh kids who have never been anywhere near London or Manchester drone on about how their teams are playing in Europe, etc. I had my excuse ready for Social Services. My daughter was born in Hackney. She really is a cockney. When we go to the Boleyn together it really is her manor. But I feared that it would not wash.

These days it has all changed. West Ham are 6th and just a couple of points off Champions League football. We are in the FA Cup Quarter Finals and we beat the Scum last night at home. Heck, dare I say it, we are good. I wonder if some of those Chelsea supporting kids at my daughter's school are starting to think that it might be rather cooler to be joining the claret & blue army. My daughter knows the line already for the Chelsea nouveaus: "Who did you support when you were shit?" Is that line now "Why do you support now you're shit?"

Of course it can't last. We are West Ham. Same Old West Ham, always taking the piss. Anyhow, for now I really cannot be accused to cruelty to the poor girl by Social Services. I am safe pro tem.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 2 March: The Scum visit The Academy & I'm not talking David Lenigas

1176 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/19146/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-2-march-the-scum-visit-the-academy-i-m-not-talking-david-lenigas

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 28 January: Im still in Bristol & The Mrs is in the doghouse

1211 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/18335/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-28-january-im-still-in-bristol-the-mrs-is-in-the-doghouse

Tom Winnifrith

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Midsomer Murders New Series - Political Correctness gone mad?

1223 days ago

My father and I are both great fans of Midsomer Murders. Okay the plots are ludicrous but both Inspector Barnaby's have been interesting characters and the new Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) has a terribly funny dog. Ok I know it is fairly sad to admit this and so perhaps I should out Adam Reynolds as being another closet Midsomer fan just for the sake of solidarity.

My Mrs and my step mother regard Midsomer as terrible. I am not sure what Mrs Reynolds thinks but the Mrs/Step mum point out that the plots are ludicrous and all too predictable and frankly not very interesting. I suppose they do have a point but there is a comfort in the familiarity of it all.

The Mrs/step mum have also criticised Midsomer as being a sort of John Major warm beer and cycling opast cricket pitches England where everyone is white, straight ( apart from the odd incredibly camp almost Dick Emery-esque gay character) and Tory voting. And I must admit that again they have had a point.

As a special post Birthday treat the Mrs agreed to watch episode one of the new series with me. Bloody hell. There were three leading Asian characters and an Afro-caribbean gent who was involved in a gay relationship with the undertaker. And as a bonus the vicar was an utterly mad lefty woman priest. It was almost as if the cast was selected using affirmative action quotas to ensure that Midsomer's population now reflects that of the Country as a whole, rather than life in the boonies where, in fact, the vast majority of folks really are white, straight, Tory voters.

It goes without saying that, in the new PC world of Midsomer, the killers were both white, heterosexual, males.

The Mrs says she is now warming to the show.I am not so sure. Midsomer is not yet quite as ludicrous as Ambridge from the Archers where, many years ago, more folk headed off to to the gay pride rally in London than attended the million strong Countryside March. I shall be watching episode two with interest...as will the Mrs.

Tom Winnifrith

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Belated happy birthday to my morbidly obese 3 legged cat Oakley

1231 days ago

I forgot: belated many happy returns to my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley
It is only now that I logon to facebook for the first time in a week that an alert comes up. How could I forget? Oakley turned 15 on Tuesday. It is on his facebook page.

At least he has had a great week. The Mrs has been feeling a tad under the weather and so has taken time away from the high pressure life of a public sector worker to spend most of the time in bed. And naturally Oakley has decided to show solidarity by joining her.

If I head upstairs to offer a cup of tea Oakley glowers at me as if I am some sort of love rival. Perhaps he was glowering over the lack of Birthday treats. I will see if I can dig out something from the shops a bit later, a belated congratulations for making it to 15.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Thinkathon: futurology, publishing, Bulletin Boards, Malcolm Stacey, retail

1249 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17399/tom-winnifrith-thinkathon-futurology-publishing-bulletin-board-malcolm-stacey-retail

Tom Winnifrith

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A picture show: Olive Oil from the Greek Hovel from start to finish

1251 days ago

Today I was posting bottles of olive oil brought back from the Greek hovel to a few lucky folks like PR bird foxy Bex.It was a poor harves - 179 litres of oil this year - last year it was 574 litres. You always have a bad year followed by a good year and so on. You can mitigate that greatly if you are around in the summer to water the trees.

Indeed I "water" the four trees closest to the house personally several times a day. Urine is a great fertiliser and I note that those trees were amongst the most productive on the farm.

No doubt some urban sophisticates will go ugh. Where do you folks think that agricultural fertiliser comes from? The hardware store?

Photo one shows the sacks that get stacked up in the Kambos olive press and photo two shows them being emptied into the great press.

Photo three shows them washed and ready for pressing, little green little black, little purple and some larger black olives looking like sweeties, and photo four is my olive oil as it arrives.

Finally here it is. I lugged 16 litres back to BRistol and the Mrs and I have decanted some of that into bottles. Dark green. Peppery, it is awesome.

Admin

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 18 December: Pensioner mugger WH Ireland time to face Karma

1251 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17365/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-18-december-pensioner-mugger-wh-ireland-time-to-face-karma

Tom Winnifrith

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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 16 December: African Potash this stinks & an apology to Doc Holiday

1253 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17295/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-16-december-african-potash-this-stinks-an-apology-to-doc-holiday

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 15 December - Fitbug tits up poll & is it Jabba or Chris Oil for the Christmas Carol?

1254 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17269/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-15-december-fitbug-tits-up-poll-is-it-jabba-or-chris-oil-for-the-christmas-carol

Tom Winnifrith

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Steam Oil Production Co presents at Gold & Bears - November 28 2015

1259 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/17135/steam-oil-production-co-presents-at-gold-bears-november-28-2015

Tom Winnifrith

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Olive Harvest at the Greek Hovel over - it has been dismal but that is not the point

1261 days ago

Even without my, pretty pathetic, assistance, George and his team completed the olive harvest today as I sat in the hospital. Last year it took us 5-6 days, this year it was just three. The sacks now lie at the village press whose boss greeted me like an old friend, forgetting that my Greek is somewhat weak but gabbling away happily. Tomorrow afternoon we press.

I shall take 16 litres in a can back to England for Christmas presents (Foxy Bex I have not forgotten) and personal use for the next 12 months. The rest I shall sell and that will cover George's wages, a bus fare back to Athens and maybe my flights. That is not really the point. Unless you are here to water your trees in the summer you know you will have one good year followed by one bad year and this is a bad year. I'm in this for the long run and so it is important to me that I pop in to see my gun toting friends in Kambos regularly. This is where the Mrs and I plan to retire, it will be our community.

Anyhow, I am in Greece to attend to a number of matters. There is a meeting tomorrow with the architect. We finally have a forestry permit, now we need a building permit and then the Greek Hovel can be rebuilt so that it meets the sanitaery requirements of the Mrs and my daughter. And so that Paul Scott, Andrew Bell, Thierry Laduguie, the Pizza Hardman, Richard Poulden, Matt Suttcliffe, Paul Atherley, Harry Adams and others can pop over for holidays as we have oft discussed. The Hovel will be renamed Write Minds (in Greek). Its a pun - geddit? When it is rebuilt, the Mrs and I can stay here every summer to tend the olives.

There is also a meeting tomorrow on global shorting conspiracy matters and I plan to spend Saturday in Athens filming a video outside the headquarters of an AIM listed company. I wonder if you can guess which one? From Athens with Love - the sequel.

Tom Winnifrith

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Most Certainly ouzo o'clock - George the Albanian is located at last

1265 days ago

After a whole day spent at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos I have finally met up with George, the sprightly 60+ Albanian who leads our olive harvest. I called lovely Eleni at the hospital to see if she had any idea how to track him down. She gave birth to a baby girl yesterday and admitted to being a bit tired but knows she will be back in the kitchen by Sunday and so is gearing herself up. She offered up an idea of where to find George's number.

Lovely Eleni's younger sister, who is really very, very lovely too, called and at about seven tonight in wandered George. In great relief I hugged the man for I was starting to panic. As ever, I bought him a Tsipero and myself an ouzo. And we sat in silence as he speaks not a word of English and my Greek is er...rather weak. But lovely Eleni's very, very lovely younger sister stepped into the breach. We start harvesting at 8 AM Monday. With that arranged, George and I sat in silence once more.

So on Sunday I move up to the Greek hovel. The power works, the internet does not. It will be bloody cold at night and with no shower - the hosepipe option does not appeal at this time of year - it will be fairly tough and I may be rather smelly by this time next week. I guess it gives me an insight into hiow life is in the grim Northern welfare safaris back in England.

Others will have to lead the effort on ShareProphets next week for I am committed to playing a full part in the harvest and so completing it in less than five days this time so that I can get back to the Mrs and the cats as soon as possible. Of course vreki can stop play. But at last I feel we are ready to go.

With that to celebrate I am back in Kalamata at a nice little restaurant for some tzatziki followed by calamari washed down with a large ouzo or three. The place is the best little eating house on the winter seafront even if it does not allow smoking. Perhaps that rather un-Greek health fascism explains why last night I was 100% of the customers and on a Friday night am 33% of the clientele.

I take it all back. The waiter has just rushed outside to tell me that, notwithstanding the no smoking signs everywhere, I can smoke inside. Okay the restaurant Katalenos on Navarino Street is perfect.

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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Its #NationalCatday – so the Mrs uses Tara as a shield: shocking!

1302 days ago

The Mrs was heading off to town for important business. I was sitting in the front room tapping away but as she unlocked the door I hear a loud shriek. Before I could react she was scuttling back into the kitchen, grabbing an unsuspecting cat and the next thing I heard was “Tara go for it!”

Tara was not interested in the cause of the great terror, a frog which just sat there blinking stupidly. Tara retreated to her food. The Mrs was persuaded to leap across the poor little frog.

To use a cat as a shield. Not the way to celebrate National Cat Day. I am shocked.

Tom Winnifrith

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Be warned: Don’t catch The Lobster at all costs – the worst film of the year

1305 days ago

The Mrs saw a trailer for a film she thought was a comedy, The Lobster. Amid some grumbling from myself about watching Suffragettes, she offered this as an alternative. Whatever.

It turns out to be a film about a dystopian word where marriage is compulsory and if you can’t find a partner they turn you into an animal. It was as ludicrous as it was utterly pointless. A few hipsters behind us laughed sporadically but that just confirmed my view that all hipsters are dickheads.  The film contained cringe making faux sexual arousal scenes and gruesome and gratuitous nastiness. .

Colin Farrell did his best as the lead, but The Lobster is without doubt the worst film I have seen in years. Avoid it at all costs. I’d rather watch a whole season of Millwall than watch this even one more time. It was that bad in every single respect. It had absolutely no redeeming features at all and was sheer torture throughout.

To her credit, the Mrs agreed. Next movie: the new Bond. It is my turn to choose.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 20 October - Fireworks at Globo Ahoy!

1311 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/15892/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-20-october-firewors-at-globo-ahoy

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 15 October - my uber foxy legal team is on standby

1316 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/15769/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-15-october-my-uber-foxy-legal-team-is-on-standby

Tom Winnifrith

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I am becoming a sociology lecturer – its official

1324 days ago

Okay not full time. In fact not even part time. But I am going to give a lecture to the young folks at the University where the Mrs teaches on 21st October. Normally these impressionable young people have their minds filled with left wing nonsense. But they are in for a bit of a change and a bit of a shock

The lecture is titled “Why capitalism is good for all” with the subtitle “Greed is good”. When I told this to a mad lefty friend of my wife at a Birthday party on Sunday – without mentioning the subtitle - he said “presumably with a question mark at the end”.

This was the fellow that went on to state that sociology lecturers across the South West subsidised the City. That is to say the private sector. Whatever. Naturally my reply to this utter lunatic – who spends his working days leading our youth astray in Bristol – was “no question mark – it is a statement of fact”.

My talk, with the students throwing chairs at me, walking out in droves, the Mrs claiming that she does not know who I am, etc. will be captured on video and I shall have it uploaded here as soon as possible. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Diabetes update – for the first time in memory a Doctor praises me

1339 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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Capitalism Makes the World a better place for all (Greed is Good) – The Mrs is allowing me to lecture to her sociology students

1347 days ago

The Mrs has finally relented, realising that if I give a lecture to her students then it is one less for her, an overworked public sector employee, to have to prepare for. And so her students in sociology will have their “capitalism module” lecture from me. This will be a bit of a shock since, as you might imagine, the gist of this module is normally “Capitalism is evil”.  My lecture will be titled “Capitalism Makes the World a Better Place for all” with the subtext – Greed is Good.

I cannot wait. For too long these impressionable young folk have had their minds filled with failed Marxist theories by folks with no private sector experience. Now they get to learn how the world really works and why the answer to all its problems is more capitalism and more freedom not more intervention and oppression by the dead hand of the State.

The Mrs, the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty, has imposed two conditions. Firstly I am not allowed to wear a hoodie as is my wont. I must wear a shirt and jacket. Heck, I guess there is no freedom of dress code in the public sector. I have agreed. Secondly she is to introduce me. She is thinking of “I barely know this man” but is considering “He is my husband but I disagree with what follows”.

She has agreed to have this uber libertarian lecture captured on video. I assume that will include the students booing me off stage, throwing chairs at me and slamming me as a fascist. No problem. I am aware that among the left free speech only applies to ideas that are deemed acceptable.

I shall publish the video when it arrives in full. Happy days.

Tom Winnifrith

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Photo article - Tara the cat in Hospital last night

1379 days ago

The Mrs popped along during visiting hours to see Tara on her overnight stay in hospital. She seems to be perking up and when I have taken out a second mortgage to pay the vets bill I shall go pick her up later today. She seems content and is eating like a horse which is good.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tara the cat medical update – the bills are going the roof, but some progress

1379 days ago

And so Monday dragged on with Tara the cat refusing to eat or drink more than a few sips of water despite the £300 invested the prior day in seeking emergency treatment from the vet. By the evening we took matters into our own hands. The Mrs held poor Tara tight and I forced her mouth open and with a syringe (no needle) forced her (Tara not the Mrs) to drink some cat milk. She seemed to perk up a bit and was again allowed to sleep with us.

I was keen to slumber after a hard day in the private sector but the Mrs is now on her prolonged public sector funded summer vacation and so was keen to read a book on how capitalism causes global poverty or some such nonsense and so kept the light on. And that attracted a moth.



Oakley, our morbidly obese three legged cat, followed the little moth closely but was too lazy to do anything about it. But all of a sudden Tara was once again her old self, leaping around the room in active pursuit. Eventually, one big leap in the air saw the moth snared and then devoured. Eating again. Perhaps it was back to normal?

Sadly no.  Tuesday saw another day of no eating or minimal drinking and thus Tara was booked in for a scan this morning to see if, as feared, she had a growth in her stomach. The Mrs was ordered to starve Tara from 9 PM. At 8 PM it was back to old Tara demanding food aggressively and she ate like a horse once more, until the deadline at which point the food was removed and both Tara and Oakley complained bitterly that this was a breach of their basic human rights.

So today came the scan (£254) and it appears that there may be some small growths in her stomach but the real issue is an inflamed pancreas. And so now she is spending a night in hospital on a drip to be rehydrated (£189) and the given a cocktail of drugs (£50) to treat the inflammation. The Mrs has discovered visiting hours and will be popping along shortly and tomorrow I got to pick Tara (and a bill for almost £500) up.

Oakley is showing no sympathy. He has had a ball. Each time we have presented food to Tara she has rejected it. Lucky Oakley then goes and enjoys yet another meal. He wants this farce to carry on in perpetuity. I’m not sure that my bank balance can take it much longer.

But at least the ordeal may be over and Tara should be home by tomorrow night.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tara the cat: photo & medical update

1382 days ago

Thanks for all the enquiries about my cat Tara, who I snapped as she slept earlier today as you san see below. Last night we took her to the vets for emergency blood tests as she was refusing to eat or drink and barely moving. She had lost 600g in bodyweight in six weeks (going down to just 2.7kg) and we feared the worst.

She came home with a jab to combat nausea but still refused to eat or drink despite being dehydrated and very thin. We had also lost 254 pounds during the visit to the vet. Fearing the worst when the results came in she slept on our bed last night. I moved round to sleep with my legs on the floor but next to her. We both thought this could be the final night.

This morning she was a bit perkier. The blood tests showed nothing wrong. And she has nibbled at food for the first time in 48 hours. She is perking up and so today’s vets visit (£39 inc VAT) saw a discussion about a possible growth in her stomach. We are now considering a full scan (£254) as the next step.

Pro tem, the Mrs and I feel a bit poorer. Tara less poorly. Thanks for all the kind messages.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Postcard #121 - The Women's FA Cup Final and what it says about the loathsome BBC

1389 days ago

No doubt some (the Mrs) will accuse me of sexism as I discuss in this week's postcard what the unimpressive Women's FA Cup Final says about the BBC. The case for privitization grows stronger by the day.

Tom Winnifrith

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Feck me, I am a vitriolic blogger says the shite rag that is the Independent – Tom Winnifrith

1390 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13965/feck-me-i-am-a-vitriolic-blogger-says-the-shite-rag-that-is-the-independent-tom-winnifrith

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 27 July - Coronation Street, another Manchester Soap and the ludicrous Gate Ventures fraud

1396 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/13847/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-27-july-coronation-street-another-manchester-soap-and-the-ludicrous-gate-ventures-fraud

Tom Winnifrith

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Photos from Shipston: Note to the Mrs, Raspberries don't grow in Tesco's punnets

1398 days ago

The Mrs and I are separated by two great divides.  The first is that she is a deluded lefty who belies in the State rather than the individual and that capitalism is the root of all evil rather than the engine of mankind’s progression whereas I am a libertarian. The second is that she is a townie who has never lived where I grew up, the country.

So though an enthusiastic meat eater she recoils at the idea of killing anything. I find it easy. And I sometimes think that she thinks that raspberries and potatoes grow in punnets at Tesco. So just for her a couple of pictures…

My father’s garden in Shipston is full of life. And so there are raspberries a plenty to pick, the last of the potatoes and strawberries, red currants, black currants and still to come gooseberries and yet more raspberries.

Note to the Mrs & other townies: potatoes ( dug up hence the earth) are the white things, raspberries (picked from bushes hence no earth) are red.

My step mother makes fools, ice cream sorbets and summer puddings. The latter brings back memories. When I was a kid my mother made almost everything at home including our own (brown) bread. As a birthday treat we were allowed white bread from the shop.

But white bread also entered the house for summer pudding: red currants, raspberries slow cooked together then put into the sort of bowl you use for Christmas pudding which is lined with white bread (crusts removed). That is then put into the fridge to set and chill and served when turned out onto a plate. The juices soak into the bread which comes out a bright pinky-red. Add lashings of cream.  Amazing.

If I was my father this would be a cue for a joke about how the Women’s colleges at Oxford (both my mother and step mother attended St Anne’s, albeit about ten years apart), must have taught the girls something useful in the kitchens.

But that would be sexist and as you know it is my father who has the odd reactionary thought, not I.

Tom Winnifrith

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So this Japanese babe said “you’re an interesting man can I come and interview you?”

1408 days ago

In Free Speech & Liberty Pizza House every table is topped with a little card explaining why we are called what we are called and a bit about the work we do on ShareProphets. Folks read them and the feedback is great, after all who doesn’t believe in free speech? 

So this afternoon as I struggled through a hangover and acted as stand in waitress this Japanese (I think) couple came in for a long lunch. The women was certainly a babe. Anyhow she read the flyer and at the end of the meal she said “I am doing a project interviewing interesting people”. Hmmm what on earth has that got to do with me thought I, still rather regretting that second bottle last night.. 

And I’d like to interview you, said the babe. 

It was not that I was fishing for compliments from a good looking woman but more than 16 hours after I finished drinking last night I really was losing the will to live so I politely asked why? The babe insisted that I was an interesting person and my work was fascinating. Whatever. I asked her if she could relay that news to the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty, the Mrs, who, I sense, is not that interested in the intricacies of capitalism. She laughed politely and will be popping in at 11 AM tomorrow for the interview.

Meanwhile I have today also been asked to speak at a meeting on “how women can become better investors.” In the same way as men methinks but I suspect that is not the “right answer”. Luckily I have two months to work out was is the right answer. 

Meanwhile…a Japanese babe who thinks I am interesting beckons at 11 AM Thursday

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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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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Ryanair vs Aegean – One says Feck You and takes your cash, the other is a good airline

1419 days ago

The Mrs is to join me in Greece on Monday morning but made a bit of a boo boo when booking her outward flight. That is to say she booked it for the day after we return rather than for late Sunday night. Belatedly she realised the error and called the airline having already coughed up £380.

Luckily she had booked with the charming Greek airline Aegean who – for a small admin fee – switched the flight and wished her well.

Just imagine that she had flown with Ryanair:

Ryanair: “Hellow this is Europe’s top low cost airline how can we help you?

The Mrs: I booked a flight for £380 but I was a bit silly and booked my outward leg for the day after my return instead of for Sunday can I switch it?

Ryanair ( in a thick Polish/Lithuanian or Bulgarian accent): Of course that has is no problem. Would you like travel insurance for an extra 15 Euro?

The Mrs: No, can I just change my ticket?

Ryanair: Mat I interest you in complimentary car hire with our preferred partners?

The Mrs: No I’d just like to change my ticket

Ryanair: Europe’s lowest cost arline would be delighted to assist you, okay we have made the change, that will require an administrative charge of £370, we have debited your card automatically.

The Mrs: But…that is outrageous

Ryanair: Look, in the words of Michael O’Leary, either go fuck yourself or stay in England what do you want?

The Mrs: Okay if you can email me the new boarding card?

Ryanair: Thank you for travelling with Europe’s lowest cost airline. Your new boarding card has been emailed to you for an additional administrative charge of 5 Euro. Enjoy your Ryanair flight to Athens airport ( Volos)

The Mrs: I have never heard of Athens airport Volos, where is it in Athens?

Ryanair: It is in Volos 300 kilometres from Athens. Enjoy your flight.






 

 

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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Sometimes I love running a restaurant, sometimes I hate it…

1425 days ago

At 10 AM today I let a debating group into Free Speech & Liberty to start our trading day two hours earlier than normal. At 12.15 I realised our cook (due to start at 11.45) was not here. By 12.20 I’d established he’d crashed his motorbike but I pushed him and he promised me that he’d be with me in half an hour. I switched on his oven and prayed he’d turn up by 12.45 as the debaters wanted food at 1. 

He did not, but I played for time and at 1.15 he arrived, we served, they loved the food and had a great day. I took on a pretty young lefty on the subject of aid for the kleptocrats of Africa (she supported it, I said African need capitalism not handouts) but it killed the time while we waited for the cook. 

But that period 12.45-1.15 was stressful. It is times like that that I loathe.

It is now 6.30 and we have had folks in all day. We have a big table arriving at 7 but I know that already today we have made a clear profit of several hundred quid. And that is not including the £15 I made flogging a couple of old Real Man coffee cups and saucers to a drunk Manxie who staggered in.

Our quietest day of the week has already covered c 1/15th of our monthly rent, rates etc. It’s a lovely London evening, ahead of folks arriving for supper I am writing a few things for tomorrow. Life is easy…It is at times like this that I think I could contemplate moving back to London and doing this full time. And now I have just a great chat with a bunch of LSE students who spotted my Ron Paul T-shirt. One wa a libertarian, the others er…less enlightened. But it was fun.  Yesterday I had a long chat with a Spanish/Portuguese journalist couple who had come in especially because the support free speech. It almost seems like a perfect life.

But, I suspect that when I arrive finally back in Bristol to see the Mrs and the cats at 2 AM on Sunday morning I might feel rather differently about life.

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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It is #WorldMeatFreeDay - so what will I be eating? Meat for every meal.

1438 days ago

All world something days are a joke dreamed up by fools in the non-productive sector to waste our time. Okay, not all. #WorldGinDay was a serious occassion which the Mrs and I duly celebrated. But today is a joke of the highest order.

Most animals eat other animals. They eat meat to survive. Human beings are animals and we eat meat. If we did not, for instance, eat bacon, there would be no point rearing the domnestic pig and it would die out as a species.

So when some anaemic pasty faced Guardian reading tosser reckons that I should be encouraged to eat rabbit food all day I have only one response. For every meal today I shall, as God intended, ensure that at least part of what I eat is meat. It tastes great and it is the way of the world.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly postcard #116 - mingling with the fake charities and Jew haters at the Bristol Refugee fair

1439 days ago

The Mrs took me along to the Bristol Refugee fair today. The stalls were almost all manned by "fake charities". Before you explode listen to the podcast to see how a fake charity is defined. I choose my words carefully. There were also two stalls urging me to boycott Israel. Those manning them may not be actual Jew haters but the way that they totally ignore a series of hard facts to make ludicrous claims makes them sound like Jew haters. The whole affair disgusted me. I am sympathetic to genuine refugees and would like to see reforms to make it easier for them to seek refuge in the UK. But the actions and lies of those present today make it impossible for me to make common cause with them. To those who make common cause with the Jew haters never study history?

Tom Winnifrith

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Sunday Treats from the Mrs

1439 days ago

Next week it is a party organised by the maddest lefty among the mad lefties who the Mrs counts as her friends. The last time I met this woman she was celebrating the application of an academic colleague to obtain taxpayer funding on a project "how black women have suffered under austerity". You really do not know where to start with such nonsense but I am booked in for another dose of it a week today.

But as a bit of a warm up, the Mrs has arranged a treat for this afternoon, visting the Bristol refugee fair. I somehow think that I may be the ideological fish out of water. I brace myself.

I should note that though my Mrs may be a deluded lefty she has numerous plus points among which is her amazing tolerance of my views. Free speech denier she is not. Although, to avoid getting duffed up this afternoon, I suspect that I may be biting my lip on a number of occassions.

Tom Winnifrith

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The cat chorus as Tara prepares to visit the vet

1440 days ago

Tara was due a vets visit two weeks ago but cunningly broke out of the house, found some food and thus got a repreieve. The Mrs was not to be foiled again and so, on Thursday night, the thinner of our two cats was treated to a wet-food treat of a supper and then put on a strict regime. She and the morbidly obese three legged Oakley were locked up away from all food.

Friday morning came and the cats were in full cry. Sometimes in unison and sometimes in rotation they mewled and demanded food. But there was no relenting and at 8.30 Tara was put in her carrying box - which she hates - and bustled off to the vets. We need to discover why a cat that eats like a horse is so terribly thin. The results arrive on Tuesday.

Suffice to say that after her ordeal and Oakley's fasting, which he regarded as a breach of his basic human rights, both creatures have been spolied rotten by both of us.

Tom Winnifrith

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My father and I struggle to switch on the TV

1446 days ago

It is just Dad and myself here in Shipston right now. My father wishes to watch the news and Dad's Army. Sadly my stepmother has, in the name of progress, bought a new TV. It has two remote controls. My Mrs bought us one with three. And as with her boxes of torture my father and I have now been struggling to get the screen to show anything other than "no signal" for half an hour.

Bring back the good old days when you switched the TV on with a button on the box and - after it warmed up - changed channel with another button on the box say both Tom Winnifriths. We are united in not liking progress and now await the arrival of a "young person" , that is to say my Mrs, to show us what to do.

Bingo! My father has pressed all the buttons and we have a new screen up saying DVB-T. Not - as he admits "a total success" but variety at least.

Tom Winnifrith

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My cunning travel plan to get back to Bristol - yes it involves ouzo

1449 days ago

The Mrs wants me back in Bristol by tomorrow afternoon and it is nice to be wanted. And so I embark on the journey back from the Greek hovel with a cunning plan given that there are only intermittent flights from Kalamata at this time of year.

First up, I have already booked a seat on the 9.45 bus from Kalamata to Athens. But that gives me four hours to kill and, being on sabbatical, I really do not have any work to do. And so I sit in a bar by the sea in Kalamata knocking back a few ouzos. Certainly enough to ensure that I fall asleep on the bus to Athens.

I arrive at c1.30 in the morning at Athens bus station which is a dump in the worst part of town and so will quickly hop into a cab to the airport where I know that I can access the internet and keep myself occupied from 2.15 AM until I check in at 7.15 AM Greek time.

Once onboard the plane I should be so shattered that I fall asleep at once, waking up at 11.15 AM GMT at Heathrow. If I am still tired then the coach to Bristol will be my next bedroom and by early afternoon I shall be back with the Mrs and the cats.

Simple eh? Ouzo is the answer to any problem.

Tom Winnifrith

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Happier Times at the Kardamili Police Station

1453 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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Karadimili Conversations - Tuscany in Greece

1455 days ago

Kardamili has no sandy beaches and so is not a family resort. It has no bars and cafes serving fish and chips, burgers and cheap lager. Folks seeking sun, sea, sand and burgers and a pint of Fosters head to Stoupa down the road. Kardamili is an oasis of gentility which the Mrs rather prefers - for reasons I cannot understand - to The Greek Hovel and life in Kambos. And so last week I swapped the hovel for six days in a luxury hotel. It's a hard life.

A fortnight ago Kardamili hosted a Norwegian jazz festival. All year round it attracts Paddly Leigh Fermor pilgrims. The tourists it sucks in are generally very middle class, generally a bit older than me and largely English. As a journalist I am always nosily eavesdropping in on conversations at neighbouring tables and so I bring you these delightful snippets from a few days in Kardamili:

"of course it was just a construct of New Labour triangulation."

No I am not sure what that means either.

"I am not sure that the olive oil is as good that that we enjoyed in Tuscany last summer"

Whatever. By now you should have twigged that with its Venetian and quiet charm, Kardamili in the early summer becomes Islington abroad, Tuscany by the Greek Med. I guess they are not really my sort of people but I'd raher be there than with the soccer shirt wearing Brits at Stoupa.Folks who are, let;s face it, simply Non-U.
Does that make me a snob? Ok. I plead guilty as charged.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 26 May - a short edition

1456 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12412/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-26-may-a-short-edition

Tom Winnifrith

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Snake killer foiled - but I did it the Greek way

1460 days ago

A morning at the Greek Hovel working on frigana poisoning, lunch by the sea at Kitries and then a leisurely drive over the mountain roads back to Kardamili. That was the order of the day for the Mrs and myself. I write from the bar of the wonderful Meletsina Village hotel - my top tip for staying in Karadmili - with a Gin & Tonic looking out over the sea in the late afternoon sun. But I am frustrated.

As we drove over the mountains, the Mrs cried "there's a snake". Sure enough there was indeed a snake slithering towards safety on the other side of the road. These days I think Greek so without hesitating I swerved sharply, not thinking of what might be heading the other way around the next bend, and drove over the middle of the snake. Kill! Thought I.

But much to my dismay I looked in my rear view mirror and the creature - about three foot in length - was still slithering into the undergrowth. It may be wounded but it will live to fight another day. My pal Vangelis says you have to make sure you go over the head and neck to ensure a kill. Next time if I miss I shall do the real Greek and reverse back to ensure it is a kill.

I am sorry of there are any wildlife lovers who are offended by this but there is wildlife and there is wildlife. Snakes, rats and scorpions are not the good guys of the natural world. It always amazes me when folks bleat about how species such as the British adder face threats to their habitat. Good! I shed no tears.

But today my attempt to reduce wildlife diversity was foiled. I feel frustrated.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast - 20th May

1463 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12307/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-20th-may

Tom Winnifrith

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A two snake day & the Mrs is on a plane struck by lightening

1465 days ago

I was meant to pick the Mrs up at Kalamata airport in about thirty minutes but it appears that she is back at Gatwick. Her plane was struck by lightening and so had to turn back. Now her phone battery is dead so what to do? Sit in Kalamata and have an ouzo or two? Sounds like a plan.

Meanwhile it has been a two snake day. I was out poisoning frigana thinking of who the plants represented as I sprayed them with a lethal liquid when all of a sudden I saw it. It must have been two foot long, a light brown and perhaps an inch and a half in diameter. It had seen me too and was slithering away rapidly. But not as rapidly as I sprinted in the opposite direction. I guess at our closest we were less than a yard apart.

I looked on the interweb and assured myself that it was not a poisonous snake that was within 15 yards of the Greek Hovel. But when I asked lovely Eleni and described it in detail she assured me that it was highly poisonous. Hmmm, I look forward to spending a few days with the Mrs in a luxury hotel in Kardamili. That is if she ever arrives.

With snakes rather on my mind as I biked into Kalamata guess what I spotted on the mountain road. Yes, you are correct. My third snake in three days. This one looked pretty mangled and was at the edge of the road but was rather large and an alarming green. My guess is that a car had alreadty dealt with it but I gave it a wide berth and did not hang around to examine it in detail.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Wildlife diversity report from the Greek Hovel - first snake met & I might have killed it

1466 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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Feeling frigging macho as I kill a rat at the Greek Hovel

1471 days ago

I thought that I had driven the live rat from the Greek Hovel but as I returned tonight I heard a distinct scuttling noise. A year ago I would have panicked but these days I am just not scared of the little critters any more. And so I picked uo the mini spade I use to clear ash from the fireplace and headed towards the noise.

I saw the rat dart under a pile of rugs. I lifted them ine by one and at rug five there stood the rat - a small thing about three inches long excluding tail - blinking in the light. 

Thwack. I missed. Thwack. I missed again. Thwack. Bullseye. If it was not dead it was almost a gonner and it just lay on its side. I scooped up the corpse, or near corpse, in my spatula and strode outside tossing the little thing off into the darkness for the snakes to gobble up.

I am feeling jolly proud of myself but have promised the Mrs that I shall use the silicon I bought today to fill in all cracks in the walls so that the one habitable room here is 100% rat proof before she comes late next week, But for tonight I shall wallow in the macho pride. Tom the rat killer.

Tom Winnifrith

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Rejoice, Rejoice – The Tories Win

1475 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/12049/rejoice-rejoice-the-tories-win

Tom Winnifrith

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The two worst jobs a husband must do before being allowed to go to Greece – completed

1479 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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Oakley Health Scare – A costly Silver Lining for me

1482 days ago

I had a routine doctor’s appointment at 11 and was dreading it. “How much do you drink? Do you know smoking is bad for you?” “No doc, when I said a bottle I meant a day not a week and no is it? When did they find that out?” But I was spared this little treat by Oakley, my morbidly obese three legged cat who started screaming at 10.40 and then showed himself unable to walk. His sole back leg was just being dragged along the floor.

I thought back to the demise of poor Kitosh, my old cat who behaved in this way as he was struck down with am embolism. He was dead within an hour. Oakley crawled into the corner. I called for the Mrs who scuttled downstairs and within 10 minutes we were at the vets and I was off the medical hook.

Oakley just sat there as the vet took his blood pressure and stuck probes and thermometers into various “openings”. After about half an hour with the Mrs almost in tears came the verdict: the strain of carrying his enormous belly around on just three legs had put too much pressure on his one hind leg and he had a swollen knee. A quick injection of some pain killers and Oakley was almost happy again. In fact he was so happy, as I worked out how I was to pay a bill for £106, that he urinated all over the Mrs and then did a shit on the floor of the vet’s waiting room. We were not charged extra for that.

A few hours later and the old boy is hopping around as if per normal. He has slept most of the day and has just headed off to the marital bed to lies down with the Mrs who brought home some extra treats for him – organic cat food made from hand caught trout and shrimp.  The cat known as Benefits Street is back in his element, sleeping, eating too much and contributing nothing to the household while leaving the grateful taxpayer (i.e. me) to pick up the tab for his lifestyle choices.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith Bearcast - 30 April

1484 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11915/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-30-april

Tom Winnifrith

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Oakley & Tara reckon I have breached their human rights

1484 days ago

I finally struggled back home to Bristol at 11 PM last night – 38 hours after leaving for London. I was greeted by two wailing cats, Tata and Oakley who guided me to where there food should have been. Cripes – the auto cat feeder had not worked.

Tara is think as a rake but eats like a horse. Oakley has three legs, is morbidly obese but is less greedy than his companion. He is just lazy. But both clearly felt aggrieved. I unjammed the auto feeder and poured an enormous bowl of food which they devoured greedily. Luckily, feeling guilty about abandoning them for so long, I had bought two cartons of cat milk, the sort of product daft Londoners love to treat their felines with.

I the relented on the ASBO and so far have not been punished with lavatorial naughtiness merely with loud meowing to demand food at 5 AM. I am forgiven. Just as long as the Mrs does not find out as she would almost certainly report me to the RSPCA.

Tom Winnifrith

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Poor Theo Clarke (Con) just knocked on my door.

1487 days ago

Theodora seems like a pleasant enough young lady and – for a politician - actually not bad looking either but the poor girl made the dreadful mistake of knocking on my door personally as she fights the Tory cause here in the safe Labour seat of Bristol East.

I opened the door and she said “Hi I am Theo Clarke” and I said “I Know who you are and I have written about you, you are not a proper Tory, you say Government should do more to create jobs. It should do less and butt out and let entrepreneurs create jobs but I’m voting for you anyway.”

I suspect poor Theo was rather taken aback. Was it the shock of finding a Tory voter in my street or the shock of being attacked for being too big statist on economics. She said that she ran her own business too. Whatever. Theo knows that she has my vote but I had to warn her that the Mrs was even more left wing than she is and will be voting Labour.

I wished her the best of luck.  To her credit she is the only candidate who has actually bothered to visit and to do so when she knows that she will get a total thumping on May 7th is all the more impressive. If only she was a real Tory…

Tom Winnifrith

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The Cleaning Lady has arrived …thank God

1490 days ago

Oakley and Tara are terrified of her hoover but the cats know that even more frightening would be the wrath of the Mrs were she to arrive back next week and see the State of the house. Thank God the cleaning lady has arrived and like the German army sweeping through France in 1940 she has cleared away all evidence of our various transgressions. Only one challenge now remains.

I leave for London on Tuesday. That means that I have four days in which to ensure that neither myself or the cats makes any sort of mess. I am thinking that to play it safe the cats and I should book into a hotel right now.  The four day challenge begins.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs. away, working without trousers again and the cats in disgrace

1491 days ago

The Mrs. is still in India on work. Today she is visiting the house once inhabited by my great great grandfather Sir Courtney Ilbert in Shimla. It is now a luxury hotel. How nouveau.  The result is that I am in residence with the cats who are in utter disgrace having caused me another day of living without trousers

The house is perhaps not as tidy as it might be in normal times. With the Mrs. away it is back to a student routine of washing a plate before you eat rather than afterwards. I sense that before the Mrs. gets back I may be paying the cleaning lady to do a double shift to hide evidence of what myself and the cats have been up to in terms of housework. Or rather lack of it. 

The cats are in disgrace.  The day before I left for London the morbidly obese three legged Oakley decided to use the bathroom floor as his latrine being too lazy to walk an extra flight of stairs to the garden. Meanwhile his co-conspirator Tara vomited in the bedroom. Hence they were locked in the kitchen for a week long ASBO in my absence.

On my return so happy were we all to be reunited that I relented and allowed them to sleep in what they regard astheir bed, that is to say the main bedroom.  In the morning I awoke to discover that Oakley had used the front doormat as his latrine, so idle is he that he cannot even use a cat flap. The ASBO was reinstated.

And so I awoke this morning and for some reason remembered that I had taken my trousers off the night before in the kitchen. I cannot remember why but with the Mrs. away all normal patterns of behavior go out of the window. Stumbling downstairs I put on the trousers only to discover as they rise up my leg that Tara had been sick inside them. How very amusing.

The trousers went in the washing machine. I went for a shower. The cats are in the kitchen on ASBO waling that they want a day release to come and sit with me as I work. But the ASBO is now being enforced rigidly. After another day of working without trousers, both cats are 100% in the doghouse.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Postcard #108 - All those links to India edition

1501 days ago

The Mrs touches down in Delhi tomorrow morning and that and a film we watched last night set me thinking about all those family links to India strteching back to 1856: Knatchbull-Hugeson, Eleanor Booker, the Ilbert Bill and my grandmother Margaret Booker. A personal family tour through history podcast.

Tom Winnifrith

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Postal matters

1502 days ago

I hope that I am not too late but yesterday I posted, first class, my postal vote application for the General Election. The Mrs had offered to post it but given her track record of Labour dirty tricks (not including me on the electoral register) I declined that offer. And so, assuming I have applied in time, I am off.

Meanwhile the Mrs, the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty, received a card in an envelope with a stamp showing the face of Britain’s Greatest ever Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher. I told the Mrs to throw away the card but to treasure the envelope. She was not amused.

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 7 April

1505 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11478/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-7-april

Tom Winnifrith

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Wouldn’t Grexit be bad for me personally? Yes. But why I support it 100% anyway

1508 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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Amanda does not understand the Seagull issue and is cross with me

1516 days ago

I wrote yesterday that I was considering voting Labour because it is only the People’s Party and its local standard bearer Ms Kerry McCarthy that understand the critical important of tackling the seagull menace here in Bristol East and have pledged to put it top of their agenda. My good friend Amanda is cross with me and has sent me a stern email.

Whilst I accept her point that the economy, Europe, crime and other matters are important I am still in two minds. Perhaps her reaction is symptomatic of how out of touch folk in London are with life in the rest of the country? What with their underwater yoga classes and other funny ways I cannot expect them to appreciate the true Seagull peril we face here in the boonies. And only Kerry and the People’s party seem to appreciate this.

On the other hand the smile on the face of the deluded middle class lefty  that is the Mrs when I announced that I was thinking of back Ed Miliband thanks to the sterling efforts of Kerry McCathy has made me think again. I cannot give her that pleasure. Okay, fear not Amanda I have stopped floating and am back with the Tories. But I would like them to stop blathering on about things like the economy and to let us know how they plan to tackle the big issue we face down here. What about the Seagulls Mr Cameron? What are you going to do about it?

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith BearCast 25 March - a busy day

1520 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/11273/tom-winnifrith-bearcast-25-march-a-busy-day

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly postcard #105 - where is the 10% discount for the true heroes : capitalists!

1522 days ago

Capitalists are the heroes of society not public sector workers. We pay for everything. We risk our capital to create jobs to create wealth and to pay for the lazy, overpaid, smug and pampered public sector. And capitalism drives social mobility, the public sector crystallises poverty whatever its hectoring cheerleaders say abiut affirmative action and equal opportunity. Yes I was at a party of with pals of the Mrs last night and this is the "blowback"

Tom Winnifrith

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Off to a party with friends of the Mrs…heaven help me

1524 days ago

A younger wife means that I have to attend parties, something a man of my age should be dodging. Cocoa, slippers and a quiet night watching Midsommer Murders with Oakley, that is what I want on a Saturday evening, not a trip up to London for a party.

At least it will be recognised that I am an older man so I will be offered a seat in the corner where I can fall asleep as the young folk stand, chat and do whatever young folk do. Texting? Drugs? I just don’t know.

The hosts are among the least mad of the friends of the Mrs. That is to say they only fairly left wing and as it happens I like them. I am not sure it is mutual, as among the friends of my wife I sense that I am regarded as a reactionary and grumpy old man. I can think of fewer greater compliments.

But suffice to say I shall tonight be among a cabal of mad lefties who blame everything on Thatcher, bankers, capitalists and the Tories (plus George Bush). Normally on such occasions I find it simplest to feign illness or sleep deprivation and let it all wash over me but occasionally I rise to the bait.

Wish me luck.

Tom Winnifrith

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Oakley makes a Political Statement about Nigel Farage & UKIP

1526 days ago

The Mrs and I were away for the weekend and so were not able to file a couple of UKIP flyers that came through the door in an appropriate place. However my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley made his own political statement on top of them as you can see below.

Normally, when he opts to use the space where we once had a front doormat before he soiled it repeatedly as his inside lavatory, the Mrs – the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty -  responds with an ASBO, that is to say locking him in the kitchen. But on this occasion she expressed a degree of pride and rewarded the old boy rather than punishing him.

Now let’s wait for the Labour flyers. I have had words with my capitalist cat Tara on how to deal with them

Tom Winnifrith

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My last day at the Greek Hovel – 1 last satisfying bonfire

1542 days ago

The man at the hardware store in Kambos said there was no need to buy snake repellent canisters as they will not wake up till June and I’m back in May. I am not so sure about that as I distinctly remember meeting a snake on what is known as the snake veranda on my first visit to the hovel in April. But I did not argue, I said efharisto and shook his hand warmly.

I worked at the Kourounis taverna in the afternoon and headed up to the hovel to lay out sweeties for the rats. But on arrival I found myself staring at one patch of rocks where I had hacked down a particularly loathsome frigana bush in the summer. There was still some dead frigana branches by the fence which George had overlooked,

And so, having learned how to light a fire with dried grass and a cigarette lighter I set to work. As the skies darkened the flames took out not only the dead branches but also the old stumps on the ground and some of the new green shoots that had appeared. I love the idea of old frigana providing the blaze that burns new frigana.  The rocks are now black. The rain will clean them up and wash the ashes away.

There was a time when the dark at the hovel frightened me. But no more. As I stood by the dying fire I took three pictures – maybe you can see the hovel in the background in the first and the mountains in the second and third.  I laid out the rat sweeties, locked up and now sit back in the Kourounis tavern planning a farewell Metaxa and my goodbyes. I will be up at 5 AM your time as I start the trek back to the UK.

/p>

It is back to the UK not back home. The Mrs, the cats, my family are in the UK and so that is in a way home. That is where I pay tax. But this is also my home. Slowly I am learning Greek. In the summer I shall start work on preparing for the rebuilding of the hovel, sort out my residency, and buy a gun, a motorbike and a truck.  A few tweaks to the way I run my work and I could live here all year. Of course I can’t yet. The Mrs has her career and Oakley needs looking after. My father is old.

But I am sitting here at the Kourounis tavern. At the bar Vangelis – the man in the pink shirt – is playing on his computer. Lovely Eleni’s mother in law is watching more bad news on the TV. A rather hungover Nikko the communist may recover from an all-day ouzo session to pop in later. And I sit in the corner tapping away as part of the furniture.

I start counting down the days to my return to the Mani in May on Wednesday morning.

Tom Winnifrith

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Five Days to Greece! Getting in the mood with Despina Vandi

1559 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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New Pussy Video - two in a bed inaction

1561 days ago

Once again apologies to any pervs who are disappointed having found this page via SEO. For the first time Tara ( the sleek but greedy cat) and the morbidly obese three legged Oakley are in action (or lack of it) together. As you can see Benefits Street when fully sprawled out takes up half a double bed. He thinks it is his bed. The Mrs and I used to think that it was ours.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tara, the capitalist cat, makes her video debut as Oakley slumbers on

1565 days ago

Tara, who makes her video debut below, may not be related to Oakley but the two have lived together for all of their 13 years. She may be sleek and slim but she is the capitalist cat. Oakley does nothing all day and is thus sometimes referred to as Benefits Street. Tara believes that Greed is Good and thus eats far more than Oakley either from her food bowl or by snacking on human food whenever she can grab it. I guess she has a higher metabolic rate than Oakley and she also takes plenty of exercise patrolling the garden.

I first met the two of them in the Isle of Man after the sudden death of my previous cat Kitosh. His ashes travelled with me in the years that followed and are now buried in a wooden cat shaped urn underneath a newly planted thyme bush at the bottom of our Garden in Brislington.

At the MSPCA sanctuary as I wandered along seeking a replacement for Kitosh the sweet young kittens grabbed all the attention. But in one cage there were two much older cats Tara and Oakley. Well I was told there were two. Oakley rarely made an appearance as he liked to sleep all day inside a hutch but the staff assured me that he was a lovely creature, as indeed he is. Tara, on the other hand was flirtatious and friendly and I was amazed that after five months with the MSPCA no-one had offered them a home. Their destiny seemed to be to stay there forever. And so they came to live with me.

Tara will scoff food whenever offered but also begs for it at every opportunity. If you are cooking she wanders around at your feet miaowing suggesting that at least some of the chicken biryani, or curried pork chops should head her way. Thai Green prawn curry. Yum yum. Tara will eat anything.

If I am not cooking but just tapping away at my PC Tara’s strategy is just to lie on the floor wriggling and looking sweet. She knows this will catch your attention and then she can demand food.  Right now the Mrs has gone to bed with Oakley to get some much needed rest. The public sector worker and Benefits Street feel overworked and exploited. Tara sits with me in the kitchen watching me work and occasionally looking up at me with that face that says ”you know I still have some Dreamies from my Christmas stocking over there don’t you?”

Tom Winnifrith

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Why is my local Tory candidate Theo Clarke ashamed of being a Conservative?

1565 days ago

The local Tory candidate for the Bristol East Seat, Theo Clarke has just stuffed a flyer through our letterbox. The Mrs, being a deluded lefty, saw the flyer from Theo – who seems like a nice young lady – and noting the party said “it’s for you.”

Hmmm. I was hoping to see that Ms Clarke wants to slash welfare spending, introduce huge tax cuts for lower paid workers, and tackle the grotesque waste in the NHS and other branches of Government as she reduced the size of our bloated - and totally unaffordable – state. Maybe she might believe in other Tory policies like law and order or lifting the red tape and regulatory burden on small businesses? Er no….

Her priorities are:

1. Better public transport (i.e. widening the deficit by spending more)
2. More local jobs …er, she wants Government to do more to attract businesses and jobs to the area. How about Government does less and so reduces employers NI contributions or business rates so really helping SMEs. As Ronald Reagan once said “The most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.”
3. Fighting for the NHS – um apparently that means spending more on building a new unit at the local hospital. Heck, the Tories have increased spending on the NHS year on year and the world’s 3rd largest employer still does not work. How about being honest and saying “making healthcare provision more efficient and stopping providing services like hair removal therapy in demand”
4. Sustainable Housing – here we go again. All hail the Money Tree.  To build more new homes which are greener. How about “let’s give tax breaks to redevelop the 1.3 million empty homes in the UK, etc.”
5. Protect our Greenbelt – okay so those new homes will not be built in our back yard. Well done Nimby Clarke.
6. To be a strong voice for Bristol East. Hmmm who does not claim that? How many MPs say “my ambition is to do sod all in Westminster and trouser as many expenses as possible?”

Having reluctantly concluded that although all the parties are as useless as each other but that I would vote Tory just to annoy the Mrs, I now discover that my Tory candidate is not really a Tory at all and agrees with 95% of what the Mrs supports and very little of what I believe in.

I think I must now organise a postal vote simply in order to spoil it. Ms Clarke, please tell me that you believe in just one basic principle of conservatism and I might reconsider but judging by the piffle I have just read you may well struggle to do even that.

Tom Winnifrith

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New Oakley Video: cat inaction in bed with the Mrs

1566 days ago

It strikes me that videos of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley are now getting more views than some of the writers on ShareProphets. Perhaps I should fire a few of the scribes and just go into business with my cat? Maybe not. As Oakley is a 14 year old obese cancer survivor the actuaries would not rate this long term business model.

Oakley regards our marital bed as his own and gives me a dirty look when I intrude on him and the Mrs. Normally fishy breath snuggles up to the deluded lefty and gazes adoringly into her eyes. And she reciprocates and they talk about Coronation Street and other matters that concern folks from the Grim North. But if he hears my footsteps he heads off to the other end of the bed and plays all innocent.

And so as the public sector worker (the Mrs) received her 8.30 cup of tea in bed, served by the wicked capitalist who was already 105 minutes into his Saturday working day), Oakley heard my footsteps and scuttled to the end of the bed. I am sure that as I returned to my evil capitalist desk, he returned to his normal position to once again gaze into the eyes of his girlfriend as they laughed together at the toils of the wealth producing classes.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video: Oakley the three legged cat demands more food - FFS you are on a diet!

1569 days ago

My morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley now tips the scales at 9 llbs and so is meant to be on a strict diet. I suspect that the Mrs has been helping him snack when I am away and they lie on the sofa watching Coonation Street together.  Since the Mrs works in the public sector she is not an early riser and so I hand out breakfast to Oakley and the ultra slim Tara at c 8 AM. It is now 11.30 and Oakley reckons that he is starving and begs for more

Tom Winnifrith

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New Oakley Video - Exercise and Negotiating cat flap

1572 days ago

In response to popular demand (The Mrs, Mu, Darren, Martha and Brokerman Dan) I bring you a short video of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley taking his morning exercise and negotiating the (extra large) cat flap.

Tom Winnifrith

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Your Vote matters says Bristol City Council – Really? Prove it – I register anyway

1573 days ago

As part of the dirty tricks campaign waged by the Labour party, the Mrs left me off the electoral register thereby denying me the opportunity to vote. I am sure that Ed Miliband is profoundly grateful to his one loyal supporter in this household for this act of electoral sabotage.

As luck would have it, the Mrs is away, and a letter from Bristol City Council has just landed on the doormat. It stresses that “Your vote matters, make sure you’re in.”  Keen to ensure that the sanctimonius eco-Nazis at Bristol City Council do not target me for disobeying them I have done as they urged and registered online to vote and applied for a postal vote at the same time. I have now filed the letter and envelope in the correct recycling bin.

But can Bristol prove that my vote matters? As far as I can see none of the main parties, and I include UKIP and the Greens to humour any fruitcakes or eco-smellies who are reading, are prepared to be honest with the electorate about the deficit and debt.  None are prepared to fess up that with an ageing population we just have to extend the retirement and pension age by a decade and a half, to slash welfare spending and to accept that we cannot any longer afford an NHS giving free healthcare on demand.

But no politician is honest about this. They all tinker but will not tackle sacred cows for fear of upsetting the punters. With the exception of the Greens who are just borderline insane, the other parties ALL pretend that comparatively small savings from leaving the EU or cutting foreign aid or supposed greater efficiencies in Government will allow them to spend MORE on other things and that there is no problem.

There is a problem. The UK Government is slowly going bust. Each year the debt burden grows and yet folks all clamour for more. While the Greens are just bonkers, the other political parties are all just plain liars. And the entire political class is a detached and unappealing bunch.

To use John Stuart Mill’s analogy my choice on May 7 is between different rotten oranges. Does my vote really matter? I put it to Bristol City Council that it does not. I shall probably hold my nose and vote Tory just to piss off the Mrs and my entire family (bar Uncle Chris). But I am not sure why I should bother.

Tom Winnifrith

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How will I fund this weekend: £62.57 recovered!

1573 days ago

I really cannot be bothered to walk down to the cashpoint machine at the bottom of the hill. It is too close to drive to but a bit of a schlepp to walk to. And so with the Mrs and her purse away how will I fund the essentials of this weekend: 40 Marlboro lights, a pint of milk and a cab fare to Bristol Temple Meads?

As another reminder of my student days it was a matter of rummaging in the pockets of my trousers and coat. What a lot of junk: a letter (unread) from my Aunt Lucy, my passport which  carry at all times in case I need to flee the country to escape the jihadists of the QPPSAG, used train tickets, an entry pass to Beaufort Securities, a good weighting of Euros but there was more…

Much to my surprise I discovered four bank notes (UK) and enough coins to sink a battleship. Or at least to weigh me down if the QPPSAG Jihadists throw me into the Thames. The net result is that I have unearthed £62.57. I am rich. The only question now is whether it is the tobacconist or the taxi driver who wants to be paid largely in 1p, 2p, 5p, 20p and 50p pieces?

Tom Winnifrith

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My Third Oxford Interview…I wake from a nightmare

1573 days ago

The Mrs is away visiting her folks in the grim frozen Northern post-industrial wastelands and so it is just myself and the cats living a chaotic life here in Bristol. I am not sure the house is terribly tidy and my routine is shot to pieces and so at 6 PM I went up to bed for a nap with the cats but awoke with a start two hours later thanks to a shocking nightmare. 

This rather startled the cats who were somewhat perturbed at the intrusion of a stranger in what they regard as their bed although it is in fact that in which the Mrs and I sleep.

As it happens I had two interviews at Oxford, one not quite as successful as the other. Like Evelyn Waugh I was rejected by Christchurch, The House, the college of the establishment and the thick aristocracy and also the college attended by most of my family. And like Evelyn Waugh, I ended up at Hertford, a modest and impoverished establishment rather looked down upon by House types for admitting women, Northerners and grammar school boys.  I was thinking about those two interviews as I lay awake pondering my nightmare but the actual history is for another day. 

Suffice to say that there is a tradition of great writers being rejected by the House only to end up at Herford. 

Back to the nightmare. For some reason it appeared that my second Oxford interview had been as unsuccessful as my first but somehow I had been offered a third bite at the cherry and a letter had arrived. I was a young man again and was with my father who was also twenty five years younger than he is now. With no stick and still quite fit he was able to keep up with me as we strolled along some grass covered walls.

The sun was shining brightly and as we chatted there was talk of going punting after the interview. But we were not in Oxford. Where were we? The place seemed terribly familiar. Steep walls on a drive up to a fortress with wide grass banks heading back from the wall tops. It sort of reminded me of the approach to the great castle in Corfu town from the bus station side. But the grass was a pale green not a Greek summer brown. It was not Corfu but it was like it and it certainly was not Oxford. I am struggling on this point. Perhaps it is nowhere?

And then came the realisation. The letter had given a time and a place but so engrossed was I with other matters that I had forgotten. And for some reason the whole point of going to Oxford had also rather passed my father by as well. How was I to break the news to him that I had screwed up again and I had now failed to git in for a third time simply because I had not shown up at all?

As I worked out how to fess up and felt ever worse about it I awoke with a start, gently kicking a dozing three legged Oakley in the process.

Dreams are meant to mean something. Does anyone have any ideas on this one?

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Childhood memories of snow at school – what a bunch of Jessies we are today

1574 days ago

I was chatting to a chap in the grim North today. Snow was falling and he said that at 7 AM this morning with less than an inch of global warming on the ground the kids had been texted: School is closed.  We reflected how life had changed.

Even during the winter of 1979, I cannot remember Warwick School for Boys shutting down. When we are at the junior school snow meant that Headmaster Jack Marshall would allow us to wear long trousers rather than our normal shorts. It could have been minus 5 but if there was no snow, it was shorts as normal for the younger boys.

If the rugby pitches were covered in snow we played anyway. Snow is soft. When snow turned to ice it was a freezing cross country run instead. Boy did I hate that.

The point is that the school never closed. And snow meant snowballs which is not quite the harmless game it sounds. The sixth form would amass on the centre of a rugby pitch and the rest of the school would advance from a car park to throw snow balls. And then in snatch parties, as in the army, the brutes would rush out and try to catch an advancing “nipper” who would promptly find himself having snow shoved up his shirt and down his trousers, returning to his comrades a bedraggled mess.

It was a brutal game a bit like a winter version of British Bulldog a game which is I am sure now banned for being both racist and also a clear breach of Health and Safety rules. But it was a game everyone always looked forward to.

Just occasionally snow would mean that some of us got a day off. We lived in a little village called Harbury and to get down to Warwick (15 minutes full pelt downhill in the summer on a bicycle) could be dangerous at the height of winter. So just occasionally those boys living in Harbury (myself, Bunting M, Ellis D, Millington S, Smith G and Garman J – how on earth do I remember this nonsense) would not be able to get to go to school. That meant a day sledging down Ufton Hill.

I compare these vague memories of childhood with today. If there is a couple of millimetres of snow The Mrs gets a text from her University saying that she has the day off, the Schools are all closed and education stops. I might sound like a grumpy old man but surely are we not just a bunch of Jessies these days?

Tom Winnifrith

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My Work today comes to you courtesy of the excellent Arnos Manor Hotel, Brislington

1575 days ago

Up and at it quite early I switched the kettle on and… boom… all power on the house was lost. Normally I am pretty good at dealing with the fuse box under the stairs but today I was defeated. Leaving the Mrs (still in bed with Oakley the three legged cat) to call an electrician I sped off in the car in desperate search of a place to work.

The Arnos Manor hotel in Brislington is a building I pass most days but have never visited. It offers an excellent Wedding service and the staff here have been delightful. I have sat happily in its bar mainlining lattes and tapping away since just before eight.  Situated next to the stunning Arnos Vale Victorian cemetery – one of the major attractions of Brislington – I cannot thank the staff too much here for their courtesy and friendliness.

The Mrs has just wandered in. A little man from the electricians talked her through it and she has fixed the power. She is now Mrs Sparksy. She is reading an earnest paper for her work on how capitalists cause global warming, cancer and misery all round and rather glowing having interacted with a member of the working classes. That is going to impress her deluded lefty friends no end.

It is time for me to head back home. But if you are ever in the neighbourhood remember to visit the most excellent Arnos Manor Hotel

Tom Winnifrith

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Why does the West Wing inspire me?

1577 days ago

The box set was my Christmas present to the Mrs. As she is a deluded lefty you would expect her to empathise with a hopelessly liberal White House. As you might have gathered I have no time for the Jed Bartlett administration. They want to spend so much of other folks cash on daft projects, I want to tear my hair out.

Ainsley Hayes – now she is my sort of woman. I can’t wait for the appearance of Arnie Vinnick. For now I have to tolerate Jed and his team. But I cannot help it, I come away from an episode and am inspired by them. Tonight Leo and Toby agree that the battle for re-election has begun (we are on series 2). Jeepers I hope they lose and lose badly. Yet I don’t. I know it is not good for America or a free world but.. heck I want them to win (and know they do anyway). They inspire me.

Is this because the Mrs is leading me astray? No. Or perhaps other conservatives feel the same way? It is all rather confusing.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video of the hero of the day, brave Oakley my 3 legged cat

1578 days ago

Oakley is somewhat in the doghouse after yet again leaving a deposit on the doormat and so today both he and his friend Tara are confined to the kitchen with myself. No run of house is allowed for either. But Oakley, who now weighs a disgraceful 9 llbs, has just three legs and is also known as Benefits Street becuase he dos nothing all day other than eat, sleep and watch trash TV with the Mrs, is the hero of the day.

For Oakley spotted another cat - almost as large as him wander into our garden. The normally fearless Tara did nothing. And so the old boy hopped off the sofa, hopped out through the cat flap and hopped into the centre of the back yard staring defiantly at the intruder. 

The intruder fled. Oakley hung around outside for a few minutes savouring this unexpected triumph and then hopped back inside and launched himself onto the sofa. Such bravery earned him a couple of "dreamies" cat snacks and then it was soon back to sleep. A video of our brave warrior is below.

Tom Winnifrith

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Am I hexing West Ham? Bristol City on Sunday

1580 days ago

As you know I have guided West Ham to the brink of Champions League football by studiously paying no attention to every game played and avoiding going anywhere near a match or even watching on TV. When I have weakened and thought about attending a game, suddenly The Irons stop playing like Brazil and start playing like a Hackney Marshes side. I must warn you that with the Hammers travelling to my home City of Bristol this Sunday for an FA Cup game, my resolve weakened.

My daughter is in town and I tried to buy a pair of tickets off an online site. Luckily www.ticketbis.net offers the most useless service on this planet and treats potential customers like shite. I was promised calls back, I harried, a bloke called me asking for my business and said right now go buy tickets online only to find there were none. This company is run by a bunch of total wankers from Liverpool.  The sooner the welfare safari that is scouseland is towed off into the Irish Sea and sunk the better. I heartily advise that you never use this company ever, not even to buy a stolen hub cap.

So no tickets. That prevents an almost certain cup upset. However I should warn you that the Mrs, the daughter and I are seeking out a nice quiet pub where we can watch the game on TV. Failing that, I see that it is showing at the Brislington Conservative Club. As I need to pop along to pay my annual sub – something which gives me enormous pleasure for the displeasure it causes the Mrs and my family of deluded lefties – I could always kill two birds with one stone.

Whatever happens I must warn all Hammers that I cannot resist and my daughter is adamant we must watch the game. Brace yourselves for disaster.

I should say at this point that not watching West Ham out of a sense of loyalty to the club is putting a strain on my marriage. That is because, when the Mrs said her vows about eighteen months ago she swore before God and the Congregation to attend at least two games a season at Upton Park (or the Olympic Stadium) until death do us part. She takes this God business more seriously than I and thus my sacrifice in not attending is made all the more intense by the marital situation.

Tom Winnifrith

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Je Suis Page 3

1584 days ago

The Mrs finds page three women offensive and is today celebrating the fact that the Sun has dropped this feature.  Most of its readers wanted it to stay and most of the population did not care but a small group of the liberal elite campaigned hard, applying commercial pressures on News Corp and Page three est mort.  There you go, the liberal left find something offensive and they may be a minority but it must be banned.  Hmmm a cup of Charlie Hebdo anybody?

Page three has allowed some pretty dim Essex girls to get a career outside of Tesco’s and earn decent wonga. It was their choice to get their kit off and they grabbed it. I guess it is back to Tesco’s for the next generation of Melinda’s and Sam’s.

The liberal left do not care about giving opportunity to the poor, to their client state. They care about freedom of speech and of action only when it suits their agenda.

Show a picture of Mary Magdalene with her our spreading her legs as she prepares to get shagged by Jesus and that is not a prostitute being exploited in a patriarchal society that is art.   Show Sam Fox topless – and so being the first in her family to gain the sort of financial freedoms the liberal elite take for granted – and that is exploitation.

Yeah right. Je suis Page Trois.

PS, Yes I know Melinda Messenger was from Swindon not Essex.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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It is all Greek to me -Lesson one tomorrow

1586 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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Back in the garage and a message to my father about the cold weather & global warming

1587 days ago

Back in Bristol and the cats are in disgrace for weeing on the doormat and the temperature is minus something. The Mrs is not sympathetic and I am back in the garage at my desk wearing a thick coat, hugging my heater and still freezing. I suggested to the Mrs that the cats be forced to join me as punishment but she said that would be cruel. And so I suffer alone.

At the tobacconists the Daily Express warns of snowfall across the country and of freezing conditions. I point this out to the Mrs on my return but she thinks this is just right wing propaganda and I must continue to work in the garage.

The Daily Telegraph warns its readers who are elderly (i.e. nearly all of them) to wrap up warm. Up in Shipston in Warwickshire my deluded lefty step mother does not allow the Telegraph in the house and so my father must enjoy it only as a secret pleasure at the White Bear. The paper of choice for my step mother is, needless to say, the Guardian and so she is still preparing for global warming.

In case my father has not made it to the pub yet I have called him urging him to switch the heating on. The normal pattern is that it is not switched on – in order to fight global warming – with my parents trousering the non means tested winter fuel allowance to pay for another luxury cruise which of course does not cause global warming as a dose of warm air in Sheep Street Shipston would.

Not being utterly convinced about this global warming business and noting that there is already snow on the hills, the old man agrees that it might be prudent to turn up the heating a bit. As I tap away in the garage, while the urinating cats are rewarded for bad behaviour by being allowed to lie on the bed with the Mrs in a nice warm house, I think that I am somehow getting a bit of a raw deal.

Tom Winnifrith

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Using My Christmas present from the Mrs and looking forward to the Birthday present

1593 days ago

As you may know the Mrs has decreed that I cannot work in the house because I make it untidy, stop her having freedom to canoodle three legged cat Oakley, watch Coronation Street and “work” on Facebook, etc. And so I was consigned to the garage as my new study. As October turned to November I flagged up that the garage was a little on the nippy side.

And so for Christmas by biggest present was a radiator. I have until now managed to avoid using it and have happily worked away in the kitchen. The Mrs has this morning put her little feet down and so I am now in the garage. The radiator is blasting away against my left leg which is toasting nicely. My right leg is about surviving. But above the desk my fingers are freezing as I tap away. I suppose it keeps me awake. The Mrs is however almost quoting the blessed Margaret – of whom she strongly disapproves: “The lady is not for turning.”

Meanwhile as a birthday present I am to be allowed to give a lecture to the sociology students currently taught by the Mrs. These impressionable young people currently have their minds filled with all sorts of nonsense about the “science” of Marxist theory, the exploitation of workers and the third world and similar topics. Later this term they are in for a shock.

“Greed is good, capitalism makes the world a better place for all “is the working title of my talk – I suspect this will be the first time that these young folks have heard such a message. I have asked that the talk and the students/lecturers chucking chairs at me and howling abuse be videoed so that I can put it up here. Into the Lion’s Den I go.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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All Quiet & Kids Free, Just a vomiting capitalist cat to deal with

1601 days ago

Christmas was a kids heavy zone for the Mrs and I, mine, nephews, god-children, the works. From 26th December to January 2nd there were the various noises children make everywhere in our lives. In a house which normally contains two quiet adults and two quiet cats it came as a bit of a shock. And then suddenly it was all over. The last children departed and the house was just still. It seemed almost surreal.

And now the only noises we hear are keyboards tapping away, West Wing DVDs in the evening and a vomiting cat. It is not Oakley the three legged creature known as Benefits Street. Having hidden under beds and duvets for almost a week to avoid being smothered with infantile embraces he is now back to his normal routine of sleeping for nearly all of the day in what was once known as the marital bed but what he now regards as his bed. Occasionally he makes an appearance downstairs for food or to watch the West Wing with us.

It is Tara who is making the noise. Thin as a rake and very feminine Tara is the capitalist cat. That is to say she thinks that “greed is good”. Which of course it is. But when she cannot rouse myself or the Mrs to provide here with more food plus some of her Christmas treats (cat nip biscuits or 2 calorie morsels known as Dreamies) she has taken to eating bits of the Christmas tree. And then being sick in a most demonstrative and noisy manner.

It breaks the silence.

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith’s share tips of the year 2015 – No 1 Buy InterQuest at a 102p offer

1603 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/9741/tom-winnifrith-s-share-tips-of-the-year-2015-no-1-buy-interquest-at-a-102p-offer

Tom Winnifrith

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Christmas day Reflections 2014

1603 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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Merry Christmas to you all from Oakley, Tara, myself & The Mrs

1611 days ago

Yesterday I posted my Christmas message in Greek to readers in Kambos. Today in English a message from myself, The Mrs and our two cats Tara and the three legged Oakley pictured below.

We all celebrate Christmas in different ways. For the Mrs and I it is a traditional day. Midnight Mass here in Bristol, perhaps with a swift sherry at the Conservative Club beforehand. It is on the way to Church after all!

And then stockings in the morning. Well I know she is getting one as she has been well behaved all year. I cook the duck and trimmings, presents, calls around the world to family and friends and then a collapse as we await Downton Abbey.  It is on Boxing Day that the travel nightmare of family days starts with a Greek Christmas with the wife’s sister and Greek Husband in Hertfordshire. Goat followed by Christmas pudding.

For Oakley & Tara it is just even more food than usual and, yes, they have both been fairly well behaved and so get a stocking too.

Whatever you do, we all send you are best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Tom Winnifrith

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Reasons to divorce the Mrs – Giving money to Simon bloody Cowell of X-Factor

1619 days ago

I am not thinking of divorcing the Mrs but if I were I might start with X-Factor. In my single days the cats and I used to watch DVDs of Inspector Morse or, as a real treat, The Sweeney or Foyle. These days the Mrs is the only one smart enough to work out how to use the three remote controls needed to work her ultra-modern TV. As such she has power and that means that the cats have to watch the X-Factor.

To show solidarity with the suffering felines I have occasionally wandered in and, I confess, have become quite hooked as a range of chavs strut their stuff on stage. Of course the real stars of this lack of talent show are the judges, uber-camp Louis Walsh who is nice to everyone, Britain’s leading chanteuse and intellectual heavyweight Ms Cheryl Cole, or whatever she is called these days, an old spice hag and the waspish plutocrat and brains behind this money making machine Simon Cowell.

Watching is, I admit, pretty embarrassing but as we sat glued to Saturday’s final part one the Mrs grabbed her phone. Who are you texting? I asked. “I’m not – I’m voting for Fleur East.” The Mrs had listened to host Dermot and knew that her vote (cost £1.50) really mattered. Ching Ching. More money from Mr Cowell. It got worse…

Viewers were told that we could win Simon Cowell’s car (a mini) and £50,000 just by texting again. “Yeah really, like Cowell drives a mini” said I, adding that I hoped she was not going go for this con as well. “Oh I have already” said the Mrs, “I entered last week – think how useful £50,000 would be.“

Jeepers! It costs £1.50 to enter this contest and assuming that Cowell gets the car free as some sort of sponsorship package that means that he needs less than 34,000 of the millions of imbeciles who watch this programme to text in and he is even more loaded. He can’t lose. The Mrs – like hundreds of thousands of chavs across the land - seems delighted to text away stacks of her hard earned cash to Simon Cowell. No wonder he is always smiling.

In case you missed the finals, a fat Italian poof came third, Fleur from East London came second but the winner was a charming white van driving young man Ben from Croydon who seems very fond of his mother and is an all-round good bloke. Simon repeatedly said that Ben is the nicest bloke he’s ever met and he means that most sincerely. At which point the chavs are reminded to vote again by text by host Dermot because “it really matters.” Ching ching.

Tom Winnifrith

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My Christmas Tree Prize Competition

1621 days ago

The Mrs and I have put up our Christmas tree. It is a bit small but it is part of some environmentally friendly scheme here in Bristol which I cannot quite get my head around. But to humour the little woman I have played along with the green nonsense.

Anyhow here is the prize competition. To win a bottle of olive oil, made by my own fair hand, from the Greek Hovel all youhave to do is look at the decorations and name which countries they come from. For the avoidance of doubt I count England and Wales as seperate and the angel at the top was made by my daughter many years ago and she counts herself as Welsh.  Your clues include that contributions come from four continents and I have bought all the decorations personally.

Post your guesses below with a deadline of Friday 

Tom Winnifrith

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Tom Winnifrith's BearCast - 8 December

1626 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/9427/tom-winnifrith-s-bearcast-8-december

Tom Winnifrith

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Delayed at the Greek hovel ...but I work with Vangelis - the man in the pink shirt

1627 days ago

I posted videos earlier showing the dreadful weather here in Kambos. That delayed the completion of the olive harvest as did the very Greek way we settle up accounts and so my return from the Greek hovel to England has been postponed. I should now be flying first thing Wednesday which means leaving Kambos tomorrow. Taking a bus from Kalamata to Athens and sleeping at a hotel by the airport for a crack of dawn flight.

I will leave Kambos with a cheque for 1779 Euro in my pocket thanks to the olive harvest. Obtaining the cheque was a bit of a kerfuffle. I fished out my Greek tax number – I am a loyal supporter of the Greek state in its hour of need – and wandered into the olive factory. Easy…

Hmmm. There then followed a long debate about how you spell my third Christian name – Zaccheus – in Greek. I had to fetch lovely Eleni and within minutes the click of her fingers saw the problem solved: Zaxios. Hmmm.  Then to Kalamata to drop off my bike with John the bike man and to Olive pressing central HQ to pick up my cheque. Tomorrow I present it at the National Bank in Kalamata and I will head back to the UK with my pockets stuffed full of Euros. 

And so there is one more night in Kambos. In need of a power source I find myself sitting at the bar next to the man in the pinkpolo shirt Vangelis. His name is actually Vagelis but I cannot go back and alter all my historic errors so he remains Vangelis.

On Saturday he showed me his hands, horny handed son of toil hands, brushed tough by years of tending to olives. “An olive tree is like a beautiful woman” he said in Greek and Nikko translated. Vangelis is concerned that my olive trees might get lonely and neglected in my absence. The Mrs says that I am neglecting her and the cats looking at my olive trees. Given that she works in the public sector I am sure that there is a compromise. 

Pro tem the man in the pink shirt, now wearing his olive harvesting fatigues, and I work on. And then, sans bike, I walk home one last time in the dark, preparing to wade the, now not dry, river and clamber up snake hill for the last time until....

 

 

 

Tom Winnifrith

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After the storm at the Greek Hovel Part 2 – The dry River flows

1630 days ago

The river bed, at the bottom of the valley between the deserted monastery/convent and the start of the climb up snake hill to the Greek Hovel, sits dry all summer. It is parched and it is hard to think that it ever sees water. Even as I arrived in Kambos two weeks ago it was dry as a bone. Puddles formed on the track but the river bed was like dust. That all changed with the storm. 

The ford is a ford for a good reason. The ground had been raised with concrete and across it the water was perhaps only an inch deep. Pas de problem for my magnificent motorbike.



But looking upstream the water was rather deeper, perhaps a foot or two. From nothing in just 24 hours. Even as I rode home last night there was nothing there but I guess that in the mountains the rain was heavier and gathered and the, whoosh, it hurtled towards Kambos. And this is just the sort of winter. I rather wonder if I came here at Christmas might I not get cut off.

The dry river runs into a pond lying at the foot of the land belonging to the deserted monastery/convent. In the summer this sits as a small pool supported by a little spring. The wildlife diversity come here for much needed water. I remember seeing a fox drinking at the edge as I headed off fig gathering in the summer.  But now…



The water from the river gushes into what is now an ever larger pond. It may be muddy brown but it is far from stagnant. The green algae of summer has been swept away and it looks alive. It is all change in the Mani.

I now have my power back. The olive harvest is almost done and my thoughts are of returning back to the UK, of burning off the frigana, a last meal with my friends here and of a reunion with the cats and the Mrs. Not in that order.

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture article - day 1 of the Olive Harvest at the Greek Hovel

1634 days ago

And so we are off. At 8 AM on the button George and his team arrived to start the Olive harvest at the Greek hovel. They took half an hour off for lunch and worked solidly until the sun started to set at 4 PM. I am full of admiration for harvesting olives is not easy. I chipped in but admit that I am not fit enough and am put to shame by these folks. So let me try to explain what happens. We start with a tree full of olives.

 

As you can see matting is laid all around it. There is a sort of moveable feast of matting surrounding about two trees on one terrace and two on the terrace above at any one time. So how to get the olives down? There are two methods which the team operate simultaneously. One is to beat the trees with paddles. The lady below holds a long paddle, there is also a shorter paddle for the lower branches. It is the sort of device Tory MP's get spanked with by Mayfair hookers. I was on short paddle duty today. and boy my arms ache.

And then there is method two. George climbs into the trees. He does not actually need a ladder. The guy must be 60 but he just leaps up and stands in the branches.

Just to prove that George needs no ladder - that is him in a tree.

And here he is in the branches where he gets oit his chainsaw and chops off some of the branches which fall to the floor. He then gets ot hs paddle and thrashes away. 

 

As George beats the tree, the sound is like rainfall as showers of little olives fall onto the mats. On the edge you can see the little paddle. There is something vaguely therapeutic in beating the branches and hearing the olives pitter patter onto the sheeting. Sometimes they land in a great shower. Other times, as you pursue the last olives on a given branch, they just trickle down.

As you can see below there are a good number of leaves mixed in with the olives which are green, black and purple. But fear not.

 

But first back to the branches that George lopped off. These we carry (I did a bit of the carrying) to a portable whirring machne - that is the blue thing -  that moves along the grove with the workers. One of George's assistants skillfully runs each branch across the whirring spinning thing, twisting and turning each branch until all the olives have been knocked off. I was offered a chance to try my hand at this but, knowing that Id cock it up and get branches tangled in the whirring thing, I declined politely.

 

 

Now back to the mats. Pretty soon they are covered in both olives and leaves. And so the workers skillfully roll up one mat at a time and pour all the contents into the hand operated machine below. The mat can then be moved one tree along the terrace and the machne sorts the olives from the leaves - only the smaller objects, the olives, can fall through the grill.

It is all rather hard work but the team only took two breaks. One to use my laptop to call George's daughter in Thassalonika on Skype.That went down well. And the second short break was lunch. 

And so what was achieved? Remember the tree at the top laden with olives. That was the before picture. This is the after picture. as you can see this tree and 34 of its brothers and sisters have been stripped clean. Thanks to George's handiwork I now have enough thick logs to use for firewood for the next few days.

But more importantly I now have 13 sacks of olives some of which you can see below.  13 sacks = 660 kg of olives which will equate to around 130 litres of oil. And that I can sell in Kambos for c500 Euro. Knock off labour costs (charging my efforts, not altogether unfairly, at nil) and that is c380 Euro gross profit. I reckon that we have another four days of harvesting and so that should be c1900 Euro. Knock off the 200 Euro I paid Foti in the summer for pruning and it is 1700 Euro. Add back my grant from the grateful Greek ( I mean German) taxpayer and that is 2200 Euro. Maybe a touch less as I plan to take a few litres home.

However, these trees have not been tended. Next year they will get some manure and the yield should increase materially. In 2015 I shall do all the pruning myself. Had I waited until Christmas I could have got another Euro or two per litre for my oil. So maybe in 2015 we might spend Christmas here and put the Mrs to work on the harvest so saving on a few labour costs. Whilst the Mrs might decide to expand our acreage a bit this is never going to be a big moneyspinner but it is all rather satisfying. For now it is enough to pay the land taxes and for a couple of flights here and back.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture article: Winter shower arrangements at the Greek Hovel

1634 days ago

You may remember that my shower arrangements at the Greek Hovel are somewhat rudimentary. I attach a picture of the shower, aka a hose pipe dropping down from the vine on the "snake terrace."

In the summer it is great. The water comes up the hill in metal pipes and so arrives at a perfect temperature and showering is real pleasure. But now it is winter. It is almost zero at night. So what to do?

Well it brings back memories of Warwich School for boys. After rugby it was a compulsory shower watched over by an unmarried master who paid close attention to ensuring we all showered. The less said abiut that the better. But the showers were always freezing and you just sort of ran in at one end and out at the far end as soon as you could.

And so it is at the Greek hovel. Put it this way, with the Mrs not here I feel no compulsion to shower every day. But after a few days needs must. This morning, nursing a stinking hangover, it was almost therapeutic. That is not to say that it was enjoyable.

As to the hangover, well it was my friends in Kambos who led me astray again: Nikko, George and Vangelis. All three felt some concern about my ability to bike home and so it was agreed that Vangelis - who had only had about 12 ouzos - would give me a lift in his car up the winding mud track to the hovel. Fear not...I am not drink driving!

Tom Winnifrith

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The First Olive Oil from Kambos - c/o Nikko

1639 days ago

It was Nikko who was celebrating his Birthday in lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna in Kambos on Saturday. That led to an interesting ride back to the Greek Hovel. My harvest may not have started but my friend is already well progressed and what you see if some of the first oil off the press. It will be heading back to Bristol for the Mrs along with rather larger volumes of my own oil after we start harvesting later this week.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Quindell Caption Contest - Jobs Going at the Country Club Edition

1650 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.com/views/8965/friday-quindell-caption-contest-jobs-going-at-the-country-club-edition

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture Article: And so here is the fig chutney 2014

1658 days ago

The leaves are now turning yellow on the fig tree that dominates our garden in Bristol. We have a fig tree in Greece too at the Greek Hovel and it was yielding fruit in the summer that was ripe and wonderful. The UK offering has been a little bit less ripe but I was determined not to get it go to waste and so as a family treat we harvested some of the figs and …hey presto we have a perfect fig chutney.

Three smaller pots have already been handed out as presents and the Mrs and I are working our way through a large pot at home. I reckon it might just last until Christmas.

My only regret is that I did not start this earlier and make more chutney on an industrial scale. The figs start dropping in early September and a good number now lie squashed on the paving. As the leaves fall from the tree I can see another batch of fruit that was hitherto hidden and looks pretty perfect for use.

As ever I shall resolve to be more organised next year and make twice as much. Sadly, with such small volumes produced this year, this product is not available at Real Man Pizza Company although it would be fantastic with our Yarg led cheese board. Maybe in 2015.

When I was kid, autumn was a time for boiling and preserving on an industrial scale. The aspiration of my parents – mainly my mother – was to be as close to self-sufficient as possible. We did not grow wheat so had to buy flour as well as milk, sugar, coffee and meat and corn for the ducks, geese and chickens. But our fields were converted into an extensive garden, we had our own fruit (rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries and strawberries) and the hedgerows yielded even more.

All fruit was preserved in jars or made into jam. Chutneys were prepared. Vegetables were pickled or storied in sand for we had no freezer. September to November was time for working on often bitterly cold days – or so I remember it – bringing in the harvest and then preserving it ahead of the winter.

My own efforts are trivial in comparison. But, I hope, that it is a start of the journey back.

Tom Winnifrith

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Chateau Brislington 2014 takes shape

1658 days ago

One of the attractions of the house the Mrs bought in a Bristol suburb last Christmas is its almost Mediterranean – if small – garden. It sits wedged between the house and my office, aka a large abandoned garage which is now starting to get a bit nippy. On that matter, I remind my rentier landlord (aka the Mrs) that she has yet to provide her exploited tenant (me) with the heating she promised. Truly, the deluded lefty has become a wicked capitalist exploiter. I digress.

The garden came with a lovely rhubarb plant, a fig tree but its main produce is grapes from the vines that snakes around the edge and onto anything it can find to climb along.  And so the grapes were, some weeks, ago harvested by myself the Mrs and some of her deluded lefty mates.

How many deluded lefties does it take to harvest a vine? Five (plus myself who was let off grape picking as I was chief cook for the evening.). Of the five, that would be one to play the guitar, two to complain about Thatcher and austerity and the other two to pick the grapes.

The grapes were crushed (not with bare feet it is too bloody cold for that) and left to ferment ad then strained and now sit in two demi-johns. You will note that they are marginally different colours. I cannot remember which is which but one is the top liquid, the second was liquid plus a lot of strained grape material. It matters little. The initial tasting was “interesting”. Bottling takes place shortly and Chateau Brislington should – in theory – be drinkable by next spring. In practise…I have my doubts.

Tom Winnifrith

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Video Postcard #85 – happy Birthday Nadine, welcome to Britain & immigration issue

1677 days ago

I went to Nadine’s Birthday party yesterday. She was also celebrating 10 years in the UK with a British party. Since she is a friend of the Mrs and so it goes without saying that the place was packed with deluded lefties.

I therefore discuss the politics of food in relation to Britain’s poor but also the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own actions.  I then move on to reclaiming the flag, the idea of Britishness and the whole immigration debate based as it is on lies and a fail to tackle the real issue of welfare abuse.

My financial video postcard looks at buying opportunities and earnings visibility for UK shares and can be watched HERE

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs got carded and is feeling very smug indeed.

1687 days ago

The warning signs in Sainsbury are clear – if you are under 25 you will have to show ID to buy booze. The Mrs was wandering around the aisles earlier this week picking up a bit of this and that and stuck a bottle of plonk in the trolley and guess what? She got carded!

The man at the checkout asked for proof that she was 25. Now I know that my wife is younger than me and that she is a total stunner but this is ridiculous. I have revealed here in prior articles that we celebrated her 40th Birthday earlier this year. To say that she felt a tad smug about this as she relayed news of this incident to me in an excited tone would be something of an understatement.

Tom Winnifrith

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That unusual chicken recipe revealed…

1692 days ago

A couple of folks asked about the unusual chicken recipe that I shall be preparing for the Mrs shortly. I think I have written about it before but it comes from Real Man regular Colourful James.

The side servings are roasted spuds and parsnips and there is also some kale boiled then quickly fried in garlic butter. The centrepiece is a normal roast chicken except that it is stuffed with a mixture of boursin and peanut butter. It sounds crackers but it tastes amazing! It’s the only way to eat chicken, I promise you.

Tom Winnifrith

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Thinking about grapes in Bristol and at the Greek Hovel

1693 days ago

The Bristol vine harvest was completed last weekend. About enough liquid for ten to fifteen bottles now sits fermenting in a bucket. We have added sugar and yeast and must just wait for a week before straining and decanting into a demi-john. I may try to make grappa with what’s left as an experiment.

Our Bristol grapes were red but small and of varying degrees of sweetness. They were not the lush bunches of grapes you’d expect at a Roman orgy. Nor the lush bunches of sweet grapes that hang around the Greek Hovel.

My guest this summer gave me firm instructions as to how I must assist the vine for next year by pissing against it. As a woman she was not able to assist but urine is a great source of nitrogen and so I followed her instructions every day. I am not sure that I saw any immediate response from the gnarled trunk. But I guess we will find out next summer.

It is the end of my first working week back in the UK. Right now my friends in Kambos are gathering at lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna. It is starting to get dark. I would at this point be tapping away for another couple of hours before Vangelis – the man in the pink polo shirt – said in Greek, it is not if you are drinking but what are you drinking. And we’d be off. Back in Bristol I prepare to cook supper for the Mrs instead and to learn more about life in the Grim North by catching up on this week’s episodes of Coronation Street. It is a life of contrasts.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Great Paddington Dilemma – Drunks in London or Sheep Shaggers getting pissed.

1694 days ago

As ever, I arrived at Paddington at 10.31 PM. It does not matter what time I leave Real Man in Clerkenwell my taxi always arrives just as the penultimate train of the day pulls out for Bristol Temple Meads. Then there is the dilemma.

I can hang around until 11.30 and catch the last train to Temple Meads. It will be full of English drunks and will stink of fast food. Gradually drunks get off the train but – especially on a Friday – drunks also pile on at Swindon and Bath heading to the bright lights of Bristol to get even more drunk. Does everyone born in Swindon have the intelligence of a 12 year old Orang Utan?  The taxi fare from Temple Meads home is less than a tenner. But Paddington is a ghastly place to spend 45 minutes and the Mrs is not that impressed if I pitch up at 1.45 AM.

And so there is the 10.45 to Bristol Parkway. I get home just before 1 AM, the taxi fare at the other end is c£20 but there is less time to kill at Paddington. The real downside risk is that I fall asleep and this train carries on all the way to Swansea. I have more than once woken up to find myself heading into Newport, a truly dreadful place, and facing a £45 cab ride home. On this train there is also the stench of fast food but most of the drunks are Welsh. As such, while buying a coffee at the bar, I have just listened to three sheep shaggers discussing in a most animated fashion how to say “The toilet is broken” in Welsh.

I guess you learn something new every day.

Tom Winnifrith

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I was dragged to the Police station in Kardamili and bullied, Greece in context

1698 days ago

I preface this all with some comments of Paddy Leigh Fermor in his book the Mani. Paddy has just been ripped off by a mule owner who had acted like a total bastard. Paddy reflects that this happens just now and again in Greece but is made all the more memorable because 99% of the time the hospitality of the people of Greece, their honesty and generosity is unmatched. Paddy puts it rather more eloquently but is correct. And with that preface…

The Mrs decided that during her stay with me this summer we should take some time out from the Greek hovel and enjoy a bit of luxury in Kardamili. We could not leave my guest alone at the hovel with the snakes and so she was booked into one hotel in the centre of town while the Mrs and I stayed at a wonderful place the Meletsina Village at the far end of the beach road which leads away north from the town

I cannot speak too highly of the Canadian Greek family who ran our place. It was there that Julie Despy and Ethan Hawke had stayed while filming “Before Midnight” in the town and it gets a thumbs up on all counts.

My guest was not so lucky. On the first night in town she took her laptop out to work in a restaurant and was promptly followed back to where she was staying, the Papanestoras Apartments run by the loathsome Valia Papanestoros.

After waiting for her to start snoring (which she does), those who had followed her entered her room – she had unwisely not locked her door – and stole her computer and wallet (later retrieved minus 70 euro in cash).

By 5 AM my guest was reporting this to Kardamili police who at once pointed the finger at their usual suspects…Albanians. Whilst this might seem a bit unfair I am afraid that 99% of burglaries in the Mani happen in the tourist towns and are indeed perpetrated by Albanian criminal gangs. In the non-tourist villages, burglaries are less common as the Maniots have less to steal and will have guns with which they will shoot you.

In the days that followed my guest, understandably felt angry – having lost much of the book she was writing – and violated. I wish I could say that the Old Bill bust a gut for her but I cannot.

At first the owner of the hotel was sympathetic and said that my guest could leave early and pay only for the days she had stayed. My guest took her up on that and flew back to London but because the hotel had no working credit card machine had to assure her that I would pay her in cash.

And so just a few hours after my guest left, I heard a loud knock and opened the door of my hotel room. The Mrs was sunning herself on the beach. Standing in front of me was the hotelier and an enormous and menacing looking man. She instantly demanded the full week’s payment in cash. I explained that she was not entitled to that, that she had agreed to accept 5 days payment and that I would pay later.  The man stepped forward a bit. “Alright I shall come up to town later and pay, said I”

That evening I went to the Police and reported her for demanding money to which she was not entitled. They called her and she came in. She admitted that the booking had only been for six days but insisted that my guest was lying in saying she only had to pay for five. Let us not forget this woman ran an establishment where burglars can just walk around stealing and shows no contrition for that.

I agreed – simply for the sake of a quiet life – to pay the six days and said I would pay tomorrow evening. The Policeman told her to agree and she did.

As I was preparing to head into town the next evening to go to an ATM and collect the cash to pay this woman a policeman arrived at our hotel. Before I knew what was happening I was being bundled into a Police car and taken to the Station. I was not allowed to go collect my cigarettes or phone but the Mrs ran and got them and passed them to me as the Policeman pushed me into the car.

While my wife managed to get lift into town to get cash, I was driven off in the Police car. On the way the Sergeant stopped for a chat with his mate. He then passed the vile hotelier Valia who was stuffing her over-tanned face at a restaurant with her old crone of a mother and two kids. The policeman pulled the car over and they joked and laughed with her in Greek. I sat in the back feeling rather despondent and a bit humiliated as folks walked past looking at the “criminal” being led away.

I was bundled out of the car and pushed into the station. There was one other cop here, a man looking a bit like the nasty gay character on Corrie (Tod), who looked hugely embarrassed as the Sergeant interrogated me and demanded I get documentation to him to prove who I was,. My passport was with John the bike man in Kalamata but he faxed over a copy and the Mrs arrived with 360 Euro. At that point the vile Valia was phoned on her mobile by her pal the Sergeant. She trotted up took her money and said “have a nice trip home”

“Oh no, I’m not a tourist, I am a Greek resident” I piped up. “You will be seeing me again.” That did not seem to make her terribly happy at all and she stormed off. She wants to rip off tourists, demanding cash to which she is not entitle, with menace, and to use her pal in the Police to enforce her actions in the knowledge that she will never see her victims again and there are always new folks to rip off next year. I guess that I don’t fit the bill.

Eventually the Sergeant said to me “Get out!! And so the Mrs and I walked the one mile back to our hotel contemplating how events had unfolded. Paddy Leigh Fermor was right about the Greeks. This one bad experience of the summer only served as a reminder of how wonderful everyone else is.

For my guest and I, this experience has tainted our feelings towards Kardamili. I now effectively boycott the town, preferring to go to the ATM in Kalamata and everything else I can do in Kambos. I know this is a bit unfair and also self-destructive. For Kardamili is a lovely town as tourist towns go.. The buildings are wonderful. As you head up the hill towards Stoupa the first restaurant on your right is the best “ordinary fish restaurant” in the region and has amazing views over the sea and a little harbour.

The Mrs, who is nicer and more forgiving than I, insists that we must visit again to purge our bad memories. I have no gripe with the people of the town who are overwhelmingly great folk. Even the Police station is staffed largely by good men, notably the chap who looks like the nasty gay in Corrie and also another Sergeant who is a Kambos resident, a regular at the Kourounis taverna and a good man. Had he been around that evening I am in no doubt that stern words would have been had with his colleague. Bullying tourists is one thing, but your neighbours? That is a whole different ball game.

Go to Kardamili. Have a wonderful time. However be warned, do not under any circumstances do business with Valia or stay at the Papanestoras Apartments. The Mani has a tradition of blood feuds, quarrels that can go on for generations. Valia you have started such a feud. You will regret it as your infamy spreads across the internet.

Tom Winnifrith

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A final farewell to Kambos and the Greek Hovel (for this summer)

1698 days ago

I write this on the train from Reading to Bristol. A journey of bike, car, plane, train, train is almost over. I am back in the UK. I am back in a land of folks with horrible tattoos, of fat people swilling beer in concreted pub gardens, of nasty, smelly and expensive takeaway food. I am back in a land of surveillance cameras where there are far too many people jostling each other to get ahead. I am back in a Country that is just emerging on another illegal war, where jingoism and English or Scottish patriotism combine for a poisonous mix.

On the other hand I cannot wait to see the Mrs who will pick me up at Temple Meads, to give the cats an enormous hug and to catch up on last week’s Downton Abbey. I am really looking forward to a mug of tea, to sitting in my back garden looking at the grapes which we will harvest tomorrow to turn into wine. The Mrs has videod the start of the new season of Dallas and the episode of Corrie when Ken returned to the Street. I am sure the Mrs will cook me a wonderful supper.  But I can’t but help think about my friends in Kambos who will be gathering right now at the Korounis taverna, run by lovely Eleni, to chat, watch the football and look out on the stars in a clear sky.

As I rode into Kambos on Friday night it was one of those splendid Greek evenings. The sun was going down but it was warm and as I headed down snake hill the valley opened up before me. The – I think – deserted monastery or convent stood solid in front of me, up the hill above the spring. Further along the valley is a small house where the village baker lives. Why would anyone leave?

To Eleni’s to load videos and upload articles and to enjoy one last portion of her meatballs. Knowing that it was my last night Vangelis (the man in the pink short, not the man from the frigana chopper/snake repellent shop or the Vangelis who will win an Olympic gold in frigana chopping) bought me an ouzo. Naturally I reciprocated and I was soon sitting there with both George’s, Nikos (the football man) and a new pal Dimitris.

I showed a reasonable amount of common sense and left by midnight wishing them all, and Nikos the magician, a fond farewell.

Up at the crack of dawn I readied the Greek hovel for my departure. The eco-loo was emptied one last time, sulphur applied on all doorsteps and window ledges to keep the snakes away and all doors were locked. The gate on the drive/track was closed so that the shepherd can allow his sheep to graze at will on my land and then I somehow managed to drive down to the bottom of the valley on my bike while gripping a rucksack between my feet and with a bag on my back.

John the bike man, of whom more later, was happy to get me to the airport but reluctant to drive past the spring in his car so bad is the road. And so at the spring he took my bags and my helmet which I have kept all summer but never worn. He headed off for Kalamata in his car I headed into Kambos one last time.

I shook hands and said goodbye to the man from the other snake poison/rat poison shop and then to the Kourounis taverna to see  lovely Eleni who I had missed on my last night. It was not yet nine but Nikos the football man was on his first coffee of the day and Nikos the Magician, his mother Poppy an Eleni were sitting around. Poppy wished me a safe journey in Greek and I understood. “Catalvemo?” “Ne. Efharisto”.

To Eleni I offered my thanks for all her help this summer and she said thank you for being there smiling and laughing. It was a bit of an awkward how do you say goodbye moment all round. If she was a man I know it would have been acceptable to kiss her on the cheek. But a young woman? I stuck out my hand to break the deadlock and we shook hands. And then scuttled off to my bike quickly. It promptly failed to start. “Okay I am staying” I said to the assembled group and the English speakers among them, Eleni and Nikos (the football man), laughed before I kick-started the bike and headed off not allowing myself to look back.

There are a few more tales from my summer at the Greek Hovel I aim to write them up this week. My time with John the bike man, Charon (my neighbour (not his real name), the three shepherds and the tiny village behind Kambos all deserve a mention.

There is one episode that I have felt unable to write until my return to England, the tale of Kardamili, of how I was dragged to the Police Station by the filth and of the nastiest woman in the Mani. It would have been disloyal to the wonderful folks of my home village to recount that story while living there. But now, as we head towards Chippenham I can begin.

Tom Winnifrith

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Picture article: The Cultural quarter of Kambos – Part 1

1699 days ago

It was my last afternoon and so, having done my washing and tidied up the Greek Hovel (I do hope the Mrs is reading) it was time for a bit of sightseeing in the cultural quarter of Kambos. Quarter…I exaggerate a bit. However.

As one drives out of Kambos on the looping toad up the hill towards Stavropoula ( home to the lovely Susan Shimmin of Real Mani) on your right there are two monuments of note, one visible, the other hidden in olive groves.

From the road you can see a ruined Tower House. In the Mani of old the local gentry would build these constructions as they prepared for blood feuds, war, with other families of a similar status. Those in the lower orders were roped in to serve their local gentry. In some villages there are numerous Tower Houses as they were blessed with several families vying for power in that village.

There was always a race to build higher and higher towers so that you could dominate and shoot down on your enemies. Blood feuding was only halted when the Maniots joined together to fight the common enemy, i.e. the evil Turks.

In Kambos there is just one tower house and it is ruined. I am not sure when or why it was destroyed. The statue at the front is clearly of a Maniot with the traditional village people style bushy moustache. His dates are given as 1813-1877 which means that he missed the war of Independence but I guess he was the last owner.

Below the tower house is a much older constriction, a Tholos (a tomb from the Mycenaean era. It’s not as big or as impressive as the great structures at Mycenae itself but it was clearly large and shows that this area has been inhabited for an awfully long time. And I suspect that I will have been its only visitor all year, hidden as it is in a village that tourists just drive through.

Tom Winnifrith

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A surprise for the Mrs…from the Greek Hovel

1700 days ago

The Mrs no doubt expects me to arrive back in Bristol with a rucksack full of dirty washing. Au contraire…here at the Greek Hovel I maintain high standards and my full range of shorts, T-shirts and socks enjoyed a though hand wash today. So there!  And here is the evidence. NB I have also swept the floor and will dump the rubbish down in Kambos at the tip shortly. Brownie points for the Sheriff!

Tom Winnifrith

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Paddy Leigh Fermor, The Mani and Kambos

1701 days ago

Back in the 1960s my uncle visited the Mani on his first honeymoon. Oddly he and his wife were joined by another couple and within months his wife had run off with the other man. That is an aside. It took my uncle more than two days to get from Athens to the Mani so remote and cut off was the region. 

Here in Kambos the dirt track to Kardamili became a road back in 1965 (two years after that fateful honeymoon), roads south from there were built later. The man who brought this peninsular to the attention of the wider world was Paddy Leigh Fermor, a truly amazing man once described as a mixture of Indiana Jones, James Bond and Gerald Durrell.

Though incredibly clever, Paddy was no academic and so after being expelled from school (issues with a young lady) in 1933 he walked through Europe to Greece. Along the way he noticed that something was not quite right in Germany. When war broken out he signed up immediately and was sent into Greece since he spoke the language fluently. His most heroic exploit was in Crete where – with the partisans – he captured a German general on the North of the island and transported him across Crete to the South where he was lifted off by British Destroyer. The film, based on the episode, has Leigh Fermor played by Dirk Bogarde

In the war Paddy’s code name was Michalis. After the war he stayed on in Greece fighting with the Royalists in the Civil war. He refers to this in his two classic books on Greece The Mani and Roumeli. The latter is about Northern Greece, the area about which my father writes and so on the only Winnifrith family holiday to Greece which I did not go on, there was a long visit to Paddy’s house.

The Mani is part history but draws on a walk that Paddy and his wife undertook through the peninsular in the early 1950s. At that stage walking was what you did. There were no roads. To get down the peninsular it was simpler to travel by boat.

Paddy was rather rude about Kambos, the second village on his trek. He cannot hide how dull he finds it and how glad he is to leave. On the other hand he cannot hide how he falls in love with Kardamili the moment he spots it and it was there that he built a house. The locals all knew him as Michalis. A social fellow he smoked 80 a day, drank more than his fair share of ouzo and though married retained a lifelong interest in les femmes.

The Mrs and I fell in love with Kardamili too, as we arrived there one late summer evening. Having no real beach it has been spared the tourist plague and ribbon development of Stoupa a few miles down the coast.  But it is a town and for reasons that I will discuss later our experience there was not entirely happy. Its buildings, Venetian and onwards are stunning and it has a charm of its own. If I had to live in a town here it would be Kardamili.

But it has tourists and that changes the nature of any place. Kambos has no tourists. We are just a village in the road between Kalamata and Kardamili. There are some charming old stone houses on the back streets but no-one could say that Kambos is picturesque. But it is Greek. Or rather it is Maniot. Life here has not changed in the way that it has in the towns and villages by the sea. There is no crime – other than the murders – folks all own olives and will be working at least some of the time on the land. There is no need to learn English and they look after their own. In the hills around Kambos there are wonderful places to visit, to walk to for there is no other way to get there.

The Mrs and I first met lovely Susan Shimmin from the Real Mani in Kambos – at Eleni’s taverna – as it was a half-way point between Kalamata and Kardamili. Susan lives one village away in Stavrapoula. Whilst we were charmed from the first moment by the friendliness of Eleni and her husband Nikos, we were simply passing through as Paddy did back in 1952. Kambos did not grab us. We did not fall in love with it on sight.

We fell in love with the Greek Hovel, notwithstanding meeting a snake on our first visit. But Kambos has grown on the Mrs. It entranced my guest this summer who is keen to return to a place where she is remembered fondly. And I feel at home here. It took a while. Falling off my bike at 3 MPH in front of the Korounis taverna helped. Struggling, but publicly succeeding in tackling the frigana has demonstrated that I am not just a tourist. My commitment to come back for the Olive harvest and to work on it rather than just supervise Foti is clear.

Next Spring, work starts on formally rebuilding the Greek hovel. I had a good meeting with Eleni (that is Eleni the architect daughter of lovely Susan and a woman who has to be the biggest snake coward in the whole of Greece, not lovely Eleni from Kambos) on Monday. By next summer there should be at least one room that the Mrs deems habitable and she too has fallen in love with this place. So as soon as UK-Investor show is out of the way….

For any number of reasons I have to regard Paddy Leigh Fermor as a total superstar.  But I wonder if he was around today might he take a rather more charitable view of my home village of Kambos.

Tom Winnifrith

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The latest strange night-time noise outside The Greek Hovel is revealed.. a kitten

1719 days ago

For the past few nights I have heard this very strange animal noise outside The Greek Hovel at night. At first I thought it was some sort of bird but it would have been a very strange bird. Tonight the noise sounder closer than ever and so I bravely opened the door and shone my torch…it is a gorgeous little black and white cat. It cannot be much out of kittendhood.

I tried to tempt it in but the creature is obviously feral. It has no interest in getting close to humans. And so it just sat there on the entrance to the snake veranda blinking in my torchlight.  I rather hope it hangs around inside the snake exclusion zone happily attacking any other members of the wildlife diversity community that dare to approach. It could start with the bats, two of whom have returned to the bat room below where I sleep.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mosquitos at the Greek Hovel had impeccable taste but are now left with just me…

1720 days ago

For the past four weeks the Mosquitos at the Greek Hovel have left me alone. Offered the choice of nicotine tasting blood from an older man or sweet younger blood from either my guest or the Mrs (or on two nights both) they have shown impeccable taste and left me along completely. The women complained and I said “what’s the problem? Nothing bit me!”

I now accept there is a bit of a problem. Faced with a choice of just me I have been bitten with a vengeance by these vile bugs. From above my right nipple, over my shoulder and down the right part of my back there is now a row of itchy bumps  each the size of a medium sized marble, if a bit flatter. Just as the Greek islands appear as outcrops in a flat sea in a God created chain, so the mosquito bites have appeared on my body.

Luckily the women invested heavily in anti Mozzie devices during their stays and as such I have rummaged around and found electric deterrents and coils aplenty. Tonight I fight back.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs Goes home and I am alone again in the Greek Hovel catching up on matters such as two murders in the village

1721 days ago

The Mrs is back in Bristol already sending me photos of our cats Oakley (three legs) and Tara (four) who she is no doubt hugging to death and spoiling quite outrageously. I am sure that I shall do the same when I head back in a few weeks’ time.

I was delighted when the Mrs was here but it had two drawbacks. Without her I have slipped once again into my no alcohol and one or two Greek salads a day diet. With her I was drinking and eating rather more. And so my weight loss was arrested, in fact reversed a bit. Now I am in overdrive as I have just over three weeks to finish the frigana cutting and so am upping my manual labour rate accordingly.

The other drawback is that whilst my commercial writings (shares) continued almost every day, with the Mrs here I have no time for my personal writings. I enjoy my musings on life at The Greek Hovel far more than financial writing but know that those articles don’t pay the bills. And so I have an awful lot to catch up including two murders in our village of Kambos and my own detention at Kardimili police station. And much more. It is all in my head and so I pledge three articles every two days on that catch up until my flight home on the 27th or 28th - I still have not decided how to get home yet in light of my concerns about Jihadis and Ebola).

The catch up starts tomorrow with the murders.

Meanwhile the Mrs will be delighted to know that the Greek Hovel seems to have suffered an invasion of giant millipedes in her absence. Some seem to be two inches long. Being a nice guy I am not killing them but do not fancy them crawling up the sheets as I try to sleep tonight so one by one they are being scooped up onto an increasingly battered copy of The Mani by Paddy Leigh Fermour and deposited outside with the rest of the wildlife diversity.

Tom Winnifrith

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How to get back to the UK from Greece – Jihadists and Ebola concern me

1721 days ago

I am a nervous traveller at the best of times. But right now the thought of flying into London really scares me. The Mrs left today. I had to drive her half way across the Peloponnese so that she could catch a ferry to Zakynthos to get a direct flight to Bristol. But it was cheaper than a flight from Kalamata, my local airport here in the Mani, and her plane did not land at Gatwick.

Bristol gets mostly domestic, Western European and holiday flights. The Mrs can pick me up from the airport and the passport line is not three hours long.

Gatwick is a schlepp of a bus/train trek away from Bristol and I am convinced that my flight will land just between one directly in from Sierra Leone and another from Turkey packed with British born men with beards who have just spent a few months in Syria and Northern Iraq. I thus face being stuck in the passport queue with a mixture of returning Jihadists - just looking for a chap with an Israeli army T-shirt on to behead - and highly contagious Ebola virus carriers.

It is s 35 minute cab ride from The Greek Hovel to Kalamata. It is an additional five hour bus, taxi, ferry, taxi ride to Zakynthos. But the idea is growing on me.

PS The Mrs suggests that just in case there are any Quindell Moron type jihadists reading this I should not publicise my final travel plans until I have landed. As ever she is a wise woman.

Tom Winnifrith

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It’s My Wedding Anniversary so an almost day off

1725 days ago

A year ago today at a house owned by the family of the great Hellenophile Lord Byron the woman formerly known as The Deluded Lefty became The Mrs. Right now she is outside tapping away at a paper for her sociology work on why capitalism causes cancer, global warming and is a construct for patriarchal hegemony for white men. Okay I think I might have got the subject a bit wrong but I am probably not far off.

I’m off to chop down some more frigana at The Greek Hovel where we are staying and then it’s switch off time. Unless there is a Quinnovation Group emergency this is a day off. Thank you to the Mrs for 365 wonderful days, it is time to down tools.

Tom Winnifrith

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Bitten by a Duck in Kardamili Greece as the Mrs laughed loudly

1726 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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Weekly Video Postcard from Tom Winnifrith #77 – Three Big Treats Edition

1732 days ago

There were three pieces of good news for Tom this week. The arrival in Greece of his Mrs, continuing weight loss and Quindell (QPP) threatening legal action. Tom discusses the third at length in his weekly video postcard.

xxx

xxx

Admin

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Photo Special – My Eco-Loo is ready

1754 days ago

I am very proud of myself. Not only have I constructed an eco-loo but I have been uber- environmentally friendly in using 80% recycled materials.  For a man who came 127 out of 127 with 27% in the U4 Warwick School woodwork exam I think I have done well.

The box case is an old trunk. I took off the top with my early Christmas present to myself (an electric screwdriver) and cut a piece of hardboard (not recycled into shape). That was then reattached to the hinges and thus to the chest.

The bucket is kept in place with some scrap wood I picked up and sawed to jam it in. That leaves a distinct compartment either side for loo paper and for herbs & flowers which will make it smell more pleasant and which you chuck a handful of into the bucket after usage.

The whole thing can now sit on the snake veranda at the Greek Hovel. This means I do not have a trek through the dark to the smelly, lizard infested outside loo which I can now demolish. That thing like all Greek loos fails for me as

a)      It uses far too much water which the Mani is a bit short of

b)      The Greek system sees piss and pooh allowed to seep into the ground. By the time it hits the next water channel it is clean. For this to work loo paper must be not flushed away but put in a bucket by the loo which once every few days you take to the bins at the end of your road in a plastic bag for collection. This is both environmentally unfriendly and also very unpleasant.

c)       The bucket from my eco-loo will every two or three days be emptied into my – soon to be built – humanure system. One bucket of “waste” plus herbs and loo paper is covered by some fibrous material (grass, leaves, etc.) and then the process repeats. A new humanure pen will be built in 2015 and by January 2016 given the heat here and winter rains, the 2014 “crop” will have burned up all of the harmful bacteria and will be black earth. That can then be used as free and very high quality mature for the olive trees in the manuring season (January) of 2016. That pit is then freed up again for 2016 usage while 2015 “matures”

The Mrs is not quite so keen on my environmental zealotry. Heck I only want to help the planet…
Anyhow I am proud of my efforts, now onto the humanure pit.

Tom Winnifrith

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Feeling Guilt at the Greek Hovel – Not Making the Mental Leap

1757 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

1762 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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Cheering up The Greek Hovel with a bit of Alice Cooper and some overt sexism

1767 days ago

I am not sure that the Mrs will approve of this but sending a message to the wildlife diversity outside the hovel about what I have laid down for them the song of choice right now is Poison by Alice Cooper. I have navigated the OTE page and am back on line. What a great old rocker Alice is serving up not only a classic anthem but an overtly sexist video.  1989…I am showing my age.

My apologies to the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty but blocking out the noises from the dark outside the redoubt needs a song like this. Next up Guns ‘n Roses and November Rain.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Exciting News from the Greek Hovel – We enter the 21st Century – Profits warning in Kambos & Copulating Lizards

1769 days ago

Darren you would be proud of me. I have tonight managed to get the Mi-Fi system working. That means that at any one time I can now run four computers at The Greek Hovel. Not only that but I have signed up to Skype and am now waiting for the Mrs to awake from her early evening slumber after a hard way watching her students graduate so that we can chat.

As I wait I hear a noise at the door and per through the glass and grill to see that it is a small lizard seeking entry to the wildlife diversity free redoubt. Piss off critter in here wildlife gets killed. As two (no make that three) bugs have found out to their cost in the past twenty minutes.

The arrival of the World Wide Web at The Hovel will be a body blow to Eleni's lovely Kouronis Taverna in Kambos. My eco-loo should be constructed by Sunday and thus at that point I shall then have no need at all for its services although I shall still pop in now and again for old time’s sake. And when I have heavy data like a video to send back to the UK. I sense that a profits warning for the Taverna is on the way.

To celebrate this landmark I today bought some shaving foam. I was becoming conscious that I was looking increasingly like Grizzly Adams in my lonely retreat. More to the point, nine days growth shows a lot of unflattering gray and itches like hell. Tomorrow I shave. This is real progress. 

PS. As I was clearing detritus from around the hovel today I saw two lizards copulating. I cannot say that it was a great thrill but I suppose you should see everything once.

Tom Winnifrith

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Rats, Bats & Sheep – Report 11 from the Greek Hovel

1772 days ago

Oh dear, I thought that I was making progress on eradicating wildlife diversity at The Greek Hovel but it just got worse. I am sure that it is just a temporary blip.

My new best friend, and business partner in the olive business, Foti and a friend of his were clearing out the two first floor rooms again this evening. Another truck load of rubbish has now gone and still we are not finished.

However in the room under the snake veranda we discovered not one but two rats.  This time I did not run, my fear of these creatures is diminishing. But Foti was more proactive, grabbing a broom and thrashing wildly. There was no escape for either rodent. After a couple of minutes of wild thrashing the first one was no more and Foti carried it by its tail and threw it into the olive groves for the snakes to feast upon. The second one he trapped under his boot and pressed down. It too was an ex-rat and on its way to be snake supper.

I should have explained to Foti that in the slums of Manchester and other Grim Northern Shit holes fresh rat is considered a treat for the kids and that we could make a few quid sending the carcasses freeze packed back to Dan Levi. But I do not know how to say that in Greek.

I then asked Foti and his pal to lead the way in clearing a pile of bricks on the snake veranda. Although it now boasts a can of snake repellent so should be snake free I have bad memories.

From there it was off to bedroom two on the ground floor, the one with the earth floor which I must dig out. Once again a rat appeared but before Foti could act it had scuttled off into a hole in the wall.  But the wildlife adventure was not over because something then flew past my head. FFS what’s that? I asked rather nervously. It was a bat. Oh great…more wildlife diversity. Just what I needed. There is in fact a small colony of bats in this room. But it is getting smaller, all three of us prodded the ceiling and encouraged them to leave. Things can only get better.

And now to the sheep…I had a brainwave about how to accelerate clearing the land: bring in goats. They eat anything. Sadly that includes olive trees but sheep apparently behave themselves and as an added bonus snakes do not like sheep and will flee them.  And so with Foti’s pal translating I grabbed a local shepherd who was wandering past with his flock. What a result: As of tomorrow he will be grazing his sheep in the grounds of the hovel. Meanwhile I plan to clear the detritus from the immediate vicinity of the house (including years of leaves) to make it 100% snake unfriendly, to rig up my shower and to install the internet.

There are probably another two more truckloads of rubbish to go and then after a bit more poison is laid down the whole house should be rat unfriendly and rat free. I am however thinking that I now need a couple of pigs to assist in the regeneration plans, how shall I break this to the Mrs?

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly Caption Contest: Overpaid, generous pension, long holidays what do we want…MORE! Edition

1775 days ago

For once the Mrs was not on strike with the rest of the public sector last week. The University Lecturers have already staged several walk outs this year and why on earth would they interrupt a three month break in the sun to turn up for a protest. But the rest of the comrades walked out. Did you notice the Country crumbling?

Public sector workers now earn more on average than those in the private sector. It is almost impossible for them to get fired – job security is 100%. They get guaranteed final salary pensions. They get more holiday – and throw more sickies than those in the private sector and what do they want? More!

They are an innumerate bunch. They actually think that Government spending has fallen under the wicked Tories. It has risen. The UK cannot afford to go on like this but the public sector wants to squeeze the productive sector even harder, it wants more. And so I bring you a picture of some greedy, innumerate and lazy bastards and invite you to post your captions in the comments section below.  Deadline 9 AM on Friday – which is when folks in the public sector thing that the working day starts.

For what it is worth my caption, brought to you from the self-pitying welfare scrounging capital of England that is Liverpool, is "Walk on, walk on, with a placard in your hand, becuase you'll never work (hard) again."

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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Preparing for Battle with rats and snakes – Report from the Greek Hovel Number 3

1776 days ago

And so we arrive at the Greek hovel that the Mrs has snapped up. Before I can contemplate the enormity of the task at hand there is the little matter of the rats and snakes to deal with. We have visited the village hardware store where – rather worryingly – about 40% of the product lines seem to be associated with dealing with, er…rats and snakes. Susan Shimmin and I are now armed. 

To the snakes first. I have bought two pots of snake repellent which I am assured will deter the creatures from visiting the hovel any more. I lodge one firmly ten yards from one corner of the hovel, surround it with stones to ensure that it stays firm emitting whatever it emits to keep the snakes away. The other I lodge diagonally opposite it at the far edge of what we term the snake veranda. 

On my first visit to the hovel it was on this piece of the property that we all encountered a snake. Having researched it hard on the internet I discover that this type of snake bites and can stand its ground but is not poisonous. At the time I just thought “Shit!!!! – how do I escape”

The snake veranda is not actually a veranda. It is an illegally constructed platform above the second “bedroom”. One of my jobs this summer is to knock it down. We will be building up this section of the house both properly and legally in due course but right now its only purpose in life is as an ideal habitat for lizards and snakes. Though I am an ardent supporter of wildlife diversity there are limits.  It has to go.

Then to the rats in my “bedroom.” Poison has been laid. Sticky boards have been set. If a rat ventures onto them it will find itself trapped. I will then have to finish the job. 

The hovel has thus been transformed from vermin heaven to vermin hell. It is time to retreat to a hotel for the night and to see what we find waiting for us in the morning. As a statement of intent I leave my axe and saw at the hovel. Into battle tomorrow when I move in.

Tom Winnifrith

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A glass of Chateau Brislington 2014 anyone?

1776 days ago

One of the attractions of the house that the Mrs bought in Bristol last December was a vine that is now threatening to take over the back garden. We have hacked it back a bit but it is unstoppable and bunches of what are very clearly grapes are now clearly visible everywhere.

I have no idea how to nurture this plant but it seems to do very well by itself. I also have no idea of how to turn grapes into wine but it cannot be that hard surely?

Rooting around in the garage, aka my office, the other day I stumbled across a bottle of rose wine left by the former owners from the 2013 vintage. It was marked clearly “drink in the summer of 2014.” The Mrs and I are dutiful folks so obeyed the instructions and much to our surprise it was quite drinkable. A bit on the strong side but who are we to complain.

The 2014 harvest takes place on my return to the UK in the first week of October. Apparently our vine can produce up to 16 bottles a year of Chateau Brislington. That then is the Christmas presents sorted…

 

 

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

1781 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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I have a terribly guilty confession and is Manchester packed with homosexuals?

1794 days ago

I have a terribly guilty confession. It really is shameful. But I am open with you and so confess that …I have started watching Coronation Street. It is really quite gripping to discover what life is really like in the Grim North.

The Mrs – hailing from the entrepreneur free, economic wastelands of the welfare addicted Grim North, that is to say Nottingham – is a lifelong Corrie fan. Until recently we have agreed that when I am there she records and when I am away she gorges and catches up. But then I started watching. It really is fascinating.

I had no idea that life in the North was so interesting. Apparently there is a murder on the Street about once every six months. Folks disappear for unexplained reasons (because the actor who plays them is on trial accused of being a nonce, a rapist or both) and no-one lives with their actual parents. In the North it is apparently compulsory for kids to live with a step parent and their new partner while their actual parents both live with new partners and the children of other folk.

It is all very confusing but since The Mrs is a sociologist she is able to explain it all to me. Right now someone called Tina who seems to have had sex with every man in the street (apart from the large numbers of homosexuals camped out in Corrie) has been murdered. The main suspect is a white man whose son by his first marriage appears to be black and lives with his white ex-wife. Go figure. The main suspect lives with the wife of his father (currently a “disparu”) who is not his mother.  The other suspect is the main suspect’s wife (not yet divorced).  In fact the killer is the brother of the main suspect’s wife whose girlfriend is the sister of the main suspect. Or is it half-sister? Whatever. As you might gather it is all gripping stuff.

My wife says that Corrie is set in the traditional small c conservative part of Manchester not the liberal gay friendly part. Yet roughly 10% of the population of Corrie have apparently been openly gay or Lesbian in the past two years. Cripes. In the trendy City centre of Manchester I guess almost everyone must be gay.  Perhaps my good pal Dan Levi might care to tell me if he and Rio Ferdinand are “The only straights in the village” that is Manchester.  

Anyhow the Grim North seems a fascinating place. But what with the fact that one person in every street gets murdered every six months and with all the unexplained disappearances I am not sure that I have any great desire to get my passport out and pay another visit just yet. Corrie tells me all that I need to know.

Tom Winnifrith

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Staff Rage at 1.25 AM

1794 days ago

I have a routine when I go up to London. Stay up until late. Go to bed. Set the alarm for 3.46 AM and that gives me 40 minutes to shower, shave, dress, pack and download from the web all that I need to write offline on the 4.47 AM from Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington.  With a bit of luck I will have four or five articles to load when I reach Real Man at 6.45 AM.

But at 1,25 AM last night a waitress at RMPC texted me. I always leave my phone on the other side of the rom so apologising to the Mrs (snoring happily) I texted back some non-committal reply to her breaking news that she was starting at 4 in the afternoon. Back to bed.  She texted back with more piffle. Having by this time woken the Mrs I sent a sharp text “It is 1.30 and I am asleep!” but fearing she would rely again I left my phone by the bed…

Two hours later I guess the alarm went off and I must have in a dreamy fashion pushed a button to switch it off. That, you see, is why I leave the phone on the other side of the room, to force me to get up.

And so at 4.15 the Mrs shook me. For some reason she was awake. I suspect it was her snoring that prompted that. A blind panic followed, No shower No shave. A quick pack (must have forgotten something) and no time to download materials to allow me to write. Sitting bored on a train at 6 AM I wonder what would be the appropriate time to ruin the sleeping patterns of someone who starts work at 4 PM?

Tom Winnifrith

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The RSPCA and RSPB – sick as a parrot

1796 days ago

The Mrs and I were wondering back from lunch by the Avon and came upon a car park at the edge of the woods where three boys cried out “help there is an escaped parrot, can you help us?” To misquote my father (a Greats Man) “A PPE man can turn his hand to anything” although catching rather confused and slightly injured escaped parrots in Bristol car parks is not my normal line of expertise.

As I got down on my front and peered under whichever car the parrot opted to hide under the Mrs called the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). “Sorry madam that is not the sort of thing we deal with.” Hmmm, I guess the RSPB is too busy campaigning against global warning to do anything like actually protect a bird in need.

So what about the RSPCA I suggested? Again no luck. They said that we should try the Old Bill. FS we know that the Filth will be far too busy arresting folk for calling a Police Horse gay or for tweeting out comments t folks in Liverpool about how all scousers are sympathy milking, workshy, welfare addicts ( which they are) to assist.

And so as I scrabbled underneath another car and the parrot eluded me again, the Mrs tried another RSPCA number. Eventually she was told “it will probably find its way home but if you do catch it we will come and collect but we are massively under-resourced”

The first comment is a lie. The parrot appeared slightly injured and so will scrabbled around for food before almost certainly going from being a sick parrot to a dead one as one of the creatures of the wood (probably foxy woxy) enjoys an unusual breakfast. The Mrs is a townie and might have bought the RSPCA line, I grew up in the boonies and so did not know how to break t to her that it was untrue.

As for under-resourced? You are pulling my plonker. The RSPCA spends tens of millions on administrative bollocks and on campaigning to have anyone vaguely associated with fox hunting sent to the salt mines of Islington for political re-education. 

As I have noted even before I met the sick parrot now preparing for an inevitable grisly death neither the RSPB nor RSPCA are any longer fit for purpose.

Tom Winnifrith

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Who to Support in the World Cup? A Hard call

1803 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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What is the difference between slugs and snails?

1816 days ago

Not a reference to CEOs and FDs on the AIM Cesspit but to the killing field that my back garden has become. It is all the fault of the mother-in-law, a good Christian woman who visited last weekend but left me strict instructions as to my husbandly duties.

I shall not be offering up a full list but the mother-in-law was, rightly concerned that the back garden was somewhat blighted by an invasion of slugs and snails. They are, I am ordered, to be sent off to meet their maker without delay.

And so once a day I now go out on patrol. Early evening is best I find. But something is wrong. I have no problem in hitting a slug across its back with my trowel. It is an instantaneous death and I have no sympathy for an unattractive creature that wishes to feat on my herbs, flowers and the grape laden vine that dominates the garden. But snails?

For some reason I regard them differently. I know that they eat the same things as slugs and are generally bad news for the garden but while slugs look loathsome, snails are one of God’s more attractive creations. Moreover I feel differently about something I know I can eat. I have tried to persuade the Mrs that we should nurture some larger snails and that she should let me prepare them as l’escargots but she seems a tad unconvinced.

The bottom line is that I cannot kill the snails. But equally I cannot disobey the mother-in-law either. And so on each patrol I simply pop the snails into a box and then take them to the grassy lane behind the garage (aka my place of exile) and leave them there. It could be that a Song Thrush comes upon them and gets an early Christmas present of a mega feast. It could be that they slide off into someone else’s garden. Who know they might even make the long trek back to mine. But I simply cannot bring myself to kill them myself.

Why is it that I view them differently to slugs? I cannot figure it out.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs has moved me out to the garage

1817 days ago

It was something about being untidy. Oh and loud conversations with Lucian Miers about the same “boring stuff.” Anyhow the Mrs has issued a diktat. My office is now in the garage rather than the kitchen or living room.

It is not so bad out here. The garage is effectively a storage room as it backs onto a grassy path which no-one uses. It is light and spacious although a good part of it is taken up housing possessions deemed surplus when combining the households of two folks who only hooked up twenty years into adult life. I think it might get a little cold in the winter and I might beg for a Yuletide transfer back into the house as the snow starts to fall.

But pro tem I am now banished to the garage. Oakley, my three legged cat may be next. He has again disgraced himself in the matter of his lavatorial habits and is currently suffering an ASBO, allowed only in the kitchen. I sense that any more transgressions could see him joining me in the garage.

Tom Winnifrith

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No Labour Dirty Tricks from the Mrs – we manage to vote

1826 days ago

And so the Mrs and I trouped back to where we used to live to vote. Had she played a Labour dirty trick and not registered me or not? We walked into the polling station and I was told that I was not on the electoral roll but neither was she. Aha the Labour dirty trick backfires!

Er no… 

We were at the wrong polling station. And so off we trouped in the rain to another Church Hall and there we found that we were both eligible to vote. We grabbed our voting papers and like a salmon swimming back its home waters the Mrs put her tribal cross for the labour party without hesitation. 

I dithered as I pondered the wide selection of parties of the right. Conservative, Official fruitcake (UKIP), Unofficial fruitcake (UK Independence in Europe) two crackpot fascist groupings etc. In the end as I said I would do I held my nose and voted Tory. As a lifelong West Ham supporter I cannot side with a winning team. 

And then off to the old boozer we used to frequent for a bottle of plonk, a tasty burger and a fiercely fought contest of Trivial Pursuit. Modesty prevents me from recording who – as usual – emerged victorious in that battle but it was the player who selected the blue pie not the pinkish red one. 

Tom Winnifrith

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I’m Voting Tory on May 22nd in the Euro Elections because…

1827 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/5552/i-m-voting-tory-on-may-22nd-in-the-euro-elections-because

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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What to do on May 22nd?

1831 days ago

It is entirely likely that thanks to Labour dirty tricks, that is to say the Mrs neglecting to put me on the electoral roll, I shall not be able to vote at all this week. We will troop over to the polling station near her old flat on Thursday and find out.

If I can vote what should I do? As a dyed in the wool Eurosceptic and someone who believes that the entire political class should be strung up with piano wire my natural inclination is to vote UKIP. After all the European elections do not really matter do they? My guess is that enough folks will view it this way to ensure that Mr Farage and his supporters will be celebrating triumphs in both the local and European elections as I explained HERE earlier.

I do not care if UKIP contains more than a smattering of prize loons that does not deter me.

However, I find that when Mr Farage moves away from Europe, where I agree with him 100%, to other matters I get rather agitated. He is clearly now trying to appeal to traditional Labour voters and so he supports a minimum wage (a tax on jobs) and there is talk in UKIP circles of backing the living wage.  This is not a pro-business agenda but it will also not assist the poor since it will destroy jobs.

I remember wincing when I heard him at UK Investor Show 2013 talking about gay marriage. He said that he did not care about the issue but could not understand why the Tories were so obsessed about it. That was a coded message to the sort of Tory voter who believes that “shooting one pooftah might cure the rest” or that gays cause climate change. As a libertarian I do rather care about this issue.  Ones sexuality is nobody’s business but your own and the State should not allow different folk to be treated differently on this matter. I doubt it won Call Me Dave any votes to push gay marriage through but, for once, the spineless little creep showed principle.’ As a libertarian one should care about this issue, UKIP clearly does not and is happy to see different folks treated differently because of whom they choose to sleep with.

And then there is immigration. Ever since Baa Baa black Sheep was banned as being offensive the R word has been used with gay abandon. I do not accuse UKIP of racism. I simply accuse it of being wrong and of lying to the British people. Immigrants are not coming to the UK from Europe to “take British jobs.” They are coming here to do the jobs that British shirkers (as opposed to workers) refuse to do because they would rather live on welfare.

Curbing that immigration would be profoundly bad for Britain. Immigrants, on balance, pay more in tax than they claim in benefits (as opposed to the indigenous population who are net takers). Immigrants create wealth by starting, in disproportionate numbers, new business which offer jobs and generate tax.

The UK is not overcrowded as UKIP claims. We have 1.3 million empty homes in Britain.

However we also have a welfare system and a health system which are unjustifiable and unsustainable with or without immigration. The libertarian answer to the problems of the UK is unlimited immigration combined with a massive overhaul of both health and welfare.  Yes that does mean paying a small sum for using the NHS because any service that is free (see Food banks) will by definition face unlimited demand. And yes it does mean slashing benefits.

I support these things not only because it is the libertarian way but because it would benefit Britain greatly. Some who opt to be idle would suffer but that is THEIR call. Others, most notably the low paid, would see great benefits from the tax/benefits changes that are needed.

In his heart Farage knows this. But UKIP is sending out a different message. It is populist one but it is a total lie.

My wife’s parents came to Britain as immigrants. In a Farage regime they would not have been welcomed. But both have worked hard paying taxes all their lives and have two daughters who have done the same. In a Farage Britain that family would not be there but White Dee would still be living on Benefits Street. We would all be so much the poorer for that. It is not just my wife I think of ahead of Thursday but the staff at Real Man not one of whom is British but all of whom work hard taking jobs that Brits refuse to take, paying taxes and making this a better Country. In a Farage Britain such folks would not have enough points to enter the UK or would be barred completely.

I find the rhetoric of UKIP on this matter so offensive that although some urge me to hold my nose and back them I just cannot. Chatting to an Aunt of mine by marriage just now she said she felt the same way. Her mother arrived in the UK as a child, a refugee from Russia. Would she have been welcomed in Farage’s Britain? We both agree not. My Aunt says that she too cannot hold her nose and back UKIP for the same reason. For my Aunt’s mother, for the staff at Real Man, for my in-laws and because UKIP is just lying to us all I cannot vote for the party.

And so I am floating between spoiling my ballot paper (if I have one) and the Tories. I suppose just to cancel out the vote of the Mrs who will as ever be backing “the people’s party” I will have to vote Tory. After all it is a Mickey Mouse election and so it does not really matter.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Bounty of Parsley & the Soup Solution

1835 days ago

I left England in April with a well behaved herb garden. I returned to Bristol in May to find that all my plants had prospered but that the parsley was completely out of control. What had been a pleasant little plant was now more than 1 yard long and 1 yard wide. The true horror of its expansionism could only be appreciated from above. The poor lavender bush had almost been swamped.

Part one of my solution was to transfer the lavender bush to a patch vacated by a failed attempt to grow a raspberry bush. It had started to sprout but in my absence someone had snapped off its small branches and I feared the game was up. The lavender bush appreciated its move and is now thriving.

But still the parsley grew. By my calculations at current rates of growth it would have covered the entire garden by late August and by 2017 it would have headed off down the A4 and be approaching the outskirts of Bath. And so yesterday afternoon the Mrs was demanding a romantic supper and so I took the scissors to the parsley and put a quarter of it in the pot.

Parsley Soup is a pretty simple recipe. Blanche the parsley (I guess that I had about 50 stems). Heat one onion in butter in the main pot. Add in three quarters of the parsley water post blanching and 1 pint of chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you prefer rabbit food) and 3 large potatoes chopped into bits.

Heat the main soup until the potatoes are soft and then liquidize. Liquidise the parsley (stalks and all with 4 cloves of garlic in that blending) and add that in and stir as you continue heating. Meanwhile fry until crisp a pack of bacon cut into small half inch square bits. Add the bacon to the soup which should be a deep green and add in to taste: ½ teaspoon of salt, a twist or two of cayenne pepper, a splash of white wine vinegar and a twist or two of dill.

I served with brown bread toasted and lightly rubbed down with some olive oil I had infused with garlic. The parsley and bacon soup with the heavy garlic hint should sort of remind you of easting snails in France. The green colouring is pretty amazing, the taste was pretty good (if I say so myself) and with the parsley in for free the cost of a main meal for two (with enough soup left for the Mrs to have lunch tomorrow) was less than £3.50.  

At current rates of growth this could well become a regular feature of the diet for the Mrs and I.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs & Health fascism: why don’t you smoke your e-cigarette outside?

1839 days ago

A treat last night: two episodes of Nashville to catch up on. That, and a delicious thyme chicken and grilled vegetables prepared by the Mrs – what more could a man ask for? Normally on such a TV fest I would nip out during the commercials for a fag but as of last night I am on the e-cigarettes and, as such, there was no need to move for my commercial e-fag break.

After all, an e-cig is odourless and all it emits is water vapour. There is no question of passive smoking. And so as Viking River Cruises tries to persuade us to book into a cruise down the Rhine for some wife-swapping with 90 year olds, I take a drag on the e-cigarette.

“Why can’t you go outside for that?” said the Mrs.  I despair. So reviled is anything to do with smoking in the UK today that I expect this is a common reaction. It is enough to make me take up smoking Marlboro Lights again.

Fear not. I have not. Tonight’s Eurovision Party (heaven help me, it is friends of the Mrs) may be a tester but my resolve is strong.

Tom Winnifrith

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Onto the e-cigarettes

1839 days ago

The procrastination has to stop. I promised myself that I would quit smoking by 40. It has been a new year’s resolution ever since. But as if 40 minutes ago when I finished my last Marlboro Light, I have started with an e-cigarette. Inhaling water vapour with a touch of nicotine has to be better news than the toxic mix I have been taking in for most of my adult life so here goes.

I am not exactly sure how many drags you are meant to take each time you pick it up but let’s see how it goes. At least I can now “smoke” inside without getting dirty looks from the cats and worse from the Mrs.

(twitchy) fingers crossed.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs in the Doghouse – Endeavour & Nashville

1844 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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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?

1848 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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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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Goat Milking in Greece – Lesson 2 a triumph captured on video

1857 days ago

One of my ambitions in life is to get the hang of milking a goat. Okay, it is not quite playing for West Ham or changing the world bit it is achievable but a lot harder than you may think. A year ago I had lesson one which was captured on video HERE and was not exactly a triumph.

However I was back with the in-laws of the Mrs during Easter and the wonderful Stavroula (pictured below) consented to let me try my hand again.



Last year there were three goats but one was infertile and so she met the Albanians before Christmas and went into Stavroula’s freezer thereafter. And then my brother-in-law moved to England and so Stavroula sent another goat off to meet the Albanians as she reckoned that two was excessive. The one remaining beast gave birth to two kids one of whom we ate on Sunday and the other of which is happily putting on weight in an enclosure unaware that she too will be meeting the Albanians in the summer



That leaves mummy who is now producing milk for two neither of whom (for different reasons) are getting access to it. And that is where Stavroula and I entered the picture.  Modestly, I say that I am getting the hang of it. I think I need a few more lessons to produce milk as well as Stavroula but as the video below shows the milk was flowing. You can hear it hitting the container quite clearly. I really did feel quite triumphant after lesson two

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

1859 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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A Money Making Idea based on Cats & my nervous Mrs - Luxurycathotel.com Ltd

1859 days ago

The Mrs booked our two cats, Tara and Oakley, into what seemed like a nice cat hostel before we left. We were told about how they would share a chalet and be well looked after and it would cost £15 a day. I shall not name the hostelry but suffice to say that they neglected to mention that it was VAT on top and then compulsory insurance (60p per day per cat) and then VAT on that. Oh and they charge for the day of drop off and the day of collection as well. 

For providing a basic cell and 2 bowls of food a day per cat this is money for old rope. Okay the concentration camp has now had to take two calls in six days from the Mrs worrying if her “puddings” are alright. The Gauleiter says that they are and braces herself for another call next week.

But this makes me think that there is a great business opportunity out there. The most shared images on twitter and facebook are …cats. So how about this as a business plan?

I set up a cat hotel which offers not the thin prison blankets that poor Tara and Oakley were provided with before the Mrs intervened (the darlings are used to a duvet after all) but luxury rugs. We offer twice the space of a conventional hotel and all day heating not just at night-time. And we also fix a webcam in each luxury en-suite facility. And then we stream the pictures over the internet with different streams for each luxury enclosure. The owners would be told which stream their cats were on and perhaps for owners there could be a secure log in allowing them to talk to their cats on Skype? For folks like my Mrs this would be a great reassurance.

The general public would not have the Skype facility but for folks like Mu (the normal cat sitter for Oakley and Tara) this would be a dream website where they could drool over cats all day. The traffic would be enormous and I am sure that Iams, Whiskas, Pet Insurers etc. would be paying a fortune for advertising. It’s a win win, the Mrs would not bleat about paying £19.34 (inc VAT) per day for such a luxury facility and so we could make 90% gross margins at that end, while we would coin it in at the other end from our web-presence?

I have seen dafter propositions secure EIS funding, what do you all reckon, shall we band together to launch Luxurycathotel.com Ltd?

Tom Winnifrith

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The Great appeal of Greek pop music - not understanding a word

1867 days ago

In a couple of days I shall be on the road again, picking up the Mrs at Athens airport and heading off to the Mani. It is three hours to Athens, an hour to get lost in the City and then five more to the Mani. The Mrs will, no doubt bring CDs so for the last five hours it will be a mix of Nashville with the odd George Michael track (her choice not mine). But until we meet up I will listen to the radio as I love Greek pop.

The beat and some of the strains clearly have a Turkish influence (I hope no-one here is reading this) but there are also very European themes and so I am a big fan. Perhaps that is in part because I do not understand very much of what is being sung.

With English pop I know that 99% of the lyrics are inane piffle. With Greek pop I am sure that the same is true but I can kid myself that the pained lyrics are about the struggles of the War of Independence, the misery of 58% youth unemployment or the tragedy that has been joining the Euro. I know I kid myself but it makes for great listening. Sadly as I start to learn Greek the cost will be that I can no longer kid myself.

The track below from the High Queen of Greek pop Despina Vandi was one that the Mrs and I had on our wedding play list last year.

Tom Winnifrith

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This year’s EIS Investment is….Chateau Civrac

1871 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/4859/this-year-s-eis-investment-is-chateau-civrac

Tom Winnifrith

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Farewell to Bristol for a Month

1877 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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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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What to Get the Mrs for her Birthday? Any Ideas? Help!

1880 days ago

I am useless at this present thing. The Mrs has a round number birthday on Thursday and one small gift (a book) has already been ordered but I sense that I need to do a bit more. I have a few ideas but would rather not balls this up completely. As such, all sensible suggestions much appreciated.

Jewellery? So far in our life together this has been my stock in trade at Christmas and I have guessed well – she actually wears what I have given her. But I think I will be trying my luck if I go down this path again. The complete works of Ayn Rand to help move her to a more enlightened plane? A good idea but sadly they are already resident on our bookshelves.

In fact we have more than enough books to last a lifetime. Clothes? Men always get that wrong and I am too much a Real Man and not enough of a meterosexual to even contemplate that idea. All in all, I am pretty stumped.

HELP!
 

Tom Winnifrith

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Pizza & Beer with Matt Lofgran of Nostra Terra – my thoughts

1880 days ago

http://www.shareprophets.advfn.com/views/4707/pizza-beer-with-matt-lofgran-of-nostra-terra-my-thoughts

Tom Winnifrith

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Yippee – My Passport is Here: Greece beckons

1884 days ago

I was starting to panic. My journey to Greece starts next Wednesday when I leave Bristol and until this morning the passport I ordered a few weeks ago had not arrived. Worse still, when I used the Passport Office auto-tracking forms it appeared that our friends in Cardiff had no record of me at all. But the panic is over, a brand new passport has arrived, with no record of my visits to Israel or the USA and so I could now go to Kurdistan to meet Gulf Keystone (GKP) if I wanted to. I don’t.

And so in a week’s time I must kiss goodbye to the cats and head to London. The Mrs joins me on the 3rd for her birthday. Naturally I shall not reveal which birthday it is. But your clues are that it is a round number, she is younger than me and although I thought she was in her late twenties when she first chatted me up by showing me an interesting article in the Guardian, she appears younger than she is.

Then it is UK Investor Show on the 5th, a hangover on the 6th (and a day with the in-laws who are coming to London for the show), supper with Matt Suttcliffe on the 7th, a hangover on the 8th and on the 9th it is off to my beloved Hellas for three and a half weeks of walking, writing and searching for the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane. And if it is goat milking season I shall naturally be having another go at that too.

I cannot wait. Does anyone know if it is goat milking season or not?

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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Why I detest St Patrick’s Day

1893 days ago

On Saturday I wore my London Irish shirt from my playing days, I suffered for 95 minutes which seemed like an eternity and I thanked God for agreeing to my suggestion that West Ham lose but Ireland triumph. Today I am asked to celebrate St Patrick’s Day but I will not do so.

For this day is a day when the whole world becomes Irish, hundreds of thousands don ghastly fake leprechaun hats and everyone gets drunk. By midnight the streets of Britain will be littered with discarded fake leprechaun hats, piles of vomit and folks collapsed on the street singing Swing Low Sweet Chariots as they remember who they really are. St Patrick would no doubt be truly honoured.

Party of my Irish ancestry comes from the Mathew family who were great temperance campaigners. The last of the line (named after its founder) died of an alcohol related illness some years ago.  I cannot say that I am a man of temperance, quite the opposite.

But as it happens I have made an agreement with my three legged cat Oakley. The vet suggests that, especially has he only has three legs with which to support his body mass, he is a little plump. In fact I think the word she used was obese. So Oakley is on the low fat Iams and is being forced to take some exercise. In sympathy I have been off the sauce since Friday and am also on a Spartan diet. The Mrs reckons, not unfairly, that I could do with losing a few pounds and so Oakley and I are suffering together. As such I have enjoyed three days of complete sobriety which is all rather a shock to the system.

I digress. The wholly commercial exercise that is St Patrick’s Day is not something I shall take part in. On any other day of the year I’ll happily sink a pint of Guinness at the drop of a hat. But today, I will as I now do every year, give the whole thing a complete miss. 

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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The Mrs Catnaps my cats who are now officially Indian

1902 days ago

My poor cats, they must be getting culturally confused. Tara & Oakley were born in the Isle of Man although like 99% of Manx Cats they have full tails. Rescued by me from the MSPCA they then came over to England with me but having to watch me heaping abuse on England whenever the rugby is on. So are we Irish daddy?

Of course on Sunday they will suffer extra confusion as this household stands shoulder to shoulder with our Celtic brothers in Wales. Come on the sheep shaggers please put the old enemy to the sword. Humiliate them!

But the confusion gets worse for in taking them to a new vet for their booster jabs the Mrs made the appointment. Being a deluded lefty, the Mrs is not Mrs Winnifrith but has retained her own (Indian) surname. What say you? Political correctness gone mad?

As such the cats have come back with a form showing that they too now have an Indian surname. Born Manx, naturalised English, adopted Anglo Irish and now finally Indian. Such is the melting pot that is Britain today but it is understandable if Tara and Oakley are this morning feeling a little culturally confused.

Incidentally the vet said both cats were in great nick although Oakley (the one with three legs) was a little on the plump side and could do with a bit more exercise. Plus ca change on that front.

Tom Winnifrith

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11,601 on Word Mole – a new Personal Best

1905 days ago

The Mrs, Personal Best on Word Mole c2,000, reckons that I waste away my life playing this word game on my blackberry. I like to think that having a command of the English language assists in some way although I must confess that I should have spent the train time between Didcot Parkway and Chippenham penning a piece on a company meeting ( Leyshon Energy) from today.

Instead using my normal banker words “stranglers – 88 points” “stringers – 73 points”  and “stranded – 73 points” I battled through to level 37 and a new PB of 11,601. If you do not know this game this will all be gibberish to you. In fact it is all gibberish and the Mrs is spot on with her analysis. But I mark my achievement in wasting my life with a new Word Mole PB none the less.

Tom Winnifrith

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Finally My Interview at the Conservative Club is … tomorrow

1911 days ago

Having told the local Conservative Club that St Valentine’s Day at 8 PM was not such a good time for an interview, I am now set to meet the committee tomorrow night for my interview. The Mrs, the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty, has been warned that I shall be popping out and may be some time.

With snow looming I sense that the idea of gaining access to a hostelry where (I gather) the internet now works, where booze is cheap and which is not a long trek down a big hill, is growing on her. If I pass she will be able to pop in as my guest, seven times a quarter without having to join and sully her ideological principles. The snow is looming.

And so tonight I must find suitable attire (a shirt with a collar of sorts) and brush up on why I believe in Conservative Principles….I guess if I read Call Me Dave’s recent speeches and then say the opposite I should be a shoe in.

Tom Winnifrith

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The final journey for Kitosh (my old cat)

1925 days ago

Kitosh came to me as a kitten and had a varied life in Islington, Shoreditch, France and finally in the Isle of Man. I remember well the Paris to Douglas train, taxi, train, train, ferry and taxi journey we made together. His sudden death in Douglas a few years ago was a real blow. His ashes have travelled with me since then but have remained for almost two years in a wooden urn hidden at Real Man Pizza in Clerkenwell. Now his final journey begins.

Born on a council estate in Walthamstow he would not have imagined that he would have been so well travelled. But the travelling is now over.

Now that I have a sense of permanence, the Mrs and I have agreed that Kitosh’s urn can be buried in our garden underneath the fig tree. We are not sentimental enough to contemplate some grand ceremony. It will just be the Mrs watching as I dig a deep hole and in goes the urn. The tree marks the spot.

During some years of upheaval for me Kitosh was the one constant in my life and a portrait of him already hangs in the new house as a reminder of that. I am not sure the Mrs is that impressed but she has let it go.  So this weekend it is the final farewell, RIP Kitosh my good friend.

Tom Winnifrith

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Filling in the Tax Returns – who is my Guardian Angel?

1939 days ago

Cripes I have been dreading this. Not because I owe money. I reckon I am actually owed a few quid. The Mrs reckons the same. So this morning we are both sitting at computers and off we go.

The Mrs asks how to spell my middle name? Z –A-C-C-H-A-E-U-S – easy? She thinks she can claim a married couples allowance but I point out that we got married in September and this refers to the year ended April 5. To think that her father is an accountant. As it happens Zacchaeus was himself a tax collector from Jerichi. It was also the name of the first of my ancestors to move over to Ireland in the 1600s.

Sadly I fare no better having lost my Unique Tax Reference number. So I call and after navigating a voice recognition system I get through to a lovely lady from the HMRC who says that someone has already submitted a paper return for me. Who? Who cares? I am off the hook. But she will send me a copy so I can check the sums and hopefully claim back a few quid. 

What a result. A task dreaded is done thanks to my mystery guardian angel.

Tom Winnifrith

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New Nickname for my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley

1939 days ago

Of course Oakley will always be Oakley and later this week we look forward to the installation of a dog flap which allow the obese but adorable creature to venture outside without us opening a door. Currently he can get no more than his head through the cat flap. 

The Mrs has fallen in love with Oakley and has started calling him “Darling”. That used to be my name! As an alternative she is calling him “Pudding” which given that she is from the Grim North must be a reference to something that comes in a large portion and is very thick. 

My own recently  coined nickname is “Benefits Street” on the basis that Oakley spends the whole day in bed, will occasionally do a mess on the carpet because he thinks he has rights without responsibilities, while now and again popping downstairs to demand an extra-large hand-out from the Food Bank.

Tom Winnifrith

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Weekly video postcard #55 - the Evil of the Growth of Food banks and the poverty myth

1948 days ago

The weekly video postcard this week looks at food banks where Edwina Currie is getting it in the neck for making a perfectly valid observation. Indeed the mammoth growth of food banks is based on a lie and spawns more lies – this goes to the heart of the austerity & welfare debate.

Colleagues of the Mrs don’t get it  but this video explains why food banks are an unnecessary evil.

My weekly financial video postcard covers shareholder activism on the AIM Cesspit, Silverdell, Mark Slater, pliant fund managers, Paul Scott and much more and can be viewed here.

Tom Winnifrith

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Playing Mad Lefty Bingo as the Mrs Launches her Book

1951 days ago

The launch of Globalisation & Work, the fantastic new book co-written by the Mrs was a one day event attracted sociologists from across the UK. At the suggestion of the Mrs I turned up for the last hour only and wandered in and the third word I heard was “patriarchy.”

At once I cursed myself for not bringing an official Mad Lefty Bingo scorecard for the assembled sociologists were on fire. Within a few minutes I would also have been able to cross off

Thatcher!  (as in to blame for everything)
Racist ( UKIP, The Tory Party, The Daily Mail)
Fascist ( UKIP)
Racism ( what white folks do)
The Daily Mail (whipping up racism, to blame for everything that was not Thatcher’s fault)
Carers (folks who need to be paid more)
Public Sector workers (folks who need to be paid more)
Gideon (the lefty way of describing Chancellor Osborne)
The Occupy Movement ( cannot put a foot wrong…the future)
Austerity ( no need for it all the fault of…)
“The Fucking Tories” ( inherently evil)
Ed Miliband (a term of abuse for someone deemed very right wing)
Trades Unions ( needed to protect workers who are inherently….)
Exploited ( what capitalist, Tories, etc like doing)
Marxist Analysis ( still taught by sociologists even though history has shown that the old fool was just plain wrong and thus they might as well be teaching that the Earth is flat for all the good it does)
Bourgeois ( see above)
Minimum wage ( far too low and the Tory plans to increase it are all a trick)
Discourse ( not sure what that means but the word is always used by lefties).
Workers charter (a document making demands that will doom capitalism – hence a good idea)
Capitalism – wicked. Needs controlling/reforming/replacing with a better way
Workers Co-operatives – a good thing that these (State funded) folks should encourage.

I had a long chat with a colleague of my wife who seemed afraid that Wal-Mart was on the verge of establishing a global monopoly on retail but otherwise was a pretty sane (and very pleasant) individual.  I sense that had I talked to some of the delegates I would not have been able to bite my lip.

At the end the chair/facilitator/chairwoman asked for questions. This provoked a raft of rants from the comrades. I was tempted to ask a woman who said “we need to show the alternative to austerity” why she thought there was an alternative to Britain not accelerating into bankruptcy but looking at my Mrs who was clearly the star of the day I decided that silence was the best option.

In case any sociologists are reading this I do have one question for you all. Economics, politics or political philosophy are seen as academic disciplines partly because there is a genuine ideological debate amongst practitioners. My economics tutor Roger Van Noorden was an arch monetarist, other tutors were Keynesians. There was a debate.  Two of the philosophy tutors I had were respectively a Marxist and a supporter of the SDP but we were encouraged to read conservative tracts as well. The idea was that there was debate.

Yet in sociology there is virtually no debate. A Conservative sociologist is a rare species indeed. The debate about capitalism is thus framed as “how do you reform it or replace it” not whether capitalism could be improved by being less interfered with. That is just not debate at all.  My question for any sociologists reading this is “if the only debate in your field is on how much of a leftie you are – how do you expect to be taken seriously as an academic discipline since you are. By definition, giving your students an imbalanced world view or do you just take it as a given that neo-liberal, conservative, capitalist thinkers are just wrong?”

Tom Winnifrith

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A Three Legged Cat with very little brain makes his bid for freedom

1952 days ago

I stumble out of bed at 5.30 determined to sub more of Zak Mir’s book before the markets opened. But I have an excuse, the back door is open and whilst one cat (Tara) is sitting there waiting for breakfast, my aged three legged cat Oakley is nowhere to be seen. Aha…hunt for Oakley and I can defer the torture of subbing Zak’s book – great news.

I stroll out into the garden and hear wailing from next door. Peering over the wall I see that, somehow, a hugely overweight cat with three legs has managed to make it over. But he appears unable to attempt the return journey and is just wailing.  But it is 5.35 and our neighbours do not strike me as early risers. Indeed by 7.15 when the Mrs emerges to cook my breakfast there is still no light on at Number 58.

But then there is a wailing from outside the back door. It is Oakley. After God knows how many hours he has managed to remember how he got over the wall in the first place and has returned.  Since he is far too obese to fit through the cat flap (we are buying a dog flap this weekend) he now demands to be let in.  The Mrs, who loves Oakley more than she loves me, enjoys a tearful reunion with possibly the stupidest cat in South West England.

Drama over. Now to Zak’s book. 

Tom Winnifrith

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Happy Birthday to Me – Closer to 50 than 40 as of today

1957 days ago

An early birthday present from Carlton Cole and Mark Noble sees West Ham out of the relegation zone but that will not change the fact that I am today 46, closer to 50 than 40. 

I did not expect to be spending this Birthday living in Bristol, married to a Guardian reading Sociology Senior Lecturer or less than 18 months into running a new business. Life is full of surprises.

I have now been working for 25 years and in the old days would now be just 19 years from retirement. For the Mrs – who did a Post Grad - the figures are 16 and 26. So Maybe I shall call it a day at 58 and live off the State (via the Mrs).  I suspect not, work is too much fun. 

My father’s generation expected to retire at 65. My generation? It might be 58 it might be never. The one thing we do know is that it is not an automatic gold watch at 65.

For me a picnic at Chew lake looms followed by a walk with the Mrs and Uncle Chris Booker.. and then back to subbing Zak Mir’s new book. Happy Birthday indeed.

Tom Winnifrith

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The Mrs & Her Book Launch – the writing is on the wall.

1961 days ago

“Do you want to come to my book launch?”  Said the Mrs yesterday – “It is a week on Friday.” “Wow, of course I do” said I, aware that a book she had co-authored had been published but unaware that there was a full launch with free booze and food on offer. But naturally I am very proud of her for being published.


The Mrs insists that partners are invited but has suggested that I take a laptop in case it all gets a bit too much for me and I have to head off to a quiet room. She is, of course, absolutely right. The title of the book (an impressive tome) is Globalization and Work. I looked inside and spotted an early chapter on “Racism experienced by Indian call centre workers”. Hmmm, get the R word in early. I note that one of her co-authors is a Professor of “Women’s Employment.” I think I get the picture.
 

I rather sense that I will be the only libertarian capitalist present at this launch and that the correct strategy is to say hello as a supportive partner (partner, not husband since I appreciate that is a term associated with patriarchal exploitation) and then make my excuses and head off to tap out a few words of anarcho-capitalism. It is wiser to leave, undisturbed, the other guests to discuss the exciting leader article on how it was all Thatcher’s fault penned by Polly Toynbee in that day’s edition of The Guardian.

Tom Winnifrith

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16,089 words of Torture lie ahead thanks to Zak Mir

1964 days ago

Yes, I am sub-editing a book by Zak Mir. My good friend is a top technical analyst but his Harrovian education has left him not quite semi-literate for that would be an insult to the semi-literate, but with what one might term a unique style.

Zak does to the English language on a daily basis what Call Me Dave has done to the Idea of governing with basic Tory principles. He twists, distorts, invents and produces something with only a fleeting resemblance to the original.

However I have enjoyed ten years of translating, ooops I meant editing, Zak’s prose. I know that trying to sub a whole Zak book did drive my friend Contra Coffee Man Stephen Eckett to the brink of insanity a couple of years ago, but if anyone can do it, it is me. A fine book is on the way.

Naturally I am procrastinating like hell. So I am writing this piece. The Mrs has offered me the opportunity to do some tidying and to cook supper and do all the washing up as well as empty the cats’ litter tray. “No problems my dearest.” I know the alternative.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Bracing New Year’s Day Walk with the Mrs at Chew Lake

1967 days ago

The last time we drove out to the reservoir at Chew Magna it was a placid little puddle nestling in the Somerset hills – barely a ripple on its surface. So it was an idea place for a bracing New Year’s Day walk we thought. Okay there is a bit of wind and rain but we are hardy folk.

I think that the rain beating down on the windshield so that you could see barely twenty yards ahead should have been a clue. As we arrived all the ducks and seagulls were huddling looking rather cold behind a wall well off the water. That should have been another hint for the Mrs and I. 

The wind was so strong that this small reservoir suddenly looked like the North Sea. Swollen by the recent rains the waves were crashing on the dam and rolling well past the normal waterline. The water fir thirty yards closes to shore was a sandy brown as the waves tore away at the land and tress that had mistakenly planted themselves within reach. 

We tried to go for a brief walk. I was thinking “Cannot I suggest we go home for a bit of mindless TV?” but was not prepared to blink first and concede that I was too much of a wimp for the “bracing walk” that we had carefully planned. 

So I soldiered on. At one point the wind was so fierce and drove rain straight into our faces so bitterly that we simply had to stand there with our backs to the gale. At that point the Mrs blinked and suggested we go home to watch some mindless TV. I conceded that I was of a similar mind.

All this global warming...I blame Thatcher.

 

Tom Winnifrith

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Owen Jones in my Christmas Stocking – eeeek

1970 days ago

Santa (aka the Mrs, formerly known as the Deluded Lefty) included in my stocking a book called “Chavs” by Owen Jones. The Mrs was not fully aware of quite how loathsome Mr Jones is but surely the fact that at the top of the back cover is a quote from Guardian Harridan Polly Toynbee about how wonderful this book is must have been a giveaway.


Toynbee is, as you know, wrong about everything – the Toynbee Rule.

And so the book is dreadful. Mr Jones seems to think that quoting the opinion of some frightful lefty establishes what that frightful lefty believes as a matter of fact. That is even when it has been shown that the factual evidence shows that the views of the frightful lefty in question are just not borne out by hard reality.

I can understand when the students of the Mrs (studying sociology at a former Poly) cite the author of the Spirit Level to demonstrate the “fact” that inequality of wealth causes unhappiness all round. They are just 19 and are not a self-proclaimed one-person think tank for the Left. But when Owen Jones makes the same sort of claim you wonder what fuckwit offered to publish his book? Surely it would have been cheaper to have bought a few essays from her students off the Mrs and republished them?

Jones purports to show how the Middle Classes demonise all working class folks as chavs. His solutions to this perceived problem are, needless to say, big state and redistributionist.  I rather sense that the world have moved on.

Those members of the working class who actually work would rather pay less tax and want to get on in life. The Middle Class does not despise them at all. But do we despise the feckless welfare-addicted portions of society posing as the “oppressed and despised working class?” We sure do. And what’s more the real working class despises them too. 

And in the despisers camp we also despise Middle Class lefties like Master Jones who want to punish us for our hard work to reward the feckless and suggest that our reluctance to go along with the plans is driven by class hatred. Especially when their manifesto is such patent, wining teenage, incoherent tosh.

Tom Winnifrith

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Friday Caption Contest on a Sunday Edition: The Conservative Club

1978 days ago

I am yet to enjoy my formal interview at the local Conservative Club or indeed to find out whether they have fixed the Wi-Fi yet. But with snow forecast the Mrs may well have to grit her teeth again and visit the only boozer which is not down at the bottom of a slippery big hill.

The Mrs is convinced that the blue lights now in the windows of the Club (pictured below) are some sort of political statement. As a BBC watching Guardian reader she might have forgotten that Christmas was on its way. If course she has not! Only kidding.

My father (a deluded lefty) has already decided that faced with cheap beer and a short walk or expensive beer and a long walk he is quite willing to throw principle to the wind when visiting. But then if you have spent the past few years drinking at the White Bear with David Mills (Silvio Berlusconi’s friend and once again Tessa Jowell’s husband now that the old bag is quitting front line politics) you will drink with anybody.

Anyhow, are there any suitable captions for the picture of “my club” below

My effort is:

The Mrs and her Guardian reading friends take a right turn and are horrified to find themselves in the same room as……members of the working classes

Post your captions in the comments section below by next weekend. Jon Pickles, I bet you cannot get Prince Harry into this one!

Last week I asked for captions to this picture


And the joint winners are:


HappyTrucker::Can the members of the House of Commons please bring their pay rise back to mid ship please.

And, with one that stockmarket anoraks like me can really appreciate:

Marab (Bulletin Board genius of the year): It's never too late for a SEDA


Merry Christmas to all Caption Contest devotees

Tom Winnifrith

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Houston. I think I have a problem – The Independent is too right wing?

1985 days ago

As I tap away in a local hostelry, the Mrs is sitting opposite me reading the Independent on Sunday. This really is a minority taste but I suppose someone has to. I know that I would struggle to manage more than five minutes of imbibing the Indescribablyboring’s diet of anti-capitalist, Israel hating, politically correct bilge. But…

The Mrs has just piped up that she thinks that it is too right wing…I am trying to contain my sense of disbelief. She might as well have said that Elvis Presley was sitting on the table behind me. Be calm... after lunch we head to the Conservative Club where I suspect the Indy is not on offer behind the bar.

Tom Winnifrith

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A Problem with the Conservative Club

1985 days ago

I have yet to have my formal interview with the local Conservative Club which I joined last weekend while the Mrs (the woman formerly known as the Deluded Lefty) was away.  But I remain confident that, unlike Call Me Dave, I can say honestly that I believe in low taxes, law and order, individual responsibility, a Small state, fiscal responsibility, etc. and will walk the quiz. And so as I strolled in tonight I was welcomed with open arms. Clearly word has spread.

As you, dear readers, know, my primary motivation for joining is cheap booze and free Wi-Fi. And so as I started on a £4 very large glass of red I tied to log on. Er…oh. It failed to work.

Asking for assistance it dawned on me why word of my application had spread so quickly. I sense that I am the only new applicant since 1960. The median age was at least 70. And no-one had a Scooby about the Wi-Fi. I have thus retreated to “Grounded.” Where the win is better but far more expensive. The music has changed from Perry Como to modern young people’s music which also passes me by but where the Wi-Fi works perfectly.

Is there anywhere in this part of Bristol which plays the sort of music that 45 year old me are interested in?

Has this dimmed my enthusiasm for the Conservative club? In no way. We should have internet access at home by next weekend and perhaps I shall mention the Wi-Fi issue at my membership interview. It would after all be a way of attracting other relatively “young Conservatives” such as myself. But you cannot argue with cheap booze and enormous snooker tables 250 yards from the front door can you? 

Tom Winnifrith

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Cheap booze at the local Conservative Club…sign me up at once (and what my Lefty Mrs said)

1991 days ago

Still with no internet at the new house of the Mrs, I spent the whole of Sunday working in what I thought was the local hostelry in our new Neighbourhood. At ten o’clock I started wandering home and as I reached the top of the quite steep hill and about two thirds of the way back I started wondering how I will cope with this trek in the snow. But then I saw a bright light burning across the road. It called me towards it….

In a rather tired looking Victorian building there it was. The Conservative Club. With the Mrs away I thought “why not?” and buzzed my way inside. This place is less than 250 yards from my front door with no hills involved. It has Wi-Fi (although the barman did not seem to know what Wi-Fi was all about), snooker and pool tables and very, very cheap booze indeed.

It was just £5 to join and £16 a year to be a member (an extra fiver in the unlikely event of the Mrs, the woman formerly known as the Deluded Lefty, deciding to join as well). I rapidly worked out that at £2a pint/glass of wine I will get my money back very quickly indeed. All I needed was a proposer and seconder who had known me for 5 years and an understanding that I supported the principles of the Conservative party.

Hmmmmmm, low taxes, a small state, putting your country’s interests first, do not like crime. I reckon I can sign up to that agenda although Call Me Dave would probably have to tell a few lies to get in. As for my proposer and seconder?  The man standing next to the bar said “You don’t support Bristol City do you?” I would have thought that my West Ham hoodie was a bit of a give-away on that matter but I said truthfully that I did not. On the spot my new Bristol Rovers supporting friend attested that he had known me for 25 years as did the barman.

Apparently I have to pass an interview in a couple of weeks at which I will attest to supporting Tory principles and stay schtum about my less than supportive views on the sorry buffoons who have run the Party since Lady Thatcher. I will have the dress code explained to me (no Bristol City tops) and also the rules about guests (I can bring the Mrs seven times a quarter but she is not allowed to expand on her lefty views) and then I will get my very own door fob as I am officially in.

Postscript.

I have now confessed to the Mrs in a text message. Much to my surprise she too has considered the issue of getting down the hill in the snow and the offer of cheap booze and Wi-Fi is something that she too finds instinctively appealing. So she is not cross with me at all for signing up with the wicked Tories and, since she too has never supported Bristol City, she is now seriously considering splashing out a fiver to make it a joint membership.  If Call Me Dave can pretend to be a Tory and get away with it for so long why can’t she?

Her journey to intellectual salvation starts with this pragmatic step.

Tom Winnifrith

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Stranglers, Randy Strippers, and Smutty Sluts and a new Word Mole High Score

1992 days ago

The Mrs is away on a taxpayer funded jolly (I meant to say important work trip to Asia) and so I am not being berated for wasting time on my blackberry game, Word Mole. I mentioned this before when I discovered that PC word mole would not allow the word Zionist.

And so as I kill time before heading off to the pub and an internet connection I have just recorded my new all-time high score (10,608 if you are an aficionado) on this appalling game. I am not sure where that leaves me in the UK’s top Word Mole players but it has been hard work getting to such a level – the Mrs has a best score of just over 1,000 but she has not submitted herself to a dedicated training regime as I have done.

I am not sure what it says about me but my banker word is “stranglers” to start many rounds – that is 80 points. Strippers appears quite often (70 points). When I am bored on the easy rounds there is a tendency to slip in a quick “randy” (35 points) or “sluts” (35 points) or to try to push the boundaries of what this pretty PC game will allow in terms of smutty (48 points) vocab.

I am not sure that the prudes at Google will approve of this article either. Probably yet another black mark for this site. It is 11.34 and as Malcolm Stacey would say “The Punter’s Return is open but will not be serving any stranglers, randy strippers or smutty sluts today.”

Tom Winnifrith

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Into the new grown up house – it happened so fast

1992 days ago

Just like clockwork the exchange happened at midday on Friday. The little men had cleared out the flat in the poshest bit of Bristol which the Mrs had lived in since her postgraduate days and we set off to a rather less fashionable neighbourhood, where the sale proceeds have been re-invested in a lovely Edwardian house.

Okay, we are living out of packing boxes right now. But the space is enormous. The kitchen here is almost the size of the old flat. We have a garden with a vine which produces grapes which make wine – the former owners have left us one bottle from the 2012 harvest warning that it tastes appalling.

I managed to find the place alright driving back by car on my own at 1 AM this morning bringing with me the first six boxes of my books. The rest of my stuff will arrive in ten days time and then two households will be formally merged.

There are frustrations like having no Internet and thus also no TV for another ten days. And so I missed the X-factor last night and also Foyle. And I shall be forced to head off to “Grounded” later to spend the day working on-line drinking lattes (er... Rioja). There are, I suppose, greater hardships in life. For now I tap away producing the content that I shall upload in a splurge later.

The neighbours seem to be a solid enough bunch. It is what is described as an up and coming area. That means that more than half of the houses are now owned by new middle class incomers. The remainder are owned by the old white working classes of Bristol - the sort of folks who delight in displaying an array of flashing lights and the odd masturbating Santa Claus outside their house at this time of year. 

But one senses that as each year goes by there will be a touch fewer masturbating Santas and a few more folks who have organic food delivered to their doors.

As I wonder up the street clutching a laptop and lead but wearing a West Ham hoodie I wonder how they view my arrival in terms of the social demographic?

Tom Winnifrith

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