Friday, 29 May 2009

May you live in interesting times.....

Let’s scatter some monkeys!
The Chinese know a thing or two about proverbs. I thought it might be nice to look at some of them, especially the three curses that begin with:
“May you live in interesting times”
The world is run by criminals. The criminal warmongering and war profiting usurious luciferian baby murdering elite masters that exercise their evil control over the politicians and lawmakers of the world , and those puppet politicians ,their servants or slaves, that are busy fulfilling their program of driving us to the Apocalypse and to the mass control matrix of the fifth Reich.
That they are criminals is unarguable. A review might be worthwhile, if only to remind us:
No1: Top of the list must go to mass murder. The British and American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, over 1.3 million dead and many more leading blighted lives as refugees. Any thinking person will acknowledge that the events of 9/11 (c.3,000 dead), even if not a “false flag” operation (the “new Pearl Harbour“ called for by PNAC), by simple mathematics have been more than avenged. And yet they persist, and the spread is about to widen into Pakistan, Iran and probably from there to the entire globe, repeating the blood fest of the first two global wars-but with a far more dangerous arsenal.
May you live in interesting times.
No2: Must go to “FEAR”. Right across the globe the elite and their greedy and pathetic political puppets waste no opportunity to induce fear in the public. Fear of terrorists, fear of global pandemic, fear of economic catastrophe, fear of global warming, fear of terminal illnesses, fear of global nuclear war, the list goes on. Like rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut, the sheeple mentally freeze. They’ll agree to anything if they are given something to fear. The loss of civil liberties won over millennia of struggle by our forefathers which now make it almost impossible to publicly protest about governments and the people that run them. The “War on Terror”, that fabulous invisible enemy , giving “just cause” to genocide and baby murder. The list goes on and on. Be afraid, be very afraid, it helps them get what they want.
May you live in interesting times.
No 3: Straight theft, but on a grand scale. I’m still amazed at the numbers of people that do not understand that the global banking system is owned by a few elite bloodline families and that most governments do not issue their own money but borrow it from these blood sucking usurers. They have achieved this state of affairs after many ,many years of plotting, blackmail, murder and political chicanery. Today, every child born in the UK owes them £30,000 the day they are born as a share of the national debt. A child’s birth certificate records that child as an asset of the UK Corporation and the child immediately assumes responsibility for the debt. Just how long do you think it took the elite blood suckers to get that system into place? This world domination business is a long, long game. The recent bank bailouts saw governments the world over borrowing money off the banksters to pay to the banksters in the greatest fraudulent robbery of all time. It’s as if they had broken into your house and taken $50,000 from a shoebox under your bed, then woken you up and told you not to object because it will be good for you in the long run. And guess what? Most people believe it.
May you live in interesting times.
I could go on and on. Torture. Kidnapping and holding against the will. Rape. Poisoning. Blackmail. Drug running on a grand scale. On and on Ad Nauseam.
We truly do live in interesting times, and my guess is we ain’t seen nothing yet.
“May you come to the attention of those in authority”
The second of this increasingly ominous set of curses has already happened to me, for writing this, and to you, for reading it. It is almost impossible these days for anyone who objects in any way to the genocidal thieves that run the world and their lackies and lickspittles in the police, the security services, the civil services and any of a thousand more busybody apparatchik organisations to avoid their intense watchfulness.
You now live in a society where, without warrant or due cause, your movements are monitored all day every day. Your telephone calls and emails are monitored and recorded. You will soon be required to carry and show upon request identification that carries biometric information about you. If you come into contact with the police, your DNA will be taken and stored. There is no way you can avoid their watchfulness.
“May you come to the attention of those in authority”
Sold to the “sheeple” with the “it’s for your protection and safety” lie, defended by the foolish with their “if you’ve done nothing wrong, there’s nothing to fear” claptrap, this ever more pervasive web of control has a purpose. Those that rule us are frightened that sooner or later they will be found out and objected to. They fear that they will be arrested, tried and hung for their crimes. They fear that their illegally acquired masses of wealth will be taken from them. Most of all they fear losing the control they have enjoyed for probably millennia.
Like all predators, what they fear most is that the herd will turn and crush them. This fear drives them to ever increase their instruments of control and to ally and co-opt more and more servants to their evil empire, people who share their guilt and are accomplices to their “common purpose”. Witness the poor greedy thieves in the British Houses of Parliament, working diligently for the great force of evil that spans the world for a few grubby fiddles, sharing the guilt, dipping their snouts in the trough for a few thousand pounds and a fat pension for life, a trough full to the brim with the blood of the dead babies of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Witness the coppers beating protestors, increasingly aware that they can do anything they like to you, even arrest you without charge and imprison you as a terrorist without evidence. Or get you carried away by MI 5 or the CIA to be tortured and buggered until you die. If it wasn’t true, one would think it was some sort of sick joke.
“May you come to the attention of those in authority”
Unfortunately, history teaches us that there is never a shortage of recruits to organisations like the SS. Never a shortage of volunteers to be camp guards at the Belsens and Auschwitzes of history, never a shortage of neighbours willing to spy on neighbours. All power corrupts, even the pettiest and most small minded.
“May you find what you are looking for”
The culmination of the three curses doesn’t sound that bad, does it? I often used to say to people “be careful of what you REALLY want, because that’s exactly what you’ll get”.
Same thing, different words. The reason the last curse is such a frightening prospect is because the author, whoever that was, had a deep understanding of the sheeple, of most people. What most people really want is a life free of fear. Can you imagine a life free of fear? Most of us live in a state of being overwhelmed by fear: money worries, job worries, health worries, relationship worries, fear of terrorism, identity theft, mugging, robbery, war, biological warfare, breasts or penises too small, bum too big the list is endless. The media do everything they possibly can to reinforce these fears, constantly barraging us with stories that reinforce our fears and sense of inadequacy. It’s as if the people in charge of the media understand that if we aren’t constantly worried, we might start to think for ourselves and make the world a completely different and better place. And of course, that’s exactly what they do understand.
So why is “may you find what you are looking for” so bad? Simply because most people’s fears are in direct response to the frightening things created by the bastards that run things, and the escape route offered to them (ie what they want) is always offered by those same bastards, and is the very thing the elite wanted in the first place. It’s the Hegelian dialectic: problem- reaction- solution. The maker of the problem is also the provider of the solution we are instructed by the press and media to want, and the solution is always a terrible, terrible thing. Ask an Iraqi mother.
There’s one more Chinese proverb I really like:
“When a tree falls, the monkeys scatter”.
The tree is about to fall. The elite have gone too far. The apocalypse (the “lifting of the veil” in Greek) is happening right now. They won’t go without a struggle. They won’t go without trying to inflict a vindictive harm upon us for daring to challenge them. Many of us will hurt. Many will be lost. But the future will be ours, brothers and sisters of the human race.
Let’s make those monkeys scatter.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Path to Glory

Olive Farmer is an occupation, not a name. I use it as my nom de plume because for the first time in my life I have found peace and joy in work. The peace and joy come from the communion with nature, the beauty of the wholeness of creation, the satisfying tiredness after a day’s labour, the inspiring panorama, from the essence of life exuded by the trees which we are care-taking. Three hundred years old, two of which we have served.
The olive has become a symbol of peace and love, of reconciliation and salvation. It gives food and glorious life enhancing oil to man, growing in the most arid and inhospitable environments to give life and vitality to the landscape and all life forms that benefit from its venerable growth. I take the olive tree as a symbol, too, of the future. The future begins tomorrow, but the future to which I am specifically referring is the future we all of us dream of, the future that is very nearly upon us, the future that we are lucky to have the opportunity to bring into being.
It has fallen to us, citizens of the world of the now, young and old, strong and infirm, black and white , male and female, all of us so fortunately placed in the great span of time that we can become the founding fathers and mothers of the dawn of a new age for mankind.
We all of us know that there is a terrible wrong in the world. A terrible cancer that has festered for millennia. An all pervasive wickedness that drives all harm, that truly signifies the apocalyptic visions of man: war, pestilence, famine and death. There has never been a time without these virulent and infectious evils, such that mankind cannot imagine a life without them, cannot conceive of life without them. The fourth of them, death, is centred in our consciousness and accepted as fact. It is not fact.
The word “apocalypse” comes form the Greek anglicised as “apocalypses “ which means “the lifting of the veil”.
The veil is lifting now. The citizens of the earth are increasingly becoming aware that there is no need for pestilence, there is no need for war, there is no need for famine. That there is a force of evil which drives each of these without which they would not exist. The same, believe me , is true of death. It is an imposition upon us by the evil force that straddles the world and enslaves mankind with it‘s tools of control: usury, fear, engineered ignorance, racism, religions, party politics, armies, police, civil servants, the trappings and instruments of state and the control of the mind.
Your part in the lifting of the veil and the new beginning is not a small one. You are fortunate to have been given the chance to be at the forefront, spreading the word, opening the eyes of the people, bringing to them the message of the new future that is nearly upon us. Don’t be distracted into petty squabbles between one another, use your time, energy and what courage you have and what resources you have to bring the message.
Above all, show people that the evil exists, and show people that love can overcome this evil. Do not take the instruments of evil and try to fight evil with them. Love each and every man as your brother. Start now, the future is very nearly with you. In years and years to come in our brave new world think with what humility you will be able to ponder your contribution as a founding father and mother of that brave new world.
Now go do it.

End of an Empire. The decline and imminent fall of the USA.

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire.
Every great empire eventually collapses. The end days have commonly witnessed a tawdry decline of moral standards amongst the citizens, excessive consumption and depraved behaviour, feckless and indolent inhabitants grown so far from their empire building forefathers as to be unrecognisable as descendents of their fearless and battle hardened ancestors.
Their leaders, too, sank ever deeper into the mire of depravity. Very often at the end of an empire the leaders have become god-like (at least in their own minds) and can excuse themselves any cruelty. One thinks of Caligula, ripping open the stomach of his pregnant sister-wife because he couldn’t wait to see the immortal god-child she was supposedly bearing him. Depravity and a sense of omnipotence go hand in hand, they are the yin and yang of leaders in end times.. They feel that they are truly untouchable. History repeatedly has shown them to be wrong, usually fatally wrong.
One kind of hopes that history will, as ever, repeat itself.
Every Empire that passes leaves behind it a legacy, very often a legacy of good things that belie the cruelty and systematic violence that created the Empire in the first place. The question “What did the Roman’s do for us”, made famous by the Monty Python team in their great movie “The Life of Brian”, reminded us that the Romans did indeed leave an enormous legacy : a superb road system, bridges which still stand today, fabulous buildings, aqueducts and sanitation, great poetry, the list goes on. The British Empire left a legacy of railroads, systems of government and law, education. Even the Nazis left behind them the autobahn.
Please someone tell me, what will the American Empire leave behind in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?
What did it leave behind in Vietnam?
What has it left behind where-ever it has poked its bloodied snout into the affairs of smaller and weaker nations?
Unexploded shells and mines, depleted uranium, battered economies, a hatred of Americans, a legacy of grief, anger and shame.
And a fridge with a logo on the side from one of the big corporations that are oh, so American.
So how will history judge the end-times of the short lived American Empire? Not very well, one can so easily see. A nation of people once proud of its freedoms, its liberties, its citizens rights….no, hang on a minute…..
That’s not quite what history will relate.
America is a nation that was built on the wholesale theft of indigenous people’s lands, their genocide, the imprisonment of the remaining native Americans on reservations, the importation of slave labour and the founding of an economy built on slavery and the casual brutality that went with it, a nation where the vote and many other rights were only accorded to white people until the 1960’s, a nation of people that allowed its political system to be subsumed to the will of plutocratic usurers, that spent the last 60 years murdering innocent people the world over in the relentless pursuit of the agenda set for it by these shadowy leaders. Its citizens blind to or ignorant of or actively approving of the systematic holocausts perpetrated by its political leaders under orders from their masters. A nation of sick people, endlessly gorging themselves, refusing to seek truth, believing themselves somehow superior, having the affront to sing “God Save America” whilst their soldiers kill, rape and torture in their names.
God Save America? God damn America. That’s what history will relate.
On April 18th 1988 the United States became signatories to the United Nations “Convention Against Torture” , defining torture as:
“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
– Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1
Never mind that America signed this document. Never mind that the people of America have fallen so low that they allow their government to pursue an agenda set for it by un-elected money men ,an agenda that approves of and ratifies kidnapping and torture, for God‘s sake!. Never mind that in the eyes of the world America now stands side by side with Nazi Germany as one of the greatest evils the world has seen. Never mind that decent people the world over point an accusing finger at ordinary Americans in the same way that they pointed an accusing finger at the ordinary Germans who allowed Hitler to take power, then did nothing to stop his murderous and evil career. Never mind all that, because “America is defending itself from the evils of terrorism“.
Last year, 1,400,000 Americans died of cancer.
$5,5 billion was spent on finding a cure.
How many Americans died form terrorism last year?
The “war on terror “ costs $620 billion.
The bailouts have cost trillions. And Americans don’t even know where that money has gone, don’t even realise they have mortgaged their children’s and grandchildren’s futures whilst lining the pockets of their usurious masters.
If you are an American, reading this, guess what? I’m hoping you’re as mad as hell. Because only when you get as mad as hell will you do something about how history will see you.
You now have the chance to put this right.
You now have the chance to demonstrate to the world that you really are a worthy people.
You now have the chance to show that of all the world’s peoples you were the ones to first throw off the shackles of the criminal money elite and their politician puppets, the first to hound them from the corridors of power, to arrest, try and convict the criminals and remove from them their illegally gotten gains.
Go on Americans, do your stuff.
Or let history be your judge.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

On Pyramids and Power

I might disappoint you if you expect this article to be about the ancient pyramids and ziggurats and their purported phenomenal ability to maintain the edge on a razor. The article addresses the power structures that have historically ordered the relationships of mankind, and suggests a solution to the world’s problems.
The problem with finding a solution to the world’s problems has hitherto been one of complexity, there being so many problems and so many potential solutions, and so many different points of view and so many divisions of interest that nothing has ever been achieved. So when I come to the solution, I’ll keep it very simple.
For thousands of years people have lived, almost everywhere, under a pyramidical power structure such that it is hard, now, for anyone to conceive of any other way to do things. At the same time they seek to find answers that revert to the same structure as if that is the only way.
Historically we’ve lived under monarchies, supported by a structure of nobles and lesser nobility with the great mass of people landless and in poverty at the bottom. We’ve lived under religious rulers, supported by a structure of clerics, with the great mass of people landless and in poverty at the bottom. We’ve lived under so called democracies, with a political elite and their supporting structures, with most of us landless and in poverty at the bottom. We’ve lived under dictators, both fascist and communist (as if there was a difference). Now we live under the rule of usurers, with their supporting cast of lackey politicians and corporate bully boys, with the great mass of people at the bottom, landless and poor as usual.
It may well be that we’ve always lived under the rule of an invisible oligarchy that has manipulated the various monarchs and religious leaders and dictators and democracies and maybe they have always been the same bloodlines, the same families of ruthless and bloody handed killers. However long they have been in charge, their greatest achievement has been to convince people that the only way to organise is to adopt their pyramidic system. It is almost impossible to think of any organisation that does not reflect this structure, that does not follow the pyramid of power system. There’s always a large number of people at the bottom with no power and a small number at the top with all of it, and usually all of the money too. Whenever we try to organise ourselves differently we end up arguing between ourselves and inevitably the same old pyramid structure emerges, with some ruthless bastard sitting at the top trying their very hardest to make life uncomfortable for the rest of us. Of course, if there really is a dynastic secret power elite (and it’s more than a distinct probability) then all they have to do to control the rest of us is make sure that they control the shits who have risen to the top of all the world’s little pyramids of power. And of course if any of those shits get too big for their boots, or decide not to play the game, they kill them.
This structure is so ingrained in our mentalities that whenever we seek change (by political means usually) we organise in such a way that history inevitably repeats itself, a shit floats to the top and is brought into their fold, or a good person wins through and they use whatever they can to take control of them, be it blackmail or bribery or threats of some sort or, failing all else, murder. The list of such unhappy endings of great and inspiring leaders is very long, from before Jesus to after Kennedy. One wonders how the world would look if they had all been allowed to live and grow old and been given the chance to fulfil their dreams.

Something big this way comes.....

Without seeming to endorse or approve of or validate the folks who speak of the coming of a new age following an approaching Armageddon,( for they are surely all nuts, aren’t they?), and those that speak of the enormous relevance of 2012 according to whatever prophecy they subscribe to, or believe in the approach of a new planet wreaking havoc, or that the Masons’ have a calendar which places 2012 as a turning point in the history of mankind, or that the Illuminati are engineering “the end times” and are planning to kill 5.5 billion people and leave the remaining 500 million as mind controlled slaves for their benefit, or that E.T.’s are practising some huge experiment upon us and that 2012 is it’s end point, something BIG is surely in the wind, isn’t it? And 2012 is about right.
As a student of history it’s hard for me to think of a time in the past when such an enormous array of “portents”, or pointers to something big being about to happen , as the time in which we live. Maybe just before the second world war?
Throughout history as we understand it the great movements, the great wars, the great discoveries even have been driven by the leaders that we had at the time and the disagreements these people had between one another or the race for advantage over one another. The ordinary peace loving folk that just want a trouble free life and to maybe raise some kids and keep a dog being dragged along for the hellish ride, serving as cannon fodder, with bit-parts as refugees and “slaughtered in their beds” innocent bystanders. Certainly it’s true to say that whichever of our historic leaders came out on top with the most land or the biggest pile of treasure, the little guys and girls only reaped the rewards of continuing suffering and the job of rebuilding.
The leaders have come in many forms, from robber barons and warlords (still a few of those around) to monarchs and popes and mullahs, to fascist and communist dictators , mostly but not entirely male, but every man-jack of them almost certainly classifiably psychopathic and possessing a thirst for blood and a willingness to slaughter that in any civilised place would be good enough to have them locked away for the entirety of their lives or in a less civilised place put to death. But nobody can lock you up if you’re in charge, (can they?) , so if you are in charge the idea of impunity is part and parcel of what makes life fun for you.
These days, we have our share of warmongers, and their lust for power, territory and money is the same as ever it was. On the periphery we have the terrorist psychopaths, capable of orchestrating and controlling a few “believers” to do their bidding and attack some enemy, usually by blowing up someone whom, if they met them in a café, they would be glad to share a coffee with. The children they kill, they would certainly pat on the head and smile at.. Terrorism is all about murdering innocents, it’s what makes it terrifying. Ditto most of the soldiers and airmen doing the bidding of their political masters for the nation states at war. This has always been the case. Many of you will recall the story of the English and German soldiers playing football in no-mans land in the first world war, sharing a cigarette and swapping stories.
It’s at this point that we come to an historical oddity. In the past, all the big bust-ups have been orchestrated by what one could reasonably call “despots”, rulers above the law, enjoyers of impunity. Our big bust-ups these days, the real big killers at the moment, are the democratically elected leaders of the western democracies and the armed forces of those countries that have elected them. And if you are from north america or Europe they are doing it in your name, and with your connivance, ostensibly to defend you from the terrorists.
A recent international study of worldwide deaths from terrorist attacks (when the figures from deaths in Iraq were taken out, the UN saying that such deaths were from insurgency and civil strife, not strictly from terrorism as we understand it) puts the worldwide total of deaths from terrorism at around 5,000 per annum.
From muslims and Jihadists at around just 500 per annum.
Even if we include Iraq, it’s less than 25,000, although the USA claim it‘s around 65,000.
In 2008, 1,437,180 people died in the USA from cancer. Just under 5.5 billion dollars was spent on cancer research. The war in Iraq has cost US taxpayers 612 billion dollars.
Lets do some simple math here:
2008 Terrorist deaths (largest estimate by th USA) 65,000: Cost of war on terror in Iraq: 612,000,000,000
2008 Cancer deaths USA :1,437,180; Cost of cancer research: 5,500,000,000
So here is a fundamentally odd situation. The leaders of the democratically elected Governments of the Western nations are spending vastly more on a minor killer like terrorism than they are on the known and enormous killer that is cancer. Throw in the enormous costs of bailing out the banks and propping up the deceitful and illegal usury that the modern world banking system is and one begins to form a picture of these people as either stupidly criminal in their judgements, or criminally stupid. I doubt that they are stupid, so I guess this just leaves us with criminal. As I said earlier, a factor common amongst warmongers in the past has been their impunity, their freedom or safety from punishment or recrimination. Our current crop of criminals act as if they, too, benefit from impunity They seem to feel that, no matter what they are accused of, what lies they are caught in, what crimes against humanity they admit to (torture, for God’s sake!), that we, their ostensible masters as the electorates, will do nothing about it. So far, they are right. We’re a gutless, powerless, misinformed and unorganised bunch.
Which brings me back to the start point. There is something in the air that say’s, to most observers, that something BIG is coming. Not since the last world conflagration has there been as many “threats“, from so many sources, as there are now. So many little wars, and threats being banded about by various protagonists about bigger wars.
Threats of WMD’s. of biological warfare, of dirty bombs, of avian flu, of mad shootists, of any and every boogeyman you can think of just waiting behind the next bend in time to jump out and annihilate you. Be afraid, be very afraid, because someone, somewhere wants you to be.
The economy is in a condition not seen since the 1930’s, a condition that led to the Nazis’ gaining power in Germany. The world’s perpetual scramble for control of resources is worse now than it was in the 1930’s , when Japan set out upon it’s war of conquest for those very resources. And even in the Western democracies we have leaders who make criminally bad decisions, who criminally take us into conflict, who order torture, and do so with impunity.
In the second world war for some time only the British and their empire stood against the Nazis and Japanese. The USA joined in much later. Democracy was the cowboy in the white hat. We were the good guys. We saved the world. Who’s going to do that this time?

You'll never get out alive

The Life and Times of an Olive Farmer (and his wife!)
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but I prefer to think of Eddison’s line that “to invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk!”
So it was Eddison who was standing alongside me the other day whispering in my ear when, after three hours in the blazing sun and very high wind trying and failing to fix my main irrigation pipe , I said a few rather choice words of Anglo Saxon origin, moodily chucked my tools (ha!) in the back of Hank the Pick-up and went off in search of a pile of junk.
Now, if you’ve read other episodes of our saga, you’ll be aware that I’d previously blown up the same pipe and spent hours effecting a repair because I didn’t know what I was doing. Needing now to replace a section I’d taken the advice of experienced farmers and went equipped. The trick, they told me, is to use a blow torch to soften the 7.5 centimetre diameter plastic pipe, then using a “Mythos” beer bottle in a circular motion widen the mouth of the pipe sufficient to be able to put the 7.5 cm diameter steel joining piece into it, clamp it down with a huge circlip and “Robert est son oncle” as the French would say. (By the way, it has to be a Mythos bottle for some reason. Other non-Greek beers’ bottles just won’t do!)
So, well equipped (and refreshed as I’d drunk the Mythos first, aaaah!) I set to in a confident way. The high wind didn’t help, as the blowtorch kept blowing out and I had to rig up a wind shield, which kept blowing over and hitting me on the head as I crouched to my labour. However, the first bit of pipe duly softened, I got stuck in with the Mythos bottle. Carefully. After 5 minutes of shoving and twisting I’d almost got the thing in far enough for the job when the pipe, evidently insulted by such rough handling, just sort of disintegrated under the pressure. The resultant deformity had to be sawn off, and I started again. Three hours later, with a pile of sawn off pieces of pipe about my feet, I thought “there has to be something better than this!”
On the way home I stopped at the large co-operative farmers shop where you buy all of the stuff us farmers need. Girly it ain’t , although my olive farming wife loves to scour the shelves. I got hold of the guy who speaks English in there and explained to him what had been happening, expecting him to guffaw and point out some hidden mystery that would have saved me all the frustration and effort. Not a bit of it. He just said “Yes, that happens”. I explained that I’d done it not once but about 20 times. He smiled ruefully, lost in some memory of the same thing happening to him, or of his grandpa stomping home in a rage and reaching for the Raki bottle, and said “Yes, that happens”. Comforting in a way, but no flipping use at all.
Taking Eddison’s advice, I resolved to go off in search of a pile of junk and spent the next hour or two driving round the building sites in the town and peering into skips and dustbins, for I’d had an idea and needed just the right thing. Oddly, I found what I wanted quite quickly but discovered so many other riches (especially thrown away bits of steel reinforcing rods that I have a need for on the land and had been thinking of buying) that I carried on rooting about, musing on the vagaries of life that take an unhappy suit wearing company apparatchik and turn him into a very happy skip monkey in just 30 months.

The device I made, sitting on the terrace that evening sipping at a Raki or two was simplicity itself. Whittling with my knife and lovingly smoothing with some sandpaper I turned a 10 cm square piece of lumber into a 7.6cm round pipe bodger with a rounded bit at the end to ease the initial entry. Combined with the other element of the invention (some grease, a tin of which I’d weirdly carried all the way from the UK in the van when we escaped in case they didn’t have any here) I was sure it would work. The next day Anne joined me and I tell you no lie we’d done the job in about an hour! A quick warming with the blowtorch, stick the “patent pipe bodger” (registered design, patent applied for) in the pipe, bang with a mallet, cool with water, slip out the bodger and pop in the joint, tighten the clip, job done! I really ought to approach a manufacturer with it. We sang on the way home. To a Tamla Motown cd, which tells you something.
The olives are looking fine at the moment, despite only having one watering so far this year and that just recently. If you’ve never seen it, an olive tree that’s had no water will sort of pull in it’s leaves and the olives look dry and sort of wrinkly. Apply water and the next day the leaves will have resumed their normal appearance and the olives will have swelled and look all shiny, smooth and healthy. (It’s a pity we can’t undergo the same miracle). We wish the same were true of the other “baby” fruit trees and grape vines we have in our “orchard” plot that need much more care and attention. Despite our careful ministrations and the back breaking , shoulder wrenching graft of carrying water to the tender souls we have lost about ten vines and the Avocados have given up the ghost. Each time we go to the citrus trees they look on the brink of death but are still with us by the skin of their teeth, along with the pomegranates and the walnut. It has been a surprise that the most resistant trees are the peach and nectarines, closely followed by the cherries, bless ’em. You live and learn. We have about half an acre of land that’s just weeds at the moment waiting for me to find a month spare to clear them all and the “what shall we plant there?” question is increasingly leaning towards nectarines , for being as tough as old boots.
Whenever we’re on the groves we’re always keeping our eyes open for a new delight of nature and had a rare treat at the spring the other day whilst filling up our twenty 35 litre water containers ready to water the orchard. Without a care in the world and as nonchalant as you like a hedgehog wandered past us and lapped at the stream where it crosses the road. We were able to stand and examine him closely, take a photo and a little video, chat and coo at him and he just completely ignored us for about 20 minutes, during which he continuously lapped away (probably taking the first drink he’d had in an age and making the most of it). We used to have hedgehogs in our garden back in England but they disappeared , as a result we think of folks chucking down slug pellets (snail eats pellet, hedgehog eats snail, hedgehog dies). It was great to get reacquainted with one of these smashing little characters. In the end, thirst quenched, he wandered back into the groves, still ignoring us, cocky as you like, blithely indifferent to our presence.
One of the nicest things about having stumbled upon Sitia when looking for our new life is that the place is so nice and yet unspoilt by hordes of holidaymakers - and hordes of expats too ,with apologies to our readers (especially the aromatherapist and her hubby, you know who you are!). It’s so nice that people we care about from the UK can’t wait to visit. Our son and his fiancee are over at the moment and have brought with them four of their friends (all from Dublin, mind, where a pint of lager costs 6 euro and a packet of fags 7.80 euro!) Needless to say with the prices for beer and other essentials they’re pretty happy with the cost of an evening’s entertainment. With such a large group to entertain we’re looking forward to the bucolic pleasure of a picnic on the land. As some readers may recall, a while back I approached the local customs office about a large piece off a cable reel that has leant against their wall for at least two years. For those that don’t know, a cable reel is that super-size cotton reel that electric cables come on when they’re laying new mains wires in the streets. This was just one side, a heavy, 2 meter wide circle of timber, looking for all the world like some giant solid timber wheel off a 17th century farm cart, perfect for a skip robber’s picnic table. It looked so nice leaning against the customs house that I’d assumed they’d say no and explain that they wanted to plant flowers around it and use it as a feature, but interestingly they didn’t. Into the pick-up with it, make some legs for the table and two hours later we had an all weather, seat about 15, rustic farmer’s picnic table. We’ll be christening it properly this week with the Dublin contingent, some friends from the village and a mate or two from Sitia. And of course, our fun won’t get ruined by the bad weather, because we just don’t get bad weather (he said, smugly).
A word or two about the higher regions of the olive oil world following a slightly disconcerting chat this week with one of the higher ups at the Sitia farmer’s cooperative. It’s fairly widely known that the poor old Italians, who can’t make good olive oil for the life of them but certainly know how to make shoppers believe that they can, buy up the best oils of Crete from Sitia and from Kolimbari to mix with their own inferior mush, stick a fancy label on it and flog it to the housefraus of Europe with a slick advertising campaign depicting lots of peasants going happy about their work in the groves and getting stuck into the oil on their salads and bread with gusto. Mamma (still attractive for her age) is usually there smiling at the bambinos. Not a sign of bulk tankers and huge blending factories and fat cat millionaire suits on their yachts shouting down their satellite phones at their advertising executives in New York. Anyway, the bad news is that the Spanish, it is rumoured, have been buying up the Italians. The Spanish do have some good oil. The worry is that our traditional customers may suddenly stop buying the thousands of tonnes they currently source from here. When you look at the reliance in Sitia on the humble olive you very quickly realise that the local economy could have a disaster on its hands. Unfortunately, that local economy also means us!
Still , you have to be philosophic about it. As somebody once said ;
“Don’t take life too seriously, or you’ll never get out of it alive!”

What is this world, if full of care.....

“What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare”
Or something very much like that. I guess the poet , William Henry Davies , knew what he was talking about and I’ve certainly come to appreciate this most sedentary of occupations of late. I’ve been toddling off to the groves to see to things, mostly the trimming out of dead wood from the trees, a little watering of the new “Nebbiola” grape vines we’ve planted, whilst Anne has stayed at home to murder the “Cretan Lurgy” with bleach. (The Cretan Lurgy is our name for the black mould that grows on one’s ceiling over the winter here if you’re “lucky” enough to have a property built by an engineer who thinks that a concrete roof is a good idea and has never read up on the benefits of insulation. For those of you that have the lurgy and don‘t know the remedy, can I suggest a paintbrush and neat bleach. Wear suitable protective clothing and keep the windows open.)
Having the freedom allowed by being out of sight of the boss has granted me a certain lassitude, and so “standing and staring” has become something of a hobby just lately. Still, I pretend to be worn out when I get home, which say’s something I guess about the casual dissemblance one gets into after nearly 30 years of marriage! Not that I’m fooling anybody.
The groves are quiet at the moment. The picking season is well and truly over, the fertiliser is spread, the major pruning is done and the weed control ( if you use herbicides-which we don’t) is over, At other times we can hear the conversations of other farmers across the valley and their machinery at work, but now we are entering the summer the company we’ll keep is with nature. Hence, I guess, the propensity to stand and stare. It starts with the bees. We’ve a bee man close to us who, at certain times of the year ,relocates his hives to a plot close to our groves. He moves the hives about so that his bees are always where there are wild plants in flower. When the bees arrive at their new stamping ground the first thing they do is go on an extended “recce” of the surrounds. You can tell that’s the mode they’re in because they come out in great swarms, hugging the ground and identifying the flowers, but they don’t stop to feed. The data about the best places then gets taken back to the hive and communicated in that weird an unfathomable dance they do at the hive’s entrance. After a couple of days they’ve got it all sorted out and the pollen gathering begins in earnest. (Is this the best honey in the world? Probably.)
The effect on me is interesting. I’m there, pruning away, lost in a very pleasant world of my own, when suddenly my subconscious pipes up. “Hey”, it says, “what’s all that buzzing?” It usually happens around three in the afternoon, which tells me that the bees keep to some sort of schedule. The noise is really something. It’s truly amazing how thousands of bees arriving on their hunting expedition all at once can command the attention. I’ve never been frightened of buzzy things, ever since when a child back in England a six year old girl who lived in our cul-de-sac showed me how she could catch a bumble bee in her hand and it wouldn’t sting her, and I’m a big fan of honey so thousands of bees going about their business is nothing but good news. Except, as I find a branch to sit on and enjoy just listening to this lovely cacophony of industry, nothing is getting done.
Then there’s the view. Back home we lived in a very pleasant avenue of 1920’s houses, but all we could see out of the windows was a very pleasant avenue of 1920’s houses (and our neighbours washing their cars). One of the reasons we bought our olives was the view. We can see for miles in most directions. Firstly there’s the macro view, across the valley to the village of Agios Georgios. It’s an area renowned for the health giving properties of it’s natural springs and the water thereof gives life to deciduous trees, which give us autumn colour that is reminiscent of Blighty, and to cypress which spire upwards in a very Tuscan way from the deep clefts in the mountainsides where there is more water in the summer. Then there are the distant views. To the south the mountains grow in height towards the south coast of the island, layering one on another as they go, growing greyer and more misty, the odd church in pristine white picking itself out here and there, built on the mountain tops so as to be closer to God. To the north, the valley weaves down to the sea at Sitia, spur after spur of olive grove covered hillsides interlinking until they meet the blue of the sea. You just can’t help but stand and stare. And stare. Then take time out to stare a bit more. There’s always something to catch the eye and keep you from the job in hand.
For selfish reasons I guess I shouldn’t wax lyrical about Sitia and it’s environs. We few Brits who live here like to think it’s our little secret. It’s a farming community with it’s economy , and I guess it’s soul ,rooted deep in the red earth and the traditions, music, drinking habits, family values and hospitality of old Crete. The last of the Minoans ended up here, the mountains in between Sitia and Agios Nikolaus acting as a barrier between them and the rest of the world then as they do know, so I guess the genetic and possibly even the socio-cultural embers of that particular fire of civilisation still exist here. Like all small places, it has it’s share of small mindedness and gossip, but it’s a place that majors in generosity, especially -as is so often the case- from those who haven’t much to be generous with. It’s also a place that is not too far removed from the days when most of it’s inhabitants were self sufficient, living off the land and it’s bounty. Most people grew their own food and olives, made their own wine and raki, kept a few hens and a goat, collected snails and gathered mountain greens. Many still do. It’s a way of life that has gone out of fashion but is almost certainly the way of life that created the legendary longevity of the Cretans.
A few days back Anne and I arrived at one of our groves only to find some people wandering about with little knives in their hands and bags of green stuff which they’d obviously been picking. Now an English farmer would be reaching for his shotgun and shouting “git orf moi laarnd” but here in Crete there isn’t much in the way of trespass law, quite rightly, and anyway we had no idea what they were picking so if they hadn’t it would have gone to waste. As it turns out one of the group was Malarmo, a delightful lady who once lived in Australia and consequently speaks English. They were picking wild asparagus. When she showed me the vegetable in question, and told me how my groves were full of the stuff, I privately wondered how come I had never seen any before. Of course, the reason is I’m too slow. The same is true of the little yellow narcissus with the beautiful scent. We once met an old lady on the groves with three carrier bags full of them that she‘d gathered “up there“ (I.e. on “ower laarnd“). We‘ve never seen one of those either, being in all probability too late! We guess she was about 90 and probably knows within a day or so when anything good to eat or otherwise worth having appears in the countryside and where it is to be found. And good luck to her. We often ponder the enormous wealth of knowledge of their surroundings that these elder Cretans have and wonder what will become of it as the younger generations head for a different and newer life in the cities. I guess we might one day find that no-one has picked the wild asparagus, and I guess that might be a sad day, marking the passing of an age and a way of life.
As I write the olives are becoming heavy with their millions of tiny white flowers, the branches starting to bend a little with the extra weight. Olives carry an abundance of flowers, but only about 5% of them eventually become fruit. They are wind pollinated rather than insect pollinated, so one rarely sees the bees taking an interest. The olive tends to bear fruit in alternative years and this year, barring climactic or other disaster, should bring a heavy crop. Certainly those of our trees which had little or no fruit last year are covered in flower now. In an abundant year the olives weigh so heavily on the branches that the tree assumes the habit of a weeping willow, elegantly sagging under the weight. Our best tree last year yielded 100kg of olives, so you can understand the forces at work.
Some of those olives we hand picked to preserve for eating. To do this, soak the olives in fresh water for about ten days, changing the water daily. Then soak them in brine, using about 100grams of salt for each litre or so. After a few weeks, (having kept an eye on them and changed the brine when murky or if mould threatens), have some fun with flavourings. We’ve put our olives in jars of oil, adding bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, rosemary, chilli flakes, salt and dried thyme. We reckon they’re the best in the world, but of course we are a little biased!

Easter time in Crete.

If you have been following our story so far you’ll know that our first harvest dragged on far longer than we had expected. As soon as it had been picked and pressed we decided to take “a day or two” off as a well deserved rest and review what work we still have to do before summer. Certain natural cut-offs dictate the farmers’ calendar here in Crete. For example , it’s important to get the fertiliser down well before it stops raining*, otherwise it won‘t get washed in. Additionally, you should do any pruning and major weed removal projects by the same time so that the resulting heaps of wood and weeds can be safely burned off. Fires are banned here after the last day of April , and when you recall the disaster in mainland Greece last year it’s easy to understand this precaution.
(*Explanatory note for our readers on holiday from England: “Before it stops raining” means that the water that comes from the sky stops doing so for about six months or so! You can arrange to have a barbecue, no worries!)
I say “a day or two“, but in reality very little work has been done since the harvest finished on February the 4th, mostly on account of “Ooh, my back” and “Blimey, my hands“. The back, after 20 years of having to do nothing very much other than hold my head and shoulders up, naturally objected to being suddenly treated like some sort of Navvy and required to do some manual work for a change. It went on a very painful strike. The hands, similarly insulted, came out in sympathy. Each night they seize up into claws which have to be unbent , painfully , each morning. I guess it’s the muscles going into some sort of spasm. When you see an old Cretan olive farmer hobbling to his beat-up old pick-up, now you know why he’s hobbling, (and remember to say hello, it could be me!)
Anne , who is obviously made of sterner stuff than I, has been sympathetic and handy with the back soothing creams (I can recommend something called Counterpain even though it sounds like something you used to throw over the bed). Being a fairly senior nurse by previous profession she‘s pretty good at telling the patient to behave, sit up straight, get back into bed etc in that particular “you‘ll do as you‘re told“ kind of voice that they must teach them at nursing school. So with Matron in charge and my natural inclination to be a complete wuss when in the slightest pain we’ve managed little of what we should have.
All plants like a bit of fertiliser and Olive trees are no exception. Fertilising is a word that’s always conjured certain images, and now we get to fertilise 750 times a year! The technique is simple: First load up your pick-up with as many 25 kg sacks of nitrogen-with-boron and 30 kg sacks of phosphor as you’ll need for the day. Go “ouch” for a bit. Drive to the groves, unload the bags at a fairly inconvenient place and then carry them 50 meters to where you’re going to start. Go “aarrghh”! Once there, wait for the pain to stop, then tip the nitrogen into the wheelbarrow and put the phosphor, in its bag, on top. Slit the top of the phosphor bag, and you’re ready to go. Stop for a breather and a bit of a rub, and whimper quite a lot like a big kid.
Some of the more observant readers will have spotted that the bags are carried to the wheelbarrow, and not put in the barrow at the van and wheeled to where needed. Well, I can only say that you have to try each method personally before deciding which suits you best. Over rough ground ,uphill ,with a heavy barrow believe me, carrying the stuff is easier, (at least until you’re at the dispensing stage, trundling 5 meters at a time from tree to tree.)
To dispense the fertiliser, take 2.5 kilos of nitrogen-with-boron (in an old saucepan that you just happened to know would be ideal for the job when you were packing your few belongings together and leaving Blighty) and 1 kilo of phosphor, (I recommend an old Greek yoghurt pot for the purpose), bend down and walk in a circle under the branches of the tree ,sprinkling as you go. If the tree’s on a slope, sprinkle a bit more at the top than at the bottom. Be careful the tree doesn’t get romantic during this fertilising and give you a kiss. A kiss from an olive tree consists of it deliberately stretching out a sturdy branch and clouting you firmly on the head with it. Anne seems to get away with very few kisses, but in my blundering I usually pick up one or two a day. Follicly challenged as I am this means of course that my head is always covered in scratches, scabs and bumps. A kind of arboreal love-bite. I wonder ,therefore, if our trees are female rather than male? And how do you find out the sex of a tree anyway? Before we started this craziness I didn’t even know that trees could be either male or female. What’s that all about?
A side-note about organic fertiliser. It’s made from Guano (dried bird poo , to be as polite as I know our readers will expect ), dried blood, and the leftovers from fish processing factories. You’re right, it absolutely stinks. Stinks of what it’s made from. Each night we’d drive home with Hank’s windows fully open, (Hank is our pick-up), pray we didn’t meet anyone between parking Hank and getting upstairs to our apartment, strip down to our undies on the landing (not sexy, not with that smell) and leave the clothes outside the front door to ward off evil spirits. We’d fight over who gets in the shower first. Scrub exposed skin parts several times vigorously to get rid of the stink. Wash our hair four times (in my case, not a big job!) and still sometimes a lingering whiff can be had! It must be good for the trees, as my Dad always reckoned fertiliser has to pong to be any good.
Because of the length of time it took to get the harvest in and then the dodgy back and hands we were late with the fertilising. In fact, as I write we’re getting the first rain we’ve had since putting the fertiliser down. If it doesn’t rain, it doesn’t get soaked in and 6 days’ work and 600 Euro will blow away in the summer wind. We reckon we need another 8 days rain to do the job properly, and there’s little chance of that. To help, our mates are washing their cars and cleaning their windows , which is powerful rain generating voodoo. I’m trying to persuade Anne to strip naked and do a rain dance, but regrettably so far without success. I don’t know if rain dancing requires nudity, but it certainly sounds like it might and it would be considerably more entertaining that way.
Back permitting, we’ve been doing a bit of pruning on the large, old, uncared for trees that form the majority of our stock. Really, they need the big “rejuvenation” prune, cutting them right back and flattening their profile to a workable height. However, this year’s harvest should be a heavy one relative to last year’s ,so we’re reluctant to give it up by doing the big cut. The problem with most of the trees is that they haven’t been trimmed at all in about ten years. The outer profile is rounded and inside the tree looks like someone has gone mad with a dead- twig-making-machine just for fun. The riotous proliferation of these useless twigs slowed us down considerably at harvest time, having to fight through them to get at the olives. They have to go.
Between half an hour and two hours with the trusty pruning saw and the “Felco Professional Number 7” secateurs (the best, especially for those with dodgy hands) and all the dead, dying, and useless twiggy festoonery is gone. The tree is transformed internally, lots more light can get through (which is important) and the branches which will carry this year’s harvest are now easy to get at. The yield should improve, as the tree would otherwise expend energy maintaining this useless wood, and the next harvest should be a relatively easy affair. So, 12 trees done so far, 230 trees to prune, other jobs to do , the end of April as a deadline. You’re right, we’ve got no chance!
In the next day or so we’re expecting delivery of our grape vines. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to work for an organisation where money was no object when it came to entertainment and it was at that time that I discovered “Barolo” wine, normally far outside my £4.99 a bottle maximum budget. (In this case, £60 outside! My current hooch of choice is local Raki at 6 euro for a litre and a half. How times change…) “Barolo” is arguably the best red wine in the world and the grape variety from which it is made, “Nebbiola”, grows successfully in few places. Italy is one, Kephalonia is another, so we’re hoping Sitia, Crete is another.
Just after we’d bought our land we found a little flat area tucked away in a sheltered corner covered with chest high weeds and a few chest high olive trees. Five days of hard weed-clearing graft, slashing dragging and burning, revealed a lovely little terrace where we discovered SOIL! A rare commodity indeed. As the Minoans at Praissos just 0.5 km away numbered 20,000 some 4000 years BC it’s fairly obvious that they farmed the area where our groves are. There’s something in the atmosphere about this little plot that makes us feel they made this little terrace and grew vegetables or something here some 6000 years ago. We now call it “The Orchard Plot” and have augmented the few small olives with half a dozen different varieties of orange trees, a grapefruit, a lemon, two pomegranates, a peach which as I write has burst into flower, a mandarin, a Japanese Loquat, two avocadoes and a walnut. We’ve already got two pears and almond trees. On order are a couple of cherries and a brace of nectarines, so hopefully, in about 5 years, we won’t have to buy any fruit or nuts ever again. The pears, by the way, are this year going to be made into Raki, or “Calvados” as they call pear brandy in Normandy!
The Nebbiola vines will fill up the orchard plot and who knows, in two or three years time we might have our first Barolo wine. Having ordered the grapes and readied the land only then did we do a bit of research on the internet where we read that Barolo is often undrinkable early on, only becoming the king of wines after 20 years in an oak cask! Ah well, it’s good to have long term goals to live for.
This time of year is decidedly the most beautiful in the groves. The olives, peaches and almonds are in blossom, with the wild pears and soon the cultivated pears to come. Everywhere is amazingly green with a luminescence rarely seen anywhere else. As our land has never seen weed killer the profusion of wildflowers is astonishing and every day sees a new variety of flower emerge. There is a clover-type plant that is everywhere and produces thousands of yellow flowers. Anenomes abound in various forms. There are a profusion of orchids, particularly “bee” orchids, tiny flowers that look just like bumble bees. We are reminded of the old water-meadows in England before the advent of corporate prairie farming and the mass chemicalisation of once rich and verdant land.
One of our neighbouring farmers (downhill from us, thankfully) is still sold on the idea that herbicides are a great idea. His groves are now barren earth, with not a flower or a blade of grass in sight. Strangely, as you walk through them there is a marked absence of birdsong too. We imagine that the lack of vegetation means that there is no habitat for the insect life on which the birds feed, and so the birds go elsewhere. “Our” badgers, that have a large and well established set in one of our groves, probably ignore the place too , as there would be nothing there for them to eat . On our groves, conversely, we often see a circle of trodden-down vegetation around the trees, left there by the badgers as they search for their evening meal. We know that farmers got sold on the idea of an easy life with the products of the chemical giants, and more certainty of crop yields with the use of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, but the environmental cost is frightening. Unsuspecting consumers buy the oil produced by olive trees farmed by tens of thousands of these “chemical” olive farmers across Europe and elsewhere never fully comprehending the chemical cocktails they might contain. As with other supposedly “good for you“ fruits and vegetables produced with intensive use of fungicides, pesticides and herbicides and with chemical fertilisers there must, one would imagine, be a negative health impact over time? Olive oil consumers tend to imagine that they are keeping themselves healthy and in reality, unless the oil is organic, are consuming who knows what residual chemicals?
To spot olive trees that are spared the chemicals, look for string tied from branch to branch around the perimeter of the grove, or a red striped plastic band. The olives from these trees are often the ones used to produce oil for family consumption. Make a friend of the farmer and if they are anything like the farmers around Sitia they’ll probably give you some of this most precious commodity.
“” as we say here in Crete. Happy Easter

Exam Time. How much do you know?

UK GCSE Test Paper: Current Affairs, Paper One. (2009)
Time allowed: About three years.
( All candidates must finish what they are doing by 2012)
(Note: Candidates failing to answer all the questions within the time allowed will be forced to spend their entire lives in a fascist prison society without hope of remission).
Engage what tiny amount of brain you have and think, if you can.
Question 1: (20 marks)
The “war on terror” has caused how many deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Pakistan? Discuss.
(OK these people are rag-heads and want to kill all of us , right? So it doesn’t matter if we kill lots of them, right? Anyway, they started it, right?)
Advice to candidates:
Before answering question 1 ensure you have a good grasp of the figures involved and be prepared to argue that one white person killed in New York is worth 1,000 brown babies killed in an A-rab country.
Extra marks will be awarded if you can supplement your written answer with pictures of dead babies in Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza.
A bonus of 10 points will be given if you can hypothesise a good reason for the invasion of Iran other than the tired old “weapons of mass destruction” excuse.
(Note: If your reason for the invasion of ,or any attack on Iran is a good one , such that the public might believe it, be aware that the copyright to such an idea is ceded to the governments of Israel and the USA without prejudice nor compensation)
Question 2: OK, weed head: Take 50,000 of the world’s best scientists and 5 billion dollars per annum, put them in a room for 20 years and ask them to find a cure for cancer. Do you think they could?
Advice to candidates: Before answering this question, you may wish to consider the profitability disparity between finding a treatment and finding a cure. Candidates should also ignore any “cures” which are cheap and easy to administer, as these are essentially unprofitable. Marks will be deducted for candidates who refer to cannabis oil, sodium bicarbonate, chlorine dioxide or any other proven treatment that is inexpensive.
Question 3:
“ Democracy is a really good thing. Without democracy, we wouldn’t be able to run the world. As far as systems go, democracy is a much easier way to control the herd than fascism or communism. You see, with democracy the idiots think they’re in charge! It really makes us laugh! We make sure that the politicians of all the parties are in our pockets and have their snouts in the trough of greed. We run things, they do as they‘re told. Ha ha ha”
a) To what extent is it true that voters are “the herd” or “the idiots” ?
b) How many people that voted at the last election considered the number of brown babies murdered in the middle east was1) too many. 2) not enough 3) what babies?

Question 4:
Which internationally revered elder statesman and Nobel peace prize winner said:
“ George Bush and Tony Blair enjoyed many moments of ecstasy together. They like to kill, they like to laugh about killing, they like to laugh about how much money they are making from killing, they like to measure their dicks one against the other, they like to do each other in front of a picture of Lucifer. That’s the sort of down-home boys they are, and Obumma ain’t no different”
Was it:
a) HRH the Queen Elizabeth 11?
b) Alex Jones?
c) Olive Farmer?

Still picking!!!

The life and times of an olive farmer (and his wife!)
For the uninitiated, “Akoma?” is Greek for “still?” We got to hear “akoma?” an awful lot from our neighbouring farmers and friends as our harvesting, begun on December 11th, dragged on through January and finally ended, with a groan and a whimper, on February 4th.
At the beginning of December, as our first harvest approached, we were full of uncertainty, indecision - and our usual lack of planning. Our first harvest. Should we hire labour, or do it ourselves? Could we do it ourselves? Which nets should we buy, and how many? Should we bag the olives up in sacks, or get the new fangled plastic boxes? What generator should we buy to power the picking sticks? Which picking sticks should we buy? Where should we get our olives pressed, and how should we go about that? What colour should the olives be when you pick them? How long have we got before the wind blows them off the trees? And so on and so on.
We began with the generator. Fortunately, the guy in the shop spoke reasonable English and was someone we’d met a year ago at our first “Kazarni”. Lord only knows what impression he’d gained of us. Anyway, we took his advice and plumped for the “Robin”, relatively inexpensive, everybody uses them, they don’t go wrong. “Robin”, as we naturally call him, burbles along merrily all day without a hitch, is easy to start and economical to run. He’s not so big and heavy as some of the others we’d looked at, which we later discovered was a true blessing.
From the same chap we bought the picking “sticks”. The more usual stick, about 2 metres long with a rotating crosspiece on the end with 15cm nylon flails, whizzes around and beats the olives into submission, knocking them down onto the nets spread out around the tree. Alas, they also beat the leaves off, leaving the tree with a recovery job to do. We chose instead a new type which looks about the same, but at the ends of the crosspiece a sort of globe of stiff rubber fingers sticks out. They spin, but as soon as they meet resistance in the tree they reverberate back and forth, shaking and knocking the olives off but mercifully almost no leaves. They arouse a great deal of interest from other farmers, such that we’ve been stopped in the street quite a few times for an opinion on them, expressed with much sign language of course.
We bought six 12 x 6 metre nets (not enough , but at c. 50 Euro a throw we resented the idea of buying more) and in the end opted for sacks, because everyone else does and at 60 lepta each they were a give away compared to 6.50 Euro for the boxes which held only half the weight.
So , we were (nearly) kitted up. I say nearly , because it’s only after you’ve picked a few trees that you realise that an olive, travelling at c.40 km/h straight into your eye is not funny. Safety glasses!
The first of our groves we’d elected to pick has about 200 trees, 40 of them very small but the rest too big and overgrown. The grove runs on a steep slope for two thirds of its length, then terraces form the last third. Access for the pick-up consists of a place to park at the top, and a muddy track at the bottom which we’d made earlier in the year and which ,if there’s been no rain, lets you get about half way up. This, we realised quickly, is key information. If you’re fifty metres from the truck and it’s uphill, everything you pick has to go on your back at the end of the day. Now we know how Sherpas feel.
Our little routine for each day went as follows: Up at 7.15, we first walk out onto our balcony in Sitia and look up the valley to where our land can be seen and check it’s not raining. If it is, then it’s back to bed (hurrah!), if not Anne makes the tea, makes up the flasks and our elevenses (toast with olive oil for me, marmalade for her) and our picnic lunch. I moan and groan, drink tea and smoke until I feel human. If Anne hadn’t been there cracking the whip half the harvest would have rotted on the trees. Then it’s cart the sticks and bags down to the pick-up. We keep “Robin” in the front seat over night, so he has to be hauled out and tied up in the back. I did suggest at one time that it would save me a lifting job if Anne would ride in the back of the truck, but for some reason she told me to “go away”!
Tie the sticks in, check we’ve got petrol in the can for “Robin”, and off we go. Fifteen minutes drive brings us to the spring where we stop and fill up our water bottles for the day, then 3 minutes more and we’re there. Unload “Robin”, the sticks and the water and lunch stuff and carry heave and pull it all to where we’d left the nets the previous day and we’re ready to start.
Our very first day of picking started with a shock. When you buy your nets they come wrapped in a tight bale, deceptively heavy. We’d left the bale on the grove the day before in the wheelbarrow on the steep slope where we were due to start. On arrival that morning I’d climbed out of Hank (the pick-up!) and gone to the spot. The barrow was lying on it’s side. The nets had gone.
“We’ve been robbed!” I shouted. (I’ve deleted several less than savoury words here for the benefit of our more sensitive readers) “ Some (body) has stolen our nets. 300 Euro down the drain.” My good wife , ever the calming influence, simply looked around and pointed to the bale of nets 50 metres down the hill. During the night the barrow had decided that gravity was right after all and it ought to fall over, the bale following the same argument and rolling down the hill.
After lugging them back up the hill we unpacked and set out the nets, learning almost immediately that a) this is harder than it looks, especially on sloping, wet and weedy ground, b) that getting the nets right is absolutely vital or you’ll lose half of what you pick, and c) that dew-damp ground turns into a ski slope once a net’s on it. From then on we each of us fell over at least once a day. How we survived without a sprain or a fracture we’ll never know. A laugh when it happens, though.
We started “Robin”, connected our picker wires to the terminals and got stuck in. 8 hours later we’d picked about 75 kilos of olives. Two days later we’d picked four full sacks. We did get quicker!
For anyone thinking of losing their wits and trying olive farming for fun or profit (ha!) please, before you buy, look closely at the steepness of the land and the access for your vehicle. I carry half sacks of olives (about 30 kilos) to the pick up. The distance averages about 40 metres but at times has been 70 metres, straight uphill. The first trip is bad enough. If you’ve picked 8 half sacks in a day and have to heave and pull a generator over the same bumpy ground it all becomes something of a trial.
A few days before we’d started we’d made arrangements with an olive press where, as luck would have it, the office is managed by the lovely Maria, who speaks great English. The press is ideal for us. With their modern “Alfa Laval” machinery they can batch process even small amounts of olives (so our oil isn’t mixed with anyone else’s) and they’re getting certified to process organic olives, for which we’re heading . Our first batch for pressing, a measly four sacks marked as ours with a spray painted orange “W” on each sack , looked pathetic and lonely stacked on a pallet under the lemon tree which became “our” spot at the press. Everyone else seemed to turn up with a pick-up ridiculously overloaded , with 20 or 30 sacks flattening the suspension. Needless to say, we felt pretty small beer in this company.
The atmosphere at the press is, generally, pretty grumpy. Possibly because this is a poor year for olives, more likely because when you go to the press after a hard days picking you’ve hardly the energy to smile. And, like small farmers the world over, all the farmers know that they’ll make virtually nothing for their efforts, the real profit lying much further up the food chain. For us, being the oddity of being English amongst an almost exclusively old-Greek-farmer-family-been-here-for-generations crowd, perhaps it was worse. “They’ll get used to us in 20 or 30 years” I said, to encourage Anne.
The pressing process began with our olives being tipped into the big hopper then carried on the conveyor belt to a blower that separated the leaves, then into a bath for a wash, then weighed in another hopper, then piped into the first part of the press where they were mashed up and churned. After about 40 minutes we lifted the lid on the churning machine. Puddles of bright green olive oil had begun to appear. When ready, the pulp was piped to a separator that took out the solids, then piped to a centrifuge from whence the oil appeared. Our excitement mounted as the process went on until, moment of moments, our incredibly luminous bright green cloudy oil emerged from the pipes. A year’s hard graft had gone into this moment. The acidity, we learned was well below 0.3, the best of extra virgin oils. The taste, we found out that evening, was sublime. We’d lucked out in buying, before we knew anything about olives, trees that produce olives which produce a kilo of great oil from every 4.5 kilos of olives picked. It can be as low as 10 to one.
Of course, what began as an exciting and daunting leap into the unknown quickly became a drudgery, an effort, and back-achingly hard work. We picked only on dry days, sometimes managing only half a day but rarely breaking for more than 20 minutes for our picnic lunch. There are of course compensations. It’s cheaper and more healthy than joining a gym. Our groves, high up the valley side, give commanding views across the incredibly green valley of olive groves, interspersed with stately spires of Cypress and the clustered white houses of villages clinging to the hillside opposite. To the left the mountains gain in altitude and majesty as they head for the south coast, to the right the valley sweeps down for 8 kilometres to Sitia and the sea, of which we have a nice view. We can hear other families picking their olives right across the valley, we get beeped at by all the farmers that drive past on the “main” road (one vehicle every half hour!). Otherwise, it’s just us , the birdsong, the plaintive calls of the buzzards riding a thermal overhead, the sunshine and a pervading sense of peace and serenity that seems to inhabit this place, occupied and farmed for 6000 years.
We don’t, by the way, know most of the farmers that beep their horns. But we know they know of us. The village grapevine of gossip means they all know we’re the crazy English. They’ll know who we bought the groves from, for how much, what our trees are like, how we measure up in farming terms. In a kindly way they’re watching over us, dropping hints and tips when we meet, making suggestions, giving praise where due, surprising us with their intimate knowledge of every inch of our groves. A lot of youngsters locally can’t wait to get away from the lives their parents have lived. We guess it’s nice for them to see people coming here who can appreciate it for what it is.
By February the fourth it was no longer “Akoma?” but “Telios!”, The End! We’d stuck it out, and with a little help from our friends (especially the stalwart Danny) we’d picked 4,600 kilos of olives, and pressed just over a 1000 kilos of oil. For those of a mathematical turn of mind, that’s 153 x 30 kilo sacks hauled up the slopes. We’ve hardly argued at all, laughed a lot, and only fallen out of one tree.
At the current price of 2.9 Euro a litre, we won’t even cover our costs for the year, but the sense of achievement, somehow, makes up for it.
Upon consulting my dictionary for a definition of “maverick” I discovered that it’s primary definition was “a stray animal without an owners brand”. I think of all the other meanings this one describes myself most fittingly. I’ve never felt part of the herd. I’ve always drawn away from anyone who wished to “mark me with their sign“, commonly but not exclusively within the many corporate organisations where I plied my trade and tried to keep from being so revolted by them long enough to dig myself out of the last debt I got into when I chucked my last job. Eventually, not long after Blair obeyed his puppeteers and launched the unethical and illegal slaughter fest of Afghanistan and then Iraq, I decided I could no longer wear the brand of my whole tribe and left Britain.
This, I recognise, was an act of cowardice. What I should have done was stay in the fight and try and do something, but of course being a stray without an owners brand I couldn’t see myself ever joining a political party. I’d disagree with everyone, quickly grow to despise the lackeys and lickspittles looking for advancement, distrust the leaders and their motivations, wonder who was behind the scenes pulling the strings (and probably drawing the teeth). In short I would soon hand in my membership card. Nothing achieved, maverick to the last.
Someone, somewhere, has a deep understanding of the maverick type. They understand that often the maverick is someone who thinks outside of the square, the inventor, the creator of new ideas. They consider the maverick dangerous, but they understand that there are three easy ways to deal with them: buy them if they become influential, encourage them to argue with each other so they have no unified sense of purpose and so never become influential, or kill them if they get too close.
This is a serious situation. The ruling elite have access to the most sophisticated and best equipped and most amoral murdering machines that mankind in all its beauty have ever managed to create. As unthinkingly vicious as the Nazi death machine and as well oiled, but with more modern equipment. On the one hand they can call upon the likes of the CIA black ops legions, on the other the criminal syndicates that control the lower end of their drug operations. Of course, money can buy death in many ways, and does so. Power, too, can give death in many ways and has the added advantage of being able to do it in such a way that the public approve, having been told what to think by the media.
Considering the mavericks of fame and yore, the Kennedy’s and King’s of this world, considering the forty odd microbiologists who have met untimely and unusual ends, considering the strange demise of Dr David Kelly, considering the numbers of people connected to recent US presidents who have met accidental and premature ends, considering the 90 children murdered in the latest large Afghanistan bombing raid, considering the masses that have died since September 11th in the spurious war on terror, considering all these and many , many more the conclusion one is forced to arrive at is that the ruling elite operate at a level of murderous psychopathy that is unbounded by any sense of morality.
So what’s new? From Ghenghis Khan to Stalin, Hitler and Mao, Bush and Blair, many before and more to come, the world has ever been ruled by the same beast. The beast preys upon the weak and devours his enemies, prides himself on causing the maximum hardship and grief to the maximum number of people. It is as if a bloodline which is not human has sustained a continuous and unbroken sovereignty over the world for all of time.
I often sit on a mountainside and try to conjour a vision of the world without these “people”. A world without usury, a world where the drug companies really try to find a cure for illnesses, a world where the police catch criminals and leave non criminals alone, a world where all the atomic weapons are dismantled, a world where dangerous pollutants stop being created, a world where food and water don’t contain poison, a world where more is spent on saving life than on killing people, where armed forces become international rescue forces, a world where fear is banished, a world where families can grow in peace and love, where our elderly are cared for and respected and our young are treasured and smiled upon, a world where giving takes precedence over taking, where kindness, love, amity and the comfort and security of friendship, where generosity and forgiveness and tolerance prevail. It’s a brave new world I sense is coming after all this time, one that has its roots in the now and a long and happy future beginning soon.
So how does a maverick, a sheep without a brand, do something to help create such a world? And if you are reading this you are almost certainly a maverick, (or else a lackey and lickspittle of the elite and should be ashamed of yourself). The answer lies, I believe, in understanding the tactics of our rulers. They can buy us, divide us, or kill us. They can’t buy us if we refuse to be bought, they can’t divide us if we have only one issue on which we all agree and refuse even to discuss amongst ourselves any other issue, and they can’t kill us all (although I guess they’d like to kill quite a lot of us ,as we’re cluttering up their planet).
The one issue should be that, at every election in the world in countries where elections are held, electors choose only candidates who are not and never have been members or affiliates of political parties.
The rallying cry : “Start Again”
So, if you’re reading this and consider yourself a good person, let your local “Start Again” candidate be YOU!
A political movement without any policies other than one: get rid of these thieving, murderous, psychopathic swine. Remove them from the world stage of power and their access to the weapons and structures of states, stop the flow of money to them and through the law take back from them what they have arrived at illegally. Let’s make that brave new world.

Summer's coming

The life and times of an olive farmer and his wife!
Summer’s coming and we olive farmers are preparing for the watering that’s needed during the hotter months. An olive tree will survive and even prosper with no water at all for months on end but to ensure the maximum quantity of oil one needs to sparingly apply judicious amounts of the wet stuff at the right times.
It’s not a case of simply turning on a tap and sitting about reading a novel for a few hours then turning it off. The black plastic pipes you will notice criss-crossing the olive groves develop all sorts of problems over the year and need maintenance if disaster or inefficient usage is to be avoided. This year , before I can begin watering I guess I’ve got about four or five days of repair work to do; mending splits, clearing the watering holes in the pipes (which get clogged up over the winter), checking that the wire ties that close the end of each run are in place (if they’re not, the pipe will have a mouse’s nest in it or be full of snails), changing some of the junctions where the smaller pipes join the main feed.
The water comes from a pump house at the top of bore hole which delves down 300 meters or so into the mountainside and is fed, under huge pressure, through the complicated tap arrangements into the c. 10cm diameter mains pipe. I understand the pressures involved following a little accident last year! I’d forgotten that I should open a certain feed pipe off the mains to let the water go down to one of my groves. I turned on the main tap (always accompanied by a scary and very loud rushing noise!) and began to wander the 100 yards or so down the road to the grove I was trying to water. Suddenly there was the most almighty explosion and a 40 meter high geyser of water appeared (making, I noticed, some nice little rainbows), drenching the road. The bang echoed and reverberated around the valley. It took me a few seconds, in my daze, to realise that this was something I’d done and it wasn’t something I could watch with interest but something I had to do something about. I quickly turned off the mains tap (more scary noises) and ran to inspect the damage. Finding the main pipe had split, I realised that I would have to repair the section before the next user turned up at their allotted time.
Now, being new to all this I had no idea how to do the job nor what tools I’d need. I did understand that I’d have to cut out the damaged piece and either insert a new piece with a couple of unions, or pull the ends together and use one union. I took down the number from the side of the pipe and rushed off to the shop in Sitia.
About the tools you need for the job; one of them is a blowtorch, another is an empty Mythos bottle (Amstel won’t do, apparently, it has to be Mythos). What you do is use the blow torch to heat up and soften the pipe that you’ve cut, then use the neck of the Mythos bottle to open up the aperture a bit with a sort of round and round motion so that you can force the steel union into the pipe , then clip it into place with a great big version of those little cir-clip thingies that you see on the radiator pipes in cars. Easy, if only the guy in the shop had told me so.
Back at the pipe I used a hacksaw to cut out the offending piece (not too hard, that bit) then made to push the steel union in. Of course, it wouldn’t go! Why ,I’d imagined it would just push fit! Without a lump hammer to hand, I picked up a rock and started hammering away and quickly realised that I’d got something of a job to do . Over the next four hours (yes, four hours) in the blazing sun I earned myself as fine a collection of blisters as you could hope to see but eventually fixed the flipping thing. (It takes 20 mins and no effort with the right tools! That‘s what the empty Mythos bottle is doing in the pick-up, your honour….)
Back to the tap I went to test the thing and worrying that I’d bodged it up. In fact, so concerned was I that I clean forgot to open the feed pipe that I’d missed before! In trepidation I opened the mains tap again and the thing blew up ,again, this time right underneath me and giving me the most almighty scare and a tremendous soaking to boot.
I guess if there’d been wise old Greek olive farmers about they’d have had a great laugh at the amateur Englishman and his elementary misunderstanding of the watering system that they’ve used for years, and they would have been right to. I have a good laugh about it now myself, and towards the end of the summer last year I had a small chuckle when a familiar bang echoed around the valley, only this time it wasn’t me that had done it…
We’ve got to run a new feed pipe soon to the little vineyard on our orchard plot. It’s got to come from the end of one of our existing pipes and travel about a hundred meters across a steep, thorn bush covered hillside to get to where it’s needed. What you get used to in this olive farming lark is skin covered in scratches and trousers and shirts getting shredded on a regular basis. Fortunately, we bought really stout leather work gloves in England last year (at £7 a pair!) that are resistant to the worst of the thorns, so at least our hands are spared.
As I write I’m keeping a close eye on some logs that are lying about on a couple of groves adjacent to ours. The farmer has done a major prune, cleared away all the brushwood but left his firewood on the site to be collected later. Last year we did the same thing and turning up one day found that every log had become infested with a type of burrowing beetle, leaving little holes about every 20cm or so and little piles of sawdust where they’d gone in. On checking the books, we discovered that they lay their eggs in the cut timber and some days later (usually about 20) out come thousands of dear little beetles that promptly drill themselves into the nearest olive trees, (which, in the case of this guy’s woodpiles, happen to be our trees). In Spain there are some villages where the tradition of storing wood piles outside the back door means that trees for a hundred meters or so are infested with the little beauties and unproductive as a result.

They have a conspiracy, I have an answer

The problem we have is clear and enormously difficult to overcome. A very old and highly organised bloodline of conspirators have achieved such an all- encompassing dominance for such a long period of time in so many aspects of “life” that we live in a world which is almost completely made up of false assumptions and deviant realities. The result, as they anticipated, is that it is impossible for any one person (or in fact any group of people without the organisation and control over resource that governments or the incredibly wealthy have) can perceive the entirety of the false reality. As each generation passes the recruitment and absorption into their system of the people who
control all aspects of our lives becomes more systematic, wholesale and complete. They have their controlling influence on the world’s religions, governments and the police, army and security apparatus, on education, on healthcare, in the supply of energy, food and water and via their “global warming” crusade soon to be control over and taxation on the very air we breathe. Their poisoning of food and water supplies and their control over the legal and illegal drug trades designed to dumb down their herd is augmented by their control of the press. Their control of the world’s money supply, their usury and the indebtedness of every nation state and so the whole of mankind to them is the root and branch of their control and the means by which they recruit their apparatchiks.They decide the issues, they decide the agenda. They always control both sides of every issue and have historically proven their ability to do so. There can be no doubt that they are already taking the lead and will try to assume control of the loose coalitions increasingly found on the internet categorised as “conspiracy theorists”. Knowing their sphere of command and taking as read their ability to carry out false flag operations it is only a matter of time before anyone that visits a site such as this will be categorised as a terrorist, vilified in the press for the “education” of the herd, made an example of and used as an excuse for the introduction of more draconian regulations.The evil that these people perpetrate is so far ranging as to beggar belief.Every war is theirs.Every baby that takes a bullet.Every person that dies because of their sick control of drug companies’ research and their deliberate burying of cures for the major illness plagues (and probably their promulgation in the first place).Every person that lives a life of fear; fear of debt, fear of war, fear of acts of terrorism, fear of disease, fear of impoverishment, fear for the future.All of these can be laid at their door.What is rarely seen on sites such as these is an answer. This is hardly surprising. What can one man conceive of that can defeat these evil conspirators? They have recruited into their ranks and subverted the morality and bent to their will the finest minds and the most aggressive and psychopathic mentalities for centuries. They have a long established family business, and that business is domination, and they are extremely good at it. The majority of people are ignorant of their crimes and believe the reality these people create for them and scoff at alternative views of reality and vilify and even attack those that propose a different truth, even one that is self evident. Many ordinary people are caught in their web of control as participators and don’t even recognise the fact: the doctor prescribing their drugs, the teacher teaching (unknowingly) false science and false history, the policeman watching you via his cameras, the soldier shooting for a false patriotism defending you from an invented enemy, worse of all the bureaucrats enforcing their regulations , the bank employees selling their usury, the press reporting their world view.Even amongst this community there are many who cling to elements of the lies fed to them. No man can be truly free of every element of their false reality. We all of us believe in one bit of history that is a lie, buy one product that is a poison, believe in a scripture that they created, follow a blog that they are behind, believe in a misguided notion of supremacy, buy one piece of their system, vote for “the other party“. “We” argue amongst ourselves when unity of a massive scale is required.When an organisation of such complexity and depth such as this evil empire presents itself the answering struggle has to be either as well funded, well organised, have the same access to media and the same control over repressive forces (police, army, secret services, the entire apparatus of control) as the opposition , or it has to find a different route. That different route can only be an idea. One single, simple, popular, unarguable, achievable concept that can bring down the edifice of control and reshape the world. We can decide what that shape will be afterwards, the important thing is to decide on the one idea and make it happen, right now. Take that idea and spread it in every way we can, through every media we can access (even by spending our own money), in every conversation we have, in every language in the world to every person in the world. One idea that will spread faster than their viruses and more powerfully than they can control.
As John Pilger said in one of his excellent documentaries there are two world powers, America and public opinion. The latter should be harnessed to take from the ruling elite all of those instruments of Government power and control which they currently access via their control of the major political parties in all the world’s democracies.
Maybe that idea should be that, at every election in the world in countries where elections are held, electors choose only candidates who are not and never have been members or affiliates of political parties.
The rallying cry : “Start Again”
So, if you’re reading this and consider yourself a good person, let your local “Start Again” candidate be YOU!

Getting away from prison England

Three years ago I had absolutely no idea that by November 2007 I would have been living in Crete for over a year and a half, that I’d wake up to the sight and sound of the sea each morning, that I’d be seriously considering buying a donkey because, of all things, I’d become an olive farmer.
Back then in the UK our son had left uni and effectively left home, our daughter was at uni but was probably the most travelled and independent kid in the world. We could cut the apron strings and fly.
I was desperate to get out of the place before I went mad. Or got mad. Perhaps it was all the security cameras? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you has always been my adage.
Other than wanting to escape, I had no fixed plans……..
The first job was to browbeat the wife, God bless her long suffering soul, into joining me in my insanity. “The kids are grown up “, the argument went, “lets go on an adventure. Sell all this rubbish we’ve managed to surround ourselves with and go to India and buy a tea plantation, go to Italy and do up old houses, something, anything other than another 15 years of this until we retire, then a few years weeing into a chair and dribbling in some care home until we die At which time Tony Blair or whichever cloned fascist is in power at the time will tax us again“. Of course, I had to repeat myself a few times.
Eventually, she bought it. If only, I suspect, to get a little peace.
Years ago we used to dream of going to France. Learnt the lingo, cruised the internet for old farmhouses for £500 to renovate, took our holidays with Eurocamp Then we realised that every other Brit was doing the same, Brittany was becoming “Little Britainy” and the French, quite rightly, were getting fed up of “les rosbifs.” And La Belle France ,as the years progressed ,was becoming more and more like the UK anyway. So where?
Like so many of the friends we have here in Crete we sold everything we had, went through the trauma of a major life laundry (“I’m not selling my sofas!“) put a few books and photographs (and the kitchen table our kids had grown up sitting around and painting on) in the back of a van and set off.
Unlike those friends , although we had a vague idea we were heading for Crete we weren’t certain. Mostly because we’d never set foot here. Indeed the only experience of Greece we had was a week in Kephalonia some years back, and then only my wife and the kids went. So the future was a little hazy.
I won’t bore you with details of the road trip because I guess if you’re reading this you’ve probably done the same or similar. What I will say is that when we emerged from the ferry at Souda bay we were still talking. But only just.
The van, by this time, had become “Michael”. We’d decorated him with flowers on the basis that if thieves thought it was a hippy van they wouldn’t bother trying to steal the contents. He was terrifically, dangerously and almost certainly illegally overloaded, creaked and groaned around every bend, lurched frighteningly at every rut in the road, and became our best and most loyal friend.
Of course Crete did everything it could to put us off right from the start. We couldn’t have felt less welcome if we’d parachuted in with the 31st Sturmabteilung (or whatever) in 1942. The wind was giving the island some serious attention, it was raining and cloudy, the roads were full of potholes, everyone was honking their horns when they passed Michael (which we thought was some sort of aggressive behaviour at the time) and when we got to Iraklion we were greeted with a fifty meter long pile of stinking rubbish in the street. We were getting to the point of turning back at this stage. What we didn’t know, of course, is that the rubbish was due to a strike by the collectors (this was April 06). We thought it was usually like that. Oh my God, what had we done?
We pointed Michael in the direction of Sitia on a whim and because we’d read there were already lots of Brits in the West of the island and what would be the point of joining them. If we did that we might end up playing golf, or spending our evenings in Brit pubs drinking Tetley, watching Corrie and eating sausage and mash. Heaven forefend, although the sausage and mash sounds good.
I’m sorry , by the way, if you play golf and go to the Red Lion every night. It’s just not for me..
It’s worth noting at this stage that the better half has long held an entirely unwarranted hatred of Wales. All those dark, lowering mountains. The rain. Dark little villages. I’ve grown to dislike the place myself. If you’ve ever had occasion to travel from Agios Nikolaos to Sitia on a dismal and rainy April evening you’ll know what I ’m driving at. Needless to say, things were a bit grim in the van. Michael was making the best job he could of pulling 3.5 tonnes up steep mountain roads round S bend after S bend without grumbling, trying to keep our spirits up.We drove into Sitia down the Iraklion road, not it’s prettiest aspect, took one look and kept going.
We carried on further east to Palekastro.
Now, you know when you go into the wrong pub and everything goes eerily quiet and all eyes are focussed on little old you? That’s how we felt driving through the square in Palekastro in our hippied-up van. Everyone stared at us . It was more than a little unnerving. Still, it was late and we had to find a bed for the night. Wearily and miserably we booked into the Hellas hotel in the square in Palekastro and went to bed. I can’t remember if we talked or not, but things were decidedly other than great. (Many times since we’ve been sitting in the square enjoying a beer with people who have become friends and we’ve stared at people passing through. It’s what you do.)
Isn’t it funny what a bit of sunshine can do to the spirits? The next morning the big friendly chap in the sky beamed down on us and all seemed to be just that little bit better. Oddly, it’s been pretty much a little bit better every day since.
We met an English musician who makes ends meet selling houses and who, in chronological order, became our third friend in Crete. This , in hindsight, was the beginning of the process that led to me thinking four hours on a steep mountainside hacking at huge “weeds” in the blazing sun was a time well spent and fun too! I recall thinking “Hey, we could probably afford a few olive trees…..”
The “fellow-escapees” we come across in our neck of the woods tend to fall into three categories:
Category a)… Great big chunk of cash in the bank and a nice pension ,thanks very much.
Category b)… As above, but with a less than great chunk of cash.
Category c) …, as b), but without the pension.
We, most decidedly, fall into category c). So, as we became more familiar with what was available for what sort of money we had to think of some way to add to our little all by way of generating an income. Two options offered themselves. Option one, buy an old house, renovate and restore it, sell it for a healthy profit and do it all again. There are still lots of empty old houses here in East Crete and in fact doing this sort of thing had long been in my mind. In fact nearly all of our English friends are doing just that. Option two; buy a few olive trees and at the same time make sure that the land is build-able on and in a spot where people might like to live , then sell off-plan as we sure can’t afford to build them first.
One day in June 06 we were gently motoring around the area and we happened upon the most beautiful valley close to a hamlet called Agios Spiridon. Studded with stately cypress trees, majestic mountain tops in the distance, white villages clinging to the hillsides, the sea glinting in the distance, buzzards idling on a thermal overhead and the greenest place we’d seen in Crete. We fell in love. Funnily enough, just a week or two later we were there again, buying 750 dilapidated olive trees and our own slice of heaven. This was surely no coincidence. Find me an English couple in love with the idea of being an olive farmer and I’ll find you a Spanish, Italian or Greek olive farmer willing to let you find out the hard way just why it is they all live to be a hundred. It’s the exercise, and they‘d rather you did it whilst they use your cash to get a widescreen tv and visit their grandson and his family in New York.
As I guess most readers will know, buying a property in Crete is a journey rather than a transaction. We’ve been farming the groves since January this year, but for various reasons only got the paperwork finally right last week! Over the coming issues I’ll be sharing with you some of the joys of Olive farming, just in case any of you are mad enough to follow suit, and some of the joys of Greek bureaucracy , in case you didn’t know. We are farming biologically, and will share what little learning we have with Crete Courier readers.
Panta geia, panta xara as they say in Agios Spiridon,
“Always health, always joy”.