Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blue Skies And Black Olives



Blue Skies & Black Olives:

A survivor's tale of housebuilding and peacock chasing in Greece

By John Humphrys & Christopher Humphrys

Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 2009


This was a serendipitous find in a charity shop recently. I'm always a sucker for books about Brits who end up in Mediterranean countries.

John Humphrys is well-known to many Brits as a reporting journalist, newsreader, presenter and Radio 4 broadcaster. His son, Christopher, is a musician who auditioned for a post in a Greek orchestra and ended up making his home in Athens and marrying a nice Greek girl.

John has had many madcap ideas, including an unsuccessful stint as a dairy farmer in Wales, and buying a derelict house in a remote yet stunning part of mainland Greece was to prove the most madcap of them all. Absolutely nothing is straightforward, nothing goes according to plan and the positively Byzantine level of intrigue, bribery and threats needed to get even the simplest task done is hilarious to read about but most definitely would not be fun to have to endure. Chris deals with the flak both from the workmen he has to deal with and from an increasingly irate father who provides the funds to deal with unexpected problems while spending long periods away in Britain.

Yes, there are olives and olive trees - but not their olive trees even if on their land. There is a renegade peacock who adopts them, blue skies and blue seas galore. There are also broken-hearted neighbours, illegal Albanian workers, Greek bureaucrats, rats and planning laws to contend with...

Alternating between sections written by John then Chris, giving both sides of the story behind their Greek adventure and giving much insight into their relationship, this book had me laughing out loud in places. An enjoyable read.


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