Blue Skies & Black Olives: A survivor's tale of housebuilding and peacock chasing in Greece

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Hodder & Stoughton, Sep 10, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 300 pages
1 Review

'A very funny tome' DAILY TELEGRAPH

'Hilarious' DAILY MAIL

'A profoundly instructive course in the idiosyncrasies of Greek law, custom and culture ... entertainingly chronicled' SAGA

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From Radio 4 presenter, bestselling author and national treasure John Humphrys, a funny and engaging memoir of building a home in Greece written together with his son Christopher.

It was a moment of mad impulse when John Humphrys decided to buy a semi-derelict cottage and a building site on a plot of land overlooking the Aegean. A few minutes gazing out over the most glorious bay he had ever seen was all it took to persuade him. After all, his son Christopher was already raising his family there so he would help build the beautiful villa that would soon rise there. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything.

John was to spend the next three years regretting his moment of madness.

Some of it had its comic side. He learned to cope with a drunken peacock falling out of his favourite tree and even a colony of rats invading his bedroom. Some of the humans proved trickier: the old man demanding payment for olive trees in the middle of John's own land; the neighbour who dragged his lovely old fishing boat onto the beach and set fire to it after a row with his wife. And, of course, the builders. Was the plumber who electrocuted him in the shower vengeful or merely incompetent?

John learned a lot about Greece in a short time. He grew to love it and loathe it in almost equal measures, but was never for a moment bored by it. And Christopher learned a bit more about John. Their shared experience revived keen memories for him of growing up with a father for whom patience was never the strongest virtue...

Here father and son capture the idyll and the odyssey as paradise is found, lost and regained.

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User Review  - fist - LibraryThing

It's the classic "woe is me" dinner party tale of red tape and builders that don't show up, set in Greece. But John Humprys redefines the concept "Whingeing Pom". Vestigial colonial superiority ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

John Humphrys has reported from all over the world for the BBC and presented its frontline news programmes on both radio and television, in a broadcasting career spanning forty years. He has won a string of national awards and been described as a 'national treasure'. He owned a dairy farm for ten years and has homes in Greece and London. Christopher Humphrys is John Humphrys' eldest son. He has lived in Greece for the past sixteen years and is a cellist with the hugely popular Camerata Orchestra based in Athens.

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