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Blue Skies & Black Olives: A survivor's tale of housebuilding and peacock chasing in Greece Paperback – 1 Apr 2010


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Blue Skies & Black Olives: A survivor's tale of housebuilding and peacock chasing in Greece + It's All Greek to Me!: A Tale of a Mad Dog and an Englishman, Ruins, Retsina - And Real Greeks + The Greek For Love: Life, Love and Loss in Corfu
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340978848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340978849
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description

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)

A sparky, funny, exasperated story that brings Humphrys and his family together in trying but also tender circumstances. (Iain Finlayson, Times)

'John Humphrys was born to be combative... His cellist son Christopher acts as a gentle foil. Between them they amusingly blend the genres of misery memoir and Mediterranean escapist idyll (FT Weekend)

Entertaining (The Lady)

hilarious (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

Radio 4 Today presenter and national treasure John Humphrys' funny and engaging memoir of building a home in Greece with his son Christopher.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on 13 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm afraid that I totally disagree with the previous reviewer. The book made me laugh out loud several times. Yes many people have done a book on a similar theme before but this one is particularly well written and funny, particularly the contrast between uptight John Humphrys and his laid back son. Being middle class and buying a property abroad is not a crime, and I strongly recommend this book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By K. Iliopoulos on 2 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
...because I've known Chris for a long time and I've seen his father twice: once in Chris' wedding (a surrealistic event in many ways) and once in Top Gear (I said seen not met!). So first of all I feel obliged to confirm the accuracy of what is written. It's not fiction, it's the Greek reality. Being both a Greek and a friend I think my point is valid beyond doubt.

To be honest I don't understand the criticism about the book. It probably won't win a Pulitzer or a Nobel (although we had some surprises there lately) but it's certainly entertaining (a real detoxing time in the day) and worth reading for a number of reasons:

If you are a foreigner (sorry, I mean a non-Greece resident) I truly believe that this story is an insightful view to what contemporary Greece is, beyond the days on a beach "chosen by Gods", where you can "live your myth" under the sun, in an all-inclusive package offered by your local travel agent. Although it might not tempt you to build a house here, it might make you jump on a regular flight and visit a place in the other 9/10 of the country during the other 3/4 of the year.

On the flip side if you do live in Greece, this can be a really enjoyable, yet quite accurate, way to have a different view on our contemporary reality, through the clearer eyes of a "foreigner". What was striking though for me is that in many cases I felt that Mr. Humphrys conveyed an underlying optimism about this country, beyond the ordinary British phlegm, something that made me really questioning his sanity, but being who he is, I guess he should know better. Maybe there is hope. The only consolation for us (the Greeks) is the fact that eloquence in English, seems to go hand-in-hand with the increased use of Greek or Greek-originated words. Isn't that fantastic?

IN SHORT: WHEREVER YOU ARE FROM, BUY THIS BOOK, YOU WILL ENJOY IT!

PS One star is missing so that I sound more objective!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Jones on 19 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books you just don't want to put down. I loved the contrast between the famously grumpy old man that is John Humphrys and his evidently chilled out son Christopher. It's so much more than just the story of building a house in Greece - although that in itself proves hilarious. Christopher offers an insight into Greece and its traditions that can only come from someone who has clearly immersed himself fully in the culture. This isn't just another 'celebrity' telling a story, it's an entertaining take on life in a country I knew little about (there's some really interesting historical stuff too). It takes a lot for me to chuckle while reading a book, but the peacock chapter had me literally laughing out loud. Whether or not you're a fan of Mr Humphrys, this is a top book - I'll be buying it for my friends this Christmas!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MarieS on 26 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Loved the book! It should be mandatory reading for all the Greek bureaucrats whose job is to invite/encourage foreign investment in Greece. Talking about a system that needs to change! Despite the fact that I am Greek, it took me ...10 years to build my house in Corfu. Like Mr. Humphrys, I lived far away(in New York), but I was in Corfu as often as I could,I had my father and brother living next door to the house I was building and was using builders/carpenters etc from my village whom i had known all my life. None of these helped and although now Mr. Humphrys' stories make me laugh out loud, they still bring back similar to his and unbelievably frustrating memories I would like to forget. But there was one thing that I would like to suggest to all the wonderful Brits who seem to love to come to Corfu (or any other Greek place for that matter)and make it a second home: please make an effort to learn some Greek. It's not as difficult as Mr. Humphrys would have you believe and besides, Greeks are very forgiving with visitors mispronouncing words. It will not help you with the building of your house (Alas it made zero difference in my case being a native Greek!) but it will certainly make your life so much more enjoyable there. Having lived in Canada and New York for over 30 years now, I am so impressed with how quickly people from other countries assimilate and learn English. But English speaking people do not behave the same way when vising or living in other parts of the world. A real shame in my opinion.So Mr. Humphrys, now that your house is done start learning Greek and tell us about this adventure in your next book. MS
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tromba Marina on 1 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is all too believable - we've been there! - and if you're thinking of building a house in Greece, you'll be well primed. (I wish we had had a peacock experience; but I'm glad our pool hasn't started - yet - sliding down the hillside.) It's essential to have someone on the spot who understands Greek people and Greek ways, and Christopher's contributions are every bit as entertaining and well-written as his father's. They write with real affection for each other, and for the land and its people - perhaps especially when describing some of the frustrations of the project and their life there!

Middle class? Not so, if you actually read the book. But even if it is - what's wrong with that, for goodness sake? Because he plainly hasn't the time (and perhaps the skill - he doesn't try to hide his DIY exploits) to do the actual labouring himself, must John be denied his Greek paradise? I suppose, because he's a Classical Musician, Christopher must be a Middle-Class Elitist. What nonsense. Some reviewers' comments here just reek of sour envy, which is rather sad, and reflects more on them than on this book.

Anyone who can relax, Greek-style, and isn't simply scouring the book for things to be outraged by, will find huge amounts of enjoyment in every chapter here, as well as sympathetic (though often bemused) insight into all sorts of aspects of Greek life and culture. It's a great holiday-read, and as a "relocation" book, it's one of the best out there.
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