Tobias Roote

Science Fiction Writer

The southern view of the Corfu mountains from Villa Eden

Try as I might, I don't get to write as much as I should.

In case you didn't already know, we live in a large three-bedroomed villa on a very exposed hillside, surrounded on all sides by olive trees. We have no immediate or visible neighbours. With literally hundreds of acres of olive groves around us dotted with the occasional distant empty holiday villa battened down and shuttered against the winter, we have little to do this time of year except work the land.

 In fact, November is the busiest on the Island. We're laying nets around the base of the one hundred and fifteen olive trees that we've adopted and are currently collecting the olives that drop and bagging them ready to send to the local factory.

Because of unseasonably violent storms we've had a major early crop fall and so the yield whilst low, is of very high quality. Each bag holds 35-40 kilos of fresh olives and we just sent 18 bags on Thursday. We're happy with the 55 kilos of quality oil we harvested instead of the expected 70-80 kilos.

horses grazing at Villa Eden 2017There is only the two of us old codgers and when we arrived here eighteen months ago the grove hadn't been worked for five years, or more. The trees were badly in need of pruning and the ground in places was almost impenetrable. 

We were lucky this summer as although we had done a lot to clear the land, the neighbour's horses came to the rescue and grazed, trampled and cleared vast swathes of gorse, brush and bramble, leaving us clear to lay the nets this year. Without their help it would have been a hard slog.

So, here we are in late November with still more olives to beat off the trees, more work to do in clearing the other half of the grove that to date remains untouched and which we need to get sorted for next year's crop. It's a busy time.

in 2017 I've so far learned to wield an axe, and a machete, operate small and large chainsaws, prune olive trees, and lay nets. In the absence of other human beings we've come to accommodate foxes, rabbits, cats, dogs, hedgehogs, hawks, buzzards, lizards, snakes, insects of all kinds and the occasional large toad. We also have a herd of between 50-60 wild goats that will gladly chomp their way through our vegetables and fruit trees (more about them another day) and sometimes we might see a distant worker in the groves, or a plane going overhead full of tourists that rarely, if ever, get to see the Island quite the way we do.

Now, I did say I needed to find time to write. Where's my pencil?