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Austen Kark fell in love with Greece and its people in the early 1960s, but it wasn't until his retirement from the BBC in the late 1980s that he was able to fulfil his long-held plan of buying a house there. For three months he and his wife, Nina Bawden, travelled around the country they already knew deciding where to settle and dismissing possibilities - islands (too remote), olive groves halfway up mountains (too dull, too noisy, all those donkeys) - and finally decided on Nauplion, the prettiest town in Southern Greece. They found an almost derelict house, whose outside walls were built of stone at the bottom and plastered tree branches and rubble at the top. Against everyone's advice they decided to buy it, but before the purchase agreement was signed, live hand grenades were found in its roof and then it fell down altogether. To the despair of his friends (and sometiomes his wife) Austen perservered with his purchase. He found the local architects and builders to create a lofty eyrie above the town, survived the seemingly inevitable delays and disasters from plumbers, electricians and the Greek bureaucracy, manoeuvred their belongings through customs and is still trying to negotiate the system of registering his car. Yet this is not simply a journal of a house purchase, it is about the Greeks - the joys of the sun and sea, and the way they live and think and respond to strangers.
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