Welcome to the grove blog, an archive of all the work we have done here.
For booking and further info, visit thegrovemontenegro.com.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Montenegro in the winter time

Afternoon, Grovers. 

         As you are probably aware, a contingent has just returned from 4 days in Montenegro. We stayed with our friends at Kula, on the steep cobbled street in Stari Bar, and mostly spent our days flitting to and from the architects. Together we visited the mill on a few occasions. Be it to measure up, or just imagine new ideas. There is a lot to think about - as we are having to remove the entirety of the internals of the building, we are going to be left with a massive box. And it’s this lack of restrictions that make decision making so difficult. The question is always ‘That’s nice, but could it be better?’. The answer so far has been yes. So we will continue improving and modifying until the answer is unquestionably ‘No’.

    On the trip we had a lovely human called Ryan with us filming everything. He will be putting out videos of what we got up to. Including lots of orange eating (all shapes and sizes), toilet shopping and stargazing. It features most of the people we are working with, so it feels great that you will get to meet them all.

   This is the last day of the Indiegogo campaign. It is unreal, the amount everyone has managed to raise. Thank you a million times over for contributing and putting your faith in our project. We won’t let you down.

    Here is some of our instagram stream from our time there. It was hot - a wonderful 18 degrees C in the winter. The sun was out, hitting The Grove at 9am, and staying with us until sunset. And it was silent. So quiet. It took me a while, but Sam recognised that we had been so used to the screech of cicadas that their absence brought this amazing feeling of calm and relaxation. We are very energised, and are getting the wheels in motion so that we are ready to begin renovation works early 2016. Chris is moving from Australia in the next few weeks, so we will all be together for the first time.

       Peace, Love and Kumquats.

           The Grove Team




Saturday, 14 November 2015

More Montenegro, in pictures!

'Allo folks! Chris here, express via undersea interweb cables from Australia.

Thought I'd share a few snaps my intrepid father took on his recent exploration of Montenegro. Perhaps they'll inspire you to book a room via our Indiegogo campaign ( indiegogo.com/projects/the-grove-montenegro#/ ). Stay tuned for exciting updates from our architects!

Lake Skadar, not far from The Grove

The Tara bridge, crossing the Tara river in the north

On the road from Zabljak to the Tara river (excellent white water rafting spot)

A footbridge to Bosnia & Herzegovina... lacking any customs or border controls!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Launch Time

Here is the link to our Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign, where you can become a part of The Grove.

We look forward to seeing you here.

Down Time

And so here we are.

 It is November, believe it or not. We have been at work, having babies (seriously, one of us did), eating, sleeping, repeating, all 4 of us involved in this project just getting on with life. It is funny to think of The Grove, just sitting there. Housing animals and hay, the spider webs getting thicker. Being bashed by sun and rain. Just waiting patiently for someone to come and love it.

     Chris's dad visited Stari Bar just a couple of weeks ago. It is always nice to imagine other people there. There really is something magical about the spot, and we get shivers of delight knowing there is someone sitting in our garden, appreciating the serenity. Here's a photo of the mill he took from the fort, and from just across the river. It is looking particularly lush after heavy rainfall.

     The architects are supplying drawings, and we are slowly getting there with final sketches of the internals. We all are in touch almost everyday, be it through the curation of the pinterest board, skype calls or just group messaging.

   Here's a sneaky look at our pinterest board, just so you can imagine what's going through our heads.


       We are to begin the external structural works in January. But in order for this to happen, we are going to need your help.....


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Last few Vidz

Chr*stmas has started properly here now in the UK. In their windows, shops have fake wrapped presents amongst cookware, cheap tinsel wrapped around sports shoes, plastic trees with bargain electronics under them. It really is magical. 

    It’s actually not.

 The seed gets planted in July. The 8th of July there were emails about chr*stmas dinners/parties. Big pubs started putting out festive displays to attract your attention to their pamphletry. There was a gosh darned fully decorated tree at the beginning of August in the Coop. Just to remind you to start saving for the celebration where you throw wads of cash at the baby jebus, hoping that it will buy you his love. It becomes a seedling mid September. ‘Where are you going to be for Christmas this year?’ ‘I’ve already done my shopping’ ’Gosh Christmas comes earlier every year.’ ‘Not a christmas catalogue already?!?’ Even it being talked about here is part of the problem.
   And it seems the 2nd Monday in October is the nationally agreed moment that the first buds are allowed to appear. After a quiet unassuming Sunday, i walked to work as usual, but this time i was getting walloped at every shop window with goddam glitter and foil wrapping paper. 

          So what?

One of the best things about being in Montenegro, which is not necessarily clear at the time but hits you on your return, is there are no T*scos. There are no Gr*ggs. There are no McD*nalds. There certainly aren’t any shops with stupid chr*stmas stuff in the windows in October. It’s a breath of fresh air being there (apart from when they decide to burn tyres in Bar). Literally, of course, as it’s a very outdoorsy lifestyle. But also it very much highlights just how cloned and depressing our towns are in the UK, and how we are told how to shop, how to eat. Of course there are chains in Mont of sorts - supermarkets, bakeries, etc. But it is a lot less aggressive. Chains are, without exception, ugly. Ugliness that comes from ubiquity. If you come and visit us, you will be surrounded by beauty of all sorts. The mountains, the sea, the nature. Even beauty that comes from questionable architecture (there is a lot of concrete in Bar). When travelling through, this beauty is born mostly from unfamiliarity. Curiosity. But as this lessens, it becomes a beauty that is authentic, original and sincere. We can’t wait to see you here. 

Here are a few more vids. The last look around the building, and walking the 500 metres to Stari Bar main street.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Video Tour Numba 2

Hello everyone! 

     Here is the second instalment in the video tour of The Grove, in its abandoned, decrepit state. 

          You see its perfectly formed arse in this one. And a bit more of its inner workings. 

   It’s really hot. You won’t be able to feel it, as unfortunately your screen wont blast 40 degree air in your face. But it was everywhere, the heat. Unrelenting. Bar is Europe’s sunniest city - it has the most sunlight hours per year. Solar power will help fuel our aircon, so we can cool ourselves guilt free. 

       The most magical time of the day is the evening. When Sam, Chris and I were in Montenegro to have a look at the place, we went to the fort for sunset. There was a play going on in the small amphitheatre. Looking out over Stari Bar, towards the Adriatic, the cool air flowed in bringing sweet relief to the oppressive heat. That is when the photo in the header was taken. Peace n Beauty, m8. 

       When Sophie and I were there, we arrived at 9pm. It was already pitch black. We headed to the Grove anyway. We climbed the fence into the garden (we hadn’t yet picked up the keys). We were not aware of the various equines as yet. Until we went inside and saw a shadow move. Hearts pumping we recognised the horse. Which was fine. But then more and more shadows kept appearing, walking slowly towards us. It was terrifying. The donkeys had not been there on previous visits. They moved slowly, cautiously, but definitely in our direction. When you don’t know what you are looking at, you jump to conclusions - DEFINITELY A FRIGGING GHOST ZOMBIE WEREWOLF OR SOMETHING. The adrenaline is still flowing through our veins from that moment. 

        After we got over that, we sat in silence on the lawn. The stars were so bright. The illuminated fort atop the hill. The gentle trickle of the river water. 

   We just can’t wait to be with you all. Occasionally chatting. Sharing a drink or two. Occasionally sitting in that same silence. Looking at those same stars. Occasionally listening to Milli Vanilli. Roasting a marshmallow on the fire. Eating olives. Lots of olives. Discussing what level of nothing you are going to do the following day. It’s enough to make us explode with excite. 

             For now, you will have to make do with our shitty commentary for 6 minutes at a time, as we wander around the building poking and prodding things.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015

STRESS but sweet relief.


      We went our separate ways, Sam, Chris and I. Chris went back home to Aus via Belgrade. We went back to Newcastle and got rained on. 

          We then put in an offer on the place.

      Adrenaline pumping through our bodies, we waited for a response.

The place had been on the market for 7 years. 7 years. And in all that time there had been one serious offer on the place, which eventually fell through. 

 One hour before we put in our offer, another British couple had put in a higher offer. 

7 years. 

7 years.

1 hour. 

We hunted for money. Asking friends and family. We could not possibly offer the asking price, and hoped that a slightly higher offer would be enough for the seller to consider letting it go to us. What we had to our advantage - we had had the building surveyed, we had a lawyer ready to go, the sale would be quick and stress free, we are nice and friendly. The offer was accepted. And we hurriedly put the deposit down, on a reservation agreement that had a clause in the sellers favour stating that they would not lose out financially if they withdrew from the sale. Something they had really fought for. 

WOW. Roller coaster right????


The evening after we had transferred the deposit, we received a message from the seller -

Can you pls tell Tom about the new offer for our asking price and see if he will match that? We can then sign an amendment to the reservation agreement.

The other couple had upped their offer even more, and this was enough to convince the seller to change their allegiance.


That evening we didnt sleep. Chris mostly because it was the day time in Aus, but also we were all so super sad about the whole thing. We assumed, because of the aforementioned clause, that the seller was completely entitled to pull out. And boy was it gut wrenching. I was out with my best-friends girl-friend, watching Coltranes son honk his saxophone unconvincingly, and i was TERRIBLE company. When i got home, Sophie wouldn't stand for it. She said that we would be protected against this. Surely.

   In the morning, our Wünderlawyers got in touch. Basically saying that everything was going to be ok. That the sale would continue as planned, unless the seller wanted a long drawn out court case. Basically Sophie was right. And we were all just panicky flappy doom bringers. 


After that we sent off our power of attorneys, and they arrived a few days later. It is funny getting stuff notarised. A bonkers archaic system. But it feels nice and official. 

And then we had to borrow loads of money.

Then we nipped back to Mont to tie up a few loose ends, do things like open a bank account, give some thank you gifts out and meet the neighbours. 

At the end of it, we own this. This little patch of heaven that will be filled with so much bloody happiness in the years to come. Even after switching off for but a couple of hours, i have to convince myself again that it actually exists. That we now are in a position to do something great with this place. And that we get to work together, all of us, on this project.

Here is a first VIDEO look around the place. Video 1 of 3.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Grove becomes a seedling.

A year passed by in England for me and the bros. Some stuff happened. For example, I updated Adobe Flash Player alot, I popped to T*sco to buy some milk and some chocolate hobnobs, Coldplay released a hit single, probably, Kanye West said some controversial stuff, more than likely, we got a new horrid government in the UK, all of our bees died, winter came to the north and never left, my brother got diagnosed with impending fatherdom, our sister spawned a really cute male human, and I had some toast. 

       Through all of this the olive mill never really left my mind. I spoke about it to my brothers once or twice, though never in any great detail. As it was still unachievable. 

     In May I contacted Ivana at Montenegro Prospects and asked if there was anything new and exciting to look at. I also asked if the mill had moved in price. 

         Indeed it had. What was more, the Euro was weak. It was still out of reach, unless someone else got involved with my brothers and I. 

           I used to work with a man in Budapest. He was Australian. And still is. He was a fantastic human being. And still is. He was called Chris. But that changed recently to Tallulah. 

       In order to work with a unit as tightly knit as my brothers and I we needed someone we could trust completely, whose opinion we had total faith in and whose eyes could see things ours didn’t. Someone with a personality that fit with the mission at hand, could contribute things that we couldn't. Someone who was willing to drop their current life to become a key member of the project.

  I put a pitch together in an email, and sent it to Tallulah. 

This was his response


This is all phenomenally exciting. 

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!’

 So Sam, Tallulah and I booked some plane tickets. Pat (the other brother) did not, because of the fatherdom thing. 

         We revisited the mill in July. And we had such a great time. Despite the fact the trip looked like a holiday, we did spend a lot of it doing businessy things. Meeting with lawyers, architects and having meetings amongst ourselves. Discussing the ins and outs of the project.

We landed in Dubrovnik 

Then got a bus to Kotor, where we met with Olga and Jasmina, the wünder lawyers and an architect. This was taken after a heavy consultation. Hence the beers. Or lack thereof.

After a night stay in Kotor, we popped on a bus to Budva, before heading to Bar. 

In Bar we stayed just around the corner from the mill in Konoba Kula. A nicer bunch of people you would be hard pressed to find (It's on the right of this pic)

So we dumped our stuff and headed to the mill, where we met Ivana, and another member of the real estate community  - 

The next day we went on a mega adventure through a 2km snake and bat ridden tunnel to a secret beach. There was a dead goat on it. 


When The Grove opens, we will offer tours through Bat Snake Tunnel to Dead Goat Beach. 

 We left Bar feeling positive, but we had made no final decision on whether we would go ahead with the project or not. But that is predictably all going to change in the next instalment of THE GROVE BLOG.


Sam, Tallulah and I just before we left.

Alright, his name is still Chris. He does nice photos. Amongst other things. The square ones on here are by him. And the black and white ones. Basically anything that looks good is probably by him. 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

One year ago today, I visited Montenegro, Crna Gora. The aim, aside from having a lovely trip, was to view some land. I had contacted the lovely chaps at montenegro prospects, and had briefed them with this - large plot of land, 1 acre minimum, with fruit/olive trees, with a sizeable ruin on it. The ruin was important as it would allow a building without many planning difficulties. The land was to house a campsite. It was a far flung dream i had, for perhaps 3 or 4 years time. These things take ages to happen, so i thought i would just get on with it. Get the ball rolling. Or perhaps plummeting would be more fitting, down the many, many sheer cliffs of Montenegro.
I spent 3 lovely days in the company of Ivana and team, seeing massive expansive clumps of overgrown land, waterfront properties, old palaces, pomegranate orchards, inaccessible farm ruins and olive groves. We travelled all along the coast, into the villages surrounding the bay of Kotor, high up into the hills down south and round wiggly coves.

There were one or two perfect locations, however, as is often the case with ideal things, the price was often a little bit of a stretch. 

Finally, on the last day before i ran up to Dubrovnik to meet my girlfriend, Sophie, i was brought to Stari Bar, and shown this from the old fort - 

An olive mill. 

My thoughts - Amazing. Truly amazing. But too expensive, and there was not enough land to wang a campsite on it. 

And so I left, and had a lovely holiday with Sophie. Thinking that would be the last thing i would see of the Olive Mill.