Firstly, I’d like to thank all those past guests who responded to our recent survey request. You are guys are awesome!

Our thinking

It seems incredible but Camp Full Monte has now been open for seven summers. Over that time we’ve welcomed guests from all over the world and judging from the feedback we get either directly, via our guestbook or travel review sites such as trip advisor, the overwhelming majority seem to enjoy their time both with us and in Montenegro. The truth is we’re still not operating at anywhere near full capacity. With such positive feedback, we wanted to know what, if anything, we are doing wrong?

It was time to ask some difficult questions. Are we communicating our offer effectively? Why do people visit? What is that makes a stay at Camp Full Monte memorable? How do people feel about the clothing optional aspect of the Camp Full Monte experience? The list grew and grew and our best guess at the answers to these were largely anecdotal.

The approach

We decided to contact past guests and get some empirical data. We turned to Wow what a great site! With an ever watchful eye on budget, we opted for their free service. It had its limitations, most notably a limit of 100 responses but with approximately 350 e-mail addresses for past guests and an expected response rate of less than 10% we thought it was worth a try. The other limitation was the number of questions that could be asked. A maximum of 10. We didn’t want to ask people to engage in a lengthy questionnaire so this limit seemed reasonable and focused our attention. It took some careful planning and perhaps we should have phrased at least one question differently but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Despite these limitations we quickly hit our 100 response limit, an exceptional response rate, so thanks again people!

Give us your thoughts

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts or interpretations. Click on the gallery below and then scroll through the individual images. You can add comments to individual images or add comments below this post. Please feel free to share with others in your networks who may be interested, just use the share button at the bottom of the article.

The survey results

The free service does limit the ability to slice and dice the data but I plan to do this in subsequent posts. In the meantime, here are the results from all respondents. I haven’t included the free format comment responses which would make this post too unwieldy. Maybe later.

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2010 Eloise's newly planted olive sapling.

2010 Eloise’s newly planted olive sapling.

Back in 2010 we planted an olive tree on the campsite to mark the 1st birthday & naming ceremony of our good friends’ second daughter, Eloise. This year was the first time the tree flowered and set fruit and we’ve been monitoring their ripeness with some excitement. Our area of Montenegro is dotted with countless olive groves but many have been neglected over the years. Small scale, domestic (domaci) produced olives can still be bought from markets and roadside stalls but the groves producing these can’t compete with agro business farms  in other Mediterranean countries so they remain relatively small scale. We were eager to see if we could produce our own “domaci” eating olives.

Preparing olives for curing


We tried curing olives some years ago whilst house sitting a friends property. Those olives were fully ripened and black. Perhaps as a consequence they were also riddled with holes signifying they had been got at by the olive fly. Many were rather soft and squishy. My memory of the whole project was that it seemed to be a bit of a faff, took ages and produced a finished product that was at best mediocre.

Convinced that keeping the olive fly at bay was the key to success, when the flowers on Eloise’s tree set fruit in May, we invested in some organic fly control. Essentially these were bright yellow squares of plastic, coated with an extremely sticky coating. Much like the “old school” flypapers, the flies are attracted to the sight and smell of the squares and then get stuck on them. Although somewhat indiscriminate in the winged insects they attracted, they did appear to work. Few of our olives had holes in them.

Olives ripening

Nearly ready to pick!!!

As the olives started to turn from green to black there was much googling of how and when to pick and cure olives. What a nightmare! There are stacks of articles on the subject, each with a multitude of variations. Little of which matched the local pearls of wisdom we’d been given. Worried that if we didn’t pick the olives as they were, we might not get another opportunity before they were too ripe. So we went for it and picked over a kilo from our little tree.

A day later, I was clearing our friend Niks plot of land in Bijela. One of the jobs was to tidy up his more mature but rather neglected olive tree which had been partly floored by high winds. I managed to pick another kilo from this tree. Nik’s olives were more ripe but heavily infested with olive fly larvae. I ended up discarding nearly 2/3 of the crop. Further evidence the yellow squares are worth getting.

Let the faffing begin!
Sure signs of olive fly

Sure signs of olive fly

Denise and I picked over the crop, inspecting each olive for holes, bruises and general ugliness and ended up with 1.25kg of premium olives. I’d decided to follow the brine cure technique (well sort of) which entails soaking the olives in a salt solution for ….. well frankly, ages!!! Good things come to those who wait.

The bitterness of a fresh olive is caused by a substance called oleuropein. Soaking olives in brine leaches this out but to help it permeate the first decision was should I …

  • prick each olive several times with a needle?
  • place them between a tea towel and try to crack/split the flesh by bashing them with a rolling pin?
  • make a lengthwise slit in each olive?

Well that’s a no brainer. Making a single cut in each olive sounds tedious but nowhere near as tedious as pricking each one with a pin. Trust me, I know, we did it with our first batch of olives back in 2011. Never again. As for bashing them? Ours were too ripe already, the final cured olive would look …. well a bit bashed.  No – a good eating olive should look attractive too. Knife cuts it was then.

Next decision. What is brine anyway? Salt and water right? Yes but google wisdom suggests it shouldn’t be iodized salt. Oooops. I rushed to check if the 1kg of salt I bought was iodized with no idea how to translate iodized into Montenegrin? It had to be Joda. The 1kg I’d bought plus various other random jars/packs of half finished salt on our spice shelf seemed to contain 12% of the stuff.  Finally, Saxa comes to the rescue, right at the back of the spice shelf 1 pot of Saxa non-iodized Coarse Sea Salt with ….. not very much salt.  No panic. How much do I need? 3/4 of a cup to 1 gallon of water. What the feck is that in real money? More googling and my best guess was 55g in 1 litre. I had …. 40g. doh! Ah what the hell? I bet the locals don’t use non-iodized salt. So, I made it up to 55g and dissolved it in a litre of water.

I then just rammed my olives into a large Kilner jar and poured the brine over them. To ensure the olives were completely submerged I cut a plastic disc from a margarine tub lid, slit it along it’s radius and shoved it in to the top of the jar. Job done! Put the jar in the cupboard under the stairs (dark) and wait a week.

How time flies when you’re an olive drowning in brine in a dark cupboard. One week on and a lot of the olives had begun to lose their dark colour, reverting to a drab olive green colour. The inconspicuous slits now appeared as rather large unsightly gashes in each olive. So much for attractive looking olives. Maybe that’s why people prick them with a needle. The Kilner jar lid hissed slightly as I opened it suggesting that some kind of fermentation was beginning. Definitely time to rinse the olives and up the concentration of replacement brine to 130g salt / litre of water. Then it’s back to the sensory deprivation cupboard for the drowned olives.

When will it end?

I’ll leave them for a further 2 months, at which point I’ll open them up again, taste one of the olives and decide whether to rinse and repeat for another 2 months…. ad infinitum.

Told you it was a faff












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