For the last month or so, an ongoing task for Joe has been to strim the terraces on the Mediterranean side that contains our citrus, fruit and nut trees, plus all the other areas of our land not covered by the encina (oak) forest.
It’s done now, but it was very demanding work, made tougher by the extremes of weather during that time. Wearing a helmet, goggles and gloves is all very well, but can be a bit of a handicap when you’re being pelted by driving rain, bombed by hail, nearly blown over by violent gusts and overcome by the hot sun, sweating profusely as one does in plastic jacket and leggings.
Then it was sharp and bright, but the sting in the tail was the killer winds! We had to, once again, decamp to Horst’s sanctuary down the road. The wind had reached that manic stage where, had we remained in our screaming, bucking bronco of a house, it would have been untenable – and we all need our beauty sleep, don’t we?!
That night it got down to minus figures and I’m glad I remembered my friend the hot water bottle. The relative peace inside Horst’s well-built farmhouse was certainly a contrast to ours and I would guess had he been with us that night he would have considered the wind “very strong”. We had a good night’s sleep, but his house is definitely colder than ours.
We’d just bought some fruit trees the previous day including two mandarins, a plum and a grapefruit and mistakenly left them on the verandah as we went off to Horst’s. On our return we found them suffering from wind burn and, lesson learned, we now bring them in every night. Although still in their ugly plastic pots they’ve rewarded us with the most sensual smell from their abundant little white flowers.
For the last three days while the UK is gripped by 72mph winds and icy temperatures, we are now experiencing a sort of mini heatwave here. The temperature inside the cabin during the afternoons and early evenings is around 78 deg F. Quite comfortable, I’d say. The wind makes a feeble attempt to keep us awake at night, but it embraces rather than bites us. As a precaution, I take the cover (what’s left of it) off the little Mercedes each night. Its ties have been yanked off, it can’t be secured around the car so even in these benign winds, given half a chance, the cover would disappear off down the hill never to be seen again.
The cover is then slid back on every morning because the 100 or so beehives on the track below send a daily tsunami of incredibly noisy bees that dive bomb us with their yellow blobs of poo. The poor Nissan doesn’t have a cover, so when next I feel sorry enough for him to give him a good wash, I know it will always take an inordinate amount of time as each poo has to be scraped off individually by fingernail.
Talking of poo, I was fascinated to see that some little creature had managed to delicately place an offering on the top of a ceramic fly agaric toadstool I planted in the garden – sense of humour, artistic licence? Still on the same scatological subject, I have got used to seeing poos around the house, especially upstairs, the same shape as mouse poo, but almost as large as rat poo. The puzzling part to me is that they are almost black, with one end always bright white and pointed.
I was pretty certain they were gecko droppings, but what on earth was in their diet that always resulted in such a perfectly-formed white tip; how did they manage it? I just couldn’t work it out until I had the bright idea of asking Google and in a few moments all was revealed.
Reptiles actually don’t have ‘urine’, instead they produce what is called a “urate” which is the white tip of their poo. A healthy gecko poo should therefore comprise a dark and a white portion and this goes for most reptiles. Since they only have one waste line (yuck!) then everything comes out together as one clump.
The next poo I saw after that was on the roof of the inverter house and it was absolutely massive, twice or three times the ‘normal’ ones I was used to seeing. Unfortunately it coincided with one of the aforementioned periods of heavy rain and my prize exhibit began to disintegrate before I could get a reasonable photo. Moorish geckos I’ve seen around here are quite big anyway but I’d hate to meet that particular chap on a dark night!