>Another fine day, it seems, in prospect. The locals have decided – or certainly the local Brit expats – that Spring HAS ARRIVED!!!!
The basis for this decision – forgetting the weather and daily temps – is largely predicated on immigrant bird-life: the Swallows are here; the Hoopoes are both throaty and visible; Cuckoos are noisy – if not particularly visible – unless you know what they look like, and spot them regularly, of course!
Cuckoos do like to remain anonymous whenever possible. Many years ago (35 – ouch!!!) we lived on a hillside above the Welsh village of Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons National Park. In Spring and Summer, we had a resident (as far as this is possible) male Cuckoo that perched on our washing post thingy every morning, just below, and directly in line with, our bedroom window. While perched it would chirrup steadily and noisily, as is the breed’s wont. So we came to be fairly familiar with these extraordinary and generally extraordinarily secretive birds. As a result they remain one of our favourite species, despite the bad press they – rightly?? – receive! For those unsure as to appearance, when in flight they look a bit/lot like small hawks ( the Hobby is a useful comparator) and, as a bonus, they frequently chirrup en route between perches, and generally just before take off and landing in a different spot. This makes identification on the wing fairly easy. In my experience, they also seem to enjoy sitting on warm, tarmac roads on summer evenings, soaking up the heat, presumably.
Our neighbour, Frank, explained a few days ago that a group of garrulous birds ( five, I’d counted and observed) noisily flying around were a group of Cuckoos – four males in pursuit of a solitary female. At least, that was the theory. Having witnessed this pursuit I knew he was wrong, but didn’t have the heart to explain to him that the birds were in fact Jays – an altogether different kettle of fishy things. He added that the odd noises the birds had made – nothing like a Cuckoo, and a decidedly strange sound – was an unusual mating call of the Cuckoo. An interesting theory, but sadly incorrect. I may be no professional ornithologist but I have had an interest in birds for – frighteningly perhaps! – almost fifty years! Maybe I should have corrected him for future sightings! A difficult call.
Whatever, the local expat community might think, the Nightingale population clearly think it’s Spring: every evening they warble away loudly, all night, it seems to me – or at least until I’m asleep; though they seem to be still wittering in mid-eve when I wake for that dreaded night pee! Ah…the costs of ageing!
Many Brit birders would almost kill for the chance to hear these birds sing of an eve, but I am not enormously impressed. It’s fine, as far as it goes – a bit like enjoying Des O’Connor or Frank Ifield, say. A scary indication of age there! Of an evening/night, I prefer owls, as it – perhaps perversely – happens. Altogether more interesting animals.
Also a batch of Celery, Lettuce, and some Geraniums. J likes to have Geraniums around the place in summer. So, I thought, why not?
Will now have to decide what – if anything – to do with the damn things! The Geraniums can go into a windowy box thingy – keeps them out of my way, if nothing else, and there’s a box out back. The Aubergines can stay put for a day or two before I pot them on. The Chiilis will have pride of place – can never have enough, as far as I’m concerned. The Lettuce is more of a problem…..God knows what to do with those!
We keep the Aubergines in large pots cos of the dreaded Doryphores: Colorado Beetles. They are rife down here in summer and cause great damage very quickly. Plastic pots with an out-turned, curving top rim are fairly good at defeating the little boogers in their attempts to scale the heights:
I also needed to have a copy of our Spanish house key cut. It’s a bit of an oddity, long and thin. We first asked the local key-cutting guy about this a week ago. He said he’d order the necessary blank. I went in to enquire midweek and it still hadn’t arrived: ‘Demain, demain, demain,’ he insisted. Being of a more sceptical mind, I didn’t bother trying the next day, leaving it instead until today. The response was, as feared and anticipated – start again with a new order being made for the correct blank. He had some blanks but they were marginally too short. I’ve given up on it. I’ll just send off our sole remaining key to the estate-agent with a note of explanation and trust her to take good care with it.
When we were living in Sweden, we virtually never locked the house. It was just not necessary for most of the time. It takes a while to get used to locking up again whenever we venture out – especially for any length of time.
Spoke with J this morning. She has a bad chest infection and heavy cold, which she thinks came from the Grandsrpog in Wales. Argghhh…..a Welsh cold!! One of the worst known to humanity. She’s taking fairly heavy antibiotics – which she normally hates and eschews – in the hope all will be well by next weekend, when she is due to return to France with the Grandsprog and daughter in tow.
And this thing is something I always admired: It’s a floating cabin. Usually it had another sort of open-decked attachment with it. It is motorised, with a BBQ, tables and chairs etc. Fully kitted out for that summer evening getaway. Out to the middle of the lake for fishing, drinking, eating and even sleeping. A great idea: