A bit of a spurge
This week: A bit of Spurge; Škoda’s birthday; Clingfilm at the ready; Looking back;
It’s Saturday afternoon again. I’ve clocked off until 07:00 on Monday, however when I look back at what I’ve done over the past week, I have to admit it is not much!
Or more precisely, I’ve not got much to show for my efforts.
I have been a walk most days with the felines. The weather has cooled although the mosquitoes are still biting.
One afternoon I went a different route up towards the church on the hill. I was really looking for autumn wild flowers, of which there were few.
There are the signs everywhere of leaves changing colour and ripe seeds just waiting to be dispursed.
While looking up the name of one one wild flower I did see, I chanced across the name for one of my perennial weeds, Pellitory of the Wall, Parietaria judaica.
I’ve tried to find this plant’s name before, but failed.
Parietaria is everywhere you look. It was named by the Roman botanist Pliny the Elder, Parietaria meaning “wall dweller” and judaica “from Judea”.
It sticks to everything it touches, which is how it spreads.
I have it growing everywhere that a tiny wind borne seed can find a small void and some moisture.
The plant has a thatch of thin roots which penetrate the smallest fissure and make it difficult to remove. The multiple stems from the crown are a burgundy colour and break easily.
Leave the slightest trace in the wall and it will sprout and grow again. This really is one of the “weeds” which you do not want.
A bit of Spurge
I would like to spend more of my time to actually properly catalogue the fauna and flora which surrounds my home. It is everywhere, by the side of the tracks, in the Maquis and along the roadside verges.
One thing I did realise this week is that ever since moving to Dol, every day I start with a list of things that I need to do.
By the end of the day I have crossed a few things off but have usually added one or two more. So the list is an ever changing quilt.
True, I enjoy the challenge of sympathetically restoring the old buildings.
But when the list of daily chores is all about “moving this”, “clearing that”, “dismantling the other”, perhaps in the words of James Howell’s 1659 Book of Proverbs, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
I do enjoy my wanderings along the local paths and byways, at all times of the year. The felines like walks too, although I am always watching for a danger they don’t see.
One of my neighbours has had seven hens killed this week. We encountered them in the olive grove a couple of weeks ago.
It was funny to see the reaction of the young felines (a year and three months old). There was a mixture of wide eyed excitement at something moving to hunt, but with the realisation they were way, way too big.
So they were left alone to peck for food and we moved on.
My neighbour thinks it might have been Wild Boar, but my limited knowledge of the animal makes me doubt it.
They showed me some photographs and it reminded me of the work of a fox in the UK, raiding a hen house and killing, not to eat, but just because there were hens there.
It could of course be dogs, of which there are a lot, but they are not allowed to roam freely although some owners do let them.
However the killings took place during daylight on Tuesday afternoon, when I was at home and I heard nothing.
Usually both dogs and hens make a lot of noise. There again, foxes are nocturnal.
We also have Martens, Martes martes, and Weasels, Mustela nivalis, although I have never seen either around my home. Both kill for food, but not for the sake of killing and these were fully grown hens.
There are also the Mongoose, but also I’ve not seen an evidence of their burrows around my home.
My suspicion is that it was a dog or dogs. But this did make me realise that I really know little about the creatures which are around my home.
The same applies to the wild flowers. On my perambulation up towards the church this week, there was a lot of Spurge with fresh growth after the recent light rainfall.
These are the Mediterranean Spurge, Euphorbia characias, which can be found growing alongside the paths through the Maquis. In the spring they have yellow/green flowers but this late in the season there is just their crown of leaves.
Euphorbia’s have been adopted by gardeners and plantsmen and can now be found in garden borders throughout Europe.
They are a perennial shrub, require low maintenance and in the right place can look quite striking.
Perhaps I should spend a little less time demolishing walls and more time really getting to know my surroundings…
My car was due for its annual test this week.
On the principle that a well presented vehicle will create the right impression, I gave it a good going over on Wednesday morning.
The problem that I face with almost everything at home, is that I am living in the middle of an active building site. A working building site for more than five years with no imminent sign of completion.
The dust that was created when the stone walls were sand blasted had to go somewhere. I did wash the car afterwards of course, but then that just means that everything washes onto the courtyard floor.
The courtyard is just sand and and stone. I’ve talked to Cvjetko about putting down the finished stone sets, but he rightly said that it would be a shame to put the sets down and then have builders spoil them.
Certainly my experience with the mess left after the Konoba pointing confirms that.
But as well as having sand everywhere in the house, despite all the floor mats, the same happens in the car’s footwell.
After a shampoo followed by a dry with a chamois leather, I then put a layer of Turtlewax polish on the paintwork.
I was at the test centre at Vrbanj a minute after seven on Thursday morning. There was one car in front of me and after all the paperwork was completed and the fees paid, I was on my way home at 07:40.
The car had passed with an advisory that the boiling point of the brake fluid was getting close to the limit.
Brake fluid is Hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs atmospheric moisture – even in a closed system like vehicle brakes. But I had to look up the boiling point of brake fluid and why it is important.
I’m going to get the fluid changed, but I am once again “street legal” for another year.
Clingfilm at the ready
I have seen the results of the Puh – Glis glis, the Edible dormouse – on my Pomegranate trees.
They are mainly fruit and nut eaters and although Maquis dwellers, they like to live around houses, and inside houses in the winter if they can find a way in.
They hollow out the Pomegranate fruit and leave the characteristic rodent teeth marks on the skin.
Very occasionally one of my felines has caught one but most of the time they are agile and tree dwelling, so do cot cross paths with the locals.
This cannot be said about the rat population. The municipality has a poison control programme to try and keep their numbers in check, but in this predominantly rural area they live close to human habitation.
This is especially so where they can gain access to the Konobas where there is plenty of food, all year long.
During the year the felines bring examples that they have caught, for me to admire. I’d much rather that they catch a rat than a bird, even though rats (and mice) have an ecological function.
What I do need to do to prevent all rodents coming in for the winter, is to block up gaps around the the Konoba doors.
During the renovation this past spring, the builders found a large, empty rats nest behind stones, actually inside one of the walls. It was blocked up.
As I reported previously, my engineering solution test worked, so this week I went for the real thing.
The first job was to measure the length of the uprights and arch, so I knew how much kitchen cling film I needed. I then attached one end of the roll to the balcony railing and unrolled a 2 metre length.
My first attempt was to cut the film and then roll it round a cardboard tube. Bad idea….
The moment I cut the film, at the roll end, it all concertinaed together and stuck to itself.
I managed to get it untangled and was rolling the film round the tube when Tigger turned up to investigate, help and play. The felines really like to help – only most of the time they don’t!
It took some time, but I did get the film onto the cardboard tube with most of it unstuck.
For my seond attempt, I unrolled the length and then keeping tension on the length, began to roll it round a second tube. Only at the very end did I cut the length off the main roll.
This was marginally more successful and had fewer stuck together pieces.
As I only need half the width of the roll, I then used a box cutter with a new blade to slice through the film and cardboard.
Attaching the cling film to the newly cleaned stone walls with hot glue was not difficult.
By spraying water on the painted doors the second layer was attached to the doors. Then I used the foam gun to inject foam between the two.
Now all I have to do is wait for the expanded foam to really set hard and trim it in a couple of places, before I do around the other door next week.
It’s just another little job that I have added to my list… NCG
Looking back – Week 39
This is the start of a new weekly section, with links to past issues of the blog.
2014/39 25 things you didn’t know last week about Šipak socks
2015/39 The power of the sun
2016/39 Soaking history in water
2018/39 Murphy’s 3rd Law
2019/39 Autumn approaching