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He followed me home

This week: Autumn thoughts; Kitcheneering; Moth spotting;

Pampas Grass
Pampas Grass – at its best in autumn

I’m struggling this week!

I have been busy, but have little to show for it. Looking back on this Saturday afternoon, I think I have just been doing “bitza” jobs.

You know the kind of thing. Bitza this and bitza that…

I have gained a new member of the family too.

New York Times cartoon
He followed me home…..

In September my German neighbours “acquired” a young cat, who followed them home one night from the Kokot Restaurant on the other side of the village.

For a week, he went backwards and forwards with them, and turned up at my door when they were out in the car. His name is Yoda (just look at his ears!). He’ll grow into them,,,,

Yoda in the bushes

When they went back to Germany, my felines agreed he could stay.

I think he is between four and six months old. However he has been someone’s pet. He knows how to use cat flaps; understands litter trays; and likes nothing more than being turned upside down for a “tummy rub”.

In short, he has been very close to humans in his short life. I suspect whoever has had him has gone home for the winter and simply kicked him out. He found his way to the restaurant where it is warm and there is food, but was looking for his “humans”.

My neighbours have been back this last fortnight, however because of their old cats, they couldn’t take him back with them. So it looks like he has moved in with me.

Can I stay pleeeese?
Can I stay pleeeese?

He is extremely well behaved, understands his place in the hierarchy – the bottom – and has been accepted by the others. So on any given day, I may have 6½, 7½ or eight felines!

I was in Split on Thursday for the day. I needed hardware and building materials from Bauhaus; an extra bed from Pet Centar; and to look at trees for neighbours who want to plant something mature.

Ready to plant
Ready to plant

There were two large cruise ships in port and the old city was heaving with tourists. However in a hot autumn sun, I was still able to find a quiet corner to enjoy and ice cream.

Autumn thoughts

The nights are lengthening noticeably now we are in the middle of October.

However, it is still warm in the sunshine, even if the overnight low is 16ºC.

Most native Mediterranean trees are evergreen, with just one or two, like the Fig, which are deciduous.

Gizmo amongst the fallen fig leaves
Gizmo dozing amongst the fallen fig leaves

Those which are, have started to lose their leaves. However autumn in Dol usually does not mean the brilliant autumn colours which are so spectacular in more northern climates.

Rather the leaves go brown and fall. One exception is the grape vines. Their leaves do turn into vivid reds and scarlets.

Vine leaves take on their brilliant autumn colours
Vine leaves take on their brilliant autumn colours

The old vine which runs around the edge of my courtyard is just starting to take on its autumn colours.

Autumnal colours just beginning
Autumnal colours just beginning

As the nights darken, the days shorten and just occasionally there is a morning chill in the air, every fine warm day that we have is a bonus.


Looking ahead to this next week, we are going to have some cloudy, mild but wet days.

A wet week ahead
A wet week ahead

There does not look as though there will be huge amounts of rain and the temperatures are still warm. However this means that I will be doing inside jobs I think.

Having a compact kitchen means that I have only limited worktop space. One way to increase that, but retain flexibility, is to have a “mobile”. Mine is from the IKEA range.

However, like the other wooden worktops, it needs periodic maintenance.

This week I removed the wooden top and using my belt sander outside, I went over the surface with fine sandpaper to remove a couple of marks and stains.

Sanding down the worktop
Sanding down the worktop

After sanding and cleaning with a damp cloth, I used an IKEA oil to re-treat the top and once again make it impervious to dust, dirt and moisture.

When both sides have been treated and the oil has soaked in, I will fit the top back onto the frame and wheels.

Talking of wheels, the wheeled sliders for the refrigerator arrived this week. However when I put them under the appliance, they wouldn’t stay in place.

It required some engineering (albeit in wood) to make flat plates to fit over the turntable on the red slider and then to rout a space in the top to hold the feet of the appliance.

Manufacturing a plate to fit the sliders
Manufacturing a plate to fit the sliders

With four made-to-measure plates fitted to the sliders, I lifted the fridge into place and easily moved it under the corner worktop.

Another bit of kitcheneering has been to weld up a right angle corner gauge. I just wish I had some corners in my buildings which are right angles! But this tool will work anywhere.

Flexible right-angle corner gauge
Flexible right-angle corner gauge

Moth spotting

When the sun is shining, there are large numbers of butterflies flying. However at night, I see few moths flying around our street lamps.

What I did find this week in the Polytunnel was this hawk moth caterpillar.

You can identify it as a hawk moth because of the barnacled appendage at its tail.

When I picked it up, it was as long as my ring finger and thrashed around violently to show its displeasure at being disturbed.

Hawk moth caterpillar
Hawk moth caterpillar

It is a fully mature caterpillar and is probably ready to pupate for the winter.

I have spent quite some time this week trying to identify it. I found a really useful website which lists all the Hawk Moth species in France.

We are not a million miles from France, so probably have some or all of the same species.

However even after spending hours looking and reading up, I think it is a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, Agrius convolvuli. But I am not certain because the colours do not match exactly.

However there does seem to be a huge variation in Agrius convolvuli caterpillar colours.

I have plenty of its food plants growing and I have found adult Convolvulus Hawk Moths.

But all it is, is my best guess…. NCG