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It’s Springwatch time again

This week: It’s Springwatch time again; No time for lunch; Geometry;

Early spring sunshine
Early spring sunshine

I have been working on various spreadsheets this week.

First was my weather station statistics. People in the northern hemisphere have a mindset of the weather year staring with winter. This is hardly surprising because in January it should be winter.

In the southern hemisphere, where the New Year is in the middle of summer, I am unsure how people associate seasons with calendar months.

Almost everything in the world is geared around the northern hemisphere’s seasons, but when I looked last year at rainfall, with the rainfall year beginning on 1st September, the charts suddenly started to look much more like the averages.

This is because the Mediterranean is a “summer hot and dry, winter mild and wet” climate. So when you start a year half way through a season, the results are unpredictable because half of one season is always missing.

My new weather station is working well and producing good data, so it seemed like a good time to alter some formulae. One in particular is to change from a daily average temperature to a daily mean temperature.

Instead of adding the highest and lowest temperature and dividing by two, I am taking readings at 01:00, 07:00. 13:00 and 19:00, plus the daily maximum and minimum and dividing by 6.

Overtime this should give more robust statistical figures. But there is a lot of work involved in amending my spreadsheet. However, I have made a start…

It’s Springwatch time again

I keep a separate spreadsheet each year to record when I see certain indicator species.

These are mainly plants, but also include some insect species.

At the start of the week I was out at nightfall and came across one of our local toads hot-footing it across the path in front of me.

These are the European Green Toad, Bufotes viridis. They are a mottled green in winter, but in summer change to a pink colour to match the colour of the dry sandy ground.

On a sunny Friday morning I found one sunbathing in the broad beans, under the Polytunnel. I moved him out of harms way.

European Green Toad
European Green Toad

I say “he” with relative certainty because the females are much larger. What is surprising is that they are not still hibernating. The toads are not on my Springwatch calendar.

However two species which are, are the first orange Crocus, which have flowered this week.

Orange Crocus
Orange Crocus

These Crocus are flowering 32 days earlier than in 2022.

Then there is my Mimosa, Acacia dealbata, where I spotted the first of the flowers.

Acacia dealbata flowers
Acacia dealbata flowers

The tree is covered in buds too.

Acacia buds
Acacia buds

It will be a few days before it is in full bloom, but even the first flowers are 17 days earlier than 2022 and 39 days earlier than in 2017.

One event that is a little later than last year is the first shoot of the Dragon Arum lily.

Dragon Arum shoots
Dragon Arum shoots

It has poked its spike above ground this week but is late. I am presuming because it has not had enough cooling hours in November and December.

Whilst we think of everything being earlier because of the mild, even warm winter of 2022 / 2023, there are a number of plants and trees which require winter cooling and a period of dormancy to produce shoots and blossom in the spring.

The plants are all indicator species in my Springwatch calendar.

No time for lunch

I’ve made great progress this week with the “new, improved” roof system for my Polytunnel.

What I discovered though is something which you could probably call the IKEA effect.

You know the feeling, when you bring home a flat-pack box, open it and are confronted with lots of plastic bags of different bolts, screws and fittings.

To make things easy for myself, I use two builders buckets as organisers. One is for tools and the other for boxes of fittings.

Tools and fittings management
Tools and fittings management

We have had some strong wind for here, measuring 40 kph, so not that strong, but still enough to test my new system for fixing the polycarbonate panels.

The system has not been found wanting. Nothing has moved. So my design of bolting stripwood under the plastic ‘H’ strip, had made the plastic rigid, without sacrificing its gripping quality.

What it has done though, is to add to the complexity of rebuilding the roof.

There are now different sizes of stainless steel bolts required, rather than just SPAX screws and washers.

The strip wood has to be let into a rebait the roof timbers, however my new Palm Router makes short work of that task.

There is more preparation time needed, but sliding the panels into place is now easy because the edge strips are rigid.

Almost complete again
Almost complete again

I was a little frustrated early in the week when I had put a panel in place, but before being able to fix it, a breeze got up and whipped it straight out again.

Nothing was damaged, but I packed up and came in.

With warm sunny days, but still a low January sun, I have worked through every day without stopping for lunch.

That extra hour, in warm sunshine has made a difference to what I have achieved.


I should have paid more attention to Geometry when I was at school! But it was part of maths, and I hated maths.

So this week when I was working out where to cut the large winder for the stairs, I found the easiest way was to lay it out in place and then measure the angles.

Plan view of the angles
Plan view of the angles

In fairness, this isn’t a geometry problem, it’s an uneven wall and pillar problem. I couldn’t get my protractor into the area to measure the angles beause of uneven stones in the wall behind.

What the measuring did though, was to confirm that I needed another 4 metre length of Punte┼żela to cut more treads.

On Friday I went back into town and bought another length of dry timber from Volat.

As soon as I was back at home, I cut the length to the sizes I needed and ran them through the thicknesser.

This produced another four bags of shavings for the strawberries in the Polytunnel and left me with some nice PSE timber to work with.

Once again, I need to join some lengths before cutting them to the required size.

With another wet week in prospect next week, there will be several jobs to do inside, while outside work is curtailed. NCG

One Response

  1. Marcy

    Norman, Loved seeing the flowers and am totally amazed at your polytunnel. It is really an incredible feat. You are the consummate craftsman. It will be finished soon, and its exciting to think about the things growing inside.

    As I read, I wondered about the stairs, and then there it was. Eager to see the finished product if it
    rains next week. Snow is in the forecast here for Tuesday and Wednesday, an outcome of the big storms on the west coast.

    My house goes on the market next Friday. Wish me lunch. Ready to move totally away from cold and snow.

    Thanks for sharing as always.