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Leaking profusely from every pore

This week: Temperature changes over time; Leaking profusely from every pore; Black start;

Blue skies and Oleander flowers
Blue skies and Oleander flowers

This has not been one of my better weeks for work. It has simply been too hot to do very much outside.

When the temperature outside, in the shade at 05:45 is 29°C, you just know the day is going to be hot.

A lot of the early flowering plants have produced their seeds. These are from Lords and Ladies, Arum maculatum, which grow wild and readily self seed everywhere.

Seed pods of the Arum lily
Seed pods of the Arum lily, Arum maculatum

They could be considered weeds, however the leaves, flowers and then the seeds are pretty, so I let them get on with their own thing.

Just as well because they are incredibly deep rooted and very difficult to remove.

As well as irrigating night and morning, I have been cutting “real” weeds down.

Weeds before cutting
Weeds before cutting

Especially the thistles before they set seed. This is the east orchard which has been cut three times this year already. And still the weeds keep on growing.

Temperature changes over time

Today, Saturday, is slightly less hot than yesterday was. I am choosing my words very carefully. Please note my use of “slightly” and “less hot”!

This week has been really hot and we are just not used to it.

We do get days with temperatures over 35°C, however it is usually at the end of July and early August. The last time I recorded these sort of temperatures in June was in 2015.

This year, like so many recent years, there has been no discernable pattern in the way seasonal weather has been manifest.

My weather stations data is recorded daily, but then for statistical analysis, it is looked at in standard four week periods for each month.

This means that there are 48 standard week periods in a year ( 4 x 12) which are the same every year. The first week of June for example, is always the same, no matter what day of the week June 1st falls on.

Every five minutes, or 288 times every 24 hours, a range of data sets are recorded.

To calculate the average temperature the 288 highest and 288 lowest temperatures are recorded, added together and then divided by 288 to get the average high and low. These two figures are added together then divided by two, to get a daily average.

2024 Average temperatures
2024 Average temperatures

This is a very accurate figure for the day. The temperatures for the week are added together and divided by the day to get the average for the week. So the resulting figure on the chart is a robust depiction of this year’s temperatures and the averages for the preceding years.

Aren’t computer great! I just type a few formulae into a spreadsheet and the computer does all the calculations for me. I would really have to think now, to try that using long division…

What you can see is that twelve weeks this year have been above or well above the average, four weeks have been below the average and six have been average. There have been 22 complete weekly periods so far in 2024.

However when you look more closely at the chart, from January to the middle of April, temperatures have been above the average, but April to June they have been either below or on the average.

The temperatures do not usually rise or fall so much between weeks, so we get used to steadily rising and steadily falling temperatures over time.

Leaking from every pore

As I mentioned at the start, this week has really been hot. Hot during the day and hot at night.

On Friday we had the hottest day of the year, when the temperature in the shade was 37°C, but the feel in the wind was like being in front of an open fan-forced oven door, at over 40°C.

Friday temperatures
Friday outside air temperature in the shade

It was well after 20:00 before I went into the Polytunnel, where even with the doors open wide, the temperature was close to 44°C.

Friday in the Polytunnel
Friday in the Polytunnel

Getting up early and working until 09:00, then starting again after 17:00 has been my routine all week. I have also applied Dipterol spray to stop the mosquitos biting.

This is very effective, but I try not to use it more than twice a day. However it does not stop perspiration which has been leaking profusely from every pore.

To combat the “leaks” I have upped my intake of water to three or more litres a day. At the same time I have made sure that the felines have plenty of water available and that they get cold goats milk with meals.

Goats milk is lactose free, like camels milk, so does not affect their digestion. Much as they like it, you don’t very often see camels milk here in the supermarkets…

Irrigating my new trees has meant I have watched the weed growth encroach on the cardboard weed supressing barriers I laid around them when I planted them.

Cardboard weed collars being overwhelmed
Cardboard weed collars being overwhelmed

Another job this week after cutting back the weeds has been to lay more cardboard.

Keeping on top of weeds has meant that they are not too difficult to cut by hand. I didn’t want to use the petrol strimmer again at this point in the season.

Once cut back, I laid more thick cardboard on top, weighed down by stones.

More cardboard installed
More cardboard installed

Cardboard is a very effective weed barrier. However this year’s warm, wet weather has encouraged every weed seed to germinate and grow out of control.

Black start

Where does your electricity come from? I’ll bet you do not really know….

At lunch time on Friday I had been in the fridge in my kitchen and then walked around to my other main building, only to hear the alarm sounding on my UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply).

The UPS is a compact but very heavy black box which sits in the network cabinet in the hall wall.

Our infrastructure is poor and power cuts are fairly common, although to be fair, the supply company HEP have been working for some time to improve island infrastructure. However remedial work is expensive and takes time.

To keep my router, and previously the satellite internet system, on line, I have the UPS.

It also powers my weather station because if the power goes, it takes time to reconnect the weather station to the internet.

Our power cuts tend to be of two main types: a short duration power cut of just a few minutes; and longer often pre planned cuts of three to four hourse, to enable infrastructure updates to take place.

After some ten minutes I presumed it was going to be a long cut. However starting at 12:15, I thought it was odd, especially in peak tourist season when visitors would be wanting coffee, lunch, ice creams and essentials from the supermarkets.

When power goes, few shops and petrol stations have UPS or backup generators, so most business ceases.

As the day wore on, all I could do was take a siesta. I don’t have air conditioning, however many do and when I looked at the temperature it was 37.7ºC, so those who are used to cool air would be definitely feeling the heat.

Power was restored just before 15:30.

When I looked on line, the problem had affected countries across the southwestern Balkans. Power was completely out in Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and all of coastal Croatia.

Map of Balkan countries
Map of Balkan countries

The problem had been with an interconnect high voltage line between Greece and Albania. There are different causations being offered ranging from a fire near a power line, to the excessive electricity demand caused by the heat.

What was the real reason? Who knows…

What this has shown is that our electrical supply is dependant on supplied from outside the country.

Turning the power back on is not simple. What is known as a “Black start” is required.

When power is off across a huge area, you cannot just reset a link and turn the “switch” back on because every single appliance which was on at the time of the cut, will suddenly come back to life and try and draw power.

So power can only be restored slowly and sequentially, or the systems would be overloaded again and would go down.

As every traffic light failed across the country, there was real gridlock. There were also a lot of unhappy tourists too….

Life here is never easy! NCG