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Under the weather

Boats in the early sunshine
Boats in the early sunshine

This week: Under the weather; It’s all in the bubbles; Selling the car; I scream, you scream…; In the garden;


Under the weather

I seem to have caught a virus, at least I think that is what it is. Or may be a touch of food poisoning. Either way the result has been the same – a completely “Yuk” week!

What started as a bit of an upset stomach on Saturday, rapidly developed into a horrible attack of the ‘you-know-whats’ which has left me feeling pretty washed out. It’s a good weight loss programme though

After 5 days, I”m feeling better, although extremely sore but at least food tastes normal again!


It’s all in the bubbles

It’s the start of a new month so I downloaded all my figures from the weather station. We had some much needed rain on Monday, which by Thursday had completely dried up, but the weeds are growing again. Plus ça change!

Cumulative rainfall to July
Cumulative rainfall to July

We are just under the rolling average, but although the Dračevica pond on Stari Grad Plain remains much higher than normal, my land is no different to any summer.

This really is a strange year. June was much hotter than average, but here in Dol, July has been much cooler. When I say “much” I mean three to four degrees. Then this past week we have been absolutely on the average for the week.

Average temperatures to August
Average temperatures to August

The Yorkshire Dales, an area I know well have been deluged this week, with the Leyburn fire station flooded, while crews were out dealing with flooding! Bridges have been destroyed, many houses flooded and holidays ruined.

The Tour de France in Yorkshire
The Tour de France Yorkshire section Photo: AP

I do know one keen angler who regularly fishes the River Swale who might just be overjoyed that there is more water in it than normal, but precious few people else in the National Park will be happy.

No racing this week, or next
No racing this week, or next Photo: AP

Our rain was much more gentle. Just under 17 litters/m² and with my windows and doors open, just fly screens to stop the mosquitoes, it smelled lovely. What I did come across was a BBC article about why summer rain smells good. It’s apparently all in the bubbles.

After a hot, dry spell, a pleasant, almost sweet earthy odour can often be detected in the air when rain arrives. The name given to this scent is petrichor. The word comes from Greek petros, meaning “stone”, and ichor, meaning “the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods”

The smell is a combination of oils which come from plants during dry spells and bacteria which live in the soil. As humidity rises before the rain arrives, tiny air bubbles form on hard surfaces which incorporate the odour molecules. When the rain arrives, these bubbles bounce into the air and burst releasing the scent that we smell. So now you know…


Selling the car

Most countries have some sort of age related mechanical inspections for motor vehicles. Croatia is no different. Vehicles over 2 years of age have to be presented annually for a check at a local testing station.

Tehnički pregled
Tehnički pregled Vrbanj

My local station is in Vrbanj and is run by HAK, the Croatian automobile club. I was there a few minutes after seven on Friday morning and was third in line for the checks.

First is a rolling road brake test. Then comes a test of the Co² and exhaust emissions, followed by oil and brake fluid consistency. A visual inspection under the body is followed by a mechanical shaker testing the steering and suspension. Finally it’s the lights and accessories – wipers, washers etc.

The car passed without any points of failure and I came away with my new sticker in the windscreen, together with a comprehensive report on the various readings obtained during the check.

So that is it for another 12 months. Except I am going to sell.

After my experience recently when the front left wheel came off, as I turned into the supermarket at the port, every time I hear a strange noise, I wonder what it is.

The wheel comes off
The wheel comes off

I bought the car from a teacher in Bjelovar, which is in the way north east of Croatia. An area which gets a lot of snow and frost during the winter and where the roads are heavily salted to combat the icy conditions.

The lady had had the car from new, and as at this week it has done 81,000 kms since 2006, so in total around 6,000 km a year, although on the island I am averaging just 33 km a week (1,700 a year).

With help from friends and some discussions over passwords and access (WARNING: Strong Angle-Saxon language – Password selection – not suitable for the easily offended) the advert has been placed on the local selling site, Njuskalo.

Of course advertising and selling are two completely different things, but with just five Ignis of this model for sale in the Country, and mine is the only 4×4 with this body style, someone may just want it, perhaps, fingers crossed…

This has very much been a working vehicle. I have carried cement, sand, stone, wood, styrofoam and almost every other kind of building material known.

Walking across sand every single time I need to get in and out, means the mats, er, well, sort of… need a bit of a shake. But it starts and runs well, is economical and being a compact SUV, is ideal for our narrow roads.

I suppose I had better get the vacuum out, give it a wash and polish. Now where did I put my T-Cut and Simon Eyes?


I scream, you scream, we all scream…

For Ice Cream…

Or so goes the old saying. After recovering from the worst of Montezuma’s revenge, about the only thing I wanted to eat was some ice cream.

Fortunately I had just finished making some with the last of my delicious red Myrobalan plums.

I was bought an Ice-Cream maker as a present a little while ago, but have not used it much. There are lots of ice cream parlours in our towns, where all sorts of interesting flavours and combinations are made on the premises, so I have not felt the need to experiment.

But having bottled lots of plums and with this last picking, I thought I would try some ice cream.

These plums have stones attached to the flesh, so you cannot just cut them and remove the stone. First job was to heat them gently with a little water and brown sugar to a light boil.

Plums on the hob
Plums on the hob

After about 20 minutes, I removed the heat and let the plums cool.

Remove from heat and allow to cool
Remove from heat and allow to cool

I poured them into a metal sieve and rubbed them through with a spoon to separate the stones. I will use those on the fire in the winter.

Rub through sieve
Rub through sieve

Next I made up some home made custard – none of the Birds Instant for artisan ices.

Custard
Custard

The ice cream machine came out and was turned on to cool the mixing bowl. While the condenser was working, I put the custard in cold water, still mixing it, so it cools rapidly without lumps. There is nothing worse than lump infested custard.

Custard and plum puré were then mixed together in a bowl.

Ice cream base
Ice cream base

Then the mixture was put into the ice cream maker. The paddle was added and it was turned on.

Ice Cream maker
Ice Cream maker

I left the machine on the worktop. Three hours later, it was well mixed and had expanded and I had a litre of delicious plum ice cream. This was packed into a container in the freezer. Easy-peasy, Nothing to it – and I was pleased I had done it this week.

Finished plum ice cream
Finished plum ice cream


In the garden

I have lots of young Preying Mantis, Mantis religiosa, along with Katydid nymphs and a host of other bugs.

Mantis
Mantis

I find the Mantis fascinating. They turn their heads to look at you with both eyes. They cock their heads side ways, or just remain absolutely motionless resembling a dry twig.

Mantis hunting
Mantis out hunting

Clearly there is intelligence there. With a lot of insects they ignore a human intruder, or just buzz off. But with the Mantis, there is almost curiosity.

Insect count
Insect count

At this age they have a voracious appetite for garden pests, so I’m happy let them get on with their own thing. By the autumn they will have shed a couple of skins and females will be up to 10cm long. But for now, I just mind where I walk.

Most flowers have died back. The exception are some Nerines planted in the border along the edge of the Drupe orchard.

Nerine
Nerine

They are gradually spreading, so I presume they like the dry, sunny position they are in.

Pink Nerine
Pink Nerine

In my dry stone wall some alpine Dianthus caryophyllus, have been flowering all year. These were a €0.50c bargain basement buy from Bauhaus. Almost dead, I brought them home, revived them and planted them out. I should have brought a couple more…

Alpine pinks
Alpine pinks

And that is about it for another edition. I’ve not done a great deal this week, but hopefully normal service will be restored next week. NRC

6 Responses

  1. Marcy
    | Reply

    It’s good to know you are ok. That ice cream looked amazing. Have a great week.

  2. Elizabeth Blackledge
    | Reply

    Hi Norman, glad you are nearly back to your normal self….I would have to have the Bird’s custard if I were being good – need to avoid eggs and dairy, so then it would probably be coconut milk to make the custard! Bird’s was invented because Mrs Bird was allergic to eggs! So sometimes it is necessary to resort to the powder. 🙂 Yours looks very scrummy though.
    Take care and good luck with the car selling…do you have your eye on another one? X

  3. Denis Williams
    | Reply

    Glad you are ok Norm .Could you post me some of your delicious looking ice cream please .I was dribbling looking at it.
    Keep believing Mate
    Cheets Den

  4. Dorcey A. Wingo
    | Reply

    Was sick about the same time, Norman. No Montezuma, though. Still rough!

  5. Carole
    | Reply

    Hi Norman ,Good news that feeling better. Ice cream looks delicious. We did a walk in Hebden Bridge in July – Hardcastle Craggs where the bike race has been – glorious . Had been there in March and siren had gone off as river was in danger of bursting banks – the power of water is tremendous. Look after yourself .

  6. Andy Robinson
    | Reply

    Mum and Dad had a cottage in Swaledale for 40 years. That bridge youve shown is up Redmire road and was a favourite place for us and the kids to picnic. its such a shame, and an inconvenience! Ice cream looks fab, Mantis thing looks curious! Pleased your on the mend. Regards Andy.

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