Wednesday 30 September 2020

Sunday 20 September 2020

Tour de France

I knit my way through the Tour de France again this year, normally in July I pick up my needles and settle on the sofa every afternoon for 3 weeks, less a few rest days. This year the Tour was delayed until September, very different and very exciting particularly as it could have been stopped at any time should Corvid be diagnosed amongst the regularly tested ranks, and possibly slightly cooler for knitting. 

This year I had no great expectations, how could it be the same.  I hated the boys having to wear masks for the presentations and interviews, I thought some of the unmasked spectators were downright stupid cheering on the riders by shouting in their faces and huge crowds in places were definitely not distancing.  But it was the hardest most exhilarating route I’ve seen in a long time with a fairy tale result.  A 21 year old, he described himself as just a kid, took the yellow jersey on the penultimate day’s time trial.  On a time trial it’s man v clock, no team tactics or support, just full gas and in this case a bike change from time trial to road bike before the climb to the finish.  

Slovenia‘s Tadej Pogacar didn’t just win the race and yellow leader’s jersey, he won the polka dot king of the mountains jersey and the white best young rider’s jersey.  He said his dream had been simply to take part in the Tour, he went and won it in history making style.  I love cycling.  

And the knitting, which sometimes had to be put down when the tension on the telly not on the needles was too much, was socks.  The first pair were started in Yorkshire early July, West Yorkshire Spinners lovely Bullfinch yarn, the second 100% knit in Italy is World of Yarn Siberia which I bought last year from

The Giro is coming up soon and then the Vuelta, more bike excitement but don’t worry I have yarn to get me round both races.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

A nature walk

We walked down through the olives to the village recently as we needed to go to the post office.  There was the usual long queue and an equally long wait at the counter to hand over a prepaid parcel, apparently the teller had to spend some time talking on the phone about his brother then the computer crashed.

Afterwards we sat in the little square for a while, my first time in the village this year, it was very quiet.  I never tire of sitting there admiring the houses and enjoying the breeze coming up from the valley though I missed the usual chatter and coming and going of people.   It’s quite a trek home, uphill all the way and while it would have been nice to call in at the bar for a drink we refrained and wandered back in 30 degrees.

We spotted during our walk that there are an awful lot of new animal trails on the 
hillside, we’ve been told these are the routes of wild boar.  We never really noticed them before, it’s a little bit worrying but it’s so quiet round here this year that animals are moving closer to habitation.  Giovanni told me he’d see deer around for the first time and I read that there are wolves across the valley, not so far away, killing livestock.

We arrived home pretty hot so we were quickly into the pool, where I spotted this creature on the clothes line.  Quite a day for wildlife.  I don’t suppose school children take nature walks nowadays, I used to love them in fact I still do.   I might start a nature table here, mr grasshopper won’t be going on it.

Thursday 10 September 2020

Fruit and veg

Our garden is doing so well this year, flowers fruit and vegetables.  We are the envy of our neighbours when we deliver them bags of assorted produce though we don’t mention that it may have something to do with our lack of involvement for the first half of the year and the delay in planting.  When we went to buy our veg plants late in the season the choice was limited and we thought we were taking what no one else wanted.  It’s quite the opposite, for example
 we would never have chosen the only type of tomatoes on offer but they are fantastic, healthy, heavy croppers and really tasty.

It’s a joy to have an endless supply of fresh veg, even if green beans are on the menu most evenings.

Fruit has been good too, our best year ever for apples, many of which I’ve given away with a few left on the ground for the porcupine who touch wood is giving my flowers a rest.  The figs are ripe and mostly eaten straight from the tree by me, pears are not great.

We had friends here for lunch on Monday, they were so complimentary about the garden and our outside space, we were so pleased.  And of course I made another apple crumble with plenty left over for another day.  

And after my yucca find I spotted at the side of the lawn a self seeded plumbago, a long way from the parent plant.  I think it’s been strimmed a few times when Mr FF has been edging but still plenty of growth, it’s potted up for now, another example of the garden thriving on neglect.

Monday 7 September 2020

The impatient gardener

Having said I love raising plants from seeds and cuttings and that I don’t need instant results, I should also tell you that I like to know what’s happening.  It’s not unusual for me to have a rootle in the compost to see if my seeds are germinating, or tug on a cutting to check if it’s rooted.  Don’t try this yourself it’s usually destructive.

When I put my yucca cuttings into a pot I knew they should root within 3 to 4 weeks.  Of course after 2 weeks I gave them a gentle(ish) tug and there was some resistance, they still looked quite perky though a few of the lower leaves had turned brown, I cut those off.

After 2.5 weeks I went for it, I tipped them out and both pieces had more good strong roots than I ever expected.  I should have taken a photo but I was so pleased I couldn’t wait to get them safely into individual pots.

They are fantastic, they are big and bold, they look brilliant, they cost nothing.  I don’t think I could be happier with myself for finding them thrown out on the land below us and for establishing these lovely new plants.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Happy rain

In total we probably had two hours of rain since we arrived early July and really that made no difference whatsoever.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ground so dry and of course we were worried about wild fires.  When we went to the beach for Mr FF’s birthday we saw a big fire on a hillside, the helicopters and planes were dropping water and still working that evening when we left.  From our house we saw a few fires in the distance and one day the valley was full of smoke but fortunately there was nothing local.

We had various weather warning for thunderstorms but it wasn’t until Monday this week that we got proper rain and it was the best kind.  Often after a dry spell we get violent storms, damaging the garden and flooding the roads, sometimes with huge hailstones that destroy precious crops.   But this was gentle continuous downpour that lasted all day, the right kind of rain.

Of course it’s still nothing like what we need but it’s so welcome.  The temperature dropped enough for Mr FF to put on a jumper, for the first time we didn’t eat dinner outside and I returned to sleeping in the bed rather than on it.  Blue sky was back before the end of the day and the temperature is set to rise for the rest of the week but it was joyful to see the garden so refreshed.  I discovered the panorama option on the iPad camera,  I like it, you can see early evening the cloud clearing around us.

Now it Tuesday morning and the temperature has crept back up to over 20 degrees.  A quick sweep up, return the outside cushions, sun sails, table cloth and open up the house for some good fresh air after trying to keep out the heat for weeks.  It’s wonderful, we are both back into our shorts and gardening, we feel invigorated.