Archive for June, 2012

Dor beetle

June 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Big black beetle alongside clutch pencil for comparison

I found this hefty beetle yesterday, floating at the back of the skimmer in the swimming pool.

I fished it out, assuming it was dead, and put it on the rim of the pool. This morning it was still there although not exactly where I remembered putting it.

Still believing it to be dead, I brought it into the house intending to photograph it. 

This time it definitely moved a centimetre or so from where I’d put it, and when I went to pick it up, it twitched its legs.

It quite gave me the creeps.

I put it on an outside windowsill to finish its convalescence. Such a smouldering giant of a creature takes ages to recover from near-drowning, I suppose.

A poorly paw

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Taylor’s paw – the red is mostly Neomercurocromo

Clive was cooking with wild cherries this evening so I assumed at first that the red marks on the floor were something to do with that, but then I noticed that they were appearing everywhere Taylor walked. I looked more closely and saw  blood coming from his paw.

As far as I can tell, he has badly scraped a couple of the pads on his front right paw, and split the claw right down so that the whole of the hard bit has gone leaving a sore, soft spike.

We phoned the mobile Valtopina vet – it went to voicemail – and then our longstanding vet who was about to close. The advice was to apply Neomercurocromo, that very Continental antiseptic which stains everything cherry red, and put a sock on the paw if Taylor will tolerate it. (Not a chance.)

The mobile vet noticed we’d called and phoned us back shortly after. He approved what we’d done so far, and additionally advised antibiotics.

So we now have a very sorrowful, restless Taylor in an Elizabethan collar. He can’t be allowed out off the lead, and he’s the only one of the dogs who resolutely refuses to do his business while on the lead.

Happy days.

Green-eyed horse flies

June 28, 2012 2 comments

Green-eyed horse flies

For some reason there’s a plague of these sinisterly attractive flies at the moment.

They crawl up the windows and buzz loudly in cobwebs and lamp dishes.

But most of all they attach themselves to my legs.

My calves and shins are covered in their bites, which in a couple of instances this year have swollen into huge infected lumps.

The flies in the photo are actually dead (from fly spray) or they wouldn’t have arranged themselves so obligingly.

Apparently, the sexes can be told apart by their eyes. The male’s eyes practically join,  while there’s a bit more of a gap between those of the female. I have to confess that all of the flies I’ve examined looked the same to me.

Anyway, it’s only the females that bite.

Perfume of pink oleanders

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Two sorts of pink oleander have grown together along the drive. The form of the flower is different and the scent is also different.

2 sorts of oleander, similar but not the same

It makes me wish I was a creator of perfumes, able to detect different proportions of ingredients and identify the ‘layers’ in a perfume.

In my amateur opinion, the smell of both types of oleander has a base of honey and almond.

The deeper pink one on the left then has an overlay of rose, while the paler pink one on the right tops off with vanilla.

Clive for some reason can’t smell flowers at all so unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a second opinion.


June 26, 2012 1 comment

Chicory flowers

This is the chicory season.

Knobbly, tough-stemmed plants which look like the most uninteresting of wayside weeds sprout, every morning, a crop of sky-blue flowers which by about 9 am are closing, and by 10 am have shrivelled to nothing.

The next morning another crop appears apparently from nowhere.

I try very hard not to cut chicory down, and it even grows in the strip down the middle of the drive.

In Norfolk, we knew one place where chicory grew and we made sure to visit it every year. Here it grows everywhere. I feel very fortunate.

Social pear sawfly caterpillars

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Social pear sawfly caterpillars

This dropping-speckled veil full of little orange caterpillars was slung between two twigs on one of the pear trees.

As if we didn’t have enough with the pear leaf blister mite.

After picking off the monstrosity, I put it in a box on the kitchen work surface. It looked as if the caterpillars were asleep, maybe even dead.

This was yesterday.

Today about lunchtime suddenly the caterpillars became extremely active. They burst out of their nest and set off as if to seek their fortunes. I even found a couple climbing down the kitchen cupboards.

Needless to say they ended their journey in the kitchen bin.

I was glad I hadn’t been faced with picking all those little perishers off the pear tree.


June 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Continuing the blitz on the garden, today quite close to the house a rather beautiful object turned up buried in the grass.

It’s a complete snakeskin, about a metre long.


It’s not as fragile as it looks, but delicate.

I think it probably came off a grass snake because that’s the sort of snake I’ve seen, but I don’t suppose it does to be too complacent.

It will go to a good home. When I found a snakeskin once before, our cleaning lady asked to have it. She’s Albanian and the more traditional of them believe that a snakeskin gives protection from the evil eye.