In the photo is the 5-centimetre-long object extracted from Galileo’s nose under general anaesthetic.
It’s almost unbelievable that such a thing could have gone up one of his tiny nostrils and lodged there – and how uncomfortable!
It was just beginning to cause an infection but we caught it in time.
These seeds, from a type of grass called brome, are everywhere here in summer.
They’re called ‘forasacchi’ in Italian which means ‘sack-piercers’ because they poke through bags of hay.
They’re a great problem for dogs because they can pierce any part of their bodies, and they’re consequently well known to vets.
Last night I checked on our little grapefruit tree by torchlight.
It’s in a pot which I’ve placed outside for the summer.
I like to make sure it’s not too wet or dry, and not being invaded by some nasty pest.
There were some delicate fingers of new leaves which is a good sign.
There was also a tiny green cricket which ended up looking quite ethereal under the flash.
According to the weather forecast, it’s possible summer may be returning tomorrow or thereabouts.
After a daily thunderstorm for several days, we were beginning to have doubts about our usually reliable July.
But the plants never lose faith.
Here are a couple of especially sunny flowers which I came across while accompanying Chokri as he strimmed.
I’ve been following my usual practice of trying to save the more unusual plants and the best and brightest blooms, but it isn’t always possible.
At long last – summer!
If winter is Italy’s best kept secret, summer is Italy’s fixture.
It’s not like Britain where you have one glorious day and then it rains and you say: “I think that was summer.”
Here you wake day after day to hot sun, cool shade, bright flowers and (in our case) a brilliant aquamarine swimming pool!
The downside is insects, but being half way up a mountain they don’t bother us a great deal.
Some insects are a joy, of course: butterflies, potter wasps, crickets, fireflies.
The fireflies appear when we’re having supper outside after dark – tiny pulsing lights that could be sparks from a fire, or bits of tinsel in a snowstorm globe.
They make a display for our enjoyment but at the same time they remind us that the night belongs more to the wild creatures than to us.
At the end of last summer we ripped up the dry sweet pea stems, pods and all, and spread them in bundles around the place to seed themselves.
Nowhere are they unwelcome where they’ve sprouted, but in a lot of cases they can’t be left.
In our bit of lawn, for example, which would be about 6 feet tall by now if we’d left it uncut.
But on this bank, on the shady side of the house where nothing else grows, they can flourish to their hearts’ content.
Clive complained about the lack of variety in the colour but I defended them vigorously.
“There’s purple,” I said, “pale purple, deep purple, white, deep purply red, pinky purple, pink, pale pink …”
I would have thought that was enough, even for flowers in such quantity!
Basically the question is: do I kill these beetles or do I let them be?
White-spotted rose beetles are my number one ‘bête noire’ in the summer.
They can reduce a beautiful rose to something resembling a piece of chewed-up tissue in an afternoon.
Much as I hate them, their presence on apple blossom is a bit more ambiguous.
I’m really not quite sure what they’re doing there.
If they’re eating the calix and destroying the flower’s potential to make an apple, then they should be forever damned.
However if they’re pollinating the flowers, which I’ve heard they’re capable of, then they have a role to play.
So far I’ve let them live, but of course there’ll be that many more of them to eat the roses where pollination isn’t an issue.
There’s an Italian proverb I’ve just come across: ‘Nel dubbio, astieniti,’ which means ‘When in doubt, don’t.’ Perhaps I’ll follow it on this occasion.
It’s not quite summer and it’s not quite snow, but it’s white where it shouldn’t be.
Chokri has been doing repairs to the outside of the house including the surrounds of the windows, which are painted ivory white as opposed to the muted pink of the walls generally.
The painter who did the original work left us scarcely any ivory white paint and it got used up.
As the repairs seemed very minor – just filling the odd hole and crack – I thought we could cover them up with the paint we used for the stairwell and upstairs corridor because it happens to be exactly the right colour.
However Chokri got carried away and painted the whole of two window surrounds rather than just the bits of repair.
The rain has washed this non-waterfast paint down onto the pink paint, in long streaks.
I’ve tidied it up as best I can so it’s not too obvious in the photo, but when we get more rain it will all be to do again.