3 a.m. Taylor barking and a loud noise of crunching in the orchard.
I dash out with a torch in my night attire and see dark shadows melting into the greater darkness.
In the morning: a broken pear branch and on the ground, lots of green pears with decisive bites in them.
Not a real elephant – just the water storage tank we call the blue elephant.
I found Galileo barking down the narrow gap between the tank and the wall and shone a torch in there.
A cat looked back at me.
In the photo the neighbour, also Giovanni’s girlfriend, holds her cat after enticing it out.
Last night, between one thunder storm and the next, we had a power cut. It prematurely ended the film we were watching on tv and plunged us into darkness.
The parts of the house endowed with emergency lights were plunged into light.
We had half an hour to get to bed before the time was up on the emergency lights, and we just made it.
After that we shone a torch on the ceiling for companionship.
The rain has been heavy and continual but our hillside is fairly well drained.
I discovered this morning, however, that the storage tank (the ‘blue pig’) which receives water from the spring is overflowing. The pipe leading on to the pond is too narrow to cope and probably furred up as well.
The photo shows the inky lake of water collecting on the pool tarpaulin. It must be at record depth by now.
Last night we heard a bell tinkling outside our bedroom window – a pleasant, fey sort of noise. We guessed it must belong to a dog left behind after the hunt.
It was after midnight so we couldn’t phone my hunting contact, but I wanted to get a glimpse of the dog so I could describe it.
By the time I’d put on my dressing gown and slippers, the tinkle had receded beyond the reach of the torch beam.
We heard the bell a second time close by and I went outside and crouched for ages, listening to it zig-zagging back and forth in the olive grove. It never came near enough for me to be sure to see it if I turned on the torch.
By the third pass, I’d had an idea: I went outside and gently rang the bell we bought for Kepler. But it didn’t work. The dog didn’t come to see if a colleague was also lost but continued to zig-zag.
This morning I was able to see the creature which had disturbed our sleep. It was a young-looking dog, ‘black with some white on it’ as I reported to my contact on the phone.
Shortly after a 4×4 came up the drive in the rain, turned round and parked a little way from the house. I never saw the dog get in it, but nor did I see the dog again.
I found these nibbled walnuts still attached to the tree.
Some animal has penetrated both the green outer layer and the shell, and eaten the entire kernel through a single ragged hole while bouncing up and down a couple of metres off the ground.
I’m very divided as to the culprit.
I’ve seen black squirrels around, and they eat walnuts. However they normally pick a nut off the twig and eat it between their paws, and they also tend to split walnuts in half.
Dormice – which I wouldn’t have seen as they are nocturnal – eat nuts on the twig and make holes just like those in the photo. However although I read on the internet that they eat ‘nuts’, especially hazelnuts, I couldn’t find any mention of them eating walnuts.
On balance I think it’s dormice, particularly because these walnuts were on twigs which wouldn’t have supported the weight of a squirrel.
I would love to go out at night, shine a torch, and catch a cute little dormouse in the act of swaying along a twig, but I value my sleep too much.