Dirty Dog

Olive, our little terrier, or terror as she’s referred to lately has a penchant for rolling in things, usually it’s the builder’s pile of sand but today it was time for a roll in her other favourite rolling stuff – fox shit. (sorry there’s no way to dress it up, it’s shit). She seems to seek it out and revels in rolling in it, getting it up her flanks and between her ears and she’s not content until it’s well and truly ground into her collar.

This morning she decided to have a run down to the bottom of our land where it’s overgrown and unkempt, We could hear her yapping as she chased after Alfie who had also decided it would be fun to run through the undergrowth. When they returned, tails wagging and tongues lolling out of panting mouths, they both reeked of fox. The smell is so pungent it fills the house and there’s nothing for it but to bathe the mutts.

Both of the dogs hate being washed, and protest as shampoo is worked into their coats. Alfie being bigger gets hosed down outside while Olive is whisked downstairs and popped under the shower, after she’s smelling sweeter I clean the shower, and am amazed at the pile of sand and grit that has been rinsed from her coat. How can such a little dog carry such a mountain of grit and sand in its coat is beyond comprehension.

As I sweep the dirt into a dustpan, I hear barking and yes you guessed it, she’s outside rolling in the sand.

100_7214C

Animal Magic

Animal Magic

My favourite television as a small boy was, Animal Magic. I was so in awe of the presenter Johnny Morris, who was able to talk to the animals: I was around eight years old before I’d worked out it was Johnny that was doing the voices of the beasts. So taken with the show, I begged my parents for every animal book that was published, convinced I would be a zoo keeper they pandered to my every animal related whim. I grew up with an assortment of mice, pigeons, cats etc. but didn’t manage to become a zoo keeper. As I grew older my fondness for animals has never waned and I still privileged when I see something in its natural environment,

So you can understand my happiness as this week has been filled with animal sightings. Monday I was walking the dogs in the lane when we stopped to watch a huge black snake slither across the newly laid tarmac, the black of its scales shimmering like marcasite in the early morning sunshine. I do like to see these grass snakes, they’re timid and as soon as they spot a human they’re off through the grass at alarming speed. Today’s snake hasn’t seen us and we stand watching as it moves slowly off the road where it has lain warming its blood and into the olives. The oppressive August heat hasn’t crept up on us yet, so we enjoy the stroll, the fields are awash with butterflies; blue ones, white ones, multi-coloured admirals all flutter from one flower to another, sharing their space with the wild bees.

Tuesday has been very hot and in the evening, the inside of the house is like a sauna. As the temperature outside falls, inside it seems to rise. I imagine its the roof tiles and stones retaining the heat from the daytime. I sit outside with a glass of wine and allow the slight breeze to tickle me. There’s a rustle in the undergrowth, the dogs ears prick up, but it’s been too hot today and they don’t budge from the patio. Two eyes flash and it’s the fox that seems to pay us a visit most nights. Keeping a safe distance from the dogs and human, it silently creeps through the tall grass, barely a blade moves until there’s a squeal and it moves away quickly with something small and furry in its mouth.

Fox

Wednesday morning arrives, the iPod is in its dock in the living room, playing In Mysterious Ways, by John Foxx: Two foxes in one week Smile I remember that I haven’t put my neighbours recycling box out so nip up the lane and do so. My neighbours house is in an elevated position and as I descend the steps leading down to the road, I see three hares in the field opposite, they’re running and leaping about and occasionally boxing with each other.

Thursday afternoon gave me my best animal encounter of the week. I’m driving back from the bank and as I come around a bend I spot three deer. They gingerly step out from an olive grove and look up and down the road, I slow right down and they cross right in front of me. The deer in front looks like a mature doe and behind her is two yearlings. They enter the grove opposite and then dissolve into the landscape, perfectly hidden from human eyes.

What a week it’s been for animal magic.

(Italian fox image courtesy of 123rf.com. Royalty free images)

Seppe and the Courgette Trumpet

Sunday evening was spent at a barbecue hosted by our friends Viv and Seppe.  As people arrived, ribs and sausages where deployed above the red coals, Seppe had glowing in advance, everyone contributed to the feast, I took a strawberry torte, a melon and grappa jelly and some coffee pannacotta, Graham took a rice dish and some chocolate and chilli cake and Gina brought an amazing artichoke bake she had made in advance; which everyone cooed over upon tasting. The evening passed by pleasantly, the children left the grown-ups and went to play in the streets: Something sadly children don’t do anymore back in England, mostly, in my opinion down to paranoia and playstation.

As the evening progressed Seppe showed everyone how to make a courgette trumpet, and before long we had put together a band: I say band in the loosest sense of the word, and it wasn’t long before adults, woozy with wine were projecting what can only be described as fart sounds into the evening air.

So I thought I’d share the method of making this innovative vegetable instrument with you:

1. Select a courgette/zuccini stem.

100_6841

2. Remove the leaf.

100_6842

3. Cut a slit into the stem about a centimetre long.

100_6843

4. Put stem into mouth and blow. I find it works better for me if the slit is vertical to my bottom lip.

The evening was rounded off by the children excitedly telling us there was a fox in the piazza, and sure enough there it was, a friendly, skinny fox begging for food, after Ben gave it a sausage it ran away, and the guests also started to depart, everyone agreeing it had been a marvellous evening of food, fun and friendship.