Blooming Marvellous

Everything seems early this year, especially the warm weather, it’s February and I’ve already seen a snake and lizards running up and down Dominico’s ruin. Today as Stevie Nicks sang, Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You, I took a couple of hours off from my writing and lay on a sun-lounger in the sunshine soaking up a few rays. There’s been a soft breeze and every know and again there’s a delicate perfume wafting across the patio, I guess it must be the almond trees that are all in blossom at the moment. I must admit as everyone back in the UK is having a terrible time weather-wise it feels wrong to be basking in the warmth: Anyone would think I was on holiday.

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Last week Seppe called me to come look at what he’d found, as he parted some grasses there among the greenery was a massive grasshopper, not the usual alien type stubby ones we get here in abundance in the summer, but a big brown one. Today as I watered my seedlings another of the big brown hoppers flew across the patio and landed on the table where my courgettes are coming through, needless to say if I was scouting for a meal it got short shrift and I brushed it away: If my seedlings are nibbled now, I know who the culprit will be.

Next door there’s a small outbuilding and its roof tiles are covered with a pale green succulent that’s very pretty, but at this time of the year it flowers and the yellow flowers are beautiful and very welcome after the grey of winter. Today I went to take  a photo of them when out of the building a swift darted past me, I looked inside and saw the remains of a neglected nest, so I assume it’s back to make repairs in readiness for chicks.

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Today I took a stroll just outside the front door and as the sun started to warm the morning air I took out my camera: the cheap pocket point and shoot kind, and took some photos of the flowers that are already blooming. I wonder whether it’s like this in other parts of Italy, or are we lucky being so sheltered, that spring comes earlier?

Flowers

Grasshopper in the Shower

This morning, for the second time this week I’m removing a grasshopper from the shower; something I never had to do in the UK. I’m at a loss as to how they get in; the wet room is secure. Maybe they are Inverse-Houdini-hoppers who instead of escaping, negotiate impenetrable domains and trap themselves. I release our visitor back into the wild and pour hot water over instant coffee before sitting outside to enjoy the peace and quiet before work begins again inside the house. The dogs join me, panting after running down the bottom of our wilderness: Alfie as usual is covered in sticky-buds, Olive doesn’t have a single one attached to her fur: I wonder if out of sight of humans, she’s picking them and throwing them at him.

As I sit here, I think back to how things were when work on the house started back in April, we’ve achieved so much in short space of time. We are now at the stage where we’re just finishing off jobs, mostly the ones our errant builder failed to complete. We have the second bedroom floor to lay and some cement work to complete before the arrival of my ex-wife’s son, (who we’ll call step-son for the purpose of the blog) arrives for a six week stay.

Hopper

My morning sit on the patio gives me time to reflect upon things, and be thankful for what I have. I’m lucky enough to be mortgage free, I have sufficient money to sustain myself for the next few years and I’m happy I can earn a crust doing what I enjoy doing. I’m thankful for having worked all my life in an industry that I chose to be in rather than just earning to live. Something few people are able to say.

Thinking this way makes me think about, Natalie Částka, a talented actress I had the pleasure of working with in the past and how she looks at her life and career. An actors’ life isn’t all ‘Hi diddle dee dee’, it’s fraught with meagre job opportunities, rejection, and disappointment, long hours and poor pay. But Natalie always remains up-beat even on her down-beat days and continues to persevere while others have fallen by the wayside.  I’m not talking about chasing your dream, I saying it’s all about never giving up. Natalie, never gives up, and is at the moment, in the enviable position of being able to turn work down and choose from the offers coming her way. She’s also about to go over the the USA to perform there.To find out more about Natalie’s career visit her blog: Click here.

I wanted to be here in Italy, I wanted to be self supportive and I wanted to be happy, all of which I am, because even in the face of adversity I never gave up. Maybe it’s the same grasshopper that gets into the shower, perhaps he’ll never give up getting in, and I’ll be destined to pop him outside time after time

Wee Beasties

Growing up in the UK I lived in a semi-rural location. I was lucky enough to play in fields, help out on the local farm and as a teenager earn money stacking turves destined for the new housing estates being built in the 1970’s.

The first thing I had to tell myself, when I decided that this was the house I’d like to live in, was that I have to get used to the not so pretty of creatures that inhabit the land. The wee beasties that crawl and fly and buzz and sting. Now, I’ve never really been very good with bugs, but this said I’ve always had a live and let live attitude. I’m quite happy to live in a house with a spider, just 100_6169as long as the spider doesn’t want to walk over me. With the exception of mosquitos and ants, I usually take visiting critters back outside. Who am I to say that just because it’s not easy on the eye or creepy looking it should be stamped upon.

This week I’ve been visited by some wonderful creatures. On Monday morning the iPod shuffled and Tiziano Ferro started to sing La Differenza Tra Me e Te (Stefano Maneo Remix) and I spotted an enormous spider trapped inside the washing up bowl. It was desperate to get out, but it’s legs could find no purchase on the sides of the plastic bowl. So I removed it and set it free among the rubble from the restoration, where there’s plenty of hiding places for it to lie in wait for unsuspecting flies.

Tuesday, I noticed a small wood wasp, she was building a nest inside the old window frame in the kitchen. She was a delicate little thing, and when she flies her longer back legs dangle like clip_image002stilts. A visiting friend said I should kill it and remove the little nest that is the size of a one-euro coin, but I refused. She’s doing no harm, I don’t need to open the window, and I know it’ll not get much bigger than it already is. She just needs somewhere safe to lay her eggs, and despite her vicious looking sting, I know she’s more afraid of me than I am of her.

Wednesday, because the doors and windows in the living room were open we were plagued by flies, but a quick squirt of insecticide spray soon put pain to there foray into the house. And Friday, we had our first visit of the summer from a scorpion. I was just about to sit down for my dinner when Dutch said, “What’s that on the floor?” I looked down and a magnificent black scorpion was making its way over towards the darkness created by the heel of my Ted Bakers in the corner. So I soon snapped a quick photo, the flash causing it to scurry to the relative safety of my shoes and armed with card and plastic tub, I removed the visitor and took it back outside, where it scurried off into a dark crevice beneath the house.clip_image003

This is, however, only the beginning, as summer progresses we’ll have the mantis and the grasshoppers to contend with, not to mention the dreaded mosquitos that will be on the attack. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of getting some fly screens made in readiness.