Saturday, July 25, 2009


What do you think of this face? Scary eh? It's like an African voodoo image. Where did I find it? Well one of the many persistant noises we hear at this time of year in Spain, is made by the cicadas. Anyone who has had a Spanish summer holiday will know what I mean. I believe their noise is not made by vibrating limbs like crickets and grass-hoppers. It is to do with a chamber of air in their bodies. I quite like to hear them. It is a sign that summer is here. Most of the time they are just a background chirruping that you hardly notice, but sometimes, especially in the heat of the day, they make a real racket, a high pitched whine that makes you think there is a problem with the power lines that hang across the village. If you approach a group of trees where the cicadas are 'singing', each tree falls silent as you approach it, and starts up again when you have passed it, which make it quite difficult to locate the little beasties! However, last night, just at dusk, one dive-bombed our pool. I heard it, but didn't realise what it was. But, of course, the dogs heard it too, and Jonathan saw Chico fish something out of the pool and go to eat it. (He is greedy and eats everything, edible or not!). I went to investigate and found this cicada. They are quite large, about an inch and a half long, with stiff, rather attractive wings. I took this picture and when I zoomed in on it, there was my scary face, in the pattern on its back. One way of keeping your preditors at bay!
I am pleased to say that the wild-fire around Mojacar is now under control, and though some areas are still smouldering, most of it is now out, and the people have been allowed back to their properties. It seems it was only a change in wind direction and force that prevented much of the pueblo and surrounding urbanisations from being destroyed. Many, many poeple have lost their outbuildings, gardens, and sadly their animals, but at least their houses are relatively undamaged. Of course they have a huge cleaning up job to do. One of the off shoots of the disaster is that many villages, including Los Gallardos, are now without water until tomorrow or possibly Monday. Originally water supplies were diverted for fire-fighting, and then, as the fire started moving west of Mojacar towards Carbonares, cables melted causing short circuits at the pumping stations that supply water to this area. The authorities are working to repair the damage, but have said we will not be connected for a couple of days. Fortunately we have this little blue tank at the side of the house. It is a 'deposito' that holds 600 litres of water. Many houses have them as water cuts are not uncommon out here. At the flick of a switch the water is pumped through the taps in the house. We turn the pump on regularly so the water is always changing, so it is fresh when we need it. Of course we are extremely grateful for it this weekend. If we are careful how we use it, it is sufficient to last for several days.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Yesterday was officially the hottest day since 1998. We recorded a mere 42º in the shade, while just inland from us they had 45-46º! It was very windy but standing outside was like standing in the path of a strong hair-dryer. It was a hot wind straight across the sea from Africa and carried lots of orange sand/dust, so the hills were obscured as though there was an orange mist.
Of course we did what had to be done and then retreated indoors. With most of the shutters closed and the ceiling fans on, it wasn't too bad in doors. but in the afternoon Jonathan and I ventured out and discovered a real gem. Most villages out here have some sort of swimming pool which only opens for July and August. Mostly they are a splash pool for the children. We knew our village had one, and we read somewhere that it was a new one, but we were never sure quite where it was. Then a couple of nights ago, when they went out for a bike ride, Chris and Jonathan discovered it, in a hollow below the sports centre. (An obvious place to put it really I suppose). It was all closed for the night and they couldn't find any information, so yesterday afternoon, Chris stayed at home and brought the dogs indoors with him, and Jonathan and I hopped in the car and drove up to the pool. It was beautiful. There were only a handful of people there. The main pool we reckoned to be about 30 x 15 metres, and it was very deep. There was a second pool about 10 x 6 meters which was a shallower for children.I t was all laid out with AstroTurf surrounds, and there were clean and tidy toilets, showers and changing rooms. It cost us €2 for as long as we liked. When we arrived the main pool was out of use while the auto-hoover travelled up and down cleaning the bottom of it. Apparently this happens every day from 2-4 o'clock, when most sensible people are having a siesta! (That's why it is empty in my photo). We arrived at 3.00 so we joined the others in the smaller pool until the big one opened. Then we got in there and swam lengths for an hour. I'm no match for Jonathan but I plodded on and did quite a few laps with rests in between. Although the water was warm, it was still a lovely cool place to be on such a hot afternoon. We will be going up there quite often now for the remaining month that it is open.
When we got home we found our own pool was covered in debris brought down by the wind, so Jonathan helped Dad to clean it. They skimmed the top, cleaned the filters and hooved the bottom, so it is beautiful and inviting again. In fact, after taking the dogs for their last walk of the night, we had a midnight swim in it to cool us down before going to bed.
While in the village pool we were talking with another swimmer about the haze of dust between us and the mountains when we spotted what looked like a thin plume of smoke rising up. And sadly it was another small fire starting up. The winds were still strong and it was almost inevitable that it would spread. The helicopters responded in minutes but by nightfall the hills were ablaze again. This time it travelled very fast up to the ridge and down the other side towards the coast. Mojacar was evacuated, but the roads were soon grid-locked and they told everyone to head for the beach. It must have been awful down there. The pretty little white village of Mojacar Pueblo suffered damage and in one of the villages the school was burned out. It also came down the mountain towards us, (but not as far as us), and early reports said that cortijos on the edge of Turre were burned. Turre town hall evacuated all the area between the town centre and Mojacar. This photo taken from the road at the bottom of Los Gallardos, shows how it was alight down near us, but the red glow suggests it was worse on the other side of the mountain. I feel so sad for all the folk who spent last week cleaning their houses after the first fire, and now they will have to start again. It is too early for there to be much news yet today, but so far we have not heard of anyone getting hurt, though many properties are damaged. The fire-fighters are very brave. The flames looked huge from where we are, so up close they must have been very scary. I am glad to say that it looks as though most of it is out this morning. There is just one lot of smoke spiralling up from the other side of the mountain, and so far there is no wind to start it off again.
As you can imaging, cooking in this heat is not a lot of fun. We eat quite late, but my kitchen, that is relatively cool for most of the year, now gets the late afternoon sun, so although I close the shutters for the afternoon, it is like a furnace by the evening. Mostly we put something on the barbecue, or else I use the remoska, which at least means that I don't have to put the oven on. Sadly the remoska is wearing out, though I can't complain as it has served us well for a long time. We thought about renewing it, but on the web we read several comparisons between remoskas and the new halogen ovens, and we decided to give one of these a try instead. So here is my new toy! It is more versatile than the remoska as I can set the required temperature, and a timer switches it off automatically. It has a huge bowl so I could cook a big casserole in it, or put smaller quantities into containers in there. There are two shelves so more things can be cooked at one time. So far I am very pleased with it. It is quite big but I have found a space for it to live in, and while it is on, it does get quite hot. But it is very low on energy consumption and everything cooks approximately 40% faster than in a conventional oven. So I put our tea in it and walk away until it is ready which means I only spend minimum time in my hot kitchen.
I had a nice night out on Tuesday this week. I went with my friend Sylvia to an open air concert by the Gloucester cathedral youth choir. It was in the grounds of bit hotel/club down in Mojacar. The choir sang a mixture of church music and folk songs, and it was very enjoyable. They let themselves down a bit on appearance because they had arrived prepared to wear their choir robes. But at their 6.00 practice they realised this would just be too hot so as most of them had their tour tee-shirts with them, they wore those instead but they had to make do with whatever shorts or skirts they had worn that day, so the overall effect was a bit messy. but they sang very well and I think everyone enjoyed it. (Incidently, the conductor's wife had 'The real boss' on her tee-shirt!) There was a good crowd there, and we all took a picnic and sat around chatting while we ate, before the concert started. It reminded me of when Jim and Michael did a tour of Switzerland with their choir, many moons ago.
The last citrus fruit season is more or less over now though we can still buy a few oranges (Valencia lates) in the market, and I have been buying nice grapefruit which Jonathan likes to juice every day. But last week I was given lovely lemons from both the old and the new season. A couple brought a huge sack of big ripe lemons from their garden to church, and told us all to help ourselves, so I had a couple of them. Then, when we were up at Sylvia's house, she cut this lovely bunch of the new season's fruit for me. Although they are still green they are full of juice, and it tastes far better than anything I ever bought in a plastic lemon at home!
I seem to have rambled on about a lot of different things today so I had better stop for now. But I'll be back !!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Viva la Fiesta

Well, we have survived our first village fiesta, a little tired but non the worse for that. The festivities started on Thursday morning. In the programme that was posted into each house in the village, it said it would start 'con disparos de cohetes' which I translated as meaning 'with the shooting off of rockets' and that just about summed it up. Large, very loud rockets were fired from various locations around the village. We followed the sound to one site and found one of the men from the town hall, in the middle of the street, holding a rocket in his hand, lighting it and letting it go! Health and Safety just doesn't figure in it. Sometimes they let off several together and then they did put them in a sort of frame to light them. The poor dogs wondered what was going on and they hid behind a chair, but the firings were so random, and went on throughout the four days of festivities, so we were all constantly taken by surprise. The next event was a small parade of people dressed up on stilts and wearing 'big heads'. The band led them round the streets while a lady in comic costume stood on a float and literally shouted at all the children to join in with workshops etc. .
Not a lot happens during the heat of the day so we've all tried to have a proper siesta time in the afternoons, so that we can enjoy some of the evening events. On Thursday we went to the plaza to watch a special mass at 8.00 p.m. There was an altar set up in front of the stage and lots of rows of seats which quickly filled up with adults and children, many of whom were wearing fiesta costumes, flamenco dresses etc, and they were carring bunches of flowers. Soon another volley of rockets announced the arrival of the statue of La Virgen del Carmen, whose fiesta this was. The village choir we had enjoyed so much at the San Isidro fiesta, was on the stage, and as they sang the 'congregation' lined up to present their flowers to the Virgin. Soon her platform was covered in flowers as well as a special stand next to her. The singing all through the mass was lovely. At the end, everyone collected their flowers again and followed the statue back to the church. The rest of the festivities then began.
Soon the fairground was in full swing. There was one ride that you certainly wouldn't see in a fair at home now. It was a small roundabout with six poles coming from the roof, and each pole had a small pony tethered to it that carried the younger children round and round! They were fat, shiny ponies and seemed to be very well cared for, but I still felt sorry for them in the noise and heat. The children loved riding on them though. On the plaza itself there were four large bars set up around the edge selling beer, wine and tapas, a large stage for the musicians at one side, and the rows of chairs were quickly rearranged around small tables. All the special lights were on, people were milling around and it was just a lovely, holiday atmosphere. We didn't stay to long the first night, and on the way home we stopped at a stall and bought churros to take home for our supper. Churros is made from a batter that is a sort of cross between pancake and doughnut mix. It is piped into a vat of hot oil and deep fried, and then it's cut into strips and sold in paper cones with a good shake of sugar. They are lovely when they are hot, and as we were one of the first customers, the oil was fresh and clean so they were really good ones.
Friday was particularly hot; our thermometer showed 38º in the shade!; so after a quick visit to Turre for some shopping, we did very little all day. As part of the fiesta there were various games, competitions and workshops going on, but we weren't really aware of them. We had an extra long siesta. I even brought the dogs into our air-conditioned lounge for their afternoon sleep as it was too hot for them outside. Eventually I cooked a simple tea and at around ten o'clock we all had a long, cooling dip in the pool, showered and dressed up, and went to join in with the celebrations on the plaza. We enjoyed listening to the live band which, mainly thanks to a row of tall buildings between them and a good sound system, managed not to conflict with the noise from the fairground. Chris and Jonathan had a few beers and tapas while I had tinto verano or summer wine, which is a mixture of red wine and lemonade and lots of ice. We stayed until 3.30 in the morning, and when we got home, we closed all the windows to shut out the noise, put on the air-con, and went to sleep. The music was still playing when the dogs woke us up at 7.30 and when we took them for their morning walk, the last few all-night revellers were just going home.
Yesterday (Saturday) followed a similar pattern with random rocket launches signifying the start of yet another competition. I wandered over to watch one. The road alongside the plaza was taped off and lined with seating. A rope across the road had long coloured ribbons wrapped around it with just the triangular 'tails' showing. Motor bikes drove down the road and as they passed under the rope, the pillion passenger had to grab a triangle and get a ribbon. If he succeeded, he dismounted, and a pretty girl in traditional dress fastened it around him like a sash. Early in the evening there was a traditional bull fight. A temporary bull-ring was constructed on the edge of the village, and posters appeared all around the streets. Chris was tempted to go but I didn't want to, and in the end he decided against it too. I don't know how well it was supported but I expect there were plenty of spectators. We all went back to the plaza around 10.00 p.m. to watch the 'regional dancing'. I assume this was a local dance group, or something done by the school. There were lots of children from about six upwards, and some adults, and they did dance after dance for an hour and a half. The dresses were so lovely and they all enjoyed themselves so much. It was a lovely show. Then the live band were back on until this morning, but we came home around 1.30 and went to bed. Tonight is the last night, so I expect we will go down again, so I had better get my head down for an hour or two very soon. I will add a few photos on here, but there will be many more in the 'Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen' folder on my gallery. I think we are all 'fiesta-ed out' for now!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Final report.

I am pleased to be able to report that the fire is nearly over now. According to local newcasters, it was the worst in ten years. It is thought that it may have started with a lightening strike during the morning's thunder storm, which was much worse just along the coast from us towards Almeria.
Cabrera village, up on the affected mountainside, suffered quite a lot of damage. The restaurant was completely destroyed when their gas bottles blew up. Some twenty cortijos were also lost around there. There was a warning to home owners to move their gas bottles into their swimming pool if they had one. An area of Mojacar was evacuuated when another fire started but this may have been a separate incident, or may have been started by sparks from the original fire. According to media reports, over 2,000 heactacres (20 square km) were burnt. During the night the Spanish army moved in with large machinery to build fire breaks, to protect the towns of Turre and Mojacar. There are still small areas of smouldering fire, but it is mostly under control now. Everyone is just praying that the wind doesn't get up again this afternoon and fan the flames once more.

This morning I went to my usual sewing group in Turre. That part of the road had reopened, but the road up to Cabrera was still cordonned off. Home owners are hoping to be allowed back up there tonight. I saw huge swathes of blackened land, quite close to the road. The fire had moved a lot further down into the valley before it started to climb up the mountains. In Turre itself the gutters were lined with piles of soot and ash like little black 'snow drifts'.

Let's hope it is at least another ten years before everyone has to experience such a thing again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Red sky at night ....

Yes, we have a red sky tonight, but sadly it is for all the wrong reasons. We woke up to a heavy grey sky today and this morning we even had a short thunderstorm with just a little shower, but it wasn't enough rain to clear the very sticky air. Then we sat outside for our lunch and I watched what I thought was another bank of cloud forming behind the hills to the back of us. But I soon realised that it was smoke and I knew there was another fire out on the campo. (Campo is the spanish name for all the open land. I guess it just translates as countryside). America has forest fires, Australia has bush fires, and here in Spain it is inevitable that we will get some campo fires. But we have already had too many around here and there is some talk of arson. Today's started as a reasonably small one though there was soon a line of smoke filling the sky to the south of the village. This gradually darkened until, by tea-time, Mojacar and the mountains had disappeared completely. It was one of our more breezy afternoons and the wind had blown the smoke along the valley and over the town. We heard several sirens as police, ambulance and 'bomberos' hurried to the scene. After my Spanish lesson, we drove towrds Turre and from a roadside view point we realised that the fire was getting out of control. We watched as a single helicopter with a large 'bucket' hanging below it, hovered over an agricultural reservoir to fill its bucket and then flew off to drop it on the fire, and it repeated it over and over again, but it really needed many more to help, and the fire was rapidly spreading, with the wind carrying sparks and starting new outbreaks all along the valley. You can see from the foreground in some of these photos, there is not a lot of vegetation but what there is, is tinder dry, and it catches fire very easily. Some areas quickly burn themselves out, but the rows of trees surrounding them burn long and hot, and being mostly pines, they give off sparks that start the next field burning. As we finished our tea, we could see long lines of flames licking up the side of the mountains, so we got in the car and drove to a nearby urbanisation for a better view. There were a lot of people there before us and we didn't feel so much like 'voyeurs' when we realised that most of them were spanish, so this must have been quite a big fire even for them. We watched as the flames intensified and got higher, and then died down again, only to start again somewhere else. Sometimes it crept very close to a farmhouse or villa, but we didn't see any buildings actually on fire, but there must have been some very valuable agricultural land ruined. Every now and then a new field would catch and there'd be a big sheet of flames again. We suddenly saw that there were new outbreaks a long way off so the whole area must have covered several miles, and some lines of fire had climbed right up the mountain so there were small patches of red and orange right up in the smoke clouds. We took a couple of pictures after dark and although I can't hold the camera still for a long, slow night exposure, they do give an idea of the glowing sky, and all the separate outbreaks of fire. We took a lot of pictures but I'll only put a few on here and the rest I'll put in a folder on my gallery. I have just looked out the back again and the sky is still red and I can see several small areas that are still burning. I hope the wind drops tonight so it will burn itself out, and there won't be too many people facing devastation tomorrow.

P.S. It is now Wednesday morning. When we went outside we found there was a fine layer of ash all over the patios. The main fires have stopped but it moved over the mountain and there is still one area 'active' just beyond them, This is the picture I took of it from the house. The helicopter with its water bucket is up again so it must still be quite big. The wind is more gentle today and it has completely changed direction so the smoke is now blowing inland, and we can see Mojacar again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting into practise.

What are we practising for? Well next week, Thursday through to Sunday, is the main fiesta of the year for our village. It is the fiesta of the Virgen de Carmen, who is the patron saint of fishermen and sailors, and also of our village, and she is so important that she gets three - four days of celebrations in her honour! We have been warned about this fiesta as it is non-stop fun and NOISE nearly 24 hours a day, the only respite being for siesta time in the afternoons! We have been told that there will be bands and fairground rides all evening and then at midnight the disco music starts and continues until 8.00 in the morning. We have been warned! Some English people even go away for a few days to escape from it, but we are looking forward to celebrating with our village. I am sure we can survive on minimum sleep for a few days. We will make the most of our siesta time, and then go out and join in the fun until we are so tired that we can sleep through the rest of it. On Monday we will go up to the town hall and pick up a programme of events so we know what is supposed to be happening. Right now they are getting into practice for it. Men have been stringing lights across the roads, and last weekend some big lorries arrived on the land at the back of us. Men were soon busy assembling some kind of structure which turned out to be a huge stand of bumper cars. They operate every night from 9.00p.m. until just after midnight, so we are getting a taster of what it will be like next week. I don't care for the music, both spanish and english songs, but all with a heavy bass beat, but the young folk are enjoying it, and the coloured lights brighten up a very dark area which I can see from this room.
Despite the thumping music, we are spending most evenings on the back porch. Here are Chris and Jonathan, each with their laptop. I was sitting with them until I went to get the camera, but I prefer a book of sudoku puzzles to occupy me. The dogs are keeping us company, laid out after a boisterous romp around after their tea, and too hot to be interested in a walk before bed time. Little Foxy is there too but she is hiding behind Chris' chair. It is the spot she has adopted as her new 'fox-hole' and she goes there when she wants to rest. It is very hot for all the animals now, and for us too. It is above 30º every day and has been up to 40º in the sun. We try to get up fairly early and do what we have to do then, as later it is too hot to walk around the town. Usually now, Chris and I are up around 7.30. Chris feeds Chico and Miki while I walk Foxy, and then he takes his two out while I coax Foxy to eat. She is not used to regular meals, and unfortunately she seems to be used to getting 'human' food when we are eating, but she will have to get unused to that now. I only give her the same as the other two and she will now eat enough of it, but only off the floor. She doesn't like it in a bowl. I expect she will get used to it in the end. I then feed the cats and let them out to play with the pups. They are both able to hold their own against them now. Next I try to do a short session on my airwalker, which is in the garden, followed by a swim to cool down. If all goes according to plan, I am usually sitting down to a bowl of fruit, yoghurt and muesli by 8.30. After that I do the days housework as fast as I can and then do as little else as I can until it is time to cook our evening meal. It's a good life. I have lost most of the weight I had put on again after returning from Thailand, so I am pleased about that.
The one downside to outdoor living is the bugs, but we are luckier than some folks. We do get some flies, but not in enough quantity to make sitting outside uncomfortable. We do get wasps, but they are mainly in the pool. They come down to drink and then take off again, but I don;t like them.Sometimes they get water-logged so they can't take off, and then we fish them out and kill them. One day, Jonathan and I had a whole dustpan full of 'corpses'! Here is a photo of one Jonathan caught on the table. They are a bit prettier than the ones back home, and nothing like so aggressive. Maybe they are too hot to do anything more than hunt for food and drink the pool. I guess I am getting my comeuppance for preserving their nest a couple of months back!
Yesterday, my friend Sylvia had another problem with her computer so Chris went to sort it out for her and I went over there with Jonathan so we could have a swim in her pool. She has a larger than average pool (9x5m) in a very nice garden, and she has given us an open invitation to make use of it. Usually our small pool is all we need to cool down in; we are in and out of it all day; but just occasionally it is nice to go and have a good swim in a bigger area of water. We are so lucky to have our own pool. It would be quite hard to get through some days without it. It is very relaxing and cooling to just float around in.
Anyway, we are going to try to persuade the dogs to have one last trip out before we all settle down for the night. There will, no doubt, be more news about the fiesta soon. Watch this space!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Introducing a Foxy Lady

I know I am full of surprises and little sense, but here I go again!! This lovely girl is Foxy. She is a Husky-cross, with the bluest of blue eyes and lovely markings on her face. We were first introduced to her some weeks ago, when an elderly English couple found her and her brother/sister abandonned at the edge of their property. The couple already had a dog and didn't feel that, at their age, they could take on new puppies, so they advertised for a home for them. While they waited for some response, they put food down for the pups each day, and they made their home in a foxhole. The other pup was dark and resembled a small alsatian and we decided to enquire about it. Unfortunately, around this time, the dark puppy died, blocking the entrance to the foxhole so the light one could not get out to feed. The couple's daughter, who happens to be an assistant at our vets, dug him out and buried him, and Foxy continued to live in the hole, just emerging each evening for food. She was lonely of course, but also very nervous and no-one could get near her to catch her. She just darted below ground again. Here she is just peeping out of the fox hole when we first went to see her. They decided to set a fox trap near the hole, but the man at the house did not want her to get hungry enough to scavange, so he continued to put food outside the trap, and it seemed unlikely that she would be caught. She grew accustomed to the sound of the lady's voice, but was still too timid to be approached. We felt that she was getting older and more used to her independence, wandering into the campo (open countryside) by day, and probably catching rabbits etc to eat, and she would be difficult to socialise, so when we saw Chico and Miki, also abandonned pups needing a home, we decided to take them instead. Then about a week after we had them, the lady phoned to say that the pup was in the trap and her daughter had taken her to the vet for a full medical, (she was thin and covered in ticks and fleas), plus all the necessary injections. The couple then took her home again and kept her tethered on their patio, unable to set her loose as their grounds are unfenced, plus their own dog might chase her. The next time we went to the vet with one of our animals, the daughter told us how well the little pup had settled down. Although she was very timid, she wagged her tail at the couple who were looking after her, and got on quite well with their dog, but he is old and did not always want to play, so they were still desperate to find her a home. Jonathan and I went to see her and fell in love with her. She sat on my lap and seemed happy to be near us. So we decided to 'foster' her for a couple of days to see how she got on with our two and the kittens, and more importantly, how they reacted to her. Well that was on Friday and she is still with us. I think she has adopted us as her new family. You would think she had always been here. She romps and plays rough and tumble with the dogs, and they just accept her as another play mate, and she shows little interest in the kittens. I think the feeling is mutual! She will never be as big as the other two though I think she will fill out when she eats better. She doesn't eat much yet but she walks on a lead. I take her and Chris takes the other two; we are becoming a familair sight going down the Calle; and at night she sleeps in the outside run with Chico and Miki. So our family has grown a little bigger than we intended, but we love them all. I have taken nice portraits of them all. They are growing fast, particularly Chico who will be a big dog. (He's also the most intelligent and trainable). The cats get on quite well with the dogs, and are learning to walk away when they have had enough attention form them. I love this picture of Miki who is a bit of a bumbling clown. It was taken just after I threw a bowl of water over her to cool her down! In case you are now totally confused, the new blue-eyed beauty is Foxy, the black dog is Miki (Michaela), the brown dog is Chico, the tabby/white cat is Paco and th little ball of grey fluff is Destino. Welcome to the new Perry clan!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


We have had some interesting visitors this week, and, no, I am not referring to Jonathan and his mate Jake who are spending a few weeks with us over the summer! This morning Chris and I were sitting on the back porch enjoying our breakfast cuppa, and we were idly watching a pale gecko running up the wall of the pump house. It became very still and we saw what we thought was another one, emerging from the reel of hose fixed to the wall. But the head we saw stretched up the wall followed by a slim black body that just went on and on. Yes it was a snake. I don't know what sort it was, but I do know that there is only one sort out here that bites, and it is fairly benign, on a par with the adder at home, so I was not worried by this one in our garden. I was just fascinated to see it inch its way up a sheer wall towards the gecko, which I am sure he saw as his breakfast. Of course I had to grab my camera, and whether this disturbed him, or whether he just changed his mind I don't know, but he suddenly slithered down again and as he slid along the hose towards the ground we realised just how long he was. I went over to take a close up of the gecko and realised that he had recently lost his tail, so maybe this wasn't his first encounter with the snake today. We thought they had both gone, but a few minutes later we saw the snake reappear, poking his head out of the black pipe protruding from the top of the wall. He must have climbed all the way up the wall on the back of the pump house, and onto it's flat, recessed roof. The pipe is to run off for any rain from the roof. The snake stayed just inside the pipe for a long time, sometimes hanging out a long way, and sometimes just showing its head. It will be interesting to see if it comes out again tomorrow. Hopefully the gecko will have found a new base. We like having them in the garden as they eat the mosquitoes and other flies.
Other visitors who helps combat the flies are all the birds on the green land at the back of us. We are now pretty sure these are swifts, not house martins as we first thought. Every morning and just at dusk, a huge flock of them dive and dart around catching air-borne bugs. They also dive bomb the building next door where there are lots of sparrows nests. They make a loud shrieking noise as they fly which the locals call 'The devil's screech'.
Another bird came to visit us quite late one evening while Jean and Dorothy were with us. It settled on the corner of the roof next door. I took this photo of it, hoping I would be able to zoom in on it and see it better, but it was gone 9.00 and the light was fading, so I only have this vague outline, but it looks as though it is a small owl. Chris said he could see it had talons. We often hear a solitary bird call during the night, and it is quite possible that there are owls in the trees behind the house, or in the chimneys of one of the half-built houses across the back.
We had to take one of the pups to the vet today. Chico developed a limp in his front, right leg, and it was obviously causing him a lot of pain. Poor Miki is used to playing rough and tumble with him, but he snapped at her so fiercely that she kept her distance for the rest of the morning. The vet thinks he has bruised the bone just jumping and playing, and has given him pain-killer and anti-inflammatory tablets which he takes very willingly, and they seemed to give him several hours of relief. We have to take him back to the vet tomorrow so she can keep a check on it. I sat outside with them this afternoon reading a book, but I had to go indoors to do something, and when I went back out I found they had eaten my book. At least they had shredded the top half of the last few pages. They might have chewed the ones I had already read. Now I shall have to read the bottom half of each page and try to guess what was at the top, so I may never be quite sure how the story ends! I guess I am going to learn some lessons the hard way too!