Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wood anemonies - anemonies wood, a huh huh huh, just like that.

Today is one of those days when you say, "This is why I love living here!" It's 20-21ºC depending on which thermometer you believe, the sky is unbroken blue and the horizon as clear as crystal. It's the kind of day (as I say so often that my other half groans audibly) that any British summer would be proud to call its own.

As I sit typing this at almost 4.30pm on what many would call Christmas Eve, my better half is still out in the garden in a t-shirt having a good potter about. This morning we decided that, in the interests of the dear reader who for some odd reason may just be a follower of this blog, we'd have a bit of an expedition. It's been a day that cried out for a good walk right from breakfast time and so we bit the bullet, started up the car and took it over to the south end of Psaltos Bay, just over the hill from Pefkos on the way to Lindos. There's been a walk that I've wanted to do for quite a while right there. I've lost count of the number of times we've driven past this spot and I've glanced up at the gently sloping hillside and thought, "I must walk up there. It just might lead me to the top of those cliffs that featured in the ridiculously old movie that we still harp on about "The Guns of Navarone". 

Right, first, lets' get this clear. The bay's correct name is "Psaltos". It's really only the ex-pat Brits who've kind of commandeered the place and converted it to "Navarone Bay" in recent decades. There are now signs all over the place demonstrating this fact. But, in truth, to the locals it's still "Psaltos". Well, as you'll know if you've been there, at the Southern end of the bay are some pretty impressive cliffs that were featured in the night scene in the venerable old movie in which the "heroes" come ashore from a submarine, reach the base of the cliffs in fairly rough weather, then climb the sheer rock face. Of course the scene was obviously filmed in broad daylight through some fairly unconvincing filters, but, well, the magic of the movies and all that. What's equally funny is that once the heroes get to the top of the cliffs, they set out across the terrain, up and down a valley or two, through a village and arrive at the Old Town in Rhodes. How do they do that then? Answers on a postcard please...

Anyway, to help you see where we parked the car and set out, here's a Google Map...

You'll notice I've marked the location of a Trigonometrical Point on the map. This is the spot where we took a bunch of photos of the view down across the bay. You'll see them below pretty soon.

Recently I was going on about how the wild anemonies are a picture at this time of the year and how I would be trying to snap a few for you (and of course, I) to wonder at. Well, this was one of the reasons why I wanted to do this walk today, in order to snap some of them in all their glory. Yippee, they didn't disappoint, as once again, you'll see below. So, car parked safely off the road, sun beating down to such a degree that we'd smeared on some factor 15 before leaving home, we set off up what to begin with is a fairly easy path. I had visions of us walking all the way to the end of the headland. Memories of younger days when we used to walk the length of Brean Down in the Bristol Channel, just South of Weston Super Mare, well and truly had me deceived into thinking that this little jolly would be just as easy. Oops.

After a mere couple of hundred metres the ground began to become much (and here I mean, like ...MUCH) more difficult. There were more rough stones and rocks than there was level ground and the lush greenery between them could have hidden some real ankle-breaking crevices. Thus, our progress went from merry jaunt to whoa, double back, Aargh, that one wobbled... and so forth. Add to that the fact that much of the vegetation is designed to scratch you to oblivion and you see why this was no easy stroll.

Never mind, we kept at it and, after a couple of ridges were negotiated where a bit of light mountaineering was required, we arrived at the Trig point. So, good folk in Net-land, here we go then. Hope you like 'em, I almost landed up being airlifted to hospital to get these!!!

The wild flowers are a botanist's dream at the moment.

This is the most common of the wild anemonies

The better half contemplates the vastness of it all, then says, "Which way now?"

This pics helps you appreciate how tricky it was underfoot. Not only could you break an ankle with ease, but if you fell your face would soon be a bloody mess as well!! (Not meant as a swear word there!!) Incidentally, in case you haven't sussed it, this pillar is the Trig. point.

...and there's the proof.

"I REFUSE to go any further!" "Smile anyway then sweetie!"

Not a bad view, eh? Click to get the larger ones on several of these and you'll see the snowy peaks of the Turkish mountains quite clearly. These aren't usually visible in the summer due to the heat haze.

And, no, I'm NOT trying to pull it over! Pefkos Bay in the background. Just to the right of my left shoulder (if you're keen sighted) too is the tiny Profitis Ilias church that we walked up to on a dull day last winter. There are some photos toward the end of this post.

Can't knock the colours of that sea, even in December, eh? The AquaGrand and Lindos Memories hotels are clearly visible.

As mentioned above. Right click to get a larger view and you'll see the snow on the Turkish mountains.

I took this one especially for the snowy peaks on the horizon.

You get a good idea of how tricky it is to walk on this terrain from this one. There's hardly a square foot of level ground.

Stunning. And the entire landscape is awash with them.

Well, you gotta have just one selfy!

A scene of real beauty. Oh, and the wife too.

Three other walkers we bumped into. Not very sociable though.

I took this as we scrambled back down because I was well relieved to catch a glimpse of the car through the boughs of this tree. Saved!
Once we'd finally stumbled back to the car, some medication was in order, ...of the dark brown bean variety. So we drove round to Zucchero Café at Flevaris supermarket, ordered a couple of Frappés and some kourabiedes. Well, we figured we'd already walked them off.

Finally, since I'd packed the chainsaw in the boot after we'd caught sight of some likely logs on the beach during a walk the other afternoon, we detoured down to the local beach on the way home and within ten minutes of firing up the machine, had ourselves this little haul. A satisfying day's work all round I'd say.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Up the Pole

There's a strange rule that applies to new buildings in rural areas here. Basically it says that a new house, or indeed business premise, that has a garden or yard around it, must have its electricity meter mounted on a concrete obelisk somewhere on the edge of the property near to the road, protruding from the top of which there should be another couple of metres or so of metal post, often looking to me like it's a scaffolding pole sunk into the concrete on the top of the obelisk. It's to the top of this pole that the power cable is first attached as it descends from the overhead cables, connects to the meter and thus from there the supply runs into the property, often underground.

Where perhaps a number of properties are built quite near to each other, you may see quite a large concrete "bus shelter" with a recess in one side, into which are mounted all the electricity meters for those buildings, to make it easier for the meter reader, who'll take the readings whilst differentiating each meter by its code number. There are some recent housing developments not too far from us where you can count up to twenty electricity meters all together side-by-side in one rather ugly five meter wide recessed concrete obelisk. The homes that these metres serve can stretch to something like 150 metres away, whilst the nearest one has to put up with this monstrosity dominating the corner of their front garden.

Nattering with our neighbour from further down the valley over a coffee in 21ºC of sunshine yesterday morning, he got to telling us about Johan, who's almost completed a new house down near the beach road. This new property has a grand rectangular garden with a driveway that goes all the way around the house. It's a posh looking place and no mistake. Apparently, Johan contacted the electricity board, having had the builder erect the concrete obelisk and its pole, as per regulations, to ask if they'd install the meter so that he can have electricity in the property. I'm not sure, but I think the builders are meant to inform the electricity company when the obelisk and pole are ready, so that the installation of the meter box and meter may proceed. Following an inspection, during which the man from DEH (The Greek electricity company) comes along and casts a beady eye over the pole to see if it contravenes the quite strict parameters for such things, a meter box and subsequently the meter itself may be installed.

So, our soon-to-be distant neighbour Johan rings up the DEH office and the conversation goes something like this:

"Good morning. My property is [here he quotes the location and the building permit number, plus his own name as the owner], do you think that you could now supply a meter box and meter please?"

"Of course we shall, once you have a pole installed."

"But I do have the pole installed. I'm looking at it right now."

"No, sir, you don't. You must have the post and pole before we can install your meter."

"But the builder erected it last week. It's all ready to receive the meter and I can see it from where I'm standing."

A slight pause…"You will need to have the pole erected first, sir."

"I don't think you're hearing me correctly. I HAVE THE POLE. It's been erected. I just need my meter now. Please will you supply my meter."

"Can you wait, please sir?" Johan says he'll wait. Muffled sounds of pieces of paper being rustled, then the sound of computer keys busily getting hammered. Voices exchange a few words of indiscernible Greek. No doubt the sound of a frappé being slurped through a straw too I shouldn't wonder. Johan twiddles his thumbs, symbolically of course, since one of his hands is holding his mobile phone to the side of his head. He waits.

Then he waits some more. Eventually the voice cackles back at him, "Mr. ---------," may I put you on hold for a moment please?"

"OK, OK. I'll hold." He finds himself listening to a tinny recording of "Jingle Bells". Finally, the voice come back at him.

"Right. Umm, sorry to keep you waiting. You are right, of course Mr. ---------."

"Great. Fine. So I can have my meter fitted now then, right?"

"Yes, your meter may be installed."

"So, when can I expect the men to arrive and fit it?"

"Just as soon as you get a pole installed."

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

What's That Sound?

The night before last I was up and about at something like 3.40am, which isn't unusual for me, as regular readers of this twaddle will perhaps know. Anyway, now and again I'll wander outside, often just to get some exercise, which seems to help when I go back to bed and try to sleep, but also I do it to gaze up at the immensity of it all and get all philosophical and stuff. Let's face it, it is pretty amazing up there, especially when you live somewhere like this where the clarity of the night sky can be so crisp, the Milky Way so clear as it stretches like fine gauze all the way from one horizon to the other, that you see detail that you'd very rarely get to see back in the UK. One of the reasons is simply the amount of light pollution to be honest. Here, living as we do half-way up a mountainside, we're affected by virtually nil manmade light during the dark hours and so can easily watch shooting stars and satellites drifting by with the naked eye. As the Americans would say, and I'm with them on this one, awesome.

So, anyway, there I was out there in the chill night air, temperature down to a seemingly bonechilling 8 or 9ºC, and I heard this weird noise coming from somewhere beyond the end of the orchard. The best way I could describe it would be like some small electrical machine running, perhaps a small compressor for blowing up bicycle tyres or something. It was virtually constant and had me flummoxed, I can tell you.

In the end I gave up wondering what it could be and, since it would have involved going out the front gate and off along the lane for who knows how many hundreds of metres in my dressing gown and slippers with no guarantee of solving this nocturnal mystery, I decided to go back to bed and contemplate it as I tried to drop off again.

By lunchtime yesterday I'd kind of forgotten about this until I was asked to go up the hill to our nearest neighbours' house with my chainsaw and help them attack a tree that our recent whirlwind (My wife says I'm being overly optimistic calling it a tornado) had almost torn out of the ground, before they could attempt to right it again and hopefully save it from dying. Just as a side point, if you go to the Oxford Dictionary's web site and type in first whirlwind and then tornado, you'll be hard-put to notice any appreciable difference. Nah, nah, ne, nah nah. Childish, moi? 

So there we were hacking off branches and boughs when, stopping the machine for a moment to clear away stuff, we talked about this noise. Dunno why it came to mind, but it did and so I told them about it. 

"Nightjar!" They both said in unison. "We've looked it up with Google," they told me. Why has they done this? They'd been driven almost mad by the same sound, but at much closer quarters, a while back. they have a flue rising from the house above their fireplace and on the top it has one of those revolving cowls that looks like a black crow that's suffering from the desire to resemble that American Stealth bomber, know what I mean? They're quite common here. Well, as it happens they'd heard this noise drifting down the flue into their lounge, so loud that it quite put Mac off his football match on the telly. What did he do? Eventually, after a few attempts to diagnose the problem without success, he decided to creep around the house from the rear, so that he could pop his head round the corner of the wall and get an eyeful of the cowl before whatever was there decided to leg it. well, "wing it" would be a better description of its manner of departure I suppose.

Sure enough, there was this bird, emitting this mechanical sound that really can make you think that some small machine is running somewhere nearby. Have a listen if you like, HERE. Now this made all kinds of other things that had happened to us recently as we drove up or down our 1km of lane after dark make sense at last. On several occasions we've approached what looked like a piece of wood, almost large enough to be collected and taken home for the log-burner, laying in the middle of the lane. As we'd drawn closer though, the full glare of the headlights well illuminating the object, it had suddenly sprouted wings and took off into the night. Now, having Googled "Nightjar" myself, I discover that these elusive, nocturnal birds like to do just that, snuggle onto the ground with their wings down for something to do. If you are interested in this stuff, this is a good article here. Must say at this point, me and the better half are suckers for a good bird sighting.
Courtesy Hanne and Jens Eriksen.

On not a few occasions too, we've been driving up our lane late in the evening, pursuing our resident hare who seems to take delight in waiting for our approach, before bounding out into the lane and bouncing along in front of us in the full glow of the headlights for about fifty metres or so before verging off into the undergrowth, when we've also spotted a bird flying around above us. At first we thought it was bats, but it's the size that gives it away as a bird. Well, now we know what it is - a Nightjar.

If this kind of stuff gives you the bird, then look away now. If it interests you at all, try these two links below too. The Youtube one is especially lovely.

1. Nightjar research youtube.
2. Birdwatch article, European Nightjar.

OK, so if it's not your bag, have you been prompted anyway to rack your brain over that expression "What's That Sound?" that I used as the title of this post? Want to be put out of your misery? Well, even if you don't, I'm going to explain anyway. It's a line from one of the most seminal rock songs ever written. The song is actually entitled "For What It's Worth" but is universally better known as "Stop, Children, What's That Sound?" and was written by Stephen Stills when he was a member of Buffalo Springfield back in the 60's, along with Neil Young of course. If you want to hear it. Click here.

See, come on folks! You get educated on RFR don't you? Eh? Where are you going? I haven't finshed yet!! Come back!!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blowin' in the Wind

Well, the weather a couple of nights ago was not just wild, it was really wild. It was blowing a gale for most of the night, but at something around 2.30am we were lying awake listening to things banging and bumping outside, accompanied too by the sound of hailstones and vicious gusts when, as per usual in such conditions, the power went out again. There was no way we were going to open the front door to take a peek, so we just vainly tried to get back to sleep, but it ain't that easy when the thunder and lightning gives you the distinct impression that someone's banging a collection of dustbin lids right outside your window and the lightning flashes are so bright that you also half-expect to hear a voice coming over a bullhorn saying "Come on out, you're surrounded, give yourselves up!"

Fortunately, by the time we got up next morning, the power was back on and so we weren't going to have to endure another 15 hour outage like the previous time, a few days before. We ventured outside and there it was, the evidence that we'd had the worst storm in over nine years of living here. Smashed terracotta ridge tiles from the roof were lying around the tiled path beside the house. 

How those tiles, in falling around fifteen feet, didn't smash the floor tiles, is a mystery to me, but one I'm glad to ponder on. Anyway, I won't go into the rest of this story too much, only to say that on two separate ridges of the villa roof there were ridge tiles missing. Could have been a lot worse. The roofing tiles themselves had clung on without further damage and, after a quick phone call to the local builders' yard, where they guy knows me quite well, we were given a phone number for a repair man, who as it turned out was someone we'd known a few years ago. Yesterday he turned up at the crack of dawn, quoted a more than reasonable price for fixing the damage and, by lunchttime had finished the job. 

Y'know, it's when you get a result like that you have to take issue with those who generalise about the Greeks and say that they're all lazy, or that they never come when they say they will. We were well impressed by the  prompt service and by the quality of the repair too. A result!

Moving swiftly on, I've been at it again recently with the old iPad and the digital camera. So, once again folks, if you'd like to see how things are looking in December in this part of Rhodes, your luck's in. Here, in no particular order, are some recent shots...

Lardos beach, Friday December 12th, late morning

A Lindos corner, quite a few more follow below too. All Lindos village shots taken Saturday morning December 13th. Temperature around 19ºC

Lardos Beach, same time as the other Lardos one above. Told you they were in no particular order! Seeing the sea like this is great, but it makes it hard to imagine how different the beach looks during the season, with rows of umbrella strewn all along it.

Seashore between Lardos Beach and Glystra Beach, near what's locally known as Lardos Limani [port].

A Mediterranean Toad, we used to see a lot of them, then they kind of disappeared. So we've been excited to see this one on our doorstep after dark on several evenings of late. They're great 'cos they eat the creepy crawlies!!

When we first moved out here we were bemused to see oil lamps on sale in all the supermarkets. Can you imagine that in the UK? Now we know why they're there, ...and we have three in the house!!

This one of Lindos Acropolis is about a month old. Just didn't have the appropriate occasion to post it.

OK, so this is the first a a bunch more of the Lindos photos from Saturday morning, December 13th. So I won't necessarily caption them all.

Know where this is? Looks a lot different now from during the season. In fact it's the terrace of the "Rainbird" Bar, which features in The View From Kleoboulos, which just so happens to be on offer as a Kindle download from Amazon from Monday 15th December for 7 days - only 99p inc VAT folks!!

I love the greenery at this time of the year. The rains are truly a blessing. Plus the wild anemones are all coming out again now and they're everywhere along the roadsides. I'll try and snap a few shots of them soon.

You want "relaxed"? I'll show you "relaxed"!
[I'm sure you don't need telling by now, but clicking on any of the images will give you a larger view. Then (in most browsers) right-clicking (maybe ctrl-click on some Macs) will give you an even larger view than that]

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Answer Lies in the Soil

We've spent a couple of weeks barely seeing a soul and it's been lovely. This time of year is really good for getting the garden into shape as the climate goes through the period that we often call its "second spring" as the rains that come after the long arid summer, coupled with ideal temperatures for "doing things" out of doors encourage so many of the plants to put out new growth and begin flowering again in earnest.

The Gazanias, which have gone quiet during the hottest months of July through September, often withering up to a crisp, put out an abundance of long, pale green leaves once again and already the garden is awash with their huge, orange, yellow and red daisy-like blossoms. They can often appear to be quite dead, yet once the rains have fallen a few times you'll see new green leaves shooting up amongst all the tangled dry, brown dead stuff which we usually try and cut back to ground level, but don't pull the plants out too often, because we've got used to the fact that they do recover once the cooler months of November and December are upon us.

We did have a lone male friend over for a meal the other evening as his wife is in the UK for an extended period and we decided it was time we offered him some relief from trying to cater for himself. We passed a pleasant evening over my wife's excellent (though I say so myself. Nothing like basking in the glow of joint credit for one's spouse's creations eh?) lasagne and a glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the drinks cupboard I had lurking a bottle of Jameson's plus one of Johnny Walker Black Label, neither of which have I troubled of late, since for me such drinks are best taken in good company. Needless to say, I was delighted when, after we'd retired to the sofa after our meal, our friend accepted my offer of a glass of Jameson's and thus we sipped at the smooth warming Irish spirit as we talked about the kinds of things that one does usually talk about at this time of year, olive oil, logs, problems with the telephone lines, that sort of thing.

I say "problems with the telephone lines" because the ygrasia [humidity] has of late been getting into the cables of many people's phone lines and quite a number of friends locally have reported intermittent internet and been told by the phone company that it's something that's stretching their maintenance teams at the moment. Lots of houses have their phone lines coming into the property underground and, since they're still metal and not fibre-optic, the damp has been "shorting" cables whose outer sheathing has corroded with time.

Another local mutual friend with whom we took coffee a couple of weeks back was comparing notes with us over what vegetables we've planted recently. Tom, whom you may be familiar with if you've read "A Plethora of Posts" chapter 21 entitled "Bringing Home the Bacon", has a kind of private arrangement with his friend and ours Vageli, from the village up the hill, to use a section of his vegetable field as a kind of "allotment". This field is not all that far from our house and the dearly beloved and I often walk right past it on our regular strolls in the area. if we walk down to the beach we only encounter the main road fleetingly, as we simply cross it at the bottom of our lane and strike up the track opposite and over the short hill which then levels out and gently descends toward the beach, about half a mile further down. Just a hundred metres or so along that lane the field is to our right. There's an apothi'ki (a shed, basically) in the corner, where Vageli and his old dad keep their tools and stuff and the actual vegetable field is probably about the size of a tennis court.

Many's the time we've passed that field and become green ourselves with envy at how huge all the plants are that grow within. Occasionally there'll be a battered old pickup parked at the entrance in the fence, which consists of some rigid fencing wire and a couple of wooden pallets, which can be deftly dragged aside to allow ingress to the field itself. If the pickup's there, we'll usually see Vageli's ancient father, often accompanied by his equally wizened wife, headscarf knotted tightly under her chin after the manner that is often "à la môde" for women of her generation. They'll be bent double as they tend the patch, perhaps pricking out seedlings, trimming some of the vines that grow there, earthing up potatoes or some such thing. They always straighten up if they see us passing and we'll exchange a friendly greeting as they remark on whether it's too hot, too cold, not rained enough or far too sodden and the expected consequences which such disastrous conditions will wreak on their attempts at feeding the family.

We'll of course empathize and tut sympathetically about such things before continuing on our merry way, all the while musing over the fact that farmers the world over tend to display this particular trait - that of always managing to make a negative about whatever the weather's doing at the time. Have you ever encountered a market gardener or farmer, enthusiastic gardener even, who says "Yup! Weather's been just perfect of late. My artichokes are gonna win prizes!" I haven't yet. But there's still time I suppose.

These days Vageli, of course, is more often grafting away there than are his parents, since he's now much more able-bodied than they are. Thus it was that, some years ago now, he agreed to let Tom set aside a nice area in the field under discussion just large enough for him to grow some beetroot, lettuce, onions, carrots, broccoli, spinach and maybe some green peppers. Cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes were in the plan too I'm sure. Tom was telling us how the soil wasn't very good to begin with. This was prompted by our expressions of envy about how good and dark, loamy in fact, it looked to us. When we survey, as we often do, the sheer size of the vegetables that grow there, we can't fail to be convinced that, even though it's only a kilometre or so down the valley from us, the soil quality is vastly different from our yellow rock-hard exhausted dust.

I remember my wife looking at me askance when I used the term "friable" to describe the soil in that allotment.

"You made that up!" She said, sceptically.

"No I didn't! Friable means like, you know, easily forked over, good soil consistency, something like that."

"Nah! Eggs are friable, yes, but soil? You're having me on."

"I tell you it's right! I've even heard Alan Titchmarch and Monty Don use the expression on Gardener's World, so there!"

She eventually allowed me the benefit of the doubt, but I could tell that she wasn't convinced. Anyway, the soil in Vageli's allotment is, as far as I'm concerned, eminently friable and that's final.

Tom, though, told us that he'd been using his graciously granted sector of Vageli's field for a few years now, but that in the beginning it was so full of rocks that you could hardly fork it over without jarring your spine as the fork's tines hit something solid virtually every time you shoved it in. Now that's another word that I got disallowed once at Scrabble, tine. C'mon folks, you know what a tine is, surely? I'll say no more, other than that I was furious at not being allowed to use it once when playing the world-famous word game, simply because on that occasion we didn't have a dictionary on hand to consult as arbiter. I'm talking some years back too, when one couldn't reach for one's 'tablet' (unless of course, one had a headache) and Google the thing either. And no, "tine" isn't the posh person's way of saying "tone" all right?

So, anyway, Tom was waxing lyrical about just how much work he and his wife May had put into getting this patch of soil into good enough condition to plant his veg in.

"We worked sack after sack of manure into that patch" Tom ruefully explained, "to get it really fertile. By the time we'd taken out probably half a ton of stones, through digging and re-digging it over, and worked in all that manure that we'd hauled up there in sacks in the back of the car, I suppose we'd been working on it for four or five weeks. I distinctly remember leaving the place late one evening, the two of us staring back at this rich, dark, smooth patch of excellent soil and enthusing about what we were going to plant there as soon as we could.

"Couple of days later, we arrived up there with a load of seedlings from the garden centre, ready to break our backs putting them all in, when, would you believe it, we arrived at the fence to see Vageli's parents pickup parked outside and the two of them inside the field. They'd just about finished as we arrived - planting their potatoes all over OUR patch, the patch we'd worked our fingers to the bone preparing for all those weeks. Turned out that Vageli hadn't told his parents that this bit was ours. Well, he swore blind to us that he had and that they'd just forgotten, but either way, all that work was for nothing. We didn't have the heart to tell them that this patch was the bit that Vageli had let us have. We did wonder who they thought must have prepared that piece of ground. But they'd just turned up and, obviously feeling that anything inside that fence was theirs to use, chose the best patch of soil and got on with it."

"So, what did you do?"
We asked.

"What else could we do? We set about forking over another section. Took us another few weeks to get it prepared. You won't believe how difficult it was to source another load of manure too. We'd had just about all that Dimitri the horse would give us, short of his horses developing diarrhea or something in the next couple of days."

"But how did you feel, after all that work?"

"Tell you what, it took all our strength to grin and bear it, trying to talk cheerfully with Vageli's parents as they merrily chucked their tools back in the shed, a few other odds and ends into their pickup and cheerfully waved at us as they drove away, leaving us to pick another patch and start from scratch."

So there you have it, a cautionary tale if ever there was one. Never prepare your friable soil, risking a bent tine or two, unless you're dead sure that you'll be able to plant it up without it getting half-inched from under your noses.

Of course, there's also the possibility that the wily old pair knew exactly what they were doing. After all, Tom did say that they were very cheerful when they drove away. One could have mistaken that happiness for the feeling of 'yay! A result!

But, well, let's not go there, eh?