~In jeder Sprache wohnen andere Augen.~ ~I don't know where I am going but I am on my way.~

samedi 30 avril 2011

Madeira - Day 1

Funchal, Botanical Garden

The view over the town and the sea is tremendous. The garden itself a firework of colours.

I liked the way the stump had been given a second life by using palm bark and making pockets for smaller species (top left). There were also big camelia trees still in bloom (top right).

EG found 'his' Brachychiton. He grew one from seeds and moved it from the UK to here without knowing its name. The tree had then already reached 2 m of height. As it had not survived after one of these severe winters, he eventualy found out its name and now a new baby plant will have a fresh start here.

On top, that is a staticia but the blue is much more intense than my camera can show.

The solandra on top left is also living in a pot in my office. We got a small cutting from our first trip to Lanzarote. I was always impressed by the size of the strelizia and the huge variety of spiky specimens. Even the leaves have spikes! (top right)

The picture on top left is the bloom of a 'hydrangea tree', dombeya cacuminum from Madagaskar.

If we are lucky, some of the iris on the picture down on the right, might show up in our garden...

... because gardener's dream is finding a fresh compost heap :-).

The photo below is geranium maderense - my friend told me immediately that it is not hardy enough for our regions. *sigh*

The topiary was mainly of box plants but also of muehlenbeckia, lonicera and others.

We could see the Aida Blu heading for the port of Funchal.

She had arrived when we came down later to get an impression of Funchal.

On that day we did not visit Blandy's wine shop, only on our last day we did.

This is a picture for my British fellows: the ex Beatles boat. Bought by them in 1966, the Vagrant yacht is now high and dry in use as a restaurant.

mardi 19 avril 2011

Happiness is...

... coming back from wonderful holidays in Madeira and being welcomed by:

- a behaving dog at the airport
- a smiling son at the end of the dog lead

and finding at home a huge surprise parcel for Easter...

It took a long while to discover all these fine treasures wrapped in matching paper and tied with matching ribbons.

Delicate items all cross stitched by the sender.

That will complete the violet collection:


vendredi 8 avril 2011

Spring Flowers

Just a quick upload of actual Spring flowers over here - will the coulours in Madeira top all that?

We'll see.

mardi 5 avril 2011

First Signs of Spring

The longer the days get, the more I wonder how I could ever have had time to squeeze in all the Spring activities whilst following a full time job.
After this long winter, everything is now happily back in the outside mood. Our first barn swallows arrived on 24th March. So far, I never saw more than 3 but hopefully, there will be more soon. The 'bio' men came to fit the house martin's nest boxes, 4 x 2 boxes. One is my Valentine's gift and the other 3 are belonging to the community with a 5-years contract. They install the boxes for free. The men were making lots of unhappy noises on top of their ladders when they found that the heavy duty Hilti drill was the bad choice: not gentle enough for our nearly 300 year old house and its loose joints. But eventually, the job was done in a good way.
The sparrows, who live next to the new boxes in the gaps of the stones where the stable wall joins the house, have not adopted them as social buildings, yet. Every year, they share the nesting space between many other sparrows and also plenty of starlings. I love to listen to the starlings when I am in the bathroom and the wee cat would sit on the window and watch them upholstering the nests.

The house got new windows - enfin! - and one can feel the difference. No more a drafty, almost British ;-) residence but a cosy upgrade to the stone house. And as we were in the mood, we started to make the attic habitable. One room has been already plastered and the stones were filled. Because we run out of space -for our fleamarket treasures ;-). The old floorboard needs sanding and a big woodworm treatment will have to be done on all the ancient roof beams.
On top of that, by the end of the summer or early autumn, the last big project will be started: the annexe, which was formerly pig's stables. Once this is done, we should be at the end of 11 year of restauration and alteration and modernisation of this house which owns us.

But one of the most important activities in spring is cleaning the pond, cutting down all the old brown sticks and fishing out a maximum of pond weed and algues. Whilst fishing for algue, the newts will be found in the net, they will be examined, counted, catalogised and I wonder every year how to identify them? Using an ear tag? Or a discrete tatoo? Or a print on the back?
On the second day of pond cleaning, I took the camera with me.

I am pretty sure that this is a female normal pond newt. (triturus vulgaris)

I believe that this one is the male version of triturus vulgaris.

This one on both pictures above seems to me to be a female of the alpine newt (triturus alpestris). Its head is more large and flat whilst the green ones have more pointed noses.

The green one, again, is a common newt.

This one on the photo above seems to me to be a crested newt.

My attention was interrupted for a short while due to the balloon over us.

It must be fantastic in this blue blue sky and having such a brillant view from above!

The wee cat was heavily intrigued.

This is again, what we have most, just the normal green pond newt.

Whilst I believe that this one above is the male version of a normal pond newt.

That last one, I am pretty sure, is the alpine newt.

I am not an expert at all and if anyone knows what populates our pond, I will be thankful to be told. The species which is nearly no more found here in our region (the Tuscany of Belgium :-) ) is the crested newt.

I might also show this document to the nice 'bio' guy who is going to help me with my bees. Yesss, I will be starting with bees as soon as back from the next trip!!!

Next trip? You wonder where? MADEIRA!!!