High 30s All Week

20 Aug

By the time we get accustomed to this heat it will be winter!  Today for example, at 5.30pm it is 36˚C with no breeze.  We have been hiding inside since lunchtime with the shutters closed and some windows open on the cooler side of the cottage and it is still 31˚C downstairs, probably 35˚C upstairs.

I had left one of the mowers outside this morning but when I came to put it away at midday it was too hot to sit on.  There is a safety interlock that means you have to put quite a bit of weight on the seat to stop the engine from cutting out – it stayed outside!

The ride-on mowers. The one on the left is about 10 years old and the other is about 7 years old. 42″ cut, single cylinder 14.5hp and 17.5hp resp.

Another symptom of the extended hot, dry weather is that the river is low and clear.  So we have been able to see a lot of fish, mainly carp like the ones I included last week.

The river is still strewn with fallen trees like this after the flood in October-2011. Apparently there are 200km of river to be cleared and they haven’t even started. In the meantime it made a nice picture.

One of the dramas that has been playing out for property owners in the Var this summer is the infestation of Argentinian palm moths.  They lay eggs in the tops of the ornamental palms that are everywhere here and the larvae eat their way through the central growth part of the palm killing it.  I haven’t seen the larvae but I did catch an undamaged moth to photograph this week.

Argentinian palm moth pinned out. Underside.

They were accidentally imported several years back and their population has exploded.  I found local references to them in 1995 and serious concerns being raised in 2001.  I can attest that they are very difficult to kill.  Skip a few paragraphs now if you are a queasy type and rejoin where you see the OK below and the second picture of the moth.

My first idea was that acetone, readily available as nail polish remover, should do the trick.  So I got a jam jar with a lid and put a folded piece of tissue in the bottom and sat a smaller jar with no lid on that.  There was not enough space between the small jar and the lid of the larger jar for the moth to get out but the acetone fumes could flood the small jar.  Perfect.  I poured a little nail polish remover on to the tissue and added one waiting moth!  On with the lid quick.  Then I thought that if I increase the temperature the acetone would vaporise more rapidly and the whole arrangement would work faster.  So I sat it in a dish of hot water.  There it was left for a couple of hours.  When I came back the moth was dead so I found a piece of corrugated cardboard and some sewing pins to mount it ready for photographing.  By the time I had done this the light was fading so I put it in the desk drawer to deal with in the morning.

In the morning Lavinia stopped by so I showed her my handiwork.  While she was examining the moth its legs started to wiggle!  Damned thing wasn’t dead.  So on to plan B.  Since it was now pinned out I thought up another way to finish it off – put it into a plastic bag and squirt it full of fly spray.  Well, over the course of the day we tried ordinary household fly spray and industrial strength wasp/hornet spray but the revival continued.  This thing was tough.

The next move was back to the acetone jar for another dose of that since it had almost worked.  This time it stayed there for about eight hours.  That’ll do it.  After removing it and checking for a response it looked pretty dead.  So I left it in another jar because again it was too late to take the photographs.

Then, bugger me, the next morning the legs are wiggling again!  This time I checked Google for some other ideas.  Cyanide came up but was not recommended for home use and then one guy suggested the freezer.  So into the freezer with the moth!  12 hours later I had it pinned out again and took the photographs before another escape attempt could be mounted.

So all in all, I spent 3 days killing this moth.  No wonder it got past French biosecurity.

OK, it is safe to rejoin if you wanted to skip the details.

Top side. Not really visible but the body is well protected by something like armour plates.

Thursday was another day for the beach.  We have normally been going on Wednesdays but that was a public holiday this week so we did some work and stayed around the pool.  Thursday turned out to be another perfect beach day…

About 9.30am in the middle of the holiday season on the Côte d’Azur and this beach between Hyères and La Londe is desserted. Even by midday there was nobody closer than 30m away. On the downside there was an airport within earshot but there were very few aircraft movements.

The village of Giens at the end of the Giens Peninsula. A very cute place.

Looking back up the peninsula towards the mainland. The beach on the left was covered with kite surfers and windsurfers. To the right are salt evaporation ponds.

With a strong onshore breeze the kite surfers and windsurfers were having a ball. I counted 50 kites before they were too far away and I couldn’t see them clearly anymore.

At the village of Le Thoronet we turn off on to the Lorgues road to get to our place.  On the corner is a small war memorial and somewhere we learned that the 17th August was the date it was dedicated to.  So we stopped instead of driving straight past on Friday, 17th August!

Le Thoronet was liberated on 17th August 1944 so we stopped at this spot that we drive past a few times a week.

The cross above the plaque.

About one kilometre closer to home we stopped again.  This time it was for a crash course in parking a van.

They are real corners but also well signposted and on a road that is slow at the best of times.

Looking down the slope from the top and point of entry. The front RH wheel and suspension are completely detached.

Looking up from the road below where it came to rest.

In spite of the heat we decided to visit the Medieval Festival in Brignoles on Saturday morning.  It was also market day so even getting there at 9am, which is normally too early for the French, parking was tight.  The festival didn’t really start until 10am.  Brignoles has a large and very old town centre and it seemed that everyone was taking part in the festival. There were period re-enactments, street musicians and performers, food and market stalls.  I never saw a horse but they had even scattered straw and horse shit all around the streets.  All the senses were involved in the occasion.

One of many recreations of medieval scenes around the town centre.

Hmmmm… spit roasted lamb for lunch.

This group of musicians were performing outside the cathedral. They were very good and always retained a large audience.

Some days it just feels like you have to put your arse out there and hope that nobody kicks it or something worse!

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2 Responses to “High 30s All Week”

  1. Jeff August 22, 2012 at 04:58 #

    Brian, have a look at http://whatisbruceupto.com/ for a laugh.. I think he must have a very understanding wife with Barbara! I’ll take a 5 star hotel anyday!
    Keep up the good work on the blog.. by the way that is not a moth.. it is a sparrow in disguise..

    • bikernz August 22, 2012 at 16:49 #

      Hi Jeff, That moth sounds like an Iroquois helicopter when its in flight.

      Bruce sure has a big appetite for adventure! An Barbara must be a saint.

      Thanks for the encouragement on the blog. Cheers.

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