After Cyprus's worst winter for 100 years, spring arrived suddenly around ten days ago. At the first hint of sunshine, hundreds of tortoiseshell butterflies emerged and danced their way over the pool heading (why?) for the ravine. The first dazed cricket appeared on the terrace, still unsteady on its legs. Coal tits and sparrows have both established their nests under the pantiles, the fledglings' cries for food getting louder by the day. And a pair of collared doves nestled outside the bedroom window, the very picture of togetherness.
Spring itself doesn't last long here. The temperatures rise rapidly and suddenly it's summer. So the stalls are full of strawberries and melons, with the matchless Cyprus potatoes, covered in fresh red earth. And in the garden, hope has sprung! My poor orange tree, ravaged by goats last autumn has put on a growth spurt (all that winter rain, no doubt) and for the first time is covered in flowers. They smell simply wonderful - orange blossom is sensational. Unfortunately, the little lemon tree did not fare so well but is heroically in leaf at least.
Aah, those goats. I can hear their bells but they're currently way up in the mountains behind us and I haven't actually spotted one yet. When I was searching for a way to keep them out of the garden last autumn, I went to see the local mayor. He was, as is the way of mayors in Cyprus, in deep conversation with a friend over coffee but his door was open so in I went. The mayor doesn't speak much English but his friend was fluent. I explained the situation: goats were jumping the wall into my garden and eating all the plants. Once they'd finished laughing, the mayor helpfully pointed out that, once in my garden, the goats were legally mine. Hmm, I said, I'll be back for a gun licence then.
But perhaps goat curry is not the only answer. In the US, Goat Yoga is increasingly popular. This is exactly what you would (incredulously) imagine. You do yoga with goats. Apparently, in some poses, the goats stand on top of you. It's an interesting idea for a business, but can only assume the goats involved in this practice are different from our local ones who are hairy, horned, hoofed and have fleas. And they're enormous...
But it's best not to get too close to them anyway, I think. We have had one in the house but the Major wrestled manfully with it and got it out. Just as well.