Fern Grass

IT’S SO GOOD to have the time to sit and draw whatever I feel like drawing. I don’t aim to try to identify every flower, I’m happy just to get an impression of the Mediterranean flora. The grassy car parking area right outside our apartment is a good place to start. Because it had been wet here before we arrived it’s overdue for mowing, so that gives me a chance to take a close look at the commoner species, such as this distinctive grass, named Fern-Grass because of the shape of its seed-heads.

A grey brown locust was sunning itself on the pavement next to a similar looking twig. Either it had chosen to rest alongside it to provide camouflage or it had homed in on it in a search for another of its kind.

We saw the locust only once as we walked along the sea front pavement into the village but we always saw lizards sunbathing on the paving stones.

A lizard, 20 cm long, scurried up the wall of the ruins of the Roman baths in Benitses. It hid behind a clump of plant growing from a crack in the wall with only its long narrow tail hanging down giving it away.

The cigareli that we had as a starter this evening are spiced green leaves. A cigar is a cylinder of tobacco leaves so cigareli are small leaves. Penelope the waitress tells us that they aren’t cabbage or spinach, they’re leaves that you can find growing in the hills but also in olive groves and in gardens. We spotted some growing in a vegetable garden and they looked like what we’d call mixed salad leaves. She tells us that they’re available only at this time of the year.

P is for Pi

We’re eating at the Paxinos restaurant in Benitses which specialises in fresh fish dishes. It gets its name because it is run by people from Paxos, a small island to the south of Corfu. I’m intrigued by the name printed on the table cloths and I copy it into my sketchbook. When it’s pointed out to me it should have been obvious to me what it says; it’s the name of the restaurant;

The A, I, N and O are as they would be in English. The Σ, sigma or S and the X are very different to our own letters but the one I should have recognised is the initial letter; π, pi is our P, the Greek letter used in Pythagorus to represent the proportion of the circumference of a circle to its radius.


Although after the first night that we saw them I wrote that the ‘fireflies’ we saw on our walk back to the apartments were ‘yellowish white not greenish like a glow-worm’, we later decided that this was an optical illusion. They really did produce a greenish light but because this flashed on for such a brief moment the impression that stayed with you was of the after image. If you stare at a greenish light then the after image that you’re left with is red. I think that the ‘yellowish white’ we were seeing was the impression left by the brief but brilliant green flash.

On one occasion we spotted one of the ‘fireflies’ on the pavement. It was a beetle, about 1 cm long. With our British glow-worms it’s the female who produces the light, to advertise her presence to the male but she is wingless, so the Corfu ‘fireflies’ must be a different species. I wouldn’t like to guess whether it was the males or the females that we were seeing.

We never saw the bird (or toad) that made the ‘sonar blip’ noise but because of the variety of places that we heard it we’re convinced that it was a Scops Owl. I’ve shown it with twin peaks in my imagined sonagraph. Sometimes the male and the female call and reply to each other in a duet. BUT the Midwife Toad, which occurs on Corfu, sounds like a Scops Owl.

And, to confuse things still further, the Green Toad sounds like a cicada. We could hear something like a cicada but not as continuous coming from where a water course passes through the grounds of the apartments.

The next evening it was warmer and stiller and we saw lots of bats on our walk back from the restaurant.

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