I've just had a punishing week in England, with high winds, monsoon rain and winter temperatures. There were people to see, events to attend, friends and family to catch up with, and tax returns to be done (a 2am headache!) before I could come back to Italy. No time for blogging - there were days when I didn't even manage email. But an unexpected bonus was being there when the cactus in my rooftop study finally flowered. It hasn't flowered for more than 12 years - and has only flowered once before, though I've had the cactus for about 25 years. Obviously the English climate doesn't suit it!
When it does flower, it's spectacular - each flower is about 9 inches high and they are about 6 inches across at the top, with deep throats smelling strongly of vanilla.
This time, the buds opened at about 11.30pm, and - because I was burning the midnight oil - I was there to see it. I presume, in the wild, they're fertilised by some kind of moth, because by the following day they're beginning to droop and after only one more night they die.
It could be another 12 years before I see them again.
Now, I'm back in Italy where temperatures are up in the thirties (it was 10 degrees when I left UK) and I can't get used to the hot nights - no need for the goose down quilt here! But the sun is very welcome and it was good to see the Batcat and her kitten - which has grown a lot bigger since I left.
She's very playful and won't stay still long enough to be photographed - quite a headache for her vigilant mother! Sadly, we've got to part with her on Thursday and send her to a good home. We will both be shedding a few tears.