We've got yet another low-pressure system overhead now, so after a week or so of good weather, it's back do murky drizzle. By accident of birth, this weather isn't too depressing for me. Having grown up in south Devon (in England), drizzle and overcast skies act as a fond reminder of my halcyon days (which were mainly spent strolling through woods and fields, smoking cheap hashish and listening to John Peel's radio show, taped from last week). My town, by good fortune, was featured in an article in yesterday's Guardian. It's to become the first plastic bag-free town in Europe! Go Modbury!
I've never written much about Modbury because I've not lived there in a long time. Gemma and I try to have every other Christmas out there and we're going over for a friend's wedding in July. Modbury's a lovely place: built around two steep streets and a handful of pubs and farms, it's an up-market holiday spot for media types and city traders. The countryside around it (particularly the private Flete estate) is sublime and at times, Modbury feels like it might be the best place in the world. When you're fifteen, however, it can be a bit boring.
Idle hands do the Devil's work. Perhaps all fifteen year-olds are permanently bored or listening to rock music? Just like most teenagers, we invested quite a lot of time and effort into getting stoned. Unlike today's lucky youths who are generally able to lay their hands on hydroponically-farmed, acutely psychoactive sticky bud, in Modbury we seemed to be mostly confined to 'soap bar', the crappiest, least pure hash produced anywhere in the world. In many ways, it's remarkable that we stuck at it. Sometimes, we walked for miles to buy a 'teenth' (1/16 of an ounce) – but then we had nothing better to do, so probably we would have been walking around aimlessly anyhow. Still, I guess that even though we didn't realise it at the time, we were extremely lucky with where we grew up.
I am also very lucky to be living here in the suburbs of Barcelona. We're very close to the Collserola park (a protected, forested bit of rocky parkland behind Barcelona), have a lovely terrace with plenty of afternoon sun, and Cerdanyola seems to be on the up and up at the moment. If you're looking for a flat in Spain, make sure it's got a terrace. This multi-functional extra wing of the house acts as a scullery, garden, dining room, sun deck and marijuana production facility (among many other things). There are few better things to do in April than spend a weekend in Amsterdam, fly back with some 100% feminised 'White Rhino' and 'Great White Shark' seeds and plant them. We have high hopes for this year's crop (mainly because of the price of the seeds).
There is, however, one major problem with growing weed on your terrace (and I'm not talking about the… slightly shady legality of the enterprise). The biggest issue we've encountered so far (and it has become worse every year) is caterpillar infestation. This little bichos seem to love prime buds more than anything else in life. A brisk shake of the plant will get most of them off but it can also damage the plant's stems and reduce the number of precious crystals on your crop. Insecticides should never be used on your weed, and particularly not during the flowering and fruiting stage. So this year, I'm going to employ biological weapons. It's possible to by ladybirds and other voracious predators via mail order. I haven't tried it before and I'm a little worried about my ladybirds flying away, just like my parrot did. But it's worth a try. If you've got any other anti-caterpillar advice, I'm all ears.