The striped goat now completely out of milk.
On the whole very hot in the daytime lately. Fire at nights but not really necessary. Immense flocks of starlings, probably as many as 5000 in a flock, all the while attacking the olives, which are now ripe on the trees. Arabs out all day in the olive groves, shouting to scare the starlings away. E. compares the sound of the starlings’ twittering to the rustle of a silk dress.
In an irrigation tank the other day saw quantities of tortoises, ranging from 3” long to nearly a foot. Caught a small one. These cannot swim fast enough to get away if you wade after them. Compared with land tortoises they are not very retractile, keep their head & limbs out even when you are holding them, & have no power to withdraw the tail. They draw their head into a kind of cylinder of skin like a muffler. They do not seem able to stay under water long without coming up for air.¹ In the same tank, underneath a stone, found some tiny leeches about 1/4“ long. The first I have seen in this country.
Last night found a huge toad in the flower bed. The first I have seen here. Nearly twice the size of an English toad, very warty & able to leap a considerable way.
Shallots in the field almost ripe. Peasant brought us some young leeks.
Today saw a dead dog by the roadside. I am afraid the same one as came asking for food a few days back, & I am afraid probably dead of starvation.
The peasants here evidently use no harrows or cultivators, merely plough the soil & then sow on the rough ridges. Curiously enough the result is to give the impression that the grain is sown in rows, though of course actually broadcast. A good deal of wheat coming up now. Broad beans about 6” high.
¹Compare this reference to the tortoises with the passage in Coming Up for Air that gives that novel its title, CW, VII, 177. Orwell does not mention a title for this novel before its publication, 12 June 1939. Peter Davison