After avoiding it for a few weeks, it was time to get back into the vineyard again to see if we could uncover any more vines.
I say 'uncover' because the vines have been hidden in a tangle of undergrowth and a mass of overgrowth for the last 15-20 years.
You can imagine what a mess it is.
Blackberries reach insidiously through every other type of vegetation; a blanket of woven prickles. Some of the trees growing between the vines have trunks that measure ten centimetres in diameter. We even found a cherry tree growing horizontally out from the hillside. It was resting happily across several of the rusted wire fences. The poor ugly specimen seemed unaware of the precarious nature of its position; it had an orchard of cherries hanging from it.
We commenced our attack at 9.00am but eventually withdrew from the battle at 2.00pm. By the time we agreed to stop, the chopping of branches, pulling of weeds and dragging of detritous to our burning pile had made us wet and dizzy.
Happily, we did uncover the odd vine struggling to stretch its little tendrils to the sun.
We also uncovered far too many thorn trees.
Later that afternoon, I noticed Stuart carefully feeling his head. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that a thorn tree had fallen on his head earlier and he thought he might have a thorn embedded in his skull!
An emergency operation was required on Stuart's head.
While the patient sat patiently (?) in the kitchen, I quickly assumed the role of surgeon and went in search of some surgical instruments.
Shortly after, I returned with my eyebrow tweezers and a torch.
After a few jokes about the suitability of my equipment and whether or not the thorn had penetrated his brain, I shone the torch in a rather wobbly way at his head. Then I tried to focus my blurry eyes on the thorn long enough for my tweezers to actually make contact with it.
The bit of thorn that poked out of his skull was minute but definitely solid. When I finally grasped it and pulled, it made a woody sound as my tweezers slipped off it.
At mid-operation, I experienced a slight panic that the thorn really had penetrated his bone and brain. But my panic was short-lived. Stuart brought me back to the task at hand when he yelled at me to 'just get it out!'
Eventually, I grabbed the thorn with more conviction and was a very surprised surgeon as I watched a rather long and evil piece of tree emerge from Stuart's head.
It seems that the vineyard offers more challenges than simply finding vines...