Long, hot summer of 2009 (except Wales)

We shouldn't complain about the weather when the sun beats down from a limpid sky and the only sound is the distant droning of nectar-drunk bees - and the ever nearer buzzing of wasps as they fasten in on your Belgian bun....

The long, hot summer of 2009 (except Wales)

We've got maggots again.

The hot weather over here in the eastern bulge of Britain has brought them out and despite double-wrapping everything in the black wheelie bin, the two week interval between collections gives them enough time to hatch and explore the exciting world of domestic waste.

If this was CSI Miami, it would indicate there was a body in the bin, of course, but unless there's been a terrible incident in the neighbourhood and someone chose our black bin to hide the evidence, then it's the string off the Sunday roast that's calling to the flies.


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“Hey lads, I think I smell rib of beef”

“Yummy. Let's go lay eggs.”

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I have an excellent bin cleaning service but short of total fumigation, what can you do? I have addressed the maggots sternly - my auntie always reckons that the best way to deter wasps is to firmly tell them to go. This seems to work just as well as screaming while running around madly flapping the arms which is my daughter's preferred method.

“Maggots, be gone! Desist!” I declaimed in my best Shakespearean. But they carried on wiggling regardless. There is something about a squirming mass of maggots that just makes me feel as if I want to jump into deep water. What we need is a nice sharp frost.

The ultimate answer may be to become a seasonal vegetarian; to spend July and August eating the abundance of fruit and vegetables that are about at the moment. But then we'll get more wasps.

After the wasp's nest in the cavity wall incident which resulted in our painter/decorator getting stung on the ear, and the wasp in the rolled-up mat incident which resulted in my husband getting stung on the toe, we are wary of wasps.

They may not be the most intelligent species on the planet but they are sneaky little beggars - they can be up your skirt in a flash - and the stings hurt like billy-o.

It has been a good summer for insects, especially the vicious ones.

My husband, who arrives home from work and immediately throws off his suit and dons T-shirt and shorts, has had to start watering the dahlias in long socks (he's in the socks, not the plants). To be honest, it's not his best look - long shorts, long socks and sandals. He looks like a refugee from a summer camp for geeks. The sort of chap who drinks weak lemon cordial from a tin mug, takes photographs of knots and still has his Boy Scout orienteering badge sewn to his buttoned-up polo shirt. But since the first biting thing leapt from the lawn and bit his foot, he's not taking any chances.

“Is my foot swollen?” he asked unnecessarily considering there were three whopping great, throbbing, red lumps on it.

“A bit,” I confirmed and ministered, angel-like. “Put your foot up on the coffee table, darling, I'll get you some anti-inflammatory pills… no, you'll have to put your foot down so I can get past… (some man groaning) all right, get your own flipping tablets, then.”

My Florence Nightingale moments are fleeting as my husband would be happy to tell you. I didn't get the set of allegedly female genes that make some people saintly. I got the “yes, all right, I'll bring Lemsip, stop whining” genes. It's not my fault I didn't get modified in the womb.

Anyway, it's the sort of mind set you need when you attack maggots with insect killer.

Cycling and recycling

Thanks to my pen pal Ron Longland over in Clare, Sudbury, who invites me in for a cuppa on the upcoming (12 days to go, argh!) Historic Churches Bike Ride. I am currently in lively negotiations with my co-riders in attempt to avoid the considerable six-mile pedal from Felixstowe to Bucklesham so it's not looking good for Clare, I'm afraid.

Ron also writes: “I thought you might be interested in the attached photo. My breakfast table is covered in packaging which I took from the cardboard box next to it. You might be able to make out, just, the item in the box. This was hidden under all the air bubbles. Strangely there was no packaging under the item, nor to either side, only on top.

“Over the years it seems that packaging boxes come in two sizes - big and stupidly big. This box is the latter. It is far too big for what was inside… Obviously this is how some businesses believe that they contribute to saving the planet.”

A regular correspondent who uses the pseudonym Mrs T Onguecheek writes that a friend recently asked her for one of the light-hearted rhymes she used to write in order to use them as links in a musical performance.

“I came across the enclosed and suddenly you popped into my mind,” she says. Can't think why, Mrs T.

The Seven Ages of Underwear pour le derriere.

When I was a baby, towelling nappies were the thing,

On top of which went plastic pants to hold the moisture in.

At school I wore thick 'passion-killers' under pantyhose

These knickers held my hankie - and we did PE in those

When I reached my teenage years I favoured silk or cotton

I did try cami-knickers but the buttons hurt my bottom!

My twenties saw mw posing in bikini briefs or thong

I confess when wearing jeans I didn't have any on.

With spreading girth at forty panti-girdles squashed me flat

Too painful hauling on and off - I soon gave up on that.

After that in later years I knew just what I'd do,

I'd buy outsize for comfort - and the ones with legs on too.

Then having found the underwear that made me really happy

I'm scared I'll go full circle and end up in a nappy

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