Thursday, July 10, 2008


This time of year brings out these big beasts. They are called Spider wasps or Mud Dauber wasps and there are loads round here. They are not aggressive to humans but you still would not want to cuddle one, unless you are a freak. They build groups of cylindrical receptacles out of mud to form a nest. There might be one or two cylinders up to several. Then the female – it is always the female, have you noticed that? – goes off and finds some unsuspecting spiders, probably hanging around playing cards or just chewing the cud, and then she attacks them – they’re probably thinking, “what have I done?” - and paralyses them with her sting. She then takes them back to the nest and stuffs them into one of the cylinders and then lays an egg on top of them. When the egg hatches it’s got instant room service, but unfortunately, no mini-bar.
Whilst looking up about these wasps I came across one that has huge back legs and they are used to force open a live Antlion’s mouth whilst she lays her (yep, female of the species again) egg down its throat. We do not have any of those here so it is probably safe to wear my Antlion playsuit outfit once in a while. This may be reported on in another, altogether different, blog. Ahmm.

Anyone for cat in a basket?

Sisi is becoming stranger and stranger. She finds herself somewhere between an empty wine bottle and a flip flop

What do you call a dead chicken?

Sisi’s boy-owner came rushing around the other day in a state of great excitement. He proudly announced that they had just got three Galline. A Gallina is a hen. We also heard a bit of banging and thought that his dad was knocking up some sort of hen-house for them. We looked at him with a terribly indulgent look and asked him what he was going to call his new egg-layers. Ho looked confused. We asked him again. “They are dead. Why would I want to give a dead chicken a name?” he said, as he looked at us with a mixture of sympathy and bewilderment at how stupid Inglesi are. Now we were confused. When you buy chicken in the shops it is called Pollo.
Anyway, the story resolved itself later that day when we went to our neighbours for our Italian lesson. A fox had broken into her mother’s chicken house and had taken one but unfortunately had literally frightened to death three others, which they had given to Sisi’s boy-owner’s family. Oh, it’s so confusing.

Fire, Fire

The weather has been extremely hot and dry for quite a while, with the odd downpour, and I have been having withdrawal symptoms from not having had a bonfire for months now. In fact, it all became too much and I just had to have small one the other day.
Now, I know I have certain arsonistic tendencies, as was proved by a third party many years ago, but I do believe that I know what I am doing when it comes to bonfires.
I chose one little pile of dried grass that I had strimmed ages ago. There was no wind. So, I flicked the lighter and a little flame spurted into some of the dry grass. Then the wind suddenly got up. Oops. It really was very, very dry. The pile was obliterated in less than a nanosecond. The surrounding grass was first glowing then blackening at an alarming rate, moving towards the bank that divides the bottom of the garden and the top one by the house. Because we have numerable veggie patches there are a few watering cans around the place. So after a few trips to a water butt and several watering cans worth of water, the bush fire was under control. The area of the fire was about 10 times what I had intended and was now a black, steaming space. The thought of offering it as a set for an Oliver Stone movie swept through my mind but was quickly forgotten as I noticed that one of the small trees that sit on top of the bank looked a little “tired”. A few days later the Duchessa and I were having a cup of tea under the gazebo and she noticed this tree and asked what happened to it. It was now not so much tired looking as, well, extinct.
I did a bit of George Washington and owned up that I had had a little fire. She looked at me benignly with one of those smiles that in fact means “you £$%^ing idiot!”
I think my need for bonfires has been met for the next little while. Roll on Autumn I say.

Sunflower Soldiers

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