With so many of us desperate to return to normal, some things just seem to block those smiling muscles. And whatever the trouble, often the first thing to suffer is sleep. We loved the sunshine and warm days a while back, but paid the price with hot, sticky nights. That’s great when we’re abroad, with cooling air-conditioning, but not so welcome with a mind filled with worries, a bedroom window open and every buzzing, flapping or crawling insect paying a visit.
A silent fly bothers no one, but a big, fat, lazy, black buzzer will drive you mad – and why do they always sneak in just after lights out? Is it the night cream that attracts them? Or is it me? Richard is usually snoring while I’m stalking the beast around the bedroom, book in hand, just waiting for it to land. It will practically land on my face when it’s dark, but turn on the light and it just wanders the ceiling, pausing to rub its legs and sniggering as it prepares for another flyby past my ear.
I have an ally in the bedroom this summer, in the shape of George. Richard has never met him and I hope never will. George is a spider who lives in the big oak beam that spans our bedroom. Unlike the spindly harvest spiders, which are everywhere, George is gargantuan. I met him while changing the bed one morning. I heard him first. He was walking across the newspaper on the blanket box and was so big I could hear his footsteps.
He horrified me at first and I have to admit I froze and reached for one of Richard’s shoes to squish him. He was too big and scary to consider trapping in a glass. But after a few minutes, I sort of bonded with him. It was one of those rare mornings when nobody was indoors, so I stopped what I was doing and watched him for a while. (I wasn’t that brave – I was standing on a chair some of the time.) Eventually, he made his way back to his lair and because his home in the beam is on Richard’s side of the bed I decided the snoring would probably keep him in his house during sleeping hours.
George has a habit of wandering the carpet during the day and frightens the bejesus out of me regularly. But I’m not likely to suck him up in the Hoover – I doubt the suction’s strong enough to lift him and he’d probably drag half the carpet up the tube. As his web is allowed to flourish, all I need do is herd anything that buzzes in his direction. It’s slightly macabre to hear the awful struggle of a fly in his web, but, c’est la vie…
Hammond Towers isn’t just abuzz with flies of every size at this time of year, we also provide sanctuary for honeybees, three species of bumblebee, masonry and mining bees. We just about tick every bee box.
Unfortunately, the queen honeybee who sets up home in Willow’s chimney has many workers with a poor sense of direction. When she leaves the hive for pastures new, these compass-lacking characters enter the house through any nook or cranny and spend days headbanging the windows without realising the breeze ruffling their furry bodies signposts the route to the great outdoors, just inches away.
Encouraging them to leave is very time-consuming, especially when there are about 50 of the blighters, but then nobody said loving bees would be easy.
I was helping the last of the stragglers find the open window recently, when a wasp-like bee suddenly appeared. It was a nasty, vicious creature that marched across the window and tried to attack a poor defenceless honeybee. The little chap raised his leg and reversed while the nasty waspy thing was attempting to jump on his back. Then it turned on another, very tired honeybee and seemed to sting it. Well that was a step too far.
I grabbed a flip-flop and swiped at the little devil – not a good idea. He was very angry and turned his fury on me. I ran around the bedroom, flailing my arms like a lunatic. And then I heard an unmistakable sound. Frantic buzzing.
My big spider saviour had captured the beast. That was when he was awarded his name. George killed my dragon – and ate him. I don’t exactly love George, but he does have his good qualities. Although if he gets much bigger the cats will be nervous.