26 August 2011

Driven Indoors By A Fly

In a rare fit of enthusiasm for outdoor work I bounded out of bed at 8am and headed own into the garage, got all dressed up in my strimming gear (long sleeve shirt, jeans, Wellington boots, full body harness and hard hat and visor), pulled the starter string of my industrial sized machine and as usual, it didn’t start. This has happened now for a few days and I should have known better than to try and start it after getting ‘dressed up’ because after about twenty pulls of the string, I was soaking in sweat and physically exhausted.

Cursing it as if it was capable of hearing and understanding me, I got into lighter clothing  and decided to try something a little less energetic – cutting the brambles and bushes which grow down the lane leading to the house.  Unlike most plants which tend to grow upwards, these things bizarrely  grow outwards and if left to their own devices, grow far enough out into the lane to scrape down the sides of passing cars. I’m not too worried about the post van or even J’s Honda (it would be physically impossible to spot another scratch on it anyway), but the thought of a bit of unkempt vegetation scraping Tan and Angie’s newish Tiguan would be a disaster – Tan’s planning a party if it gets to be 1 year old and hasn’t been scratched – unheard of in France – a 1 year old car without a scratch that is.

Secateurs in hand, gloves on, garden waste bin in tow, I headed down the lane to the bit where I stopped last week and started cutting. It must’ve been 85+ degrees and it wasn’t long before I started dripping with sweat, or is perspiration a more acceptable word?

Then the buzzing. I could hear it but I couldn’t see it but I knew what it was – the dreaded horse fly (Tabannus Linnaeus). Flown in from some distant field, miles away, seduced by my sweat glands no doubt.

Usually in May, horse flies by the dozen come into the house and then bizarrely land on the windows ……….. and die! But not this year. We’ve only had a few although Tan and Angie have had quite a lot.  But outside, they’re everywhere, drowning out even the shrillest magpie with their buzzing.

I tried to ignore it, but every second or so I could see this black ‘thing’ flash past my eyes and then it all went silent and that’s when you get worried. Where has it landed? On my neck or arm?

Then the pain on my ankle as it sunk its jaws into my flesh and if you think I’m being a bit mamby-pamby or overly melodramatic, read this excerpt from Wikipedia:

The bite from a large specimen is painful. Most short tongued species of horse flies use their knife-like mandibles to rip and/or slice flesh apart. Flies with longer proboscides bite more like a mosquito, their stylet-like mouthparts piercing the host's skin like needles.

That was it as far as I was concerned. Finished for the day and it was only 10.30am !

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