Thursday, September 15, 2011

That's 37 centimes sagely spent...

Last Sunday was the annual village brocante - car boot sale. The village is blocked off to all evil through-traffic, and every street is packed with stands selling the entire contents of peoples' attics and manky old cupboards, and all their children’s cherished hoardings.

Does anyone else find this slightly embarrassing?  I mean, it’s OK at an anonymous Field Brocante, but to gaze lengthily at the personal belongings of neighbours and village acquaintances and then Reject them muttering ‘Heavens...since five this morning?  Well ... bye then!’

Of course brocantes are always more fun if you have an objective... our general aim is Something that brings a chortle, but this year George’s additional goal was a French Monopoly set.  Evidently not played much in this village...

We found several million jigsaw puzzles and plastic men-in-cars, though, and a Poker Kit that I was tempted by. (Not sure why, as Beat Thy Neighbour has remained the zenith of my card-playing skills).  Unless Cunning was included in kit form too... 

Suddenly I spied a red, Chinese-dragon-covered parasol – quirky, decorative and jolly handy in these final days of stifling sunshine. Acceptable price of two euros.  And what a delight when the threatening drizzle became a drenching downpour, and my parasol turned out to be made not of paper but of… something… rainproof!

How proudly I twirled my beautiful brolly twixt stalls being frenziedly covered in plastic. How we Chortled when we got home and discovered the beautiful blue bit was actually Paint once lain in… 

I scooped up a handful of French paperbacks by an author I didn't know but who sounded detectively interesting.  You learn really useful phrases from such reading – ‘His body lay sprawled in the bath, brain splattered across the tiles…’, or ‘What! - That guy's still hanging around the neighbourhood?Doubled my party banter…

After a goodly time wandering, we were contemplating the bar or the refreshment table on the square when we walked into It! Hanging from the fence behind a stall of bottle tops and postcards was a black thing of finest netting. Topped by a black coolie hat from which dangled wisps of material, interlaced tassles and beads – all, blackest black - the Thing seemed to be shaped into a long tube – what could it be?

A lengthy Lobster Pot, I mooted boldly… or something you might get Changed Inside on a beach? (wearing the coolie hat); Mourning Dress, perhaps – elegantly concealing all expression of grief; how about an avant-garde Party Outfit?

None of these – it was of course a moustiquaire! (Not, as I kept calling it, a mousqetaire).
"It's a Mosquito Net for your bed,” the stallholder explained, “Or some people put them over an armchair or a settee - just attach the top to the ceiling”.
Fabulous! It’s bound to repel spiders too! Or why not, at the height of the insect season, just walk around inside it to the shops, for infallible personal protection?  You can also pull it from one end to the other of your picnic table - fly-free feasts!  How have we coped without this wonder!

The stallholder seemed surprised when we said we wanted it, but beamingly detached it from the fence with care, then found us a particularly lovely Hermès carrier bag to bear it home in. 

Styles available are manifold -the two shown above can but offer a basic hint - but here, modelled by a glamorous person we found lurking, is The Most Wonderful!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm a Witchety-Grub - Get me Out of here!!

Aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!   Of all the pansy pots in all the gardens in all the world, it walks into mine… and I’m not touching it with a ten-foot trowel!

I don’t watch Celebrity save-me-I'm-so-crazy!  programmes, but I know what goes on! And I just might be in a position to augment their supplies. (They do stun the grubs before they eat them, don’t they…)?

I was replanting pansies and unearthed this Thing, the disgusting like of which I’d never seen before – would it bite?  Would it get much bigger?  What did it want?

When I described it to a friend she said it was probably a moth larva.

A MOTH larva? - It’s the size of a Beagle!  I mean - what the hell's this... moth... going to eat when it grows up – the actual wardrobe?

My googling shows that there are a zillion types of Moth Larvae, and the ones in our pots (for further prodding has unearthed a veritable  colony) are the ugliest in the universe. Why couldn’t they be the jauntily green ones, or red, the face-painted perhaps... the acrobatic? Or my Favourite - the Dalek Moth larva:

... which will one day emerge as this beauteous Promethea Moth:

The major problem is what to do with our repugnant plantpot larvae – they’re really big for a start... Collected, they're like a bouncy castle, so squashing's definitely out.  As is eating... unless the cats are interested. 

There's relocating, of course, but any chucking over neighbour's fence would have to be at dead of night and they have a hunting dog on constant alert.  Could we humanely stab them with a needle?  Probably not...

Actual witchety grubs, you know, eat the sap and roots of acacia plants.  I was sad to learn that the adult witcheties don't feed at all - they have to exist on the reserves eaten by the caterpillar!  That's bound to put you in a bad mood.  It would have been fairer if they grew up carnivorous and could take revenge on everyone who'd wanted to eat them in their infancy.

This, though, is the fearsome Witchety Moth Beast - if it can't eat you, it can certainly give you a bloody good nibble.  So if you've mistreated a witchety grub, Beware!  Their grown-up cousins are six feet tall, and They Know Where You Live!