June 24, 2013

So, after a busy and fairly productive day, and a weekend away, come five o’clock this afternoon it seemed like the perfect time for a spot of gardening to try and catch up with the weeding backlog. The wind had dropped, the sun was tentatively appearing, there was no shortage of weeds: what better way to fill a late afternoon hour than a spot of horticultural therapy?

Wrong. I’ve never really been troubled by midgies around here – maybe a few prickles on a damp mild September afternoon when clearing out old vegetation, but nothing like further west (there was a memorable family holiday in the Mull of Kintyre where we all developed a sudden fondness for mackerel fishing as out to sea in my uncle’s boat was about the only place where the midgies couldn’t get us). But here, today, for some reason, it was absolutely bloody torture. You don’t see midgies and you don’t hear them and you don’t even feel them exactly – it’s more as if you’ve become allergic to the air because suddenly every inch of exposed skin is on fire. I stuck it out – I’m really very behind with the weeding – but it was murder and my eyelids are itching even now. And my scalp. And my neck. Even just thinking about it.

Time to dig out the Smidge… anybody else getting midged?

The Mighty Midge

October 6, 2009

Tell people you’re moving to the west of Scotland and they will invariably warn you about the midges*, usually either before or after they warn you about the rain, and then point out that Spain has a nice warm dry climate and it’s easier to learn the language. But since moving here we have not really found the dreaded midg(i)es to be that much of a problem, maybe because we’re not in the Highlands, nor far west enough. There have been clouds of bugs, sure, but not a real biting menace.

Until, that is, I took it in my head to go and plant some bulbs on a still, dampish, mildish autumn afternoon when all the midg(i)es had settled down to their beauty sleep among the vegetation. From which I rudely awakened them and from which they rose up in a small, biting, enraged cloud to wreak their vengeance. It started with a few prickles on my head, and I went and got my hat and carried on, not thinking much of it. Twenty minutes later, with my hands, waist (damn low-rise trousers), neck, face, even my bloody eyelids, itching, I was driven in. And now I’ve woken up this morning covered in itchy bites and have been walking round Notso Bigtown’s Tescos scratching like the child you never wanted to sit next to in school.

The answer, we are told – used, apparently by the British Army – is Avon’s Skin So Soft moisturiser. I’m not sure I want to go down the whole Avon lady route (do Avon ladies even still exist? I’ve never seen one). Others suggest Coal Tar soap, eating lots of marmite or, for the desperate, one of these. Personally, I’m leaning towards the whole ‘move to Spain’ solution at the moment. But what do you do?

*or midgies, if they’re Scottish. Which raises the question: does this make the singular the ‘midgy’? Or is the concept of just one one midge so ridiculous it doesn’t arise?

Looking on the Bright Side…

June 30, 2008

…The steady light rain that starts whenever we head out for a walk does at least keep off the worst of the flies. We have yet to encounter the dreaded midge – a beast that looms as large as some mythical monster whenever this part of Scotland is discussed – but the flies seem irritating enough, at least to us newbies. They seem attracted to walkers and gather over our heads in columns as we go, so that from a distance we must have the appearance of being trailed by a pillar of smoke, like the Israelites in the desert, only without the sunshine. When it is not raining, I try and cultivate a stoical indifference to the flies – teeth clenching is good for the jaw line after all – while the other half opts for a maddened hand waving, which presumably tones the upper arms. Either way, I’m disappointed that the presence of such an abundance of insect life in our vicinity does not mean that we are also trailed by swallows, swifts, martins and flycatchers who are all surely missing a trick here. If rhinos can have oxpeckers, and even crocodiles their own personal toothcleaning avian companion, why cannot walkers attract a companion bird or two to keep them insect free? I’d even put up with the poo.