WE aren’t going away this summer. Am I sad about this, am I not champing at the bit to explore and make new memories of the sights to be found in that exciting destination called ’abroad’?
No, I am not sad at all. There are so many good things about staying put in summer, especially in this wonderful part of the world, and the very best thing of all is that we don’t have mosquitoes. Not in our neck of the woods anyway.
Mosquitoes love me, and they hold all-night dance parties all over me whenever they track me down. So far, though, they’ve never found me in Dorset, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Many a foreign holiday has been blighted by the utter misery of being bitten. Just hearing that high-pitched droning bzzzzzzzz on the first night and splat go any hopes of a relaxing few days. And why, heaven help me, do they buzz right in my ears? I can hear you at 20 paces, you hateful spoiler of holidays, so don’t come trying to bore your sneaky way into my head.
Some of my more heroic, but always pointless, battles with mozzies have been waged in hot bedrooms on European holidays.
Nothing, but nothing, equates with the heart-sinking hopelessness I feel when my space is invaded by these blighters, especially as I know they will always get the better of me. They gorge on me as if I am their personal eat-all-you-like meat buffet.
Geoff gets bitten, too, but never as badly as me. They love me to bits. They love me even when I’m drowning head to toe in 16 types of mozzie repellent and swaddled in clothing chosen for its impenetrable qualities.
One memorable war zone was our bedroom in the hotel in Venice where we stayed on our first visit many years ago. Oof, it’s stuffy in here, we said, as we opened all the windows before going out for the evening. Later, when we turned out the light to go to sleep we discovered we were sharing the room with a brigade of mosquito SAS intent on a feeding frenzy. They dive-bombed, swooped, circled, went invisible, sank their jaws into us, drank deep, and still came back for more. By morning, when neither Geoff nor I had slept but our overhead smash technique had improved to Wimbledon standard, we were groggy with fever caused by the bites – and the walls were spattered with corpses and blood stains. Our blood.
Never again have we opened windows with such abandon. We learnt a terrible, painful, feverish lesson and couldn’t believe how foolish we had been.
But it hasn’t just been holidays when the mosquito misery has cast its shadow. During the 18 relentlessly hot, humid months of living in the Far East there was not just the ever-present fear of being bitten by any kind of predator from pinhead size to nightmarishly big, but also the threat of dengue fever wiping us out in one small snap of mosquito jaws. Charming little things, aren’t they?
I swap mozzie battle plans with my friend Cat whenever we go to Italy. She has a sophisticated armoury of herbal potions that she has long employed to defend her pale, freckled skin against the enemy. But for the past few summers she has found the perfect answer: stay in a flat so high up that the mozzies don’t have the wing power to make the journey. Fourth floor or above is the answer, Cat swears, as she relaxes with a smile that says ’Gotcha!’