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October 11, 2007

The Man complains that I do not spend enough time at his house. Until recently there was a very good reason for this: his bathroom. Mine is not very salubrious but his was almost non-existant. Recently however, work has been progressing at his B&B and he now has a very large bath tub installed. So I pack my bottle of Czech and Speake bath oil and head over to his village for the evening. I find him barefoot in the kitchen stuffing une pintade (guinea fowl) for dinner. The log fire is burning, there is a bottle of red wine breathing and everything is very lovely ... until we sit down to eat and suddenly I feel a strange and persisent itch around my ankles.
'Have you got fleas?' I ask, as I scratch furiously at my skin.
'Not to my knowledge,' he replies, looking perplexed.

I wake up the next morning with visible evidence to the contrary: big angry bites the size of buttons on my legs and arms. It's not a good look. I drive home dreaming of calamine lotion and puzzled by the cause of this unfortunate affliction.

Later The Man phones to say that he has asked around locally and thinks that I have been bitten by grass fleas. 'Apparently, the bites don't appear straight away. It must have happened yesterday when we were collecting walnuts from the garden,' he says.

Grass fleas sound rather sweet but when I casually raise the subject at line dancing on Wednesday morning - as in 'the grass fleas seem pretty bad this year' - everyone looks at me blankly. Hmmm. I do not know what has been lunching on my skin, but I do know that my most highly-prized accessory is currently a tube of calamine lotion.

comments (11)

1. Posted by Markyj on October 12, 2007 12:16 AM

Ah, la vie dans la campagne! Sorry, had to snigger about the 'must've been when we were collecting Walnuts' excuse...er, yeah, Walnut bites can be very nasty.

On the plus side, sounds like he went to a lot of effort to create a lovely romantic evening for you...Perhaps, like most men, he needs a female touch around his place...Question is - could you see yourself living there?

Must be gorgeous now that Autumn is here....all those log fires, etc....

2. Posted by ford43 on October 12, 2007 12:39 AM

If the bites are really bad you might need anti-histimine. And a bombe probably isn't a bad idea in both houses as you might have brought them indoors....

3. Posted by princess sarkozy on October 12, 2007 11:39 AM

come on! What's a few insect bites when there is so much else on offer?!

4. Posted by Lawrence on October 12, 2007 9:26 PM

were the bites that bad or just a lame excuse for not giving the man an answer to his proposal?.also considering the fuss made about the bites perhaps you are a die hard city girl and not the country girl you would like to be.a lady methinks that is not a decision maker.please prove me wrong.

5. Posted by mimi pompom on October 15, 2007 11:47 AM

Oh, dear. That's rather harsh. In my defence, these bites are in a different league to ordinary insect or mosquito bites.

6. Posted by queen of provence on October 15, 2007 1:39 PM

If the bites are very itchy its possible you have been bitten by harvest mites. You should go to the local pharmacy and ask their opinion

7. Posted by Wolfie on October 15, 2007 4:45 PM

Vinegar is what I use to stop the itching. Try the 'Vinaigre de Toilette' on it...

8. Posted by pierre l on October 15, 2007 8:47 PM

The comment about vinegar is interesting, but the smell would put me off. Is 'vinaigre de toilette', different, and I wonder what it's called in the UK. I get bitten by cat fleas quite often.

9. Posted by Susie on October 16, 2007 2:55 PM

The lady could be right about harvest mites; they're much worse than fleas, and can bite you in places you dare not scratch in public.

Here are some facts about "grass fleas":

They are 1-6mm in length and black or brown in colour. The cat flea is far the more common species, with this parasite being found upon both dogs & cats. People often refer to "grass fleas "or "sand fleas." It is incorrect to assume that these fleas just live in the grass or sand. They are usually cat fleas that their pet has deposited on the ground. All fleas are blood-sucking parasites and they need a living host in order to survive.

Fleas are wingless insects with a laterally flattened body, hairy with hooks on their legs to move easily through and to grip onto the fur of their hosts. They have very powerful hind legs that have a rubber-like resilin in their joints. When they compress these legs and release them, they are catapulted into the air, by as much as 20cms up & 35cm horizontally-150 times their own length! That is comparable to a person jumping onto Ayres Rock.

Now, isn't that interesting?

10. Posted by mimi pompom on October 16, 2007 8:59 PM

Very interesting indeed Susie. I also found the following on the subject of harvest mites:

'harvest mite larvae do not burrow into the skin, nor suck blood. They pierce the skin and inject into the host a salivary secretion containing powerful, digestive enzymes that break down skin cells that are ingested (tissues become liquefied and sucked up). Also, this digestive fluid causes surrounding tissues to harden, forming a straw-like feeding tube of hardened flesh (stylostome) from which further, partially-digested skin cells may be sucked out. After a larva is fully fed in four days, it drops from the host, leaving a red welt with a white, hard central area on the skin that itches severely and may later develop into dermatitis.'

Nice to know that my skin has become a liquid lunch for bugs. Mimi xxx

11. Posted by mimi pompom on October 16, 2007 9:04 PM

Hi Pierre,

the vinegar that Wolfie is talking about is Diptyque's 'Vinaigre de Toilette.' It actually smells very nice - it is also used as a hair and skin treatment but from memory it costs £49 a bottle so would be quite an expensive treatment for insect bites.


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