Sunday, 13 June 2021

June bugs

June bug, noun any of various large usually brown North American leaf-eating beetles common in late spring; the larvae feed on roots of grasses etc.

Judging by the above definition, I can safely assume that it weren't June bugs who'd feasted on my leg during our walk two weeks ago on Sunday. What's more, it turns out they don't even bite!

So far, the pesky creatures who'd peppered my left leg with no less than eight angry red and extremely itchy welts in varying sizes, prefer to remain anonymous.

The itching started in earnest on Monday morning, but slathering the bites in Camomile and Calendula ointment seemed to keep the worst of it at bay throughout the day. However, the itching woke me up several times during the night, and the welts seemed to have increased in size by Tuesday morning.

Tuesday the First of June dawned sunny and blue-skied, though, so it would have been a shame to let a handful of insect bites spoil the day. As temperatures of up to 26°C had been forecasted, we decided to go for a walk in the morning while it was still relatively cool.

The viscose lemon and forget-me-not skirt I'd charity shopped the other day was just the right length to keep the unsightly red blotches on my leg covered up. I took the lead from the lemons for the vintage floral pussy-bow blouse in refreshing citrus colours I accompanied it with. 

I added one of my stretchy chevron patterned belts, while the glamorous lady on my scarf clip kept the pussy-bow in check. First outing this year for my trusty Clarks Cloudsteppers! So comfortable for Summer walking. I do live in fear of them wearing out.

For fear of attracting more badly behaved creepy crawlies, we crossed off any nature reserves from our list of possibilities, opting instead for a civilized walk in the park.

Not just any park, mind you! Regular readers might have guessed already that this is Middelheim, the sculpture park I've already waxed lyrical about many times before.

That's Antony Gormley's Firmament III you can see in the background on the top left. 

We just strolled around, taking paths willy-nilly, enjoying the banks of rhododendron, their majestic blooms sadly nearing their sell-by date. 

On the bottom right, you can catch a glimpse of the Bridge Without a Name by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in the far distance.

Somehow, we always seem to end up here at this fascinating polished metal column, a sculpture by Belgian artist Felix Roulin (1975). 

A compact Hall of Mirrors, its distorted reflections offer photo opportunities galore!

We always gravitate towards the Braem Pavillion too. Designed by architect Renaat Braem (1910-2001) and completed in 1971, it is a prime example of Organic Brutalist style.

At this time of year, it is almost swallowed up by the landscape, the surrounding trees and shrubs gently cloaking it in various shades of green.

We marvelled at the tallness of some of the trees. Can you spot Lilliputian yours truly leaning against one of the trunks? 

The triumphal arch (top left), covered in eucalyptus, is part of a current exhibition called Congoville.  It is called Flowers for Africa: Rwanda, and is a copy of the arch which was erected in 1961 for the festivities surrounding the proclamation of Rwanda's independence.

Back at home, the temperature steadily climbed towards the forecasted 26°C which, in our suntrap of a garden, always turns out to be at least two degrees higher. 

Seemingly happy in its slug-protected planter, the Delphinium's deep indigo flower spikes are rivalling the Alliums in height. Did you know they are commonly called Ridderspoor (Knight's Spur) in Flemish?  I've always delighted in that name. 

We were also overjoyed to finally see the first of the Lupine's flower spikes (top right) making a timid entrance. 

Meanwhile, the Sweet Peas are in full stride, but at the time, there was still no sign of the Oriental poppies bursting into bloom.

That afternoon, with the itching almost driving me mad, I walked into town and got some cream containing 1% Cortisone from the chemist. I'm glad to report this brought the swelling and itching down almost overnight.

Fast forward to Thursday, the 3rd of June. It was a cloudy and humid day, but still with temperatures of about 25°C. 

That morning, we had to get up really early, as Jos had to take the car to the garage for repairs. The previous week, while taking a shortcut on a quiet country road, a stone thrown up by a passing lorry had caused a crack to appear in our car's windscreen, Luckily, it won't cost us anything as we've got full insurance coverage.

While Jos was gone I chucked the things I’d bought at Think Twice into the washing machine and by the time I got dressed, Jos was back with a replacement car for the day.

My outfit for the day consisted of a blue striped vintage dress with pink and purple flowers trailing towards its hem. More flowers were added with my brooch, a vintage one featuring miniature embroidery, and my blue moulded plastic flower ring.

A wooden multicoloured necklace and pink belt - both charity shop finds - completed my outfit.

With the sky looking ominously and threatening rain, we took the replacement car for a spin, checking out a newly opened local pet shop and, almost inevitably, ending up at the charity shop.

Here, I picked up two long-sleeved blouses, a silky shirt in Autumnal colours by Belgian label CKS, and a funkily patterned smock-like top, closing with a row of fabric covered buttons at the back. Much to my amazement, the latter turned out to be H&M.

Browsing the full to bursting shoe shelves, I came across these two pristine pairs. The red ones are flat Mary-Janes by Gador, while the navy ones - which I'm already wearing in the outfit photos - are chunky heeled ones by Tom Tailor. Both were € 4,50, so just a fraction of their original retail price. Oh, how I love charity shopping!

Apart from a couple of scattered drops, the rainclouds passed us by, although it did remain cloudy for most of the day. 

Tiny it might be, but our garden still offers surprises at every turn. We've watched in amazement how the Foxglove which had settled itself in a raised border was reaching lofty heights. When its flowers started opening, we were delighted to see they were white rather than the more common pink. 

Elsewhere, another Foxglove which we actually planted earlier this year turned out to have the most amazing purple-pink flowers, instead of the 'Dalmatian Peach' proclaimed on its label!

Other current garden delights are the various shades of blue of Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum, top right) and Campanula (bottom left).

I love how our little plot is slowly but surely turning into a real cottage garden with its informal planting and mixture of colour, form and texture. Here, the last of the evening sun before it descends into the gloaming, is illuminating the view from the kitchen window. 

I'm leaving you now with an enigmatic photo I took with my phone one evening. At first, even Jos had a hard time solving the puzzle, as due to the reflections, the view is both inside and outside, or forwards and backwards.

I am standing at the end of the passageway which, together with the kitchen window and part of the houses beyond the garden, is reflected in the dining room window, where Bess sits looking out.

The two white rectangles just above Bess's head are the window and fan of our front door at the end of the hallway leading off from the dining room. To the right is our 1930s display cabinet, and the houseplant on the window sill, since moved out of Bess's way. 

The orange on Bess's body is the reflection of the Busy Lizzies in the window box outside. The metal structure on Bess's left is outside too, as are the out of focus leaves of the Heuchera on the bottom right.

So, that's it for now. We will be in for a couple of hot days , so if I haven't melted by then I will be with you again later this week.

In the meantime, as always, do stay safe and keep your heads cool!


  1. I'm sorry you were a meal for the biting insects- we get Pirate Bugs and I absolutely loathe them. Too small to see, but vicious. Anyway, I'm glad the cream helped-in a worst case scenario you can always take an antihistamine pill but it will make you sleepy.
    We get June bugs. As a teenager I once left the bathroom window open a crack with a damaged screen and the light on in the bathroom...when I went to use the toilet several hours later the entire floor was crawling with them! It was like something out of a horror movie, although as you point out, they're harmless.
    Your garden is absolutely gorgeous. I envy your beautiful foxgloves.
    I hope you survive the heat.

    1. That June bugs scene is straight out of a horror movie indeed, even if they are harmless! xxx

  2. It's good you got a cream to help with the itchign! The mozzies are bad here, whenever I forget the bug spray we always get bitten - we live near the bay so lots of water around which attracts the bugs sadly!

    I love your first outfit in particular, such a nice colour combo! And you got some great finds on your shopping trip!

    Hope you had a great weekend :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. I should have know better, and won't be going on a ramble again without making liberal use of insect repellent. That said, I never had so many bites before, the creatures must be particularly plentiful this year! xxx

  3. I'm sorry to hear about the bug bites and glad that the ointment helped to improve the situation a bit. I adore the first outfit, Such beautiful prints and colors!

  4. Hello, you fabulously dressed couple and adorable feline companion! I always love a trip to Middelheim and the creativity has certainly rubbed off, your artsy photos are splendid, especially Bess at the window!
    Gah! Biting things! I never suffered until numerous blood tranfusions after my hip op. One time in India I had 27 bites on one leg. I seem to have grown out of it now but I can totally sympathise with that maddening itchiness and ugly red welts.
    What a shame about the car damage, I'm glad you were able to get a hire car and take advantage of the chazzas. You always do so well with shoes, they look really comfy and cool! xxx

    1. Oh dear, 27 bites on one leg sounds particularly bad! We always love a trip to Middelheim too, there's always something new to discover! xxx

  5. It's true, june bugs don't bite humans. They're abundant in our region of BC. As a youngster, my siblings and I would sometimes gently hold june bugs in our hands. Not sure if I'd be quite the brave these days, but I still love hearing their telltale sounds and spotting them zipping to and fro through the sizzling late spring + summer air.

    And speaking of insects, I feel your pain and am very sorry that they've been feasting on you as of late, my sweet friend. I am one of those people that biting bugs (especially mosquitoes) all but flock to enmass. It's been that way my whole life, so I've long learned to double down on bug spray during the warmer months and always keep a healthy stock of anti-itch creams and lotions to hand. Hopefully the bugs will lay off you as summer progresses. Fingers crossed!

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Oh, I'm sure I wouldn't be that brave either, but I remember we used to do the same with a creepy crawly called May bugs here. They have become quite rare, but were still quite common when I was growing up! xxx

  6. I hate those pesky critters, it's like a hit & run by a local gang of petty thieves.
    Apart from that I love the Viscose lemon and forget-me-not skirt, the matching yellowy blouse and the semi flamenco dance you produce.
    Of course the psychedelic picture of the mirrory monolith is my favorite as is the brooch and the blue rose ring.
    Is that a Lapis Lazuli heart in the picture with the sweet peas?
    It's Rudi Mentair btw ;)

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mr. Mentair, I truly appreciate it! The "semi flamenco" made me smile, I'd probably be laid up for a week if I tried to do a full one :-) And no Lapis Lazuli heart, I'm afraid, just a plain ceramic one! xxx

  7. I already have melted! But I am loving it! Bess is really posing there like a moviestar from old forgot times. Those two new blouses are gorgeous! And I adore that bow blouse, the color suits you very well. The sweet Peas are so beautiful, I have always loved them. Enjoy the weatherand have a great week!

    1. Thank you Nancy! I won't tell Bess you said that, though, we are already waiting on her hand and foot as it is :-) xxx

  8. Oh good you bought hydrocortisone cream. The best against itchi bites.
    Great you can make little strolls around.
    I send you many greetings from the beach, so dekadent, I know. With a very huge hug Tina

    1. That Hydrocortisone cream did the trick indeed, Tina! I do hope you had the most wonderful and relaxing time at the beach! xxx

  9. indeed an enigmatic photo!! so very cool!
    nobody says "delphinium" in germany - its RITTERSPORN of cause :-D
    the pesky insects are called " erdflöhe" here - once i was bitten in both feet and hat lots of fun with itching and extremely swollen ankles..... the itching lasted 2 weeks. no use of cortison though.......
    the wonderful sculpture park - enchanting!
    hugsies! xxxx

    1. Well, of course nobody says Delphinium here either :-) I'm not sure it were "erdflöhe" that bit me this time, but I know which ones you mean. They are small but have a very vicious bite indeed! xxx

  10. I love the yellow printed blouse you paired with forget me not skirt. I always adored the combination of yellow and blue.
    Your blue dress with purple floral details on the pattern is very beautiful as well. Fantastic outfits. Wonderful shoes as well.
    Your garden looks wonderful. Sorry to hear about the bugs. One of the downsides of warm weather. Good you found a cream that helped you.
    The photo of you and Bess is fantastic. The reflections are amazing. It really takes some time to analyze it all. It is hard to see what is reflection and what isn't. Such a fabulous composition. Bess is such a pretty cat! She's lucky to have such loving owners.

    1. Thank you Ivana! Even Jos had problems knowing what was what in that photo! Such a lucky shot ... xxx

  11. That last picture is amazing, Ann! I feel like you should enter it in a contest or something - or it should be the cover of a murder mystery? You should experiment with duplicating this with different elements.

    I love the visit to the sculpture park - it's so lovely.

    I'm glad you got your bites sorted out! Yuck!

    Love you pretty outfits, both of them. I've been amazed a few times at pieces that turned out to be H&M - they can surprise you!

    1. Thank you Sheila! I love the idea of that photo being the cover of a murder mystery :-) I know, H&M can be quite surprising at times. I love when I find their stuff second hand, though. xxx

  12. I really enjoyed fathoming out the picture puzzle of Bess. Your explanation of it made it so clear. Well done Ann, and I also like the mirror photo as well.
    I can see why you return to the sculpture park it’s so green and shaded too. That’s my kind of environment, I’m not a beach person or townie really. Much preferring the non busy spots of the Lake District.
    Your chazzer finds are so good. I was lucky this week but there’s nothing very special around.
    Take care you two xxx

    1. Thank you Lynn! I'm not a beach person either, although I love a walk at the seaside, preferably out of season. Green and shady is my preferred kind of environment too! xxx

  13. Your garden is so pretty! I have a white foxglove, too and my first sweet pea bloomed today. It's a daily delight walking round the garden to see what's bloomed...

    I'm glad you've found something to treat your insect bites with. I get a very unsightly rash on my lower legs especially the right when I walk through grasses. I then have to wear trousers or long skirts to cover it up. It's ugly but luckily it doesn't itch.

    Such lovely outfits with fab accessories. You struck lucky at the charity shop. I loved the autumnal colours in the two long sleeved tops.

    That is certainly an enigmatic photo. I'm glad you explained it because it would have driven me mad trying to work it out!

    Stay cool

    1. Thank you Vronni! I was a bit peeved when I walked into the garden after work today. We had quite torrential rain yesterday and it was all looking a bit wet and bedraggled. xxx

  14. Sorry you have suffered with those pesky itchy bites but glad the cream has helped. I always love seeing the magnificent sculpture park and those rhodos are quite spectacular. Your garden is so pretty with delights at every turn. Now your inside out shot is so very clever . Your outfits are so Summer pretty.

    1. Thank you Jill. Such a pity those rhodos were almost over. We seem to have missed their prime this year! xxx

  15. Insect bites are rotten! I hope those were the last ones you got. The wretched creatures always ignore Pete and go straight for me.

    1. No further bites so far, and I know what you mean, they always ignore Jos as well :-)