One of the things you never, ever see in glossy holiday ads or TV promos for lovely hot countries are the bugs. No strapline or voiceover ever says: “Come to our tropical island paradise, bask under our sunshine on white beaches and enjoy our fabulous local cuisine. Oh, and make sure you pack some serious fly repellent because, man, those critters nip.”
Now I fully understand why, and marketing does what marketing does, but there could be a warning in the small print at least. The present Mrs Castle and I have recently returned from a week or so in Montenegro, a little dot of a place on the Adriatic coast which seems permanently on the fringes of being the Next Big Destination.
It was lovely. The entire country is corrugated with steep mountains (though consequently has smaller and less impressive skies than Norfolk) and the coastline has deep clear waters. It has a passable red wine, decent beer and excellent fish and does not seem to lift the leg of the tourist by overcharging them for everything in sight.
And it has exuberantly rapacious bugs. Even in late May we were punctured on pretty much every visible part of skin, red lumps everywhere, like angry Braille. If you could read Braille it would say something like ‘please stop biting me.’
To be fair, our own indigenous Norfolk creatures could hold their own if it came to a bite-off with other insects of the world. Within days of our return the locals moved in, finding a few gaps and having a bit of a nibble. I seem to be more prone than Mrs C – I say it is because I have sweet blood but she has some other dull explanation involving pheromones and stuff.
But somehow we minded less. It’s different when they’re your own, isn’t it?
It is very much the season of the summer ball and the smart dinner and we have had a couple of last-minute invitations to posh county do’s (of course we were going to invite you - can’t think what happened!) which is fun.
It has also revealed something of a knowledge gap on the domestic engineering front. In short, Mrs C does not know how the iron works.
Somehow, over the years, she has skilfully accumulated a wardrobe in which no item ever needs pressing. I’m sure you’ll agree that is impressive.
But now the panic-bought lastminute.com new evening wear needs ironing. I think pressing a frock in exchange for not being the designated driver is a fair trade, don’t you?
Montenegro. Lovely. Not in shot; bugs