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1943 Anecdote

My  Mother was a very heavy smoker and as a consequence I was born with double pneumonia and spent my first six  months in Chingford fever hospital, dying, not dying.

Some years later she said to me “you were determined to  get me killed” I was somewhat taken aback by this statement, but she explained.

A policeman would arrive at the front door, no telephones in those days,  “He’s dying again” the policeman said, so my mother had to walk from Markhouse Road Walthamstow E17 to Chingford mount E4 every time I was dying

At this moment in time V1’s were falling on London and all around the capital were thousands of AA Guns firing at them as the Doodlebugs flew over, the shells exploded and all the shrapnel was falling down bouncing off the roads and my mother had to hide in porches and shop doorways to survive. That is what she meant.

The cigarettes eventually got her, a major heart attack when she was 57

I have enjoyed 77 bonus years having survived at the beginning.

Michael Biswell

Pen name Michael Douglas Bosc

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A lot has happened in both my life and world events since I was last on here that its hard to know where to start. So I won’t even try to put things in order just jump right in.

Covid-19 and Lockdown effect – Catalan view

As we get older things and events take on different meanings, all looked at in different ways from different viewpoints because we are all very different individuals. But this Covid-19 has, in many cases, helped put things into perspective. After 7 months of lockdown law and self imposed – NO we did not have Covid-19 but November/December of last year we spent recovering from Pneumonia – isolation we were able to revalue our lives and way of living. What we found was that we were less stressful, eating better – basically fruit and veg – and felt better for it. So we cut the chocolate, crisps and other comfort foods down to a minimum by saying we couldn’t go and get them because of lockdown and learnt to spread them out. There have been bars of chocolate in the fridge for weeks but only having a few squares now and then means we aren’t binging. I have also taken to no sugar in coffee or tea the fight to keep my blood sugar down and Diabetis at bay. With being confined to the house for over 11 weeks in the countries fight against the virus and only allowed out to do shopping, get medication or visit the garage its surprising what you come up with. This is the before picture of the kitchen before we decided to change it now have more space and units rearranged make it more country kitchen.

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Keeping Active

However there is always catch 22. For me its that although I try and keep active by doing odd jobs around the farm, it was taking a long time to build my energy back up as I got tired easily – at my age I’m sticking to that. Once we could move around again and get to the coast I have felt better as walking on level ground is easier then forest ground. There is the gardening which I helped my wife with and gave more ideas for the small gardens and me a liking for garden centres and potteries so going to look round them gives us plenty of exercise and gets us out. Which brings me to the animals.

The Wild Life

Yes he’s still here and wandering around. He and his friends come and go as they please he has a new friend we call The Rock. A Sandy coloured lump twice the size of Puddytat and wild like him. I think the wildlife up here is doing well they look healthy and well fed we don’t seem to have any mice etc,. Question! What makes a crunching noise and dislodges uncemented stone walls? Wild Boar rooting for grubs of course. We have seen them on the track looking healthy and heard them around the house in the night. So the forest at least is back to normal.

My Writing

I have started back writing, but picking up from where I left off has been a tad difficult. Until recently I hadn’t felt like writing. I’d start something then think whats the use and stop. I’m not sure why it just happened but I would regularly make notes and expand on ideas so now is the time to sort them all out and get back to my favourite pastime.

Well there you have it in a nutshell. I am quite sure I will be expanding on things but for now that’s it.

Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

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In the 1950’s pollution had become so bad that even the politicians decided it was time to bring in some form of regulation people were dying of pulmonary diseases on a record scale. It was safer to smoke cigarettes, you only took in tar and nicotine. Crossing the road was a major exercise in safety, as cars lorries and buses appeared out of nowhere. We could not even enjoy the benefits of the new social entity the old age pension, they were killing us off so fast. So they turned their attention to the coal industry. Every house had a coal fire, all that smoke being produced meant smog, and so the clean air act was passed in parliament and the major visible form of pollution started to vanish. Smog became a thing of the past and we were just left with the invisible poisons that entered our lungs, destroyed brain cells plus killing the children’s future at the same time.

One plus of the twentieth century was the electric bus or more commonly known as the Trolleybus. These looked like conventional buses which drew electricity from overhead cables, a fairly simple infrastructure system no tracks were needed like trams or street cars and they had a battery system which allowed movement when not connected to the overhead cables. The first trolleybuses were in use in 1911 starting in Bradford and Leeds, then in London in 1912. These systems were quite widespread in the UK, and trolleybuses are still in use in many places around the world where it is a clean and efficient means of transport that can use the existing roads with only slung cables to provide power. There is no vast infrastructure to pay for, unfortunately these no longer exist in the UK we have “Diesel.”
The petrol companies and automotive industries hold great sway in Britain, they make sure their interests are looked after whilst poisoning us with lead to get better performance from poorly made engines. But today we are told the air that comes out of cars is cleaner than what goes in. Why are we are so gullible? we believe anything the advertisers tell us and so the death knell of the Trolleybus in Britain was decided in the early Sixties. They were removed from the streets of Britain and the Diesel won and pollution poured forth silent insidious and poisonous filling our lungs and killing the children.   Today we have diesel buses and diesel taxis which fill our cities with silent deadly poison. There is a haze above every city in the world a greenish yellow haze full of particulates and brake dust.

However, today we have the technology to build cars, lorries and buses that do not need large engines to power them and the braking system puts power back into batteries rather than producing dust to kill us.

So what is stopping this transformation? why are our cities not clean and healthy conurbations of clean air? for this answer we have to ask the politicians. Are they still in the pockets of the oil industry? in Madrid the pollution is so bad they restrict vehicles into the city which is madness considering the technology already exists to prevent this.
I know this cannot happen tomorrow it takes some time but the time has now come to invest in the future, it is time to get ahead of this great problem. Rules need to be changed today financial incentives can be used to direct peoples purchasing decisions.

You see the longer these decisions are delayed the greater the danger to our health and long term wellbeing of the Planet.

 

After all it is only money that needs to be spent and we waste billions every day, so lets do something useful for a change. As you can see from these pictures Electric cars look the business. Plus with  Electric buses and taxis are now being produced why aren’t cities around the world purchasing fleets of them?

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc   –   Author

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Terraces

These are some of the vineyards that nestle in the valley behind Darmos next to Celler Aibar 1895.  As it’s name suggests this family run winery has been producing wines since 1895, when like a phoenix, it raised itself out of the ashes of the wine industry following the devastating phylloxera epidemic which destroyed the vineyards.  Gradually the grandparents of Jaume Pinyol began to restore the vines and passed down their knowledge using the technology of the day to produce some very good wines.

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You can see from this photograph that it was a cold wintery day with a watery sun shining.  But the warm welcome we received from Jaume was worth the visit.  Jaume was very pleased to tell me something of his family history and how his wines are made.

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His grandparents worked very hard to rebuild the winery after the phylloxera epidemic, and were keen to use the modern equipment that came along. Unlike many of the Cellers we have visited there are no concrete vats here any more. They were replaced with stainless steel ones last century and Jaume has installed small modern vats which have airlocks in their lids, plus some larger ones with jackets that keep the temperature constant. Those of you who are home wine makers will recognise the method with the airlock.

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From here the wine is placed in French Oak barrels and left to mature, where it stays for between 3 to 9 months or 3 years depending on the wine in question. The barrels on the bottom row have the 3 year wines. Today the Celler produces around 40,000 bottles of seven different wines, mostly young fruity reds plus some full bodied reds and their white wine is excellent.

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So about these wines, I tasted 3 of the 7 so will start with:-

PARELL BLANC                                                                                                               

White being my wifes favourite wine I will let her describe it. This is a clean young white wine with a crystal clear moderately pale colour. Its aroma is very floral I could sence roses, fruits and just a hint of violets.  In the mouth it is very soft and fresh, but there is a good body to it which lets the taste linger long after you have tried it. This is a wine well worth drinking if only for the sheer pleasure, and like the others it is designed to be drunk young.  The Grapes used in this blending are Muscatel Alexandria and Macabeu in a  60%, 40% blend, and spends 3 months in the barrel.

PARELL ROURE:

This is a red wine also designed to be drunk young its has a fruityness but also a slight complexity.  There is an intense red colour which is both clear and vibrant almost bordering on the purple.  In it’s aroma you can detect the barrels where it has matured this makes for a very rounded wine.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot in a 40%, 20%, 20%, 20% blend, and spends 9 months in the barrel.

XYZ TRIDIMENTIONAL:

Now this wine is for savouring. It is full boddied with a moderately intense cherry red hue which is both brilliant and deep.  It reminded me of wild fruit whilst lurking in the background was a hint of cinnamon, its warm, cosy and one of the nicest reds I have tried.  It’s taste is soft, warm and a little complex, with a lasting after taste that makes it very moorish.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah and Merlot in a  60%, 20%, 20% blend. This wine can spend between 3 months to 3 years in the barrel.

I have covered the three wines that most impressed me but there are a lot more to this range that are worth drinking. however, this is not the only thing this Celler produces. There is some excellent Olive Oil produced here and the original building, which was in decline, has been lovingly rebuilt with the equipment on display plus a diagramme of the working machinery. However that is for the next story of this Celler.

I would like to thank Jaume for his time and allowing us to look around his Celler.  He is very proud of what he produces and rightly so, exporting his wines to the Nederlands, Estonia, Switzerland, Sweden and Girona. I am surprised that America has not taken these wines, they don’t know what they are missing.  I do hope you will try them you can contact Jaume on:-  celleraibar@agricoles.eu .

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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It’s almost the end of October the time when I gird up my loins and visit the local Agricultural Fair. It’s strange really because I have not liked fairs since I was in the RAF and visited Marlborough Mop. Here I walked in at one end with a wallet and out the other without it. But these fairs are different. They are a mix of fun fair, stalls, bars and farming equipment spread out around the streets of Mora La’Nova, and who knows we might just have a go on some of the rides….

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We wandered in and came to this little ride.  We stood and watched it being loaded  “do you want to go on it?” I asked my wife “yes but I want to see what it does first” she said.  Am I glad she did!  As you can see it looks lovely and calm with the arms down, but once it got going it not only went up and round IT BOUNCED!!!! ohhhh I could see us both throwing up.  It was fun for the youngsters they squealed and laughed then a big sigh came as the machine stopped and the lights went out, next minuet it started going again BACKWARDS.. bouncing, spinning in the dark, well we may not have been on there but just watching was fun.

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We went to have a look at the horse shed and this little chap caught our eye.  Although they are all together there is plenty of room and lots of hay in the racks.  None of these horses were undernourished, the one thing the people here are fond of are their horses. In fact I would say they were a little over weight. It’s just that with the wire fence – to stop people being kicked – and a horses bum nudging him he did look fed up.

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There were quite a few makes of tractor on display but I noticed that John Deer did not seem to be represented. Now this is strange as last year they had quite a display.  But then I noticed tucked at the end of the line two Lamborghini’s, the sports tractors of the tractor world? Where are Top Gear when they are needed….

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Just opposite the tractors were the various bits of equipment needed to farm here. Compressors, sprayers, rotivators generators, tree shakers and much more.   I am not sure what the large machine is but as you can see it is rather like and octopus with its 8 arms.

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We walked on and came to some rides we thought we could go on. This was a particular favourite unfortunately we were to big but there was no lack of fun for the youngsters.  One of the rides was mechanical bulls.  Three abreast and could seat around 6 people, it started up moving back and forwards then it gave a lurch and the riders all fell off onto the cushioned floor.  The laughter never stopped. So being two big for the rides we wandered off to the other side and the wine section.

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We visited the hall where dried meats, stalls for household stuff were on display and in the middle of these I found ‘Celler Maset Del Lleo’ and yes I hope to visit.  Then out into the balmy night and the entrance to the wine section.  People were crossing the bridge to this area to buy their tickets – which includes a glass – so they could taste the various wines of the exhibiting Cellers.

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I went to visit Pascona’s stand but unfortunately could not get near enough to talk or take a picture as they were busy selling their reds.

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We could see Batea was in the same situation and were reminded that Gandessa Wine Fair is on this week, so more visits. Such a wide range of wines here.

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Now with the harvest just finishing – due to the cool weather at the beginning of the year – I had visited El’Masroig and learnt they have two new wines for export being launched soon.  So when we arrived at their stand we had to wait as people were busy tasting and buying wines.  It is so nice to see old friends and even better when you find they have won awards. The nuclear plant in Asco had given them 4 awards for their wines, wonderful.  There is another visit on the cards so I am looking forward to that.

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To reach the wine area you can either cross the bridge or, as we did, walk round past the church. Here we found some craft stalls and a few more tractors.  Also spread out along the street were traditional wood burning fires, plus new ones especially for burning the new pellet type of fuel which is made from the husks of almonds and the residue of the olives. Here you also find a small bar with it’s tables and chairs set out in front and across the road next to a stall selling Iberian Ham and cheeses. It was to here we came after walking round and decided to have a couple of glasses of wine whilst trying some of the ham and cheese.

It was fun sitting there watching as people came and went moving the tables and chairs to make bigger seating areas. Once or twice friends would turn up invite others join them at their table. So without hesitation table, chairs and drinks would up sticks and march to join the party, I do love this country.

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After this we decided to head home so took a leisurely stroll back to the car park.  I noticed how few people were around although this large eatery was doing very well. When we reached the car the reason was made clear, when I turned the engine on the clock said it was just past midnight.  So although the Agricola section was shut the fun fair, bars and eateries were going strong.   Here’s to next year.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Living with Blood Pressure is a trial and error thing. Firstly you are given tablets to bring it down – DONT READ THE INFORMATION PAPER – that alone can kill you. You visit the doctor twice a year for a check up and on the second visit a blood test is done to check everything is still working ok.

So you take the tablets for a few years then begin to feel really tired. Off to the doctors again for blood test and check up. There you are told to come off the tablets and are given new ones of a lower strength. Ummmm something is not quite right you now feel more sleepy than ever. Back to doctors more blood tests etc., then you are given another tablet to help ward off the effects of the new ones. At least they work and you are feeling better.

Apart that is from that strange noise when you move sounds like rattling….

© Michael Douglas Bosc
(Author of A Soldiers Wind & A Bengal Poppy)

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It is that time of year again when I have to go for my medical, blood pressure is a real bind.  It normally falls around olive picking time, but this year we have had so little rain that the trees have not produced much of a crop and what olives there are are so small I decided not to bother.  My wife said lets go early so we can be back for the local show at the end of October.  Sounded a good idea, so flights booked, car parking sorted, hire car booked and Dr’s appointment sorted we were ready.  It was an early start around 6.30am Barcelona is around 2hrs away, but I do not like to rush, so with change for the toll’s we set off.  On arrival at the airport I settled down for a spot of work, some coffee and lost myself in writing.

Once in England I drove to my mother-in-laws where we were to stay for a few days before visiting my sister in London.  Next morning I had my blood test so now I was free to enjoy the next few days.  On the Tuesday I visited Wickham Vineyard about which I wrote an article http://bit.ly/rFj3Z9 for my wine book.  Over the next few days I pottered around the house, did a couple of odd jobs then travelled to London to see the family.  We always enjoy our visits here, seeing the nieces and catching up on news and events.

Whilst there ‘Crafty Squirrel’ performed but as you will see he was not happy.  My sister and BJ usually chase him and he treats it as a good game, but because we were there he was not the centre of attention and I think his stance says it all. Any way by way of an update I wrote a poem about him.  There were a pair of jays, the male had a really good mohawk hair do  but the female was calmer and more pigeon like, still very colourful, but I could not get a clear picture of the male only his backside!!

The flowers in the garden are just coming to an end but they are beautiful, telling their own story in stunning colours and delicate blooms. It is very strange how visiting English gardens and seeing some of the flowers growing there seems endearing.  I suppose it’s because we have the wild versions of some in our ‘Garden’.

Whilst in London we visited the largest shopping mall in Europe just down the road in Stratford.  There are stunning views of the Olympic village and stadiums from John Lewis, and the shops are, according to my wife, ‘wonderful!’ I am so glad I did not drive over as I am sure the car would not have made it back….

Then it was back to the Doctors for my appointment which, I am glad to say, was really better than I expected, although there was a small funny here.  I am officially an OAP so I get the flu jab. I also asked about having a tetanus jab, which the Dr. thought a good idea.  He made the appointment with the nurse, who said ‘you want a tetanus jab’ ‘yes I said’ then she realised she had given me another flu jab said it was ok then gave me my tetanus.  So my arm was rather sore for a couple of days, but here is the strange part, I get the jab and my wife gets the cold?  ummmm.

Whilst we were away I heard from friends on Facebook that it had finally rained after 6 months of drought.  Great I thought the cisterna should be full, hey ho I really should have know better, but that is to come.

At last came the day to go home.  I must admit it had been raining for two days in the UK and at night as well, still,  it had rained at home, hadn’t it???

The flight took off late afternoon with the pilot saying it might be a bit bumpy.  Looking out of the window I could see we were between two layers of clouds, which stretched away into the west where there was a golden glow and the clouds made strange shapes.  The lower level of clouds looked like another world, with soft downy ridges and valley’s almost like a dream where you feel you could walk, roll, or sink into soft cotton wool comfort…..then we hit the edge of a jet stream…. the plane shook, my wife saw the wing bounce……ohhhhh.

The pilot was very good he explained about the jet streams which helped understand the situation.  Mind you, if you have ever flown into Beruit this was nothing, there the whole plane shakes, ugh nasty.

When we landed at Barcelona it was 17c and raining!  full on, lightening included.  I drove through three heavy rain storms arriving home to find that although it had rained the cisterna was not even a quarter full, we should have known, hey ho  such is life.   But it is so good to be home I don’t really care. However, there was compensation of sorts, it has rained since yesterday and the cisterna is quarter full with the garden cube holding 200ltrs.  Not a lot you might think but we have waited 6 months.

WATER!!!  It rained last night quite a lot and it is raining with hail as I write, wonderful,  wonderful, and for once my wife is not hiding away from the thunder and lightening.  The Gods are kind….

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Michael Douglas Bosc has produced another page turning novel that is now available in bothprint format and on Kindle. Those of you who have read his first historic naval novel filled with adventures of Jason and laced with his romantic encounters when on shore leave, A Soldiers Wind, and enjoyed his very own unique dialogue style, will equally drink in his words in this new one.  This is not a sequal to A Soldiers Wind (though he is beavouring away on that). No oh no, this is a far cry from the historic Caribbean waters and this story unfolds in a totally different vein.
 
The thriller is placed in the East end of London shortly after World War 2. A Loving Son echoes back to his earlier life being raised up in East London after the war. In thoses days that part of London went hand in hand with the murky world of criminals of the era and all that it engulfed. Michael now writes from his small olive finca set in the middle of the forest in the mountains of Catalonia, between Mora d’Ebro and Flix.
 
Diane, a single parent, a lady of the night, but a doting and loving mother to Stanley. Her career choice is more by circumstances than by design. It is her only short-coming, but she has a son to raise against economics and post-war food shortages.  But she never falters in her devotion to her Stanley, and he in turn is very close to his mother. I mean who else has he got? “They had lived through the London blitz looking out for each other, sharing a bed not only for warmth but comfort.”
 
Yet Diane had her head screwed on (pardon the pun) the right way. Once all the household bills and food had been paid for, she saved hard and squirreled away all their spare cash. This forward thinking enabled her to buy a house, but rented out the upstairs and frugally they lived on the lower floor.
 
Yet Stanley survived in this seamy world of gangsters, thieves and down right villans. Stanley takes up with an old classmate Gillian and they soon become inseparable. Diane’s business is blooming and she sets up a sideline as a new escort agency with services. Things go pear shaped when Gillian is raped.
 
Things suddenly change when he comes home to find his mother being beaten by a punter. Not any old punter, one of East ends most dreaded and feard powerful gangster. Stanley tries to intervene but he is punching way above his league and is knocked out cold. This is the turning point in Stanley’s life when he decides he needs a gun for their protection. Whatever Stanley decides to do, he does it to his fullest capability. He does not falter once his mind is made up. A slippery slope ensues. He first becomes a killer. Then Stanley who thinks an awful lot and plans his moves carefully, becomes a very successful assassin.
 
Stanley’s education is helped along by Reg an Inspector in the Met, an old flame of Diane, who has recently hooked up with her again.
 
The story telling is excellent in this psychological thriller. You are never quite sure where the tale is leading and just when you think you’ve figured it all out there is a subtle twist.
 
This is a thriller that will be enjoyed by men and women alike and would make an awsome television series.
 

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 If Stanley were real he would now be in his 80’s, and probably unhappy about not being able to `work’. So when he came to ask why I have not finished telling his story, I had to admit that although the last book has been started people did not seem interested in his story, as it did not contain werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc., or modern technology and police work;  just sex, gangs, murder and mayhem, in other words good old-fashioned crime.  All the things that were actually happening in London after WW2. The things people did to survive and make money. 

It was not all Mills and Bloom, it was more rackets, murder, gangs and bent coppers (police).  West-end Central was the most notorious police station going. Coppers on the make and take, turning and looking the other way unless things got too bad then grabbing someone to show they were doing something.  There was the odd government agency operating, nothing like Jame Bond, more like removal men, assisting others or their own governments when needed. Well-trained and ruthless killers, assassins if you prefer, but killers all the same.  As Stanley said it was a job, it had to be done and he was paid well, and governments interfering in other countries is no newer than back scratching.  I had to agree with this statement.

Anyway I digress. Stanley is somewhat at a loss as to why the story of a boy’s love for his mum and his protection of her does not appeal, after all it is normal, isn’t it? As for the Escort Agency nothing wrong there and the girls were beautiful, healthy and well looked after.  His reputation saw to that.

So I have told Stanley that the second book is being proofread, and I will be back with him and the others soon.   He did agree about one thing though, Russell is the right choice.

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It is strange that an insect so important to this world, small, busy, productive, and varied which provides so much that is essential to us is under threat and the scientists can do nothing to help. I know they are looking into what is causing CCD but it is not just the mites that are killing off our bees. I realise that insecticides are the Big Bad Wolf but when DDT was used things were not so bad, not perfect, but not so bad.

There are 7 main species and 44 subspecies of bee but everyone recognises that this is likely to be incorrect. Alpini is a species with the European bee a subspecies, some of these are crossed with the African bee making them a little more defensive.  The New Zealand Bee is supposed to be more docile, but I can say that when I was using a rotorvator on my allotment in the UK I was brushing off the bees from my clothes where they had tried to sting me.  I do know that in certain parts of Africa bees are used to deter Elephants from damaging crops that cross their usual migratory paths and also provide the farmers with another income. They are taught how to look after the bees and process the end products, this is proving to be a natural barrier and a healthy nutritional by-product.

There is another byproduct they produce its called propolis. This is used by bees who hang their nests from trees to deter ants. They spread it along the branches making a sticky barrier. Collected, it is used in cosmetics, so ladies even your skin benefits. Here they use a honey skin cream to deter the black mosquitoes and biting flies it works and is good for the skin in the heat, smells nice too.

Then there is beeswax used for polishing and producing the wonderful glow seen on aged furniture. The wax is mixed with a little vegetable oil to make it pliable at room temperature; it also acts as an oil for doors and windows. The obvious other use is candles they burn long and smell sweet. When we visit a honey fair we buy several candles for that reason.

Something you may not know is they kill intruder wasps and hornets by surrounding them in a ball of bees, this produces such a lot of heat that the wasps are killed. Way to go bees….

So apart from providing a delicious food, cleaning product, and their stings being used to treat arthritis,  it is most important that we save these important creatures and do so now not in a few years when it may be too late but now this year.  The population of this world is growing fast and we need to produce more food, without these little pollinators crops will fail and well no crops no food no us…..

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