Competition the second

Odd, the things you find in Lancashire.

Well, this year’s second competition is finally under way. The first comp was for the most unusual place for a nest, the next is for the silliest thing to do to one before we arrive. So far I’ve not had any expanding foam stuffed in the hole, just bluetac and masking tape.

Stuffing the hole where the wasps are going in and out seems to be everybody’s instinctive reaction, which only makes sense until you realise that most of the wasps are…on the inside.

“My husband blocked the hole and now we’ve got wasps in the house.”
“Really? Do you think these might be connected?”

The blutac did this, the masking tape didn’t.

“We covered the hole with tape but they seem to be eating it.”
“You gave them building materials Ma’am, they’re using it to extend the nest.”

But, stupidity-wise that all pales into insignificance beside,

“I poured some petrol on and set light to them but that just seems to have made them cross.”

The “No shit, Sherlock” was thought rather than uttered.… Read on...

The competition begins

The competition for the strangest place to find a wasps’ nest, that is. Last year we decided that the car exhaust pipe took 1st place, followed by the golf bag in 2nd and the chicken coop taking bronze. (See what I did there? Little Olympic reference for you.)

The first 2012 contender

This year has been pretty boring so far, bird  boxes, garden sheds, under eaves, inside the void behind fascia boards. I do tend to get a bit confused between fascias, flashing and soffits when referring to people’s roofing apparatus so I’d just had a revision session with the boss and drawn myself some diagrams when I rolled up to a lady who told me ‘they’re all going in and our under me suffixes’. I had no right to giggle really.

But then it happened, this year’s first entry, the nest in a concrete mixer.

Not a bad commute


It’s still a bit quiet, 3 or 4 nests a day, nothing near last year’s mayhem  of 17-20 callouts a day, not counting the ones we were to busy to catch on the phone, but that has given me  the time for a bit of scenic photography.… Read on...

The idiocy has begun

This year’s prettiest bee swarm to date

Well, it’s been a quiet week at the wasp face, the torrential rain has kept everybody indoors, instead of out gardening and barbecuing and generally finding their wasps, but the few nests I’ve been out to have been getting bigger and busier. So we know they’re there.

The idiots have crawled out of their lairs too, three classic annoyances this week. The general public at large have many and various ways of driving one nuts. I ranted here about the stupidity and thanklessness of the people one visits in the course of a day and much though the jobs change, the annoyances remain remarkably similar. No doubt as the season progresses there will be more wasp-related pillockry but three of the classics annoyed me by all happening the same day.

Annoyance 1…not doing as you’re told. We offer a free call-back if we’ve not completely destroyed the wasp colony, so long as people leave it alone.… Read on...

But I’ve got a baby!

No, not me, I’ll explain in a moment.

Before the seasonal declaration of apostrophe manoeuvres

It’s been a quiet week here at wasp HQ, I’ve been out to a few wasps’ nests but the weather has been so dreadful that nobody is outside to notice they have wasps. Of the nests I’ve seen, one was still just being built by a single queen*, most had a few workers hatched and one was really busy with a second hatching which provided sufficient workers for an attack batallion. The Boss reckons it will go nuts any day now, the second hatching is when people start to get upset and beg for help.

People have been mostly nice so far this year. The sort who thank you for turning up so fast and express an interest. One lady told me she was pleased to have been quizzed on the phone about whether she had wasps or bees and had found my fancy new webpage most informative.… Read on...

The Waspie: Week One

The Boss poses for his profile shot, the new website required visuals.

Well, I’m back in Blighty where it’s wet, cold and miserable. I’ve been a pestie again for a week and it’s pretty quiet so far. Apart from the honey bee swarm on the day I landed, which the guy who called us was convinced was a wasps’ nest.

Now, it took me at least 20 minutes last year to learn the difference between a wasp and a honey bee, so one could forgive those who don’t watch insects for a living the error…unless we’re talking a massive swarm hanging from a tree.

This chap had even put a sign up next to it saying ‘Warning, Wasps Nest’. I wish I’d had the camera with me. He was gobsmacked when we said we’d take them  away and give them to a beekeeper, not kill them on the spot. I was dispatched to the van for the Mark 1 Swarm Removal Kit (a cardboard box and a blanket) and we conveyed them home to await collection.… Read on...

All Change Again

Well, if you follow the blog with any regularity you might have noticed a dropping-off in new things. I’ve been busy plotting the next mad plan and it comes into being next week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the short series of book reviews and podcast interviews. There will be a break from these as I dash off to try a new daft exploit, just in case it’s interesting enough for a book.

If you’d like to tell me a story though, or send an adventuresome book for review, I hope to start a new series in the winter.

But what about Trucking in English? I hear you exclaim. What’s happening?

I’ll tell you what’s happening…the book is currently with a Canadian agent who is considering it carefully, so my plans to bring it out independently are on hold for a while, watch this space!

Trying on the bee suit for size

And the new plan?Read on...

Trucking in English Podcast: David Antobus

Welcome to the third in TIE’s podcast series:
Interviews With Interesting People.

Today’s interview is with David Antrobus, author of Dissolute Kinship – A 9/11 Road Trip.

I reviewed his book last week and if you want to know more about David and his writing check out his blog, The Migrant Type and the website for his editing services, Be Write There. You can also buy the book of course, by clicking the link at the top of the right sidebar.

As it turns out, we both talk a lot. The conversation roams around security theatre, Irish roots, the politics of handing terrorism and the all important sequel!

Listen on…


Before we started recording, I asked David if he had any suggestions for music to top and tail our chat.

He suggested two songs to try, the one I used…

Stars Gone Out by Low


Awake and Under by Calla

Have a listen to both before you go…firstly to hear those amazing harmonies before I shredded them with editing…and because David says, “The Calla song “Awake and Under” has the expansiveness of an American road trip, the feel of the wide, empty desert as well as the electricity of NYC.”

Read on...

Dissolute Kinship—A Personal 9/11 Journey by David Antrobus

David Antrobus

I had a feeling I was going to like this book, its story resonated with me on a number of levels. It’s a road trip for a start, you may have noticed I like those. It was also born from one of those those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ coincidences that make narrative non-fiction such a vital addition to the bookshelf. You couldn’t easily fictionalise a chap who planned to drive from Vancouver to New York, setting out on September the 11th 2001, heard the news and set off anyway.

Add to this premise that the traveller in question is a poet, a philosopher and somewhat acquainted with trauma and you have a book that transcends genres such as ‘memoir’ or ‘travelogue’ and even ‘poetry’. It is simply unique.

When I downloaded Dissolute Kinship, I had recently returned from a visit to New York and had been an early visitor to the newly opened 9/11 memorial.… Read on...

Trucking in English Podcast: Helen Krasner

Welcome to the second in TIE’s podcast series:
Interviews With Interesting People.

What’s it like to be a female helicopter instructor?

My second interview is with Helen Krasner, author of numerous books about flying, most recently her warts-and-all diary of becoming an instructor.

I reviewed her book a few days ago, and if you want to know more about her Helen’s website is here.

Helen and I are old friends and we had quite a natter but I have edited together the pukka questions and answers about another sort of adventuring.

Listen on…


Before we started recording, I asked Helen if she had any suggestions for music to introduce the piece. She mentioned Cavatina by Stanley Myers, also well known at the theme from the Deer Hunter. Helen says, it “feel like flight.” I had a listen and it does. Here is a link to a version by The Shadows from 1979,  have a listen before you go…


Read on...

Helicopter Flight Instructor Course Diary by Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner is a helicopter flying instructor. I should confess up front to having known Helen for many years, since before she took up flying. In my world she was superwoman for getting her PPL. Then super-super for graduating to helicopters and, as for instructing, well my awe knows no bounds. So, when she recently published a warts-and-all diary of her time on the instructor’s course I had to blag a copy to review.

The diary began as a series of posts on an internet forum for other fliers, in the days before blogs. Helen was already a writer for several aviation publications so it seemed the obvious thing to do, until she hit the rough times. It must have been tempting not to publish some of the more difficult entries but she did. Possibly because of the rough times as well as the triumphs, the diary became very popular as an encouragement to people doing the same sort of learning.… Read on...