Summer is sizzling . . . and that means different things to different people. Many are rejoicing after a long winter lay off, with those grateful to be in employment once again, now that the tourist season, despite all the Covid restrictions, is finally up and running, albeit in a very low gear!
British and German holidaymakers had been descending on Mallorca as if nothing had happened, and the tourist industry was rubbing its hands with glee as cash registers were once again singing their favourite tune, yet not quite so loudly as in previous years.
Sadly, with constant and continual changes in Covid protocol and legislation, there are still many in despair as the island’s economy is a long way from recovery, with many struggling to keep failing businesses afloat and their heads above water.
People used to complain about the over-population of tourists and their presence on the island, particularly in Palma when the big ships sailed in, flooding the streets with rivers of ‘tour guide crocodiles’ who swept through the city in their droves with only one thing on their minds . . . shopping! - Regrettably, the entire cruise industry has been sorely crushed at present, and their passengers are sorely missed by many.
But apart from tourists flashing their cash, summer also offers a great opportunity for a different kind of flashing, especially in the clothing department when temperatures are currently soaring and people are seeking out suitably sheer yet often inappropriate garments to combat the heat and humidity.
And it’s not just the tourists on the sun baked promenades who take all the prizes in this showcased fashion event. Ex-pats and locals alike dive deeply and creatively into ancient drawers and the dark confines of forgotten wardrobes to resurrect old favourites. Some of these fashion statements barely pass as clothing during these sweltering summer months, yet do the job of keeping cool, perfectly.
I find it hard to believe there are actual retail outlets where some of these diaphanous summer creations can be purchased, although a majority, especially in the local villages, tend to look extremely hand-made. But a chiffon scarf can only be stretched so far before it starts battling with the darker side of imagination!
Athletic young things undoubtedly get away with this minimal style of attire, and most would probably look great draped in a lettuce leaf. Two crocheted doilies held together with safety pins might feel light and airy, but do little for modesty, especially if you’re pushing 80! And men’s utility shorts that have survived both mothballs and the 1950’s don’t bode well flapping around ancient legs that would be more at home propping up runner beans. Besides, when reclining on a leisure chair, some of these ancient shorts tend to ‘ride’, and reveal much more than stringy thighs. Not a good look at any age, particularly in this steamy weather when you need every breath to combat the humidity!
Also, the aesthetically challenged should really think twice before donning the flighty and the flimsy. My advice is to leave the ‘see through’ for the x-ray department in casualty. It’s much safer in a clinically controlled environment! With all this additional flesh on display however, summer also means ‘biting bugs’, and this year we seem to be plagued with more than our fair share of stingers. And I don’t just mean mosquitos, imported or otherwise! This summer sizzler seems to have brought with it an invasion of ‘no-seeums’, a miniscule biting bug that can drive a person crazy with its persistent biting!
Ceratopogonidae (try saying that with a mouthful of marbles), commonly known as midges, are a family of miniscule flies also referred to as ‘no-seeums’ because they are so tiny and virtually invisible to the naked eye. A mere speck on your skin that you rarely notice, yet most certainly feel! These pesky pests deliver a sharp sting that rapidly becomes extremely itchy before swelling into an unsightly welt. The biting midge injects saliva into the skin which in some cases causes an allergic reaction that quickly develops into a hive or blister. Legs, ankles, hands and the back of the neck are the prime sites for bites, and reflex scratching can cause the blisters to break open causing further infection.
The best way to cope with a midge bite or any sting is to wash the affected area immediately with mild soap and water to rid the skin of any excess saliva. Then apply a compress of ice before using an antihistamine cream to address the itching. Aloe Vera, either natural or in gel form is another way to calm the affected area along with oral antihistamine medication if an allergic reaction is chronic. But sadly, these annoying midge and mosquito bites are very difficult to treat and often need to run their natural course which can take between three to five miserable days to dissipate. It’s a tough call.
A few summers ago we had a family member staying with us whose sensitive skin reacted so badly to mosquito and midge bites that she looked as if she had contracted some kind of infectious pox from the Middle Ages. Her legs and arms were totally covered in a collage of red blisters that began to resemble Rowntrees ‘jelly tots’. We actually considered giving her a bell to ring when she hobbled through the village to alert the locals.
Luckily, for some inexplicable reason I don’t get bitten that much myself , but Other Half gets eaten alive at the mere showing of a bare arm or leg. Trim ankles seem to be a delicacy. But you can’t spend summer wearing thick socks! Or can you? Maybe the perfect distraction from a sheer, tantalizing top?