If you would like to be ever so slightly more ethical this Christmas, have a look at the Winter issue of Baby London, Baby Surrey and Baby Hampshire magazines for my top ten green gift ideas for little ones. You can download the PDF below. (for my family...there will be no vicarious goats this year, I promise)
"Honey, can you come outside? There's a snake with legs in the pool."
Possibly one of the stupidest things I had ever heard my husband say.
Until I went outside and saw this slimy thing:
The conversation afterwards went a bit like this…
"What the hell is that?"
"Maybe it's a lizard?”
"But it has two freaky little legs."
"Or a baby snake? Do baby snakes have legs?
"Maybe they do...before they hatch?”
"Do snakes lay eggs or give birth?”
“I don't know. Google 'snakes with two legs.'”
I know. We are the dumbest people on Earth. But it gave us our answer. Firstly, no baby snakes do not have legs. And secondly, this delightful creature is a worm skink. A harmless little thing that normally lives underground, and is listed as a threatened species. How it found its way into our pool I don’t know, but I am obviously never swimming in it again regardless.
In the UK, I was fairly altruistic when it came to wildlife, but the worst we had were harmless bugs, snails and the odd moth. I didn't like them touching me or eating my clothes, but I knew their little lives were important for the ecosystem and always tried not to harm them or use any chemical sprays.
Being in Australia is more of a challenge. In the month that I’ve been here, our house has been graced with 2 cane toads, 1 huge goanna, big fat marsh flies, wasps (which stung me twice), several massive spiders, a few angry looking little spiders, and an unidentified green and yellow flying thing. We also had a dead snake on the driveway and, of course, the drowning worm skink.
On top of all that, I’m concerned the things I left in the UK will be infested when we return. I left my clothes in storage and I’m worried creepy crawlies have found their way into Big Yellow and are eating my Reiss coat.
This paranoia, coupled with the fact our children are - quite literally - scared of flies, means our Australian excursion has presented a problem. So I’ve been researching ways to repel things, rather kill them, while at the same time avoiding covering our house, the environment or our children with chemicals. Repellants are harder to come by, so some of these suggestions kill things instead. Which I know is neither kind nor green...I might need to change the name of the blog. Anyway, here are the best ones I found:
Basil spray (for ants, spiders, earwigs, flies, beetles and caterpillars)
Pour 1 litre of boiling water over 2 firmly packed cupfuls of chopped basil leaves. Allow to stand until liquid is cool. Strain and use within 2 days.
Citronella (for ants and ticks)
Combine one part citronella oil with 10 parts water. Pour the mixture into small containers/jars and hang them in the affected trees. Empty mixture and replace once a week.
Garlic (for snails, spiders, caterpillars, beetles, termites and ticks) Spray which only keeps for a few days: Roughly chop 10 cloves of garlic with 1 litre of water. Leave to infuse overnight, then strain.
Spray which keeps for several months: Roughly chop 200g garlic. Add 7 tablespoons of mineral oil. Cover and leave for approximately 24 hours. Dissolve 20g of pure soap in 1 litre of water, add this to the garlic mixture; mix well. Filter finely. Store in a cool dark place (cooler the better). Use diluted at one part concentrate to 10 parts water.
Marigolds (for ants, cockroaches, bugs, fleas, beetles and flies)
Pour 1 litre of boiling water over 2 firmly packed cupfuls of flowers and leaves. Allow to stand for half an hour. Strain and use within 2 days. Spray is potent.
Mint oil (for ants, bugs, cockroaches and fleas)
Place several handfuls of mint leaves (preferably - pennyroyal or peppermint) into a glass jar and cover with oil (safflower or sunflower oil). Place in a sunny position for 3-6 weeks, shaking ever few days. Strain and use within a few days.