Pet owners beware: the spiky seeds that can hurt pets are out earlier than normal

spiky seeds pets

Spiky seed pods, called épillets locally, are out a full month earlier than usual, and with them comes the danger of these sea urchin-like seeds becoming painfully lodged in the ears and noses of our furry friends.  

Usually seen from June onwards, the warmer and drier conditions in the south of France have, this year, led to an early emergence of these spiky seeds.  

The spikes of the épillet attach themselves to anything that passes by them and act like a creeping harpoon that embeds itself to the host. As the host moves, they tend to move forward in one direction, usually toward the skin, where they can become serious irritants.  

Humans can simply remove them from socks or clothing and be done with them, but with pets, they often find their way into noses or ears, where they become trapped and dig deeper into the orifices, becoming incredibly painful and sometimes requiring the assistance of a vet to dislodge them. This often requires putting the animal under anaesthesia, a dangerous and expensive thing to do in itself.  


The best way to avoid these pesky pods is to cut them down before they have a chance to form. Whilst this is possible at one’s own home, it is another story in the great outdoors. This means that preparing pets is the best way to go.  

Vets recommend shaving the fur in the interior of the ear or giving them a thick coating of Vaseline to stop the épillets from having anything to hold onto as a good start. Even with these precautions, it is advised to check after every walk, not just ears and noses, but the fur as well, with a focus on paws. This treatment goes for cats as well as dogs.  

For people with long-eared pets, “snoods” can be wrapped around the dog’s head to prevent the pods’ entry. This may not help the dog win any beauty contests, but it could stop the need for an emergency visit to the vet. 

Signs that the animal has picked up an épillet in a sensitive region will include violent head shaking and scratching at the ears, nose or even eyes. The animal may also become agitated, so look for behavioural changes. If a lodged épillet is suspected, take the animal directly to the vet and get it taken care of.  

The best prevention is vigilance, but if it does happen, be proactive. Trained vets know what to do, and the sooner the offending pod is removed, the sooner Fido or Spot will be back to their normal happy selves.  


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Photo source: Pixabay

Freddie Mercury’s private collections to be auctioned by Sotheby’s

freddie mercury auction

The private collections of stage costumes, personal items and handwritten lyrics belonging to legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury are being exhibited and later auctioned by Sotheby’s this summer.  

Fans of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury will now have a chance to own a piece of the star thanks to an exhibition and auction being presented by Sotheby’s between June and September. 


In total, there will be six different auctions. The first is on 6th September with a live sale featuring a cross-section of some of the collection’s most significant pieces. Two more live events follow on 7th and 8th September: the first will be dedicated to the singer’s on-stage persona and the second to his home life.  

Three online sales will run alongside these events. One will focus on his deep love of all things Japanese, and the other two are entitled “Crazy Little Things”, using the title of one of his band’s most popular hit songs and featuring everyday objects that the singer purchased to adorn his home.  

“Freddie Mercury’s sensational life has left us with a rich array of artistic moments that still move and astound us, a legacy that, like his music, will live on forever,” said Oliver Barker, the chairman of Sotheby’s Europe. “As Sotheby’s is transformed into the stage for this remarkable collection, the focus will be as much on Freddie Mercury the showman, celebrating everything we already know about him, as on discovering his less well-known private artistic passions.” 

Some standout pieces will include the elaborate military-style jacket he wore to his 39th birthday party in 1985, with an estimated sale price of £10,000 to £15,000 (€11,000 to €17,000), and the handwritten lyrics worked on by the singer for the Queen hit “We are the Champions”, which is expected to fetch £200,000 to £300,000 (€225,000 to €339,000).  

There will also be a replica of the St. George Crown he wore along with a red velvet faux-fur lined cloak at the last live show Queen played together in 1986. Sale prices for this are anticipated to range from £60,000 to £80,000 (€68,000 to €90,000).  

The real crown, incidentally, will be worn by King Charles III at his coronation in May.  


Before the sales event, Mercury’s items will be taken on the road with exhibition stops in New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong in June, followed by a “full takeover” of Sotheby’s London 16,000 square foot gallery in August.  

There, the space will be divided into specially created immersive sections to house the 1,500 items that will be displayed. The London exhibit will open on 4th August and close on 5th September on what would have been his 77th birthday.  

The pieces will all come from collections that resided in his Georgian-style home, Garden Lodge, which the singer bought in 1980 and lived in until his untimely death at the age of 45 in 1991 from an AIDS-related illness.  

After he died, Garden Lodge was left largely as it was for some 30 years.  

The tribute is fitting for a man who adored auctions, notably those put on by Sotheby’s. He once quipped, “I love going to auctions and buying antiques… The only thing I would really miss if I actually left Britain would be Sotheby’s.”  


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Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s 

Basketball: Jordan Loyd-inspired Monaco draw level in Euroleague playoffs

AS Monaco Basketball got their Euroleague playoff series back on track with a convincing victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv (86-74) on Thursday.

The scenes of Monégasque jubilation inside the Salle Gaston Médecin after Thursday’s victory starkly contrasted with the despondency in the wake of the defeat against the Israeli side just 48 hours earlier (67-79).

Career record for Jordan Loyd

The Roca Team came into the second game of the series desperately in need of a win. Luckily, they were unrecognisable to the team that succumbed to a sapping defeat on Tuesday; aggression and efficiency returned to their game at the right time.

Whilst the collective performance bore little resemblance to the first match, this is a match in which individual quality also proved decisive. No player was more improved than Jordan Loyd (two points in the first match), whose 33 points on the night are a career record in the Euroleague for the American.

“In the first match, we were surprised.”

It was during the third quarter that Tuesday’s game was lost, but Thursday’s match was won on the return from the dressing rooms as Sasa Obradovic’s men stepped on the accelerator, leaving Maccabi in their wake (67-54).

Obradovic has righted the ship with the sides heading into next Tuesday’s game in Israel all square.

“Firstly, I have to say that we didn’t have time to prepare for this series after the Coupe de France. In the first match, we were surprised and, from a tactical point of view, it was difficult. We had the reaction we needed in this second game,” said the Serbian coach.

The series is tantalisingly poised, with Monaco under pressure to get at least one result in the cauldron of Tel Aviv.


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Photo by AS Monaco Basket