Ban horseflies from kitchen and pets with pungent basil

I HAVE no idea how a small chip occurred on the edge of a hard black granite counter top. Do you know how it can be repaired, at least to the extent that it is not visible? – RA, Port Elizabeth.

I am fortunate enough to have the services of a creative handyman (sorry, he doesn't live in PE!). I discussed your problem with him.

An epoxy glue is the thing to use. There is a wide range of these glues, including liquid steel black. It is fortunate that your granite is dark, so the repair will be less visible if you use this type of glue. You should find them in good hardware stores.

You mention that the chip is on the edge, so tape the bottom of the granite and work from the top to prevent a lumpy finish.

Wherever the glue is applied to such a chip – on a flat surface or an edge – wipe over the filling with a damp cloth before it has completely dried. This will ensure a smooth finish.

I noticed your item about the dripping cooking oil bottles. What I do, is stand them in a clean tuna tin lined at the bottom with a bit of kitchen paper. I then put this, together with my olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles, in a small polystyrene punnet. This works well. It always surprises me how tacky the cooking oil bottle becomes compared to the olive oil one, which remains clean. – VM, Port Elizabeth.

Thanks for the interesting idea. It does seem that these oily bottles tend to defy all our efforts to keep them pristine.

You once gave a tip on how to clean brick paving with Jeyes Fluid and water, but I can't remember the quantities. It worked like a charm. – JK, Port Elizabeth.

For algae growth on paving, mix 125ml Jeyes Fluid in five litres of water and apply with a watering can. Lightly brush affected areas and hose down afterwards. Jeyes Fluid eats away all green and black algae collected in the cracks.

I am having a horrendous problem with flies. They are the horsefly type. They lay eggs in my unused pet food discarded in the outside bin, and these hatch into maggots. I used to buy a product called Vapona Strip, which was hung from the centre of a room. The flies just disappeared. Do you know where I can buy this product? The supermarkets no longer seem to keep it. I have an elderly cat and do not want to spray near her food. – DA, Port Elizabeth.

An obvious first step is to stop discarding unused pet food into the dirt bin. It must at least be placed in a stout plastic bag and tightly tied up. There are various ways of combating flies, including natural remedies, but nothing will help if the environment encourages them. Cleanliness applies to the yard as much as anywhere.

Don't leave food, crumbs or pet food in open containers. Put things away as soon as you have finished using them, and keep lids firmly on dustbins.

You can discourage flies from entering your kitchen by having pots of the herb, basil, on your window sills. Basil can also be used to protect pets from flies. A reader once wrote in about "bruising" the leaves of basil, and rubbing the "juice" from her hands onto her dogs. Flies don't like the smell, and leave the dogs alone.

There are various commercial products, of course. Every year there seem to be new ones, so inquire about the latest, and alternatives to the Vapona Strips. But if any reader knows a source for these, I would be happy to pass on the information.