In which we consider the excesses of French summer weather and wish we had a decent deckchair……
Well finally, here in South West France, the sun has put in a long awaited appearance and the Summer has arrived, at least for the next few days. This is, of course, great news for those of us who spent most of last winter and recent months, moaning about the cold, the damp, the rain and the misery of being stuck inside all the time. At last, the sweaters have been put away, the T-shirts are out and Mr H is embarassing us all in his baggy army shorts and Birkenstock sandals – very trendy he keeps on telling me, (I do hope he means the Birkenstocks).
But there is a problem. Apart from shedding a few layers of clothing, what are we actually doing now that the temperatures have risen and the sun is beating down with gusto upon the hillside? Are we living the outdoor life, lounging by the pool, lying in a deckchair with a chilled Pimms in hand? Gardening, weeding, reading a good novel? Taking days out sightseeing and lunching in delightfully authentic French restaurants? Well no, actually, the pool idea would be great but the nearest we have to that is a washing up bowl or the garden hose and a sprinkler attachment. We keep fighting over the one remaining garden chair as we haven’t managed to mend the sunlounger yet from last years’ fatal accident and we can’t go out anywhere because this is Summer and we’re usually busy with holiday makers and visitors and like Arkwright’s store our summertime motto is ” We never close!”. Worst of all the weather is doing its’ very best to suffocate us. Far from the balmy 24°c perfection we anticipate in our winter daydreams we are currently receiving the full force of 30°c +, baker’s oven heat that neccessitates regular showers and an oxygen mask. The animals are permanently asleep and we, from midday until late afternoon find ourselves sitting lethargically inside, moaning about the humidity, the bugs and the mosquito bites, mopping soggy brows and generally getting very cranky from lack of sleep. (I confess to using the royal ‘we’ here – Mr H does not seem to find the heat that much of a problem and is a master of the art of afternoon siestas.)
The truth is that no matter how much we look forward to it, the Summer when it does comes, is always a bit of a shock for me in my English skin. The sunshine is marvellous but the heat and, far worse, the humidity, take a lot of getting used to and have been known to lead me to guilty daydreams of Autumn and the joys of those Winter fires and crisp, frosty mornings.
We shall of course, soon aclimatise and adopt a more leisurely rhythm to cope with the taxing temperatures. The business of the day will gradually shift its emphasis from the afternoon to the morning and early evening when temperatures are more agreeable. The shop will stay open later to accommodate the Summers’ after 6 ‘o’ clock visitors and the evenings will become my favourite time of the day when we can sit in the courtyard over a relaxing meal and our own sun-ripened tomatoes and French beans, (a cool breeze wafting nearby hopefully) and for a while at least, the sun will hang around until after 10 pm. to bathe us in its’ happy rays and super endorphins.
And so Summer is truly a marvellous, wonderful and uplifting time, but if pushed I will readily admit to being more of a Spring , Autumn or even a Winter person? I wonder if perhaps a new deckchair and that glass of Pimms might change my mind……….?