Flaming June

‘Why is the weather so bad in SW France?’ This was the plaintive search term that someone entered into Google to land on my blog yesterday. You can sense the desperation behind it, with which I identify wholeheartedly. I wish I had an answer. Suffice it to say that this June is tuning up to be the worst in 13 years.

This is how it should be (with apologies for the telegraph wires draped across the sky). I don’t have a photo of how it is; it’s too depressing.

There are 11 days left and we need to have good weather on at least 8 of those to equal the previous worst June, which was in 2007. Look out for my end of June weather post, when I will deliver the full story.

This week it has rained every single day and the temperature has rarely clambered over 20ºC. I took advantage of some rare sunshine on Thursday evening to dash out and mow the lawn. I didn’t get it finished and parts of it look as though we’ll soon need a machete to cut our way through. We have forgotten what the swimming pool is for, except that it takes a lot of work for not much return.

It’s about now that walnut wine is traditionally made (see my earlier post about it). The recipe requires unripe nuts still in their green outer casing. This year, because of the lack of sunshine and the cool temperatures, our walnuts are still the size of large olives. They should be approaching the size of a hen’s egg. Presumably, they’re not big enough to make the wine or maybe you just have to use more of them.

This morning, at the village market, everyone huddled glumly beneath umbrellas, dodging the dripping awnings of the market stalls. Hopeful tourists in shorts and sandals emerged from British-registered vehicles looking bemused and shell-shocked. The French here take it as a personal insult when the sun fails to shine. British visitors are no less affronted. They expect guaranteed wall-to-wall sunshine. To be fair, that’s how we thought it was till we moved here.

I feel sorry for people who have arranged events in the reasonable expectation that the mid-June weather will be decent. Tomorrow (Sunday) is a journée du patrimoine, paying tribute to France’s rural heritage. Around here, many water mills, some of them still working, and other historic monuments will open their doors for free and provide guided tours and demonstrations of ancient crafts. I hope the weather improves for them. They put in a lot of effort to provide entertainment and instruction for people and it would be a great shame if it went to waste.

A man in the village, who stood as an independent at the last council elections, has organised an ‘auberge espagnole’ (Spanish inn) this evening at the covered lavoir (former washing pool). Again, this risks being a washout (pardon the pun). However, it got me thinking about the origins of the term ‘auberge espagnole’. It indicates that this is a meal to which you take a dish and share it with the other participants (who do likewise). Why Spanish? Is it that Spanish inns didn’t have any food so you had to take your own? Or was their food so bad that you were well advised to do so? Please let me know if you know the origin of the term.

In the meantime, I have compensated for not being able to get outside by doing chores that I would normally walk over hot coals to avoid, like cleaning the oven and defrosting the fridge. There has to be a silver lining somewhere…

And, just as I have finished posting this, down comes the rain again, accompanied by ominous rumbles of thunder. So I have to close down fast in case my computer gets fried. Back soon.

Copyright © 2010 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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2 Responses to Flaming June

  1. nessafrance says:

    Hi Stephanie, Well it’s better today; sunny spells but very windy and no more than 15C. At least most of the outdoor events can still go ahead.
    Thanks for your nice comments on my blog. I also enjoy seeing what you’re up to on yours and which new animals have been born!
    I’ll get in touch with Karen the llama-lady and check it’s OK to put you in contact and then come back.
    Best wishes,
    Vanessa

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  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi Vanessa, Our school kermesse yesterday was a very damp, quiet affair compared with other years. And today there are lots of fetes de la musique scheduled around here – I imagine many will be cancelled as it’s lashing. Oh for the sunshine!
    Thanks for your comments on my blog. And yes, I’d be interested to make contact with your llama-y neighbours!

    I always enjoy reading your blog.
    Kindest regards,
    Stephanie

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