Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Whether the weather will ever get better


It is a very British thing to talk about the weather and being British that is what I’m going to do, as it seems to me that France is being picked on by the weather gods this week. Having seen many horrid images in the local and national press the one thing I am not going to do is complain about our weather, instead I am very thankful as we seemed to have escaped the worst of it.

French Village Diaries weather storms floods France hail midsummer
Mini in a flooded field

At the beginning of this week, that just so happens to be the week we will be celebrating the summer solstice, we were on an orange storm-warning alert. Storms are not my thing at all and being here without Ade just added to the stress. However, I took the usual precautions before going to bed, unplugged all computer and television appliances, checked the batteries on the torch I keep by the bed and made sure the garden furniture was stacked away. With a mug of chamomile tea and a good book I waited for it to hit. Surprisingly I awoke on Monday morning and not a drop of rain had fallen overnight. However not far to the north of us in the Vendee and north Deux Sevres and oddly enough to the south in the Charente Maritime too, they had not been so lucky. Reports of hail stones the size of golf balls and pictures of destroyed vineyards, cereal crops and damaged cars and property were all over the internet. We were lucky, but again that evening we were on another high alert. A repeat of my bedtime precautions was followed by a slightly interrupted night as thunder and heavy rain rattled around outside. Thankfully Monday had been spent harvesting as many of our cherries as possible, something I am really pleased I did. Tuesday we had rain all day, improving to light drizzle by the evening, which is not the best cherry picking weather and to be honest much of what was left had either fallen off in the night or is now going mouldy because of the rain. For us this is just a disappointment and an inconvenience, but there are many families who will have seen their income for this year destroyed overnight.

By yesterday evening reports were coming in of flood warnings from the Pyrenees all the way up the west of France to Poitou-Charentes. One of the areas badly affected was the town of Luchon where we stayed this February for our ski holiday. The shocking pictures showed the road outside our accommodation running like a fast flowing river. Many people in towns and villages in the area had to be evacuated including in Lourdes, mountain roads have been closed due to landslips and at least one person has drowned. Some pictures can be seen here. Even closer to home and not far from where we cycled last week there has been some flooding of houses this morning.

French Village Diaries weather storms floods France hail midsummer
Not used to wearing wellies in June
The weather today is warm, overcast and damp underfoot but I was able to do some weeding in the potager, although the wet clay soil soon made walking difficult as it clung to my boots. As a bonus everything is growing well and I haven’t had to do too much watering, but as usual it seems the weeds are the happiest of all. Last week I was pottering in the potager with a glass of rosé wine, side shooting the tomatoes and being warmed by the evening sun and even at the weekend I took a late dip in the pool to cool down after my potager chores. I really do hope for an improvement in the weather so many more evenings can be spent outside. Summer is a special time for us, and being able to sit out in the garden watching the bats and gazing at the stars is part of what makes it so special.

The north and east of France is currently on orange alert, with warnings of violent storms and hail due later today and some of the Pyrenees is still on a red flood warning. I do hope if you or anyone you know are in any of the affected areas you stay safe and that all is well. More information on the current French weather can be found here.