Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer madness

french village diaries summer cycling Ile d'Oleron
Ile d'Oleron
We have had a mad few weeks that if I’m honest have seen me turn a little feral. Firstly the weather has been great with days and days of unbroken sunshine and high temperatures that had many (but not us) complaining about la canicule or heatwave. This last week, great became mad with the weather swinging from extreme heat and sun to violent storms, winds and rain and back again more times than I can remember. We were very lucky; with only a few short power outages and one tasty plum tree lost we can’t really complain at all, many others were not so fortunate.

We have used our time without Ed to really push the limits on our bikes and with the soaring temperatures many references have been made to us being mad. Ed loves his days out on the bikes too, but like any normal 12 year old he doesn’t want to spend every day cycling with his parents, so we have clocked up some kilometres without him. So far in the last two and half weeks, we have cycled 640km, an equivalent distance of London to Edinburgh or London to Paris and back again and have seen some really lovely places in this beautiful area. We have called it our ‘stay at home cyclation’, but time out on the bikes has meant certain things have slipped. Our ‘rest days’ at home have been spent catching up with the courgette cooking, baking and finding interesting things to do with the fruit and veggie harvests, which has left little time for housework, ironing or weeding. My normal attitude to housework could be described as ‘relaxed’ but has now descended to a whole new level of yukiness. The heat, the lack of visitors and the fact we haven’t really been here have all contributed to this. Sadly it is not just the house, as standards have slipped on a personal level too and I can’t remember the last time I used my hairdryer to ‘style’ my hair in the morning. The heat, the cycle helmet, the sweat and the pool water soon put pay to any natural bounce so it’s about as much as I can do to drag a brush through it first thing in the morning. I can honestly say I have spent more time and effort brushing the cat and dog than myself.
french village diaries Talmont sur Gironde summer cycling
Talmont sur Gironde

But there is a problem. Civilisation is calling; we can’t remain child free and feral forever. There will be social occasions and family get togethers to attend where my normal attire of next to nothing if we’re home or cycle lycra if we’re out won’t be acceptable. With the temperatures we’ve had I won’t be surprised to find the few bits of makeup I do own (untouched since my last return from UK) to be a melted mess at the bottom of a drawer. My toenails and fingernails haven’t seen a re-shape or polish in months and no amount of foundation can conceal the fact that my eyes and forehead have the milky complexion I was born with, as they have been shaded from the sun by the cycle helmet and sunglasses. My cheeks however are rosy and weathered and I look like a panda. Added to this is the fact I have the most glamorous sisters-in-law in the world means thoughts about what to wear keep troubling my mind. Despite being born in Chiswick, London and having spent many years commuting to work in the City, since moving to rural France I have definitely become the country relation. Removing ourselves from the UK has changed us and different things are important to us now, how we look and what we buy isn’t as important as time spent together. I hate to admit it, but lovely though it is to see friends and family it is always nice to get back to my comfortable French village life.