Usually the only conversation I have about the weather is when my next door neighbour comes out onto her balcony to fan herself and laugh at me catching the mid-day rays. This week I haven’t even set foot on the balcony as it has snowed. Proper thick snow. 30 centimetres of the stuff. Naturally the whole departement ground to a halt – the airport was closed, trains stopped running, the autoroute was blocked for hours and even the frontier border at Le Perthus was closed. Perpignan was a ‘ghost-town’ as none of the roads or pavements were fit to use and everybody stayed indoors. I had wanted to go for a walk to take some artistic photographs of snow-covered palm-trees but, having performed an Olympic-standard triple-salko on the corner of my street, decided to stay at home and watch the weather on the news.
What amused me most were all the complaints - Why don’t all villages have a ‘chasse-neige’ (snow-plough)? - Which schools are closed? – Who is in charge of the deneigement? (I love the way the French always have the perfect word for everything)! The English have a perfect right to be surprised by snow when it happens every winter and the whole country grinds to a halt because of a lack of grit. But this is the Mediterranean, famous for the sunny weather & mild climate. Snow-storms like this have not happened for over 30 years – and it really is a surprise!