Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Suffering from Wind ....

I can only assume there is a website somewhere that says that this region is a hurricane zone because I regularly get asked whether the wind is a problem here.   The answer is not a simple yes or no.  But first, some background information (I’ve actually done some research for once!)

Apparently we get 4 types of wind here (no hurricanes), so in reverse order we begin with:

The Scirocco - This is the hot, dry wind that blows up from North Africa and deposits orange sand on your car.  This very rarely happens so is not a problem - apart from having to clean your car (which I regularly do once a year whether it is dirty or not…)

The Levant - A hot and very humid wind which blows in across the Mediterranean from the South-East.  Again, pretty rare and not a problem (unless you have hair that curls at the slightest trace of humidity …)

The Marin - Very similar to the Levant but this one is more likely to bring clouds and rain with it - and, again, gives me an instant unwanted perm.

The Tramontane - Yes, this is the one that everyone talks about.  Apparently it is ‘powerful, dry and cold and blows from the north or northwest’.  Gusts can reach over 100kmh.

So, the only wind we really need to talk about is the Tramontane, and in fact we are ‘suffering’ from it today as I write.  All it means is that I’ve had to thoroughly peg-down the washing on the line, take down the parasols, and I am making sure that the sun-lounger cushions don’t fly into the pool by regularly lying there to keep a close eye on things (a tough job but somebody has to do it!).  So it is by no means a huge problem, and it only ever lasts for a few days at most.  In fact I would say it is a good thing - we get spectacular sunsets with ‘spaceship’ style clouds, it keeps the skies clear and blue so we can enjoy our reputation as the sunniest region in France - and laundry dries within 5 minutes of being pegged out!

(Thank you to Gilly J-f for the photo)

Thursday, 18 June 2020

It's life - but not as we know it ...

It’s 3 months since France went into Lockdown and we are now in the early stages of ‘Deconfinement’.  I feel like a prisoner who, because of good behaviour, has been let out of solitary confinement and is now on ‘Day-Release’.  And I have been ‘Good’ and followed all the advice and government guidelines because (to quote a well-known song) ‘At first I was afraid, I was petrified’.  The idea that we were in danger of catching a lethal virus with no known cure and it wasn’t just a scary film scenario very much focuses the mind! 

The fact that I took it all so seriously at the beginning means that for me, not a lot has changed - except I no longer feel the urge to bake bread or tidy cupboards!   I’m still being very careful - wearing my mask any time I go into an enclosed space, not going to the shops unless I have to and just spending time with friends outside rather than in their houses.   Even though the restaurants are now open I have yet to visit (somehow the idea of being served by people in masks doesn’t appeal), I didn’t rush to the beach (because actually it rained for 3 days!), and I am resisting the urge to go to a big shopping centre.  I don’t even know what the exact rules and regulations are at the moment but it just seems to be a matter of continuing to be careful and basically just using your common sense. It doesn’t surprise me that it was a Frenchman (Voltaire) who said ‘Common sense is not so common’ as there didn’t seem to much of it in evidence in London on Monday when hordes of people were queuing outside Primark and the Nike Store.  Is a pair of £5 Lycra leggings (or a £400 pair of designer trainers) really worth risking your health for?  

My only ‘unnecessary’ outing was last Saturday when I decided that I very much needed to buy Geraniums for my terrace planters, so off I went to the local market.   And it was wonderful!  Not a lot different to the way it always is except they had created a sort of Entrance in one corner with a bottle of hand sanitiser on a table and most stall-holders were wearing masks (but kept taking them off to talk to the customers!).  On the way back to my car I spotted a friend sitting at a café table in the square, so I joined her for a coffee, and we sat in the sunshine, and watched the world go by, while we listened to the accordionist …. and I realised it wasn’t Geraniums that I had been missing - I just needed a ‘fix’ of ‘french-life’…