Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cast n'er a Clout...

till May is out, as agèd auntie Doris was wont to say. Well, since every day in April topped 175 degrees, George and I have felt the need to cast quite a few already.

I’m not very keen on heat. Sunshine’s terrific, but preferably with a chill in the air - you can swathe yourself in nice woolly clouts and sally forth for an energetic ramble, returning wonderfully invigorated and ready for a large dollop of Treacle Pud.

In hot summer, however, you must first lather yourself in sticky, smelly unguents to repel attack by horrid flying things and prevent the loss of quite useful layers of skin. When you finally drag your sweaty blobbedness back home, you are ready only to beg someone to pour ice cubes down your vest.

Admittedly, picnics in summer are more fun, because that’s the only time you can get other people to eat outside with you. And in France, everyone loves to eat outside in the summer. Last year we bought a chapiteau – a sort of tent-roof on poles, reminiscent of Camelot. We had a lot of jolly parties under it, but I can’t help thinking they would have been more agreeable if the wine hadn’t been gently simmering and the flies hadn’t been quite so numerous.

Apparently, we may be due for another hideous heatwave this year, like the constant 40C of 2003. We made desperate use of the riverette at the bottom of the garden that summer, specially when we had people to stay. We stuck a couple of old plastic chairs in the middle and sat in turns with a glass of rosé, cool water lapping at our nethers. And we got an inflatable boat for paddling round in hysterical circles. Bliss.

Looking at it now, I can't believe we voluntarily plunged into those festeringly muddy depths - who knows what lurked beneath and why no-one ever caught typhoid.

This year, I shall have all my frivolities down in the cellar.

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