July - from Drought to Drowning

What a month July has been! We have been very busy, have enjoyed the visit of our daughter, the Tour de France passing by & the Mondevelo coming to Issoire. We have not enjoyed the July weather though which has been absolutely awful. We have not been alone in this as most of France has suffered the worst July for years with temperatures more like those of autumn & so much rain that records have been broken in some places. It seems incredulous now to think that at the beginning of the month lots of France was suffering drought & water restrictions were in place. Now, all the farmers round here are complaining (farmers always complain don’t they?) that their crops are beginning to rot due to so much moisture. We also experienced one of the most dramatic storms I have ever seen with sheet lightening all around us, almost no thunder but such a deluge of rain that it actually came through the closed windows in the guest rooms. There were lots of trees blown down in the valley too. This is in high summer by the way! It was a bit scary really I have to say & I have no desire to have another storm like that.

The sad thing about this rotten weather is that lots of folk are on holiday now & for them it has been an almost total washout. Our first gite guests of this summer were a family of Italians who left Rome - where the temperatures were in the high 30s- to experience almost 2 weeks of rain & temps barely struggling to get into double figures some days. Fortunately they were very philosophical about it all & still managed to have a good holiday – lots of reading, relaxing & visits to inside attractions. When it was dry enough for the kids to get out into the garden they amused us greatly by sitting like a pair of old people watching the cows in the neighbouring field! Their Dad said they preferred to do that rather than watch TV! I suppose there aren’t that many cows in central Rome but it was funny to see them sitting there! Our second lot of gite visitors also took the rain in their stride & spent a week relaxing, walking a bit & reading lots & lots of books.

The chambre d`hotes has also been going almost non-stop all of the month. We are now very adept at getting the rooms done – well into the swing of things now! Geoff is close to achieving a gold star for his loo & shower cleaning activities! My only problem has been getting all the bedding dried. I still prefer it to dry outside but have had to resort to the tumble drier on several occasions this month. We have had some very interesting guests this month including two very keen cyclists & their families who came to take part in the Mondevelo event(the amateur cyclists chance to do a real stage of the Tour de France) which this year was a repeat of the Tour stage from Issoire to St Flour. The weather was dreadful for the race though with cold headwinds, rain & even hail on some of the summits. One of the guys gave up as he was so cold, his fingers couldn’t grip the handlebars properly which was making some of the descents treacherous as he was struggling to operate the brakes on his bike. The other guy did finish but said it was the toughest conditions he’d ever experienced for that race. This is in July remember…not December!

Talking of the real Tour de France, we enjoyed watching all the fun again…even if we did some of it in the rain! Our daughter, Hazel, came to stay with us in order to watch the race, since we had 2 stages close by. The stage which finished at Super Besse unfortunately was on a Saturday & so was not convenient as Saturdays in summer are very busy for us. However the stage the day after left Issoire at a good time for us to get to a suitable spot to watch all the craziness of the “caravanne” & the whoosh of the multicoloured peloton as it sped past. We had a very enjoyable morning enjoying the “buzz” which is the Tour de France once again & were able to wave our Union Jacks & yell encouragement for Cav (although I couldn’t swear that we actually identified him!) as the riders went by! Hazel was also lucky with the weather for her few days visit chez nous – she was able to sit in the garden soaking up a bit of rare sunshine. We all even managed our only 2 swims of the summer (so far) in the lake. The sun promptly disappeared when she departed!

Before the weather spoiled most of the outdoor fetes & activities here, I was asked if I’d like to take a stall at a local” craft fair” to try & sell some of my paintings & cards. As we had a mini lull in the B&B that weekend, I agreed & Geoff spent the week before making me some really good stands to exhibit the paintings. I was very proud of my stall – I hadn’t really appreciated just how many pictures I’d actually accumulated until I saw them all on display. The only problem was that it turned out not to be a “craft fair” after all – it was a Fete du Pain, & the folk who came were there to buy their bread & pizzas, not to buy watercolours! However we had a good day & I did sell one masterpiece! It also proved to me that I have enough stuff to do a stall now & so I will try & do some of the Christmas markets here in December.

And so now onto August which also looks like being very busy for us (good news!)Our new guests are already in the gite – they are here for a fortnight – & then we have a family of Americans arriving for a stay. With all this, & a lot of bookings for the B&B too, it looks like being our best summer yet here at Les Hirondelles. We only need the weather to improve now……. fingers crossed eh?

reading your weather report i thought you must be a near neighbour christine!
we moved to france in april and the weather has been, erm, interesting! it has pretty much rained for the whole of july… we had a proper tropical electical storm - last seen in thailand with sheet lightning and sheet rain - me, the husband and the dog sat on the balcony upstairs watching for over an house… no rain came in but the bats made a mad dash for cover…

my little b&b is open for business, but i couldn’t say we’re busy - i’m hoping it’s down to the fact we’ve new and my rubbish marketing skills and not the weather!

x teresa
La Maison Verdigris