Melting! is hot! Here we are at the mid point of the year & summer has arrived with a vengeance. We like, most of France, are having a canicule (heat wave) with temperatures into the 40s in some places at the moment. It is very unusual for us living at 750m to get temperatures so high, but this morning when I drove down to Sauxillanges (with Sylvie`s lid down, & hat on of course!) the outside temperature never got below 30c & the road was melting – at 10am! I spent most of yesterday in the deep shade of our trees relishing the slight breeze that was blowing & being very thankful I didn`t have to work. Geoff (who did have to work) said that Issoire was like a furnace yesterday & all the air con units were working overtime. I don`t think we have ever seen the land looking so dry & crispy this early in the year. Our farmer neighbour is already worrying about his cows as there is no grass for them. He is having to move them every day to try & let the fields recover a bit but as its only the start of the summer he is really unhappy. We have been having canicule public service warnings all week now telling us all to stay indoors & drink lots of water. As I rarely drink water (don`t like it) I am obviously doomed!! But I am staying in the shade all the time & drinking more fluid than normal so I`m half way there!

We have been making the most of the pre holiday time to swim in the lake most evenings before it gets busy. Our first swim of the year was on the 5th...quite early for us really. The water has been a bit chilly on occasions but it is so lovely to just be able to cool off & have a swim at the end of the day...& until last Sunday with virtually no-one else in the water. I love having that lake so nearby. It is a lovely setting & best of all its is free :) However I suspect the holiday makers will be arriving this weekend as the French school holidays start so we will have to make the most of it this week!

Despite having virtually no entries in the gite & B&B diary for June when we got back from the UK, we have had a steady stream of last minute B&B guests. In some ways I like these guests the most as they have usually made the decision to stay after looking at our entry in the tourist office brochure & we have always found them to be pleasant & appreciative. We started off with a visit from my old nursing friend & her husband who were having a very convoluted drive back to the UK after holidaying near Avignon. It was great to see them again & we took them to eat at the lake...not the most sophisticated of restaurants but they do a mean moules/frites a volonte there! We have had a series of international guests this month, starting with Liz & Alan from the UK & including 2 French couples (one who had come to eat at our local Michelin starred restaurant, La Bergerie), a couple from Luxemburg & finally a Dutch couple. And all of them were lovely people :)

We have had a few outings too. I met up with Linda in Clermont Ferrand one afternoon after I`d gone up for some art materials & we had a lovely coffee as usual at the McCafe there. They make coffee just the way we like it (weak & milky) & do lovely cakes too. I`m on the hunt for a new swimsuit & as usual am tearing my hair out. Why do the French makers think that all we large ladies want black swimsuits?? I saw some lovely ones (mind you they cost a fortune too) but as soon as I say what size I want...its black or nothing :( It was a good job I`d had a nice coffee that day or I might have lost it with the lack of choice. Note to manufacturers... we large ladies like to swim too...& in nice cossies!

Geoff & I met up with Linda`s family at Tots one day too for the official launch of her new book. Well actually we made it an excuse to eat cake & drink tea on her terrace really! And very nice cake it was too!

We also went down to Issoire for the Fete de Musique event on mid summer night (21st) which we always enjoy. We have learnt from past experiences & always book a table well in advance, at the pizzeria on the Boulevard, & so get a great table where we can watch all the fun & chat to friends passing by whilst eating. Its always a superb evening with free entertainment at most of the bars & the atmosphere is always good. It also gave us a chance to see the new pedestrian area around the Halle au Grain which has now been completed. It is lovely & will make a big difference to that area. Now that summer has officially started, Issoire is doing its Friday night walkabouts again, where most of the Boulevard is closed to traffic & there are stalls, music & outdoor events. So this new spot will really come into its own I think.

Our final outing of the month was this last weekend when we were invited for the annual BBQ chez our friends Julie & Jean-Luc, to celebrate JL`s birthday. It was a special birthday this year as he was celebrating his 60th so we took him a “box for the old person” full of jokey presents such as a straw hat, puzzle books etc, as he is also semi retiring & will have lots more time on his hands. As usual it was a fabulous afternoon eating all together under the huge lime tree & meeting up with all their family (including J & JL`s brand new granddaughter, Apolline) & friends. If ever you have a picture of a typical French family meal under the trees, this is it! We are always very pleased to be invited :)

It seems strange to think of our winter wood whilst we are sweltering here, but needs must! We had been getting a little concerned by the lack of response from our 85 yr old wood supplier – especially as our wood pile is non existent this year. Eventually though we tracked him down, only to discover that he was about to start treatment for oesophageal cancer & obviously wasn`t that well. He agreed to allowing Geoff to go down to his wood piles & load up the trailer & then he brought the wood up to us & we unloaded it. It was a good compromise & we now have a good supply of wood which will last out the winter I hope. It was a bit sad saying au revoir this year to Mr A though...we like him very much & we always have a joke with him when he leaves saying “a l`anee prochaine” to which he always answers “Si dieu veut” (If God is willing). This year he didn`t respond...very sad :(

So its the end of June. Its been a month of “recovery” after the excitement of the wedding, a month of meeting old friends & making new ones as some of our guests want to stay in touch, which is nice, a month of taking some summer bookings (at last!), a month of getting back into the swing of doing the DT cryptic crosswords again (courtesy of a great birthday present of a years subscription which enables me to print a puzzle each day) & now it is ending with a heat wave. Way to go!

Wonder what July has in store for us??

I know all that thank you Gerald! I used the translation "heat wave" as most of the people who read this are friends back in blighty & that explanation you have just given is much too complicated! We do have a true canicule here atm...& hopefully its due to end this week with the temps dipping to 17c at night at last. I personally detest having the shutters closed tight all day long so I am prepared to suffer a bit to have a little light & air in the house (even if its hot air). We spend too long in dark dullness during the long winters here. But thank you for the advice.

Canicule is not a translation of 'heat wave'. In the SW a canicule is when daytime temperatures hit 36 or over and night time temperatures do not fall below 21. The Anglo perception of a heat wave falls way below those temperatures. When a canicule exists there is a real danger of heat stroke and also death among the frail and very old. It is sensible to take steps to keep one's body head down at normal levels and to hydrate one's self with fluids, preferably water. It pays to keep the house cool by the judicious use of shutters, that is to say to keep the shutters closed all the time and only open them for two or three hours in the morning when the outside air is cooler than inside the house. During the day do not leave doors or windows open - keep the house banged up tight and you will keep it cool.

Thanks Fiona. I will have a look at that. Not very keen to buy stuff from the internet though as I like to try things on - sizes vary so much don`t they? Anyway...good news...I found a lovely turquoise the sales too, yesterday so am a happy bunny now :)

For a non-black larger size swimsuit you could try as they deliver to France at a reasonable rate. My most reçent swimsuit is bright red!