Thursday, 10 July 2014

Flaming June, Chilly Wet July

We warned our friends, and fretted before they came.

June is an untrustworthy month for a holiday. We've had the wood stove in the lounge burning on mid-summer's day before now.  "Bring a sweater and something water-proof", we said.

And the month was glorious. They swam in water the temperature of warm soup. They sun-bathed. We took them on the boat for a leisurely cruise to the nearest restaurant and lunched under the awning, glad of the shade.  In the evening light we leaned back to watch the aerial acrobatics of the swifts high above as we sat in the courtyard of our favourite crêperie. With the heat from the surrounding walls, the just-in-case-sweaters were not needed.

So they left content, their illusions intact that June in South West France is glorious.

July, on the other hand, everyone knows is reliable.  First of July, summer arrives.  At least, that's what the crowd of tourists in the small supermarket in Clairac on Sunday morning were trying to believe - all in their short shorts and gossamer-thin T-shirts.  As I stood in the queue (smugly wearing my heavy winter jeans, long socks underneath) I could see the goose-bumps on the bare thighs of the woman in front.

Tod lit the fire (in July!) to watch the Brazil / Germany match in comfort and then went to bed unable to bear any more after the fourth German goal.

At night, we lie in the dark listening to yet another thunderstorm rolling through and in the day snatch moments between showers when the washing goes on the line.

The garden in July has never looked so green (or so full of weeds).  The roses are still flowering, the veg patch bursting, the fruit trees laden, the water butts full and the watering cans unused.

I make apricot jam, do DIY, tidy my study. We visit Ikea in Bordeaux. The swimming pool cover stays firmly in place, the sun loungers stay folded.

The sunflowers and distant wheat fields glow against the grey-black of the banked up storm clouds overhead.

We're glad our friends chose to ignore our warnings and come in flaming June.


  1. Yes, it's catching everyone out, Sue. No thunderstorms up here in Normandy, but plenty of clouds and showers, with the sun valiantly trying to break through when it can. Winter woollies here too and stout shoes.

  2. Hello Perpetua, hope your weather improves - then perhaps we can both get the sandals out. :) The apricot jam I made used your French jam recipe - super rich flavour and not too sweet. Thank you for posting it.

    1. You're welcome, Sue. Glad you enjoyed it. The same recipe works well with other soft fruits, raspberry being particularly scrumptious. :-)

  3. So annoying when you can't get out to deal with the jungle developing under your eyes...but at leadst your friends had the best of the weather.
    I've used Perpetua's recipe well here where it is difficult to get a rolling boil.
    I'm glad I can comment of those Blogger/ Wordpress things, I suppose...

    1. Hi Helen, good to hear from you. I like the ease of Perpetua's recipe too. I somehow never quite get the moment when the jam is supposed to set quite right. I also prefer the French way of using less sugar. I'm going to try a plum fruit "cheese" next with no sugar at all! :)