Wednesday, 29 July 2020

A Subdued Summer

Normally, in July and August, every crossroads is covered in posters - concerts, lotto, exhibitions, more lotto, car boot sales, yet more lotto, petanque contests, and (of course) lotto.

Late evenings, walking the dogs across the fields, I would hear the thump of the bass from some distant music (tribute band or local DJ) or see the flash from far-away fireworks at the end of a three-day jamboree. But not this year.  The silence is astounding.  And down at the roundabout with the miniature barn in the middle there is one mournful poster advertising a Basque concert in the village that usually has an annual weekend fest of dance groups from around the world.  Our first summer here, not knowing any better, we wandered into said village during said weekend and met a young group of Chinese (dancers or acrobats probably from their build) who all wanted to be photographed with our old Airedales.  We, somewhat bemused, wondered what we had stumbled across.

We have guests, finally, in the cottage.  A Dutch family staying for a week.  The cottage has been stripped of extraneous content and cleaned and disinfected to within an inch of its life.  Our forty-page plus information pack has become their own personal copy, to take away at the end of their week, or to be destroyed.  The pack talks about restaurants to enjoy, villages to explore, museums and châteaux to visit.

Our guests want to know where they can go where they will meet no other people.  I enthusiastically suggest the tranquility of the canal towpath, its shade from the heat, the chance to see (maybe) tourist boats going by, a lock or two to pass.  It's only later, much later, I realise the irony of suggesting a walk along a canal as a great idea to a Dutch family!

The temperature is supposed to reach 40°C later this week but this morning it is grey and overcast - almost a chill in the air - and we leave the pool cover on.  Even the weather is subdued.