Occasional storms aside, it has been very hot and sunny down here for a very long time. This is good for holidaymakers, who expect nothing less, and less good for the garden, as many plants have long since abandoned all hope of rain and chosen instead to shrivel away and wait for winter.
While the holiday makers are bounding around outside in the sunshine and hopping in and out of the pool, I tend to sit inside with an industrial fan about 50 centimetres away from my face and turned on at full power. It does mean my hair looks a bit startling when someone knocks on the door wanting to borrow a cup of sugar but otherwise it works quite well.
Problem is, I do like to ride my bike every day – and by the time I’ve finished my ‘urgent tasks’ for the day, the temperature is well into the 30′s (around 90 degrees if you like ‘old money’ temperatures). So every day I put myself through the same torment – I set off cycling through the French countryside at about 2pm, full of energy and well prepared with two bottles of cold water.
Within half an hour I am wilting away and the water is hotter than a nice cup of tea. Within an hour or so I am about the colour of a radish and trying to shake the last drop of hot water from the bottles. Before the ride is over I have the delirious look of someone who has spent three days walking across the desert with only a cactus spine for sustainance.
I do usually take a snack along as well – one of Mrs B’s oaty biscuits works well for that extra birst of energy. Unfortunately eating with my mouth closed while cycling up a hill is not easy, so I can be an unpleasant sight for passing motorists as I gasp for breath and spit crumbs out all around me.
All this doesn’t matter too much when I’m out, since no one sees me (or at least no one I will ever see again). But arriving home is a different matter, and can be quite a scare for holidaymakers staying in our gites if they happen to see me arriving and amble over to say hello.
As soon as I stop (usually after 2-3 hours riding) and get off my bike I turn immediately very red, have rivers of sweat running down my face, and typically I’m also bent over gasping for breath. No-one has actually called an ambulance for me yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Should we put up warning signs that ‘Even if Mr B looks like someone in the terminal stages of a terrible tropical disease he’s really enjoying himself’?’
I know, the sensible answer is to cycle very early in the morning, but I don’t like to ‘enjoy myself’ until I’ve cleaned the pool, answered emails, sorted out 101 problems that arise every day across various websites etc. And the funny thing is, although I get very hot, and so weak that I usually pass the evening slipping in and out of a vegetative state, I can’t wait for the chance to do the same again the next day, and the day after…
…despite days like yesterday, when I think I’m doing a great job going up a hill – and someone younger, fitter and stronger goes sailing past me at about twice the speed I can even dream of.