Tag Archives: heat

Impromptu Livingroom in the South of France

So your wife has left you and your friend to look after the baby, but it’s a festival day in the South of France and you don’t want to be stuck inside the apartment. What do you do?

You pick up the sofa, a table, and some odds and ends and set up an impromptu livingroom at the edge of all the upcoming action. With the baby safely tucked into a pram, you can sit in the shade and watch the festival unfold.

 
ImpromptuLivingroomSouthOfFranceB&W
 

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Boxes, HEAT, & A Bit Of This & That

A bit of personal and non-travel related commentary today. And no, I didn’t drop off the face of the planet and all is well in our world. But we’re still wading through the boxes that were delivered from Australia via ship to England and then delivery truck here to France.

When we were ‘back home’ in Australia on our 7 and 1/2 acre rural property, we had a studio space/storage area in a separate building from our cottage. And that studio space was bigger than this entire small apartment in France!

Let’s just say we are a little challenged space-wise right now. So a second culling of our possessions is under way. And the apartment is a &*^%$£! disaster zone as a result. We sold off 99.99% of our furniture, donated or sold hundreds of books and movies, pared down the clothes, and then stored the rest (including Mark’s rather massive collection of tools!) for 20 months. 21 months later, they have all arrived and in spite of what we thought was a serious purge back in Oz, we have too much stuff.

I have thinned out the books and music cds and movies (again!) and am donating them to a Cancer Support France group here in the South of France that helps English speaking expats who have relocated to France deal with cancer issues. It’s probably a god-send for them to have such a group since I can honestly tell you that if French is not your native language, being ill in a foreign country can occasionally be a very unsettling experience. So this felt like just the right place to send all of these lovely books and media items.

Our other ‘challenge’ for the last few weeks has been the intense heat and staggering humidity — and it isn’t just here. Huge swathes of France have been on alert due to the high temperatures that soared upward and then stayed there. The last time that this kind of heat arrived in France was in the 2003 heatwave when almost 15,000 people died in France alone. This a country where fans are the norm for coping with summer, air conditioning is a rarity, and along with the many other French businesses that close down for a month, a large number of medical practitioners go on holiday for the month of August.

We’ve also been making a concerted effort to drink huge amounts of water every day to avoid dehydration or heat-exhaustion. Just walking those few blocks to the Saturday market this past weekend (with a hat on and smeared in sun block) saw me returning home dripping wet and weak at the knees from the heat. I was weak and nauseous for the entire rest of the day along with some other rather unpleasant symptoms.

And did I mention that I have been living in a sarong for most of the last 2 weeks? Other than unpacking and sorting, this has not been the most productive period I’ve had since arriving in St. Girons and it is all down to the nauseating heat which has left me, and tens of thousands of other people, feeling quite incapacitated.

I still have the last 2 slideshows to post from 2 weekends ago when the Autrefois was in St. Girons, but for now there may not be any new photo ops until I feel that it’s safe to walk around outside for more than half an hour without feeling like I am going to collapse. Don’t I wish for (and remember fondly!) the body-resiliency of my 20s and 30s — a physical state that I unfortunately no longer have.

Ah well — until the next time — stay cool wherever you are!

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Hot And Humid in Summertime France

Ah yes — another installment of our adventures in ex-pat lifestyles.

Each glass of water slides down easily. Adding half of a lemon is rather refreshing, but truthfully, a quick dip in a cold swimming pool wouldn’t go amiss right now.

Don’t believe that little weather widget on the right side column because it is NEVER completely accurate — but it’s the best I can do since Yahoo removed their weather widgets which were actually quite reliable. Even the MSN weather forecast is quite wrong with their humidity index because the air is like suspended water globules right now.

Record-breaking heat is nothing new to my readers in Australia, the USA, and parts of Europe. But I haven’t felt humidity like this in quite a few years and it’s bringing back hot-and-sticky memories of a childhood in the South of the USA and hot-and-sticky memories of living for 18 months in Brisbane, Australia to blend with my hot-and-sticky present in the South of France. Oh my!

No matter how large their big houses might be, no one we know has air conditioning and, with the exception of the larger grocery stores, it seems to be a rarity here. We all cope through a variety of methods that are interestingly ‘retro’ after years of freezing-then-boiling as I came in and out of buildings and cars in Australia.

Keeping the heat out is the first step so I keep both sets of shutters all but closed in the daytime. The heavy old timber shutters block a vast amount of heat and then the roller-blinds that are right outside the double-glazed windows add another layer of heat blockage. I actually brought the shutters up quite a bit for the picture below so that you could clearly see the two layers of shutters.
 

Double shutters help to keep the heat out in the South of France


 
Yes, the rooms stay darkish all day long, but that’s certainly better than the bright and blistering sunlight! And yes, I can cope with that tiny square of light from each window. There is even a roller shutter over the French door to the back garden balcony and I moderate the amount of light on each side of the building as the hours pass.
 

The bedroom stays especially cool with both sets of shutters all but closed.


 
I’ve made it into a bit of a game so I don’t find it overly tedious — trying to see just how cool I can keep it indoors so Mark has a refreshing home to walk into at the end of the day after he’s been out in the heat on whatever building site he’s working on. The fan may not be as ice-cold as an air conditioner, but it is my friend and that’s all I have to say about that.
 

It may not be air conditioning, but it moves the cool air around JUST enough!


 
My pretty new red shopping trolley is thus far getting NO USE whatsoever because it’s too bl%!@y hot to wheel it down the charming streets of St. Girons right now. Ah well — it will be waiting when I need it.
 

Bright red shopping trolley awaiting a cooler day for adventures in St. Girons


 
All in all, sarong-on-body and water-in-hand, I am managing just fine. And thanks for asking!

P.S. Just to add a frisson of ‘How’s that?’ from the heavens, as I was ready to post this, the skies darkened, a rather noisy and fast-moving thunderstorm rolled through, the sun came BACK out, and now the wet streets are steaming below my front window. (groan!)

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
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