Monday, November 7, 2011

Wintry weather

One of the things I really love about living in the South of France is there are no half measures with the weather. If it’s hot, it’s immensely hot, with clear blue skies and relentless sunshine for months on end. And when it rains, it doesn’t just drizzle or half heartedly shower here and there, it really comes down like the end of the world is nigh. We have had three days of relentless stair rod style rain, where the prospect of even stepping out of the door feels you with dread.

I remember reading once that Nice has as much rainfall annually as London. I pooh poohed this idea, especially when we lived in the UK, but now realise it's true. I just didn't grasp that it all falls in the space of about two weekends a year.

My grip on weather patterns causes much hilarity in our house. When I check the weather forecast, I always tap in 'Cannes' which is 35 minutes away, rather than 'Grasse' which is a mere 10 minute drive from our house, because the forecast for Cannes is always better. I call it keeping the glass half full. Handyman calls it delusional. Yet, nine times out of 10, I'm right.

I do like to dress up the facts. This is something I never did when working at The Sun, obviously, but when we left the UK, I made a poster for our leaving party which declared 'Au revoir Potters Bar, bienvenue Bar sur Loup.' I spent weeks smugly taking photos of my wellies outside the back door, queues of traffic in rain drenched Darkes Lane and Tallullah soaking wet after yet another weekend soaking in Northaw Great Wood to illustrate the Potters Bar end of the deal.

Contrast this with the pictures of the Gorges de Loup view from Mas St Michel, vistas of snow capped mountains, skiers enjoying a chocolat chaud in sunny Greolieres and wide open Atlantic beaches drenched in sunshine (ok, this pic was a touch wide of accuracy as Biarritz is not exactly the Riviera, although it is still technically the South of France, a mere six hour drive west) and funnily enough, not one partygoer asked why we were leaving, they merely asked if they could come too.

More than 800 people have been evacuated this weekend for fear of landslides, making our leak upstairs seem not very traumatic by comparison. The only sensible thing to do was stay in, light the candles, watch old movies and cook a huge roast chicken and bake lovely sugar free cookies and apple and pear crumble with my new natural sugar substitute Xylitol, which looks and tastes just like naughty refined white sugar and hence like it should be incredibly bad for you but is made from the bark of the birch tree so could almost be counted as one of your five a day. It's licence to eat all the stuff you usually feel guilty about.

We did try and venture out with the dogs to the Valmasque forest for a walk, but even they couldn't believe we were making them trek through six inch puddles in torrential storms. At one point, Tallulah stopped dead and refused to take one more step. Oscar stood beside her, piggy tail uncurled which always signifies despondency, shaking with cold. So the proposed ramble was cut short to 15 minutes and we all raced back to the car. They looked much happier once we got home and Oscar was able to settle down and watch David Attenborough in the warm.

The downside of such violent storms is not being able to go out for a run. I had to wait until today, when the warm sunshine finally returned, to put on my trainers. I did half an hour on the flat, and after a slothful summer am aiming to build up to three 40 minute runs a week. I let my iPod play on shuffle and ended up listening to great tunes that all had their own memories.

Calvin Harris’s Ready for the Weekend and Eric Prydz’s Pjanoo remind me of Sarah and I getting ready for a mad night clubbing at Le Palais in Cannes (the anticipation was actually better than the reality, which was hundreds of 17 year olds getting wasted on vodka and Red Bull to a soundtrack of pumping electro dance music...naturally we left them to it) The Ting Ting’s That’s Not My Name recalled the Parker and Kershaw clans having a pizza night chez nous and dancing round the house to the amusement of all the teens and Kings of Leon made me smile at the thought of zipping around Lake Maggiore in a speedboat, stopping at Stresa for prosecco and proper Italian ice cream.