Who doesn't love a chimney sweep?
A tongue in cheek look at Life in SW France from the editor
This was the first summer that my unheated, outdoor pool reached 32°C! What a summer we have had and now that it’s cooling down we can start thinking about autumnal days. I don’t know about you but, for me, this means a change of duvet, clothing and a swap from cold white to room temperature red wine, and salads to cassoulet. Not to mention a new delivery of wood and the quick-as-a-flash ramonage visit.
Chim chimmeny, chim chimmeny, chim chim charoo, there’s hardly time to even say it before they have the dust sheet out, the hoover shoved up the flue and the black grate is looking all shiny new again. EUR 65 later and I have a nice piece of paper showing that I have conformed. My dad would be proud, I am not sure I have ever truly conformed in my life!
Sadly, the pool will be closed soon but this year brought a new swimming partner. “His” four legs were an obvious aid to his speed and he seemed to like resting near the skimmers, basking in the sunshine, giving the occasional croak. As I save everything, except wasps, which have been caught out in their quest for a drink, he was carefully placed on the side after every swim. Sure enough, he returned every day. Moths, butterflies and bumble bees, as well as baby lizards, have all been rescued and laid on the side to recover from their near death experience. A gentle blow on their wings would help to dry them out and there was something deeply satisfying about seeing them fly off, not so when they flew straight back into the water! So I conducted an experiment and can confirm, for all those budding lifeguards next year, that if placed facing away from the pool, that’s the flight direction they tend to depart in. On the very hot days my poolside resembled the runway at Heathrow with all sorts of insects lined up for take-off!
This summer I also had my roof cleaned by a slightly dodgy looking chap who is now constantly arriving at my door asking if I want my hedges cutting, no, my drains cleared, err no, my pool cleaned, bye bye. Rather annoyingly he has taken to just sitting in his van and honking his horn. If I go out he shouts the questions at me. Non merci! Needless to say, no more work will be going his way.
Health wise and as part of life in SW France, it’s time to say goodbye to the daily anti-histamine. Am I the only one who was plagued by wasp nests all over the place this year? For the first time ever I was stung three times in one day. They actually chased me into the pool, fully clothed and flew around above me. Luckily I can swim underwater and I lost them. Those stings weren’t too bad but the next week another of the little blighters stung me again and it seems I was suddenly allergic. The doc opened up especially for me and prescribed steroids, anti-biotics, hydrocortisone and anti-histamine, as well as constant ice packs. Those cooling wine sleeves work really well I can tell you! I have honestly never felt anything quite like it. Someone told me that you only have to run a certain number of steps because they don’t stray that far from the nest – yeah, right, I don’t think so!
I eventually came up with “an ingenious solution” to tackling them which involved a pair of trousers, wellies, a black bag over my body, a long sleeved cardigan, gardening gloves, two cans of wasp spray (cowboy style) and a black bag over my head with tiny holes to see through. They must have been terrified but I got ‘em! Uhm, maybe I could market the get up? Keep your eye on the supermarket shelves next year for the High Noon Wasp Zapper Kit!
See you next time for more insights into life in SW France…
First published in the September/October issue of The Local Buzz