‘Where has the summer gone?’ people all over central France, where we have been spending the last few weeks, keep asking. Many of those people, like my OH and myself, have come to this part of the world to get away from the dreary climate in other parts of the world (e.g., the U.K.) or, as in our case, from the stifling summer heat of Israel. Day after day the sky has been cloudy and grey, the rain has fallen, either as drizzle or in sudden showers, and the temperature has dropped to the extent that I often sit inside wrapped in a warm blanket to stave off the cold.

To make matters worse, the traditional ‘Polyglot Picnic,’ organised by a friend in order to bring French and English-speaking residents of the area together, was forced to come to a sudden end when a (predicted) downpour arrived. Since most of the participants were originally from the U.K. (I won’t say England, as some were from Wales and might take offence) and not unused to this kind of weather, we were wearing warm clothes and stout shoes, and were all equipped with umbrellas. As the picture shows, the brollies came out when the rain began. We tried to stay at our posts, but the weather soon became too much, even for us hardy souls, and a hasty — and slightly muddy — retreat was beaten. Still, the company was great, and we enjoyed meeting up with our friends. Those of us who were visiting from abroad shared tales of the intrepid endeavours we had to endure in order to get to our destination.

Meanwhile, other parts of the world suffer floods and fires, and the dreaded Covid 19 is on the rampage again, though that does not necessarily have anything to do with global warming. I have experienced heat waves in Israel before, but this year’s seems to be longer than those the past. Forest fires, too, are nothing new, but possibly their extent and ferocity has also been greater than in the past. I’ve been told that I had to be taken out of the film ‘Bambi’ as a child because I was screaming in terror at the sight of the forest fire and the devastation it caused. Not that that really proves anything.

But all in all or time in France has been very enjoyable. We have managed to take walks in the beautiful countryside, meet old and new friends, visit and eat at our favourite restaurants and generally enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Probably the fact that we do not watch TV while we’re away from our home in Israel contributes to our relaxed mood, though we do keep in touch with events there through the internet, and of course there’s always the family WhatsApp.

One of our last outings was to go with friends to a nearby restaurant with a stunning view and an admirable menu (and excellent service). Imagine my surprise when one of our party whipped out his cell-phone, took a photo of the bottle of wine we had ordered to accompany the meal, then checked it on an app on his phone that gave grades, prices and other details about wines. So now we know that in addition to having chosen a recommended wine we also paid well over the shelf price for it. But that is the way of restaurants all over the world, isn’t it? And what with all the ‘amuse bouches’ and extras accompanying the dessert, we certainly didn’t come away hungry. And that’s another (though not unique) feature of life in this part of France — the generosity and kindness of the people.