Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coping with the canicule

We have been having a mini-canicule (heatwave) these last few days with temperatures pretty close to 40° c  (just over 100 fahrenheit if you prefer) which is great for a while but rapidly becomes a bit too tiring, so we’ve been looking for ways to cope.
Mrs B spends the day thinking of things she needs at the shops just so she can get in an air-conditioned car for a few minutes.
The children watch anything they can find on the television because we have a big fan in the lounge – efficient, but very noisy, so the television volume has to be pretty much on maximum which means the whole neighbourhood has to listen to continuous repeats of old episodes of friends.
I spend the day in a stupor because I need to go cycling at 6am before it gets blisteringly hot, so I’m exhausted by 8am.
But I still need to clean the pool ready for the holidaymakers staying here, who can do little except run up to the pool in the morning and jump in – then spend the day submerged up to the nose waiting for sunset.
I was amused to see that Bergerac airport isn’t coping much better: ‘the airconditioning has been repaired in the airport teminal…but the arrivals hall has no such luxuries, just a man walking around spraying cold water at people‘ (buggs car hire on facebook).
Passengers arriving in the Dordogne might be interested to know there is a better way of cooling down than waiting for someone to spray you with cold water – head for the caves!
We rushed off to see the prehistoric drawings of bison at Font de Gaume, where the caves are a constant 15°, and then spent as long as possible trying to think of obscure questions to ask the guide just to delay the moment when she threw us back out into the sunshine.
Luckily the government issue lots of good advice for coping with the heat. Most are obvious such as ‘wear light clothes’ and ‘drink a lot of water’.
They also suggest holding your head under water but don’t specify how often or for how long, so that sounds a bit risky given that the symptoms of overheating include a possibility of fainting.
Another suggestion is to open all doors and windows at night to let cooler air in. Unfortunately this also allows bats in, and if there is a single light on anywhere in the house every hornet within several kilometres will also fly in.
Sitting in the dark with bats whisking past our ears all evening is less fun than you might think, so we’re hoping the heatwave will soon be over.

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