Sunday afternoon and it's hot enough to melt terracotta. Luis is upstairs taking a siesta, Biff is lying listlessly in his doughnut, with his latest cache of pilfered goods (one pair of flip flops, one chewed pencil and a tshirt belonging to Luis) and I am in the courtyard trying to revive the rhododendron and hydrangeas. But really, it is too hot to do anything. The last time I remember it being this hot (34 degrees) was during la canicule or heatwave of 2003.
While elderly Parisians were dropping to the ground like Ronaldo in search of a penalty, I was peddling my way around the Loire valley on an organised cycle tour, covering approximately 50km a day in blistering heat. It was the equivalent of cycling in a sauna for seven hours at a time and when you were fortunate enough to be going downhill, rather than enjoying a pleasant breeze, you were slapped in the face by a blast of hot air as if you'd just opened the door of a very hot oven.
Still, I look back fondly on that 'holiday'. It's the only time I've been able to eat M&M's for medicinal purposes (ie for the energy to cycle up a hill in the afternoon heat). Secondly, it was too hot to eat, so I returned to London having lost several kilos in weight, with taut thighs and glowing skin (the legacy of drinking around four 1.5 litre bottles of Evian a day.) For weight loss and skin tone, it was far more effective than lying around in a spa for a week fantasising about food. Some day I'd like to repeat the exercise. But not anytime soon.