This morning there was a disappointing grey sky with heavy clouds relentlessly rolling in from the west that, in a summer holiday sort of way, didn’t look especially promising.
Longvilliers is located in the Pays-de-Calais Department which is the coolest, wettest region of the country and that is a chance that you take when choosing this part of France for a vacation even in July and August. The main influence on the climate is the North Atlantic Ocean and whilst this keeps the area free from extremes of temperature it also makes it quite windy and wet and the flat-low lying terrain prevalent in the west of France allows these weather systems to blow far inland.
There was no sign of improvement after breakfast had been cleared away so Richard and I went to the supermarket with the girls because as it was their turn to cook tonight they wanted to select the ingredients for their planned meal. It was gloomy on the way to Montreuil and spitting with rain when we left the supermarket with the provisions that we needed but by the time we returned to the cottage there was a steady drenching rain that kept us confined to the house.
It was midday and we were certain there was time for improvement so we did the things that you have to do on holiday when bad weather forces you inside while waiting for any signs of a change.
We had a cup of tea, did a bit of tidying up and Sally and Molly had an early afternoon nap. Finally we had a beer and played cards for an hour as we watched the rain trickling down the window panes and slowly our earlier optimism began to drain away. At three o’clock we gave in to the inevitability of it all and resigned ourselves to a complete wash out. Sure now that we wouldn’t be driving anywhere today Richard and I opened another bottle of beer, Rachel and Molly did some crayoning and Sally read a book.
In the cottage next door the English family had had enough and about mid afternoon we saw them packing their bags into their car and they explained that they were fed up with the weather and they didn’t especially like their accommodation anyway so they were going home.
Later on it actually started to ease off, the nasty dark grey clouds gave way to light grey clouds and the rain changed to just a steady drizzle and so having had enough of being inside we found a garden umbrella and Richard and I went outside to drink our beer, Molly put her rain suit on and played in the garden without any concern at all about the weather and we all started to cheer up.
Although it was cool there were still some wasps around and one that was pestering Richard became agitated as he tried unsuccessfully to swat it and it carried out a lightening fast attack and stung him on his wrist and within seconds his arm was red and swollen and we were searching for the first aid kit. Richard went looking for revenge and after killing a couple then improved the wasp trap and watched enthusiastically as one by one they came by and fell in and drowned.
As the day went on the weather kept improving (it couldn’t get any worse) and by early evening the rain had stopped and we were able to take our walk through the village along the side of the Dordonne River which was flowing much faster tonight on account of all the rain. Camille spotted us and came to say hello and he promised us major improvement for the next day. ‘Soleil, soleil’ he kept saying and poking a finger towards the sky which we interpreted as tomorrow’s forecast for full sun and blue skies.
As it was the girl’s turn to cook we left them to it and sat in the garden where it was damp but it hadn’t rained for the last two hours and waited for a gastronomic delight. We knew that we were to get a repeat of last year’s offer of a couple of pasta dishes and based on that previous experience we did offer some advice on portion control but they took no notice and cooked two full packets of pasta and produced enough food to last for the rest of the week.
It really wasn’t fit to sit outside and eat so we were forced inside tonight but the cottage had a large farmhouse table and it was good fun to spend a long time over a big meal, enjoy real conversation with family without the interruption of a television and afterwards play some more cards, drink some more beer and progress slowly towards the final gin and tonics as the heavy rain returned outside.
And inside as well as it turned out because we had left the bedroom windows open and in our room the wind had blown the driving rain through the velux roof window and had completely soaked the room. There was a puddle on the floor and the bed linen was soaked right through as well as any clothes that had been left carelessly lying around. We had to clear all of that up of course before we could go to bed…
… and it was raining again.