The intense heat is gone and so are the grandsons

Finally rain. None for months, then a violent tropical storm lasting two days. It marked the end of high summer as clearly and distinctly as a clarion of trumpets. Afterwards the nights were cooler and the sun less fierce and it was easier to maintain one’s temper. We could begin to look forward again instead of merely enduring. The week before the storm burst the village had been stretched to its collective mental limit. You could see it on the exhausted faces of the waiters and in the traffic negotiating normally unfrequented side streets. You could hear it in the buzz of the packed outdoor restaurants on the village square,

Which country has hosted Eurovision the most?

The longest heatwave How did the recent heatwave compare with that of 1976? That year, the temperature peaked at 35.9˚C at Cheltenham on 3 July. This did not even break the UK temperature record at the time – 36.7˚C recorded in Northamptonshire on 9 August 1911. No recording from 1976 currently features on the list of Britain’s ten hottest recorded days. By contrast, in 2022 temperatures peaked at 40.3˚C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. – However, the 1976 heatwave was far more prolonged. Temperatures surpassed 90˚F (32.2˚C) somewhere in England on 15 consecutive days – a record which has never even nearly been surpassed. In 2022, temperatures exceeded 90˚F on just three

Portrait of the week: Record-breaking heat, a summer of strikes and a warning for snake-owners

Home In the contest for the leadership of the Conservative party, Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi were the first of the eight contenders to be eliminated, followed by Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch. After two televised debates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the frontrunners, refused to take part in a third, which was cancelled. The debates were bitter and accompanied by negative briefings. Lord Frost said he had ‘grave reservations’ about Penny Mordaunt, and had ‘had to ask the PM to move her on’ when she was his junior during Brexit negotiations. After parliament rose for the summer two names were to be put before party members in

Fact check: Is Sadiq Khan right about fires?

Will global warming condemn Britain to more fires? Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has been widely quoted this morning comparing recent fires around the capital to the Blitz. ‘Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the second world war,’ he said – climate change caused the heatwave which ‘led to the fires’. He added that he was dismayed that the Tory leadership contenders were not discussing this ‘elephant in the room.’ So is this right – or misleading? As so often, it’s a mixture. Khan is correct to say that the number of calls to London fire brigade was a record high: it received more

The heatwave cocktails that will keep you cool

You may have noticed it’s been a bit warm this week. There are few things the poorly insulated and generally un-airconditioned nation of Britain is less prepared for than the mercury screaming past the 30-degree mark. So really, the only sensible thing to do is park yourself in the shade with a big jug of water, some good company, and a cold cocktail. The following drinks are specially designed to beat the heat without being too much hassle to put together. They’re easy-going, refreshing, and none of them require a cocktail shaker – because, honestly, who can be bothered with that sort of thing just now? Cheers. Elderflower Rebujito In

What to drink when it’s hot

As temperatures soar and the will-to-live wanes, there is something that promises to get us through this unbearable heat.  No, it’s not a pair of Chanel espadrilles, or a Balenciaga beach ball. It’s something versatile, accessible and varied. When it’s this oppressively stuffy outside and in, the only real pleasure is to quench the unavoidable thirst. I’m talking about drinking — and I don’t just mean alcohol. Here are five cooling liquids which do that better than the rest:  Mango Lassi Lassis originated in India 1000 BC.  The drink is widely believed to have Ayurvedic healing properties and can calm both stomach and mind. A few sips of this tropical

A tale of many swimming pools

My two grandsons are staying with us here in Provence for a week. Roman soldier Catriona flew from Marseille to Stansted and back in a day to get them out. Oscar, aged 11, is a regular summer visitor and knows the ropes. Klynton, ten, is here for the first time. Klynton is what used to be described as ‘a bit slow’. At school he stays two years in the same class to everyone else’s one. He is a cheerful, polite lad with a phenomenal memory for football statistics. He can hardly dress himself but can tell you that last season Sadio Mané scored 11 goals with seven assists and is

How to survive a heatwave

Provence-Alpes-Côte D’Azur A burning ball appears over the brow of the hill at seven o’clock every morning and then you have roughly two hours to perform outdoor stuff such as shopping. After that you are roasted alive even sitting under a parasol with a hat on or swimming in a pool, and you flee indoors, closing the shutters, doors and windows behind you. The lizards hide; the birds go quiet. Yesterday I watched Reg, the friendly black carpenter bee who lives in a bamboo pole on the terrace, die from sheer exhaustion. For weeks he’s been terribly busy with the flowers and making love on the wing with a succession