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Hello Sunshine

Back from nine days in a notably chilly
south of France that
included a two-day excursion to an unusually brisk Barcelona,
I’m happy to find Britain
basking in sunshine.

In all our travels this year,
we’ve been dogged by unseasonal weather. 
Throughout our island this winter of recent memory has seemed
interminable.  Hoping to escape the
bone-chilling damp of these islands, we found ourselves in March wearing
sweaters in Florida and Arizona. 
In California
we were wearing parkas.  Last week, in Languedoc, as May gave
way to June, we lit fires to warm the house in which we stayed (after first shooing
off an adder huddling for warmth under the tarpaulin that covered the
woodpile). The vines on the dank slopes of the Rhone
Valley and the Cote d’Or of Burgundy are in leaf but
have yet to produce anything recognizable as grapes.  In Barcelona,
a cold wind whistled up the broad avenues, leaving the tables of the outdoor
cafes deserted. 

In July, we’ll be attending a
wedding in Sweden. “I’m taking my fur coat,” M says, only half joking. “Maybe
you should,” I said unhelpfully. 
“That’ll probably guarantee a heat-wave.”

I’ve no more idea what’s
happening to the weather than the next man. 
Is anything happening?  The
scientists are divided – differing not only about the causes, but about whether
there’s actually anything unusual going on at all.  I’ve read that the gulfstream, or whatever current
it is that normally warms our European shores, has moved father south, taking
our spring and summer weather with it.  That’s
a phenomenon I can comprehend, but nobody seems to know whether it’s a
permanent condition, or whether some time soon we can expect the stream to
swing back to its usual northerly trajectory.  Again, as an anonymous member of that vast ignorant
mass called humanity, I haven’t a clue.

Optimism must rule.  It’s unthinkable that Britain, not to mention the other
Atlantic-facing countries of Europe, must now
confront a new reality: that the calendar of the future will define only the two
seasons of winter and autumn.

Anyway, the sun is shining as I
write, the temperature pretty close to seasonal, and the garden presents a
picture of chocolate-box perfection.  And
if, for a couple of months, the sun continues to shine on those caper-sized
clusters in France,
they will be transformed, as they have been for centuries past, into bunches of
luscious grapes.

Meanwhile, Australia’s
cricket team has arrived in England
for an Ashes series, and the greengrocers have laid out the first cherries of
the summer.  

In short, there’s much to look forward to these next few
weeks.   Or perhaps the sun has gone to
my head.      


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