As we’ve mentioned frequently in passing, the lack of rainfall over the last twelve months has been a real source of concern in the Mediterranean margin of France. In fact rainfall figures in this area have been declining for a number of years, presumably due to climate change. Over the last couple of months it’s been particularly frustrating to see the weather forecasts confidently predict rain for a several days ahead but, as the day of the forecast rainfall progressively approached, the predicted Heavy Rain faded to merely Rain and then Showers and, finally as the day arrived, all we actually had was a few unproductive cloud patches.
A reminder of the necessity of water and the ever present risk of fire are the frequent water cisterns found throughout the countryside for the fire brigade: all neatly labelled and located with the Commune and their number. Quietly, it seems they’ve been putting new ones in, in preparation for what could easily be an inflammatory summer.
One effect of the shortage of rain has been that the ground is still largely brown and sheep farmers have been concerned that there isn’t the fresh grass for the ewes and their lambs. Certainly the flock of sheep we saw the other day were struggling to find anything to eat.
Finally however in the last week we have had some precipitation. Nothing like the heavy snowfalls seen in the Alps but fairly heavy rain and very welcome. Here to commemorate it is a picture of rain in our swimming pool. It is actually very appropriate because if we don’t get enough rain the most obvious way of cutting the demand for water is to ban the refilling of swimming pools.
As a number of our visitors and contacts have observed, for people who spent years in Swansea lamenting the perpetual rain, to now wish that we had more of it is to have undergone an enormous mental shift. True, but there has been a refreshing novelty about seeing stormy seascapes and fiery sunsets.
With the weather turning wintry and the Christmas season over, the coast is enjoying a short-lived period of quietness. The seafront at Cannes normally, full of those anxious to see and be seen, has been almost deserted. Even the Carlton Hotel’s pier – in summer exclusively occupied by those who give the air of being unconcerned about any financial figure below a million – has been deserted and reclaimed by the gulls.
And finally on Thursday we celebrated an enormous victory. After three years of battling with Orange and every other telecommunications company in France we finally had fibre-optic installed. There is no exaggeration to say that the speeds of upload and download are now between fifty and even a hundred times faster than they were. On the old system it was perfectly possible to pick up the binoculars and do some birdwatching while a webpage loaded: not any more. What are we going to do with our spare time?