Hello and welcome to the latest blog of The Olivia Rose Diaries on May 27th 2022.
Occasionally practical matters get in the way of our (mostly) carefree cruising life. Last week it was the tax office, this week it’s our teeth. Teeth – who’d have ’em!
I have been fortunate enough to need very little dental work for most of my life but now I am a few months the wrong side of sixty my teeth have decided it’s payback time. For whatever reason, and nothing to do with a lifelong addiction to chocolate, my teeth are now crumbling away and major work is required before an irritation turns into an emergency. It’s not just me. Michael, who has youth on his side in that he is still very much the right side of sixty, also needs work done, so we have no choice but to make the long journey of over 700 kilometres back to Le Shack where we are registered with a dentist and book ourselves in for several hours worth of torture.
In fact it was a relief to leave Olivia, not something I ever say apart from in a summer heatwave. May tends to be one of the best months of the year, but an usually warm spring has developed into an excessively hot one, with temperatures hovering around the 30 degrees, and even threatening to reach 35 degrees. We were moored up in the marina at Chatel Censoir with no natural shade which makes for uncomfortable living conditions on a steel boat. We have endured this in past summers but now we recognise the warning signs and jump ship before we lose the will to live.
Weather like this is a cause for concern. Across France at least ten departments are on alert for drought, and that figure will rise over the coming days. It has rained 35% less than last year so far and some regions are recording temperatures 10 -15 degrees higher than seasonal averages. If this continues water will become a scarce commodity and that will have implications for the canals and all those who use them, whether it be farmers drawing off water for their crops or boaters like ourselves trying not to run aground in shallow water or having to find new routes as canals are closed. We are bracing ourselves for disruption later this year, but there is always something that throws plans into disarray. In 2021 we had floods, this year it might be a lack of water – or something else altogether.
Rather than rushing down to Le Shack we now had the time to meander, breaking the journey by stopping off in the Auvergne volcano region in the hope of cooler mountain air, and by the Dordogne river in anticipation of our first swim of the year.
Arriving in the Dordogne the temperatures soared to 35 degrees and even in the shade we wilted. A major thunderstorm was forecast, one with gusts of up to 80 km/hour that would clear the air, with temperatures plummeting to what would feel a chilly 17 degrees by comparison the next morning. In fact the storm largely passed us by, with no more than a few rumbles overnight, but other regions in central and western France experienced hail stones the size of tennis balls that smashed windscreens and dented the roofs of more than a thousand cars. A staggering 6,000 lightening strikes were recorded in the Indre and Cher departments during the three hours that the storm was at its height and wind speeds of 107 km/hour were reported.
I enjoy a good thunderstorm, as long as I am under cover, but a storm of such magnitude under the flimsy roof of our van would have been a terrifying experience and so I was grateful we had escaped the brunt of it. When we woke the next morning it was indeed blessedly cooler, but with rain forecast for a few days, we’ve decided it is time to head back to Le Shack.
The blog next week will be a significant moment, the 100th blog since I wrote my first one back in March 2020. The last two years have been memorable, life-changing for so many people. An anniversary blog seems a good time to take stock, to look back at what happened, and let some of the most memorable pictures that we took during that time tell the story.
I hope you’ll join me next week.
Best wishes to you all.