Just got back from a short break in France - we went with some friends to the Dordogne region to stay in their family place. The weather was hot, the food was beautiful and the Bergerac wine was good and cheap. I was intending to fill this blog with lake swimming, scent it with pine resin and wreath it in vines and sunflowers. Then this happened....
On the Friday night we had a pleasant meal in a local town square, then headed back to the house to beat the electrical storm that was gathering on the horizon. As we parked the car in the yard and made a run for the house it was raining heavily - within moments the rain had turned to hail.
The storm was violent and fast moving, smashing everything in its path. The power was off within minutes, so we hunkered down behind closed shutters for a bout of (slightly unhinged) Scrabble by candlelight. The following morning we woke up to smashed windows, puddles of water dripping through holes in the roof and a scene of devastation in the garden and surrounding countryside.
The brighter side of darkness was that Didier, the neighbour, turned out to be an absolute saint. He rustled up an electrician friend, who worked his way through the extremely cranky wiring system and had us powered up again by lunchtime. Not in time to stop the small lake spreading from the bottom of the freezer, but an admirable effort in extremely trying circumstances!
Then there was the arrival of the hot firemen! The local emergency plan had kicked in and squadrons of Sapeurs-pompiers turned up (in extremely cute outfits and very shiny helmets). They covered the smashed part of the roof in plastic sheeting and boarded up the broken windows.
*Warning - This video contains (not very muffled) expletives!
As the best French speaker in the group, I was immediately designated Officer in Charge of talking to everyone. It was an unexpected chance to brush up my emergency French - I can't remember studying 'The Day The Hailstorm Smashed The Roof Off Somebody Else's House', but it was in there somewhere. So to the good people of St Martin de Gurson who helped us in our hour of need "Merci beaucoup - vous étiez très gentils"
Meanwhile - back at the ranch, the builders have been smashing holes in the back of our house...
(but we did ask them to do it)