Lines of Cypress trees silhouetted against a pink sky, fields of golden sunflowers, ancient farmhouses with their shutters closed to keep them cool.
Those were the sights that made my heart sing as we drove south through France earlier this month. With London gearing up for the Olympics we decided to escape the mayhem and head across the Channel instead. Not surprisingly, the French were far more preoccupied with the Tour de France than London 2012. Even in the local épicerie people were talking about “le gentleman Wiggins” and his amazing triumph.
When we arrived at the House With No Name after the ten-hour drive south it was almost midnight. But it was definitely like coming home – even though there was a wilderness of weeds and the broadband was up the creek.
We weren’t totally sure if the loir in the attic was back in residence or not. My daughter says she heard scrabbling in the roof in the middle of the night but didn't know whether it was real or she was dreaming.
The most surprising thing of all, though, was seeing the sun for the first time in months. As we sat on the terrace on the first morning we all blinked in bewilderment, a bit like loirs coming out of hibernation after winter. My son, who’s spent most of the summer so far cycling in the Oxfordshire wind and rain, was so stunned that he went straight out and bought his first-ever pair of sunglasses.
Loir – a dormouse in French.