Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fine Tomorrow

Not much being done in the way of walking at present. I still have a foot injury - plantar fasciitis or heel spur, I'm not sure which.

And the weather has been a disincentive as well. During VBW and also while I was training for it, I had to ignore the weather and just get on with it. No such obligation now.

For over a month the secheresse, or drought, has been well and truly put to bed. We have not had two dry days to rub together. If there was a fine day, it was followed by one, or more likely several, wet ones. The forecast has been promising a run of sunny days, but always next week.

Monday was fine. Tuesday really boiled up, much to the pleasure of the 3 Australian young men staying next door. But the humidity (because the ground was so wet?) mounted to the point where we could have been in Singapore or Brisbane. Then the thunder and lightning struck - and continued to strike for the next 12 hours. And it brought the rain, which is with us still. It will be OK tomorrow ...

The photographs are some I managed to snatch during the rare sunny intervals. The first two are in Quillan, the others in Mirepoix

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Can Save The Life Of A Child

Yesterday Britain, together with several other countries and Bill Gates, clubbed together to raise 4 Billion dollars, pounds or euros, to ensure that children of desperately poor families in the Third World will get vaccines to protect them from diseases which are not known in our affluent society, and to save their lives.

Remember, we are talking about the lives of thousands of children who would otherwise never grow to adulthood. So it was particularly sickening to see vox pop on the BBC saying that this was a bad business -sending money overseas to save lives - and that charity should start at home. Even when home, even for the poorest people there, is immeasurably richer and healthier than for these poor kids who, if they survive, will be living in conditions worse than those experienced in Europe during the Dark Ages? I just hope the talking heads I saw were not representative of the general populace.

We can and should do more. And we don't need to wait for governments to do it for us. Do you know that today - and every day - 4,000 children will die because they drink dirty water. £2 a month from you will save one of those children.

I know times are hard, but they are not, and never will be, as hard as they are for these poor people. You could give up a pint of beer per month, or walk a little and save a couple of litres of petrol (and benefit your own health). Can you imagine what a buzz you will get from knowing that you have saved the life of a child?

WaterAid has one objective - to provide clean water to communities who otherwise never see any. You can find their website by clicking here

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Snakes On A Plain

I was out for a walk yesterday when I almost stepped on one of these. I didn't take the picture because I had forgotten to carry my camera. I borrowed the pic from here

I have a bit of a history of stepping on snakes, as various friends will testify. An adder in UK, an unidentified critter in Cyprus, I (almost) stepped on a copperhead in the Audubon National Park in Kentucky - Lorenzo caught my arm and halted my step just in time - and have had various adventures here in France. We have even had vipers in the house more than once and we now have an implement specially for picking them up and removing them to outdoors - the fly whisk just seems to make them angrier, I can't think why.

Fortunately this one, which slipped into the river and swam across as I watched, was a harmless grass snake - identified, after the event, by the lovely yellow band round its neck. And it was only a baby - nowhere near as big as this varmint.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Is Happening To The Weather?

The picture is of a dust storm during the Great Depression in America - reminiscent of "The Grapes of Wrath". Huge amounts of agricultural land in Oklahoma became a dust bowl and unusable, leading to starvation, appalling poverty and mass migration to California.

Is this what we are heading for? Here in France there have been pictures in the newspapers of farmers demonstrating their crops which are dying shortly after birth because of the lack of rain. In UK we hear it has been the warmest spring for donkey's years. Yesterday we had two emails from New Zealand saying that it had been the hottest May (autumn there) for 100 years. And one from Australia telling us that it has been the coldest May for 40 years. The wheat crop failed in Russia last year. There are fears the same is happening in Texas now. The tornado count in USA has dramatically increased this year.

Clearly weather patterns are changing all over the world. It is difficult to visualise what the future holds in this respect. Mass migration from one country or continent to another as new deserts form?

The good news, for us, is that, at last, after very little rain since the beginning of the year, we have had little else for the past few days. And the next few, it seems.