It is the relentlessness that gets to you. Crowded out by heavy cloud and a cold wind, a bleak time, locked down. It signals failure that we have got to this. At times like this, thoughts go back to wide open spaces and naturally to tent walls. Like the time we camped in Berrias-et-Casteljau. The attraction of parking off in the middle of a wine farm appealed. All too soon, disappointment: how we were all so close to the others, their deep snores, like mine, in the morning heat, the compensation initially of sun hardly in short supply. Retreating to the river, a quick dip, like a warm bath. Dragonflies hovering just above the waterline, their only escape and insects dive bombing like teenagers at a pool party. We dry in an instant in the heat, seated in the breathless shade. In the end we were closed in sky high heat, the only recourse to travel for hours, air-conditioned luxury, taking in the countryside, listening to podcasts and some warnings of history. What it is to be well-informed about demagogues. In lighter mood, you plotted a scenic route out and we left early to journey east, wiser now about the heat and dust of the Ardeche, I suspect never to return.

© Rick Frame

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