For the last week I have been meaning to write up our Flanders visit, but local conditions have superseded even my impressions of the Menin Gate.
We are embroiled in a heatwave that is like nothing I have ever experienced.
I spoke to an organic grower colleague yesterday whose fields are in the Nicosia district. ‘Asproulla,’ he said. ‘The radio says 46C in Nicosia, but the temperature at my land right now is 55C…’ I could hear him shaking his head. ‘This is murder!’
Not only is it hot, we are having record humidity – regularly in the 80’s and 90’s. I look out of the kitchen window, across the valley to Kouklia, and down to the sea, and there is only grey haze.
Usually in the summer we have eight or ten days, spread out over three months, where life becomes uncomfortable. We head for the beach, we fan ourselves with our hands, mop our brows, and say ‘Phew! Can’t wait for this to end!’ But even on those days, some respite comes with darkness, and opening the house to air it at dawn traps cool air inside that lasts through midday. The massive walls of our house mean that careful management of windows and doors makes keeping it cooler than outside easily possible. Fans improve life, and sleep is seldom a problem.
Not these last few days. The downstairs -- where the bedrooms are -- stays cooler thanks to convection, but upstairs is like an oven. Midway up the staircase, the air gets thicker, the wooden steps underfoot become hot, and the fans, even at full power, just shift the hot wet air around. There is no 'cool' upstairs. The absence of sun makes the room bearable but not pleasant.
All this began on Saturday afternoon. We had spent the day in Troodos with some friends whose government job earns them the perk of a mountain house for a week in summer. After passing Platres that evening, Best Beloved stuck his hand out of the window. ‘Try this, Manamou,’ he said. ‘It’s like a furnace…’ So it has continued.
And when I went out this morning to water the plants? Only a dribble came from the mains tap. We have 800 litres in the tank, so I hope that the municipal workers fix the water pipe – whatever is wrong with it – soon.