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  1. Hallelujah! Yesterday I was awoken around 7a.m. by a loud crack followed by the sound of rain. The clouds had already begun to gather the previous day  and the air had subtly changed. But foolishly I had ignored the signs. Sheets , towels and duvet covers from our departing gite guests had been merrily blowing on the wshing line all night. Within a split second my hastily donned dressing gown was getting wetter by the second as I frantically unpegged my washing to take it safely indoors. The air felt strangely cool, and the fresh rain stirred up unwonted scents. For the first time in over six weeks the heatwave was on the back foot. And I suddenly remembered what it was like to manage washing in an English climate.

    We had a busy day ahead of us. There was a birthday to be celebrated and food to prepare for friends who were coming for supper.  We had bought some shellfish at Meze  on our return  from the coast and I was planning to cook a seafood stew. Meze is a small fishing port on The Etang de Thau, a vast inland sea which stretches from Agde to Sete. It is here, and more famously at its near neighbour Bouzigues, that many of France's oysters are produced, suspended by ropes from the vast 'tables' that extend across the water. Eschewing oysters, on this occasion  we bought mussels and clams (or 'palourdes' ) which were also raised in the étang.

     

    The Etang de Thau at Mèze.

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    It was good to get together with friends. We had been prepared for another sweltering evening, but it was pleasantly cool. By the time our friends left, the forest was pitch black and a tawny owl was calling . Normally, with its total lack of light pollution, this is is a perfect spot for star gazing. But last night  lingering clouds put paid to any sightings of 'The Perseillades.'  Perhaps tonight will offer us a better opportunity. I will report back in my next blog.