The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David
Keeping Your Cool
It looks like it's going to be a long hot summer and for many of us that spells heaven. But if you dread the heat, live in a hot house and don't have air conditioning try the following hot tips for keeping cool at home:
Turn it Off
The combined heat output of electrical items on standby in our house could cook a Victoria sponge. Turn the home entertainment system off at the mains, turn computers off unless you're using them. Think carefully about the hot water system. It's a heatwave, do you really need hot water? Can't you shower in cold? Can't you wash up in tepid water, using the kettle?
Go by Feel
Lights are another one. Unless you've already virtuously changed all your bulbs to long-life neon jobs which don't produce so much heat, turn all the lights off. They are the very fastest way to heat a house up. If you really can't see, why not give up, lie down and listen to a little cool jazz?
Give Up Cooking
This is the excuse you've been waiting for. Rather than heating the house up and exhausting yourself in the kitchen, get the blender out and make healthy smoothies with yoghurt and peaches for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch and tomatoes stuffed with tinned tuna and mayo for supper. If you really must cook, do it outside. Get the menfolk to do barbies, or think about a single portable electric ring that can be plugged in on the terrace. Don't even consider roasting, not when God has given us the French rotisserie in every supermarket in France!
Keep it Dark
Don't only close the windows, close the shutters too. If you don't have shutters, close the curtains. If they aren't very thick, hang huge bath towels over the windows. Anything to block out that sunlight beating on glass. Only ever open the windows if it is seriously cooler outside than in - usually only between midnight and dawn. And in the heat, either use serious mozzie warfare or keep the lights off when the windows are open. If you like the doors standing open, drape them with thick netting to keep the worst of the heat (and the mozzies) out.
Take the top off
Heat rises, so if you have a trap door or even a regular door leading up to the attic, think about opening it at strategic times of the day to let the hot air out. If you are lucky enough to have a door to a cold cellar, leave that ajar too and you'll get cool air from the cellar rising through the house pushing the hot air up into the attic.
Change your timetable. Get up early when the air is fresh and cool, it's lovely out there at 5am! Run the washing machine (cold water only of course), get the laundry hung out, do anything which requires physical effort and then eat lunch early. Aim to be lying down out of the sun by 12.30 or 1pm latest, and stay that way until at least 4pm. (Don't forget to set the alarm.) Sleep in the buff and sponge yourself with tepid water if you're really overheated. Have a cool shower when you get up.
Let it All Hang Out
Around the house, since you've already got the doors and shutters closed, go for the Full Monty and live in the nude! If you really can't bring yourself to do this, wear a strategic cotton sarong. If anyone catches a glimpse they'll only be jealous they didn't think of it first.
Tragically, coffee and alcohol aren't recommended for keeping you hydrated and cool. But everything else is good and you should keep drinking little and often all through the day. Chill your drinking water in the fridge with a sprig of fresh mint in it. Make fruit drinks and nibble at fruit sorbets.
Don't get hot under the collar. Stay calm and get yourself organised so that you don't have to rush around doing anything in a panic. Heatwaves don't last long, so enjoy this one. The rain will soon be back, so make a list of things to do on a rainy day. You'll find that most of the stuff on your "TO DO" list can safely be postponed.
If You Must Go Out
Go out early or late in the day. Walk in the shade. Wear a sunhat. Use an umbrella or a parasol. Slop the sunscreen on. Use sun block on your lips and the tips of your ears. Sunbath in the shade.
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