‘I can’t believe it rains in Bordeaux.’
These were the words I said to the baker on Sunday morning as I handed him two Euros for my loaf of sourdough.
‘It rains more here than in England,’ he replied.
‘C’est pas possible!’ I said pointing my loaf at him like it was a snubnosed machine gun. ‘I was told the sun shines all year round here. Like in the Costa Del Sol.’
‘Par un idiot!’ He waved his arms fiercely in the air. ‘In winter it rains here like it rains grapes at harvest time.’
Later back at my submarine sized flat, I ate six slices of sourdough toast in quick succession all heaped with a mountain of butter. I’ve recently stopped eating jam as my teeth are giving me a hard time. Same with sugar in coffee. Chocolate. Biscuits. Even bananas and apples I’ve canned.
I blame it all on the damp rainy weather, which always gives me sore teeth and aching joints. Some mornings I wake up and think I’m seventy, shuffling to the bathroom like a man twice my age.
On the farm in Queaux (you’re probably sick of me going on about the farm in Queaux, but bear with me a little longer) larking around all day swimming, cycling, running, making films, cooking, writing, fixing things, walking, I felt like I was twenty again.
Even here in Bordeaux in October when the weather was still hot and breezy and I was swimming in the Atlantic at weekends, I felt no more than thirty.
Now the rain and damp has set in, I feel like a forty year old again. Aching knees, sore teeth, ringing ears. I’ve even noticed a few grey hairs, which is the most crushing thing I’ve seen in years. Worse than Leeds Utd’s six-nil humiliation by Sheffield Wed last season.
Luckily the baker reminded me that the winters here are short. And that by the start of March the sun will be shining, the Sémillon flowing, the sea sparkling.
‘Just have a hot deep bath, a glass of malt whiskey and relax,’ he advised. ‘Throw yourself into Bordeaux. Feel it, breathe it, live it.’
I said I would. ‘I don’t have a bath yet,’ I added. ‘But I’ll certainly have a glass of whiskey. To keep out the chill.’
He nodded slowly.
I love bakers. Not just for their bread. But for their optimism and wisdom. Probably something to do with the early mornings and the yeast. Which he told me when I mentioned my aching knees, is good for the joints.
‘As is red wine,’ he then added.