We have just returned from our holidays in southern France. We spent two long weeks lazing at the poolside, escaping the blistering heat in the stony coolness of cathedrals and cloisters and with daily ice-creams. We walked through sleepy, dusty villages and in the evenings, when the air cooled just a fraction, we walked in the countryside watching leaping hares in the dusky fields and listening to the nightly owl calls accompanied by the constant music of the cicadas. We visited the bookshop town of Montolieu, buying maps and Le Petit Journal from the turn of the century, haltingly and blushingly speaking French. We lingered in the brocantes and bought thimble-sized glasses for winter drinks of sherry and port. We read all our holiday reading, ate croque monsieurs et frites at outdoor cafes and generally basked in the heat until... until that barely perceptible twinge, that pull, that siren call and then we were all looking forward to going back to Ireland. And yes, it's raining here and yes, the fire is lit and there's an autumn feeling to the air but we are home.