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Hooray – summer is over!
The L Word

Hooray – summer is over!

by Sarita RAO 4 min. 11.09.2021 From our online archive
Washout weather, shifting rules for travel, and power-ball hungry mice, have columnist Sarita Rao celebrating that summer is over
Fifty shades of grey sky this summer in Luxembourg
Fifty shades of grey sky this summer in Luxembourg
Photo credit: Photo: Shutterstock

I am delighted that summer is now officially over. What summer I hear you say, since Luxembourg’s soaring June temperatures gave way to a summer when the sky did an admirable two month-long impression of fifty shades of grey.

Honestly, who knew the rules?

I chose to stay in Luxembourg, rather than get on a plane to somewhere warmer, not least because the prospect of planning any trip felt more daunting than organising my own wedding.

The rules of entry to most countries changed on a weekly basis. I spent my time trying to work out if I needed to quarantine or not, if I needed a PCR test or if an antigen would do? Did it need to be 72 or 48 hours before the flight? Did I need to fill in that passenger locator form more- or less- than 24 hours before I got on the plane? Was it children aged more than two, more than six, or more than 12 years that needed a test?

What next? QR code tattoos before we can use the toilet on a flight?
What next? QR code tattoos before we can use the toilet on a flight?
Photo: LW Archives

And the QR codes to be generated, downloaded or printed. How many QR codes does it take to leave a country? Need to use the toilet on the plane? Have you got a QR code for that? Did you apply for it less than 24 hours before you boarded? Then it’s not valid and you’ll need to cross your legs for this journey.

The stress of getting out of Luxembourg and then getting back in, made me think it might just be better to stay put, except of course for those grey, grey skies and that rain, rain, rain.

Water, water, everywhere

I suppose I can count myself lucky that my home was spared any damage from the biblical floods that descended upon us in mid-July. Later that month on a weekend trip to Eupen in Belgium, the landlady at the Airbnb told me to “park anywhere”. When I got there, I realised what she meant. The tarmac had quite literally been ripped off the road, and lay in chunks on the pavement together with several very dented, mud-covered cars.

Park anywhere - everyone else has
Park anywhere - everyone else has
Photo: Anouk Antony

That same week I took my daughter and her friend to the lake near Burfelt’s viewing platform.  The edge of the lake had crept in quite a bit. Two steps in, and the friend disappeared.

So I spent half of July and August checking weather forecasts and rearranging plans for picnics or day trips. The other half I spent jealously trawling through Facebook posts of friends who had headed off armed with a million QR codes to sunnier climes in Greece, Spain, and Italy.

I gazed enviously at photos of cloudless blue skies, cocktails at sunset, and empty swimming pools. And more than once I wished that some of those friends had choked on that olive in their martini, forgot to put on suntan lotion, or got a fungal infection from something nasty lurking in that perfect pool.   

And then it just became too much to bear, so I booked a last-minute holiday.

Think "mice" before booking

Instinct told me that I should be suspicious of a holiday home still available for the last week of August - just three days before the last week of August. But hope springs eternal.

I drove my family 500km south to a spot by a lake, and what turned out to be an old, crumbling, country pile. Hopes of satellite TV, Wi-Fi connections and comfy bedrooms were dashed, when it  became apparent that creative writing had been used liberally in the marketing blurb (where quaint equals run down, Wi-Fi equals coat hanger, and charming wildlife equals a large family of mice sharing your living space and food).

Plastic lid is no match for French mice
Plastic lid is no match for French mice
Photo: Sarita Rao

That’s right. We drove all that way to bunk up with several mice. These were not country bumpkins, they had crack squad SAS training (and were probably equipped with parachutes and abseils). They were in every cupboard or drawer that could not be sealed.

They targeted anything left in the open. They ingeniously gnawed around the lid of a jar of Nutella leaving little footprints inside. They nibbled through coffee and tea bags, and absconded with every red power ball from the dishwasher tablets we’d brought with us. They brazenly dashed in front of the idle TV and did nightly dances on the living room carpets, presumably to the god of chocolate spread and cleaning agents.

We also brought the grey skies with us. The promise of afternoons spent by the lake, turned into endurance training as we dived into freezing cold water and huddled together in the one spot of sunshine we could find to dry off. There were of course plenty of cheery places to visit, including the museum dedicated to resistance fighters and the other one devoted to half-starving orphans.

Sun's out, but summer is dead to me

As soon as we arrived home to prepare for back to school, the grey skies instantly cleared and the sun shone ferociously, just in time to make wearing a mask in the classroom a tad less comfortable.

I will not miss summer one  bit. I will not miss the weekly disappointment that the weather forecasters were so wildly inaccurate. I will not miss the endless beach and poolside photos on my Facebook stream. And I will most definitely not miss the rodents.

Roll on autumn and Halloween, when there will probably be hailstones the size of golf balls and several metres of snow. That is the kind of year it’s been. In which case, roll on 2022.  

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