Some of you may have read about or seen on the news the appalling floods that hit my homeland of Cannes and its environs in the south of France at the beginning of this month. We were there; we had driven down the day before to spend a quiet week together, olive harvesting and writing. We arrived late on the Friday evening and woke to a sunny Saturday. I swam and pottered in the garden enjoying the autumn colours and the swelling fruits on the silvery trees. It was during dinner at about 9pm that it began to rain with cracks of distant thunder and flashes of lightning somewhere off in the distance.
‘Oh, I love storms,’ I cried. Little did I know what was to come.
It drew closer and the sky grew black. The force of the falling rain surprised and then begin to worry us. The rain slanting towards the front of the house from the direction of the sea began to creep in under the French doors. We ran to gather towels and bank its flow. Such downpours, when they come, last twenty minutes, perhaps half an hour at most and then they move on out to sea or just rain themselves out. This one didn’t. The water kept falling. We have a flat roof, such as those in Greece or north Africa, and we remained at the dinner table in the candlelight – that upper level of the house did not lose electric power so we weren’t at that stage aware of the severity of the event – listening to it drum and tap dance on the roof.
We were astonished. It kept up its force for over two hours. I went outside to confirm that the dogs in their stable were not freaked and found I could not reach them. Our olive farm is on a hillside overlooking the sea and the water was cascading down…