Now that the temperature dial has reset itself to normal I am heading off to an altogether different climate.

At least I hope it will be different. Geoff assures me southern Brittany will be warm, quite possibly hot, so we’ll need to pack accordingly.

Never mind the packing: that’s always a last minute, panicky business. It’s being in France that’s obsessing me.

The pair of us have been on elastic between here and Italy for as long as I can remember. It fits us and we fit Italy. We’ve been to almost every region of the country, we speak the language, we love the food, we understand the way things work (or, too often, don’t work) and we love everything about being immersed in its infectiously lovable madness.

Now it’s time to break the habit. Geoff and I are digging deep into our memories to get the vestiges of our once passably good knowledge of the French language to bob up to the forefront of the heap in our brains marked ‘speaking foreign’ –  and we are going to bury our prejudices about French food.

The prejudices are based on a few unfortunate experiences when passing through France en route (just practising my French) to Italy. They’ve been hard to shake off, but we are ready and willing to give the food a jolly good chance to disprove our misgivings. Rich and creamy, drowned in sauces, loads of meat – all of that is anathema to Geoff and me, so we’ll be looking out for French food lite and I’m sure we’ll enjoy it.

Perhaps our main concern as we try and imagine ourselves in France is that, because it isn’t Italy, it’s out of our comfort zone. It’s different, it’s a challenge for us. It is therefore good for us. A sort of holiday with inbuilt effort.

We will be tested from the very start, as we’ll be staying in the annexe of a house whose owner warns us, in French, that his English is very poor.

I suspect that our conversation will initially be based around discussions about the pen of my aunt before we move seamlessly on to a brief discourse on the state of the Pont d’Avignon.

I might venture to impress him with my rendition of Frère Jacques and Geoff could break into Chansons d’Amour. I think Monsieur will be delighted by the entertainment.

If he even breathes the word Brexit I will fall into a dramatic faint. I cannot imagine the gloom that a discussion on that topic could cast over a holiday, so it won’t be tolerated. I must check before we get there how to say in French, “If you mention Brexit I’ll pass out. So don’t even think about it.”

I am also preparing a few choice words in my best franglais along the lines of “Je suis sorry but je have left mon beach body at home. In fact, je have jamais had one, being un petit peu sur le short side, but nous pouvons gloss over that.”

And then there’s the very important “Je suis hungry but if it’s tout de même with you I’ll pass on le horse meat and stick with une baguette, un kilo de fromage, et un unfeasible amount de vin.

“By the way, while je suis sur le sujet de food, je wouldn’t half mind un de votre best tartes au citron – et un grand one pour Monsieur Geoff. Merci beaucoup.”

I think we should get by with that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

A friend sent a plaintive message to me on Monday. “It’s too hot to eat, drink, sleep, or even think, and going outside is a thing of the past.”

Fancy that, in this country, in June, when so often the only flaming thing about the month is the flaming rain.

I should know. I once chose mid-June for a long-distance walk, only to suffer the wettest week that part of the country had known for a century, and some of the wildest winds ever recorded to drive the rain into my face.

Yet here we are, or here we were when I wrote this, gently melting into helplessness as the sun beats down mercilessly from a sky that looks as though a child has painted it with the only bright blue in its paintbox. Not a cloud in sight, scarcely a breath of wind, even the birdsong seems slightly dulled by the heat haze.

Doing anything more than the absolute minimum, actually even moving the odd limb, has to be planned and thought about so that energy can be conserved. Living in heat such as this is the very stuff of holidays, when merely watching the ice melt in drinks amounts to exercise.

But here, now, we must go about our daily lives. This means dressing accordingly, digging into the back of the wardrobe to give items of clothing their five-yearly airing, and exposing areas of body that don’t usually get out much.

Cars with cauldron-like interiors shock us until the aircon kicks in, only for us to be shocked again when we get out of that delightful cocoon into the stifling hot world.

It’s the reverse experience with buildings that have air-conditioning. The chill is sometimes so fierce and so penetrating that it’s almost a relief to escape for the few seconds it takes before the heat clamps down again.

Anywhere indoors has its own micro-climate of discomfort, if not airless then invariably noisy with the sound of whirring fans or aircon systems. Open windows let in occasional dozy insects but little air that can freshen or cool.

It isn’t surprising we find it difficult to cope with extremes of heat, or extremes of any kind of weather. We enjoy a temperate climate. We have weather in moderation, we have seasons, a bit of this, followed by a bit of that, sometimes a bit mad and mixed up, but usually clearly defined.

If anything extreme is inflicted upon us we flail about helplessly. In extreme cold the country is paralysed by icy roads and we shiver into a kind of paralysis. In extreme heat, the roads melt and so do we.

You don’t have to look far to see how others cope where we fail.

Up the road you have the Scandinavians who merely shrug on another patterned jumper in bad weather and go to one of their sunny islands in good weather.

Down the road, in the Mediterranean countries, they have perfected the art of taking it easy during the heat of summer, which is why we like to go there for our holidays so we can live like they do, turn native in fact.

In winter, when their ‘cold’ tends to equate to what we think of as ‘warm’ over here, they tie on a scarf and warm up their soups.

We might learn a lot from both the hot and the cold brigades, but is it worth it? We’ll be back to temperate normality faster than you can say “So that was our summer, I suppose.”

I realised we’d reached peak politics at Hill Towers when Geoff and I sat down for supper and I looked across the table expecting to see Laura Kuenssberg.

I need to get a life, I thought. I must turn my back on the 24/7 drip-drip newsfeed.

It’s not hard to understand how the BBC’s political editor has become so much a part of our daily lives: after all, she and her politically inclined colleagues on TV – and on radio – are as familiar to us nowadays as our own relatives. Just like family, I’d say, were it not for the fact that I can turn them off.

Meanwhile, their insistent presence means I have little chance to fantasise about how it must feel when the media world isn’t going demented and foaming at the mouth with newsflashes and convoluted statistics.

The post-election mayhem (forgive the unavoidable pun) caused us all to become political pundits as we unravelled the knotted threads on the cat’s cradle of governance. The words ‘Oh, but surely not . . .’ froze on our lips as one unbelievable denouement followed another, occasionally even overlapping to create the new phenomenon of The Great British Double Denouement.

It will pass, Geoff said sagely when I expressed alarm. He’s right, and it will, but there’ll be bumping and boring along the way. Especially the boring.

Some of the bumps come sugar-coated with a little hilarity, the reward for staying engaged with the unfolding events: Theresa May, for example, apparently admitting that she had resented and disliked having to repeat the phrase “strong and stable government” ad nauseam whenever she gave a pre-election speech or answered an interviewer. (Memo to self when I am in a similar position, for that day will surely come: do not slavishly follow the edicts of ‘advisers’. The world doesn’t end if there is a little drift off-message from time to time. Be brave! Be bold! Break free from the shackles of dull old convention!)

Not quite as hilarious but still a little troubling, was a shot of Boris Johnson wearing a fleece (as you do, in June) in fetching shades of lipstick pink and lavender. Trust Boris to provoke another of those ‘Oh. but surely not . . .’ moments.

Trust Diane Abbott to give us one, too, when she suffered what was presumed to be a tactical illness for the purposes of damage limitation to the Labour cause.

In truth, Diane Abbott, she of the mis-speaking and the unreliable memory, inadvertently leavened the whole election campaign, helping to make many of us feel that politicians really can be more human than the robotic autocue-readers we’ve been used to. (Memo to self when I am in a similar position, for that day will surely come: do not allow myself to be set up by bullying interviewers and remember that a smile, a shrug and a swift “I can’t remember but I’ll let you know later” would cut it with most viewers and listeners, especially if followed by “Hey, look at you, reading your questions from a crib sheet!”)

I suppose we might have known that when hustings include such candidates as Mr Fishfinger and the intergalactic space lord, Lord Buckethead, the outcome would be unorthodox. But this unorthodox? Trust Britain to go completely over the top. Now we just have to sit tight and hope we can cope with life on a new battlefield.

Everyone has a hobby, whether it’s running up mountains or watching reality shows on the telly. Somewhere in between those two extremes lie the sort of pastimes that normal mortals can get passionate about, such as jogging and swimming, for the active, or crosswords and Sudoku, for the more sedentary.

Generously placing Geoff in the category of normal mortal, I have to admit it is no great surprise that a lifelong interest in things that go vroom-vroom means his hobby is cars. In particular, classic cars. Not the gleaming, superbly restored glamour vehicles of ye olden dayes, with leather-strapped bonnets and a pedigree to make grown men faint, but something a bit more vroom-vroomish and nippy yet with enough age about it to qualify for the definition of classic.

The interest, or should I say the passion, developed into a longing, and the longing turned into an urgent need the second Geoff spotted a For Sale advert for the car of his more realistic (by which I mean affordable) dreams.

The need was duly met, and he became the owner of a modest, feisty, occasionally moody drain on his finances that causes him both anguish and joy. That sounds like me, for the description certainly fits, although I’m afraid the four-wheeled object of Geoff’s affections is also racy and beautiful. But, get this, she’s inclined to be unreliable.

The vision of Basil Fawlty taking a branch to thrash the hell out of his broken-down car comes to mind every time Geoff tells me of the latest cough-and-splutter debacle that Carlotta has indulged in or the latest requirement for a this or a that to ensure she remains roadworthy.

Once, memorably, the branch-thrashing vision happened 30 miles from home. We were out together for what had started as a beautiful drive but which turned into a silent, tense hour of breath-holding as Geoff nursed Carlotta home at snail’s pace while she hiccupped and disgraced herself and I sank into the passenger footwell, willing the tarmac to open up and swallow me.

In due course, Carlotta was sent to the breakers, no, no, sorry, I mean the hospital for clapped-out classics, where something horrifyingly expensive was done to her and she returned home all smugly and going like a dream again.

Geoff still can’t talk about that day, and we certainly don’t mention the cost of the miracle, but I understand that such incidents are not uncommon in the world in which we now find ourselves.

I remain braced for more, but in the meantime I really enjoy sharing Geoff’s hobby. We tootle happily all over the place, appreciating life in the slow lane and acknowledging the waves of fellow enthusiasts.

On Sunday there were plenty of waves from onlookers, too, when we completed the Hardy Country Classic Tour, which took in 75 miles of glorious countryside. It was the greatest treat to be supporting charity while also revelling in the delight of Dorset in bloom.

Over every hill and through every gateway nature’s many shades of green provided a background for a heady palette of early summer colours.

It was a good day on all levels – even the picnic I’d made for our lunch-stop got a thumbs-up from Geoff – and Carlotta made it there and back without so much as a splutter.

As Geoff frequently reminds me, classic-car owning is a hobby with built-in excitement and surprise. There’s no saying if the car will break down, throw a fit, go like a dream – or even start. You don’t get that sort of thrill with crosswords.

What a difference one letter can make. The calamitous power outage that brought such chaos to British Airways flights and caused untold misery to so many thousands of passengers over several days, can also be described, with the addition of just one letter, as a power outrage.

The incident, if such a trivial-sounding word can be applied to an event of such magnitude, caused exactly that: an outrage of such power and fury that it is hard to imagine how BA can ever rebuild its reputation.

What an outrage it has been. What an absolute scandal and disaster that British Airways, which we could happily rely upon to fly the nation’s pride confidently and competently across the skies, has come to this.

And yet it need not have done. OK, so the power outage brought flights to a standstill, but BA only had to tell its passengers (I bet they’re called customers) what was going on, or not going on, and everyone would have let a little sympathy mingle with their disappointment.

What happened instead? Utter chaos, confusion and outrage. And why? Because the company was too arrogant to communicate with its punters, choosing to leave them in the dark for hours, days, while hiding behind the great excuse of our age: “computer problems beyond our control”.

We’ve all suffered from those, or those of us who have technology in our lives and who have to rely on it to work.

As soon as we heard about the BA power outage, Geoff said it would have been because someone had pulled a plug out somewhere. No large company would ever admit to that, I’m sure, but it happens.

I once worked with a young chap who decided to turn off what he thought was a heater. He was hot and the room seemed airless. He flicked the switch of the offending machine and returned to his desk.

Within seconds the entire production of a newspaper was halted as computer screens blanked out and the office fell eerily quiet.

My colleague had turned off not a heater, as he’d thought, but the server that was powering everyone’s computers.

He had no idea that his action had been the cause of the shutdown and it took the office Darren (IT chaps were always called Darren then) the whole afternoon to track down the problem.

BA must have loads of Darrens. More to the point, it must also, surely, have loads of highly paid public relations advisors and spokesmen. Big, big fail on their part.

Who would muster enough confidence now to book a flight with such a flaky outfit as BA? Someone, somewhere, has some serious brand-building to do, but that’s unlikely to be achieved by dressing a baffled CEO in a high-viz jacket and standing him in an office to give a statement.

It is hard to accept that ‘our’ British Airways, in its heyday described by its marketing department as ‘the world’s favourite airline’, is so terribly tarnished by this outrage. I’m taking it slightly personally, since I am related to the company: my niece is married to a BA pilot.

Well, he was working for them. Perhaps, now, like us, he’s feeling outraged by the handling of the outage and is thinking of pulling the plug on his employers.

Sometimes I have a weird, out-of-body experience that tips me off my axis into a parallel world. It happens when I find myself in unfamiliar territory thinking the sort of thoughts that don’t normally come to mind.

I had one of these weird moments this week when Geoff and I were walking up the unfeasibly grand steps to an unfeasibly grand house. We were so far, so very far, out of our normal milieu, that I couldn’t help remarking to Geoff that we could fit the whole of Hill Towers into the area taken up by the steps.

And then we entered the house. Yes, it was a parallel universe indeed, a place of great beauty, of achingly good taste and enormous proportions. Even the hall table was larger than any dining table I’ve ever sat at.

It was the sort of house to get lost in, to find a space for oneself, a room where no-one would think of looking, so that curling up with a book and undisturbed for ages was entirely possible.

There was so much space and the whole scale so enormous that there were even some areas that contained nothing. Imagine that! Not a single thing had been placed in these few square metres of blankness. No clutter had accumulated. No-one had seen fit to plonk something down because it needed somewhere to go or because there was a space so inviting it just had to be filled.

It was space by design. Clever that, I thought, and how very pleasing it is on the eye.

I think that’s the difference: a vast house has space for . . . well, space. And very lovely it looks. Normal mortals’ homes, such as Hill Towers, have not a square millimetre that isn’t cluttered and clamouring for breathing space.

The parallel universe of grand houses, the kind of Honey I Shrunk the Kids syndrome, is evident in most National Trust properties, when staircases and corridors reveal room after room that once would have been home for a family and its servants.

I love them for the social history they tell us. The kitchens are always fascinating and cause me to give thanks that my cooking tribulations are now, in the 21st century, and not in the days of intense physical labour over a hot stove or a butter churn.

I like to see the children’s toys, too, and speculate about whether a well-worn rocking horse fired a passion in any of its little riders enough to give them hours of pleasure in a real saddle as they grew older.

Recently, Geoff and I visited a National Trust house whose 50-plus rooms had last been lived in by the erstwhile owners 70 years ago. Among the many intriguing artefacts on show was a typewriter, one of the clackety-clack sit-up-and-beg sort that required a straight back and well-positioned hands to operate. The first newsroom I worked in had one, in a dark corner, as though it had been forgotten in a clear-out.

Behind it, her crone-like hands poised over the keys, sat Phyllis, a woman of about 80 who always wore a brown ensemble, a shapeless hat pulled over her eyes and a cigarette balanced on her lip, somewhat in the style of Andy Capp.

I never knew what she wrote because I was too scared to ask, but seeing that old typewriter again brought her back to mind.

It’s hard to believe Phyllis was a real person, so perhaps I should think of her as my first other-worldly experience.

It was decent of it to rain so soon after I’d achieved a load of planting in the garden last weekend. I carefully watered in the cosmos and the salvia, some herbs and a cheerful marguerite, and then the rain, so long absent, came along and topped up the water supply to these welcome newborns.

But then the clouds didn’t seem to know when they’d done enough. They carried on emptying their loads down on to us, not thinking for a minute that enough was enough. Pace yourselves, clouds! Just a little, please, and then leave us alone for a couple of days until we welcome you back again.

The trouble is, our weather doesn’t do much in moderation. It gives us a just about acceptable temperature throughout the seasons – though a few degrees warmer wouldn’t be a bad idea sometimes – but it doesn’t seem to have a ‘that’ll do very nicely, thank you’ switch for us to access.

As a consequence, from time to time we suffer from droughts, floods, wild, wild winds, frozen rivers and sunburnt livestock (not to mention humans). It’s all so extreme, when all we ask is a little moderation for our gardens – and for ourselves.

As far as our garden is concerned, any watering that’s required and that the clouds fail to show up to do for us, gets done either by Geoff or by me. In other words, it isn’t what Philip May might call a girl job or a boy job. I can’t think what is at Hill Towers, to be honest, although like Philip and Theresa’s household I guess various tasks habitually fall to one or other of us, simply in the interests of fair distribution of labour.

Things have certainly become a lot fairer around here since Geoff stopped being terrified of the iron and what damage he might do with it, and since we worked through some of his ingrained aversion to being at large in the kitchen. He irons! He cooks! (Admittedly not much of either, but from baby steps we have achieved giant strides and I do believe he feels almost as proud as I do. He’s a long way off self-sufficiency, but we are getting there.)

With our gardens thoroughly well watered this week – OK clouds, again, that is enough, do please push off – we can enjoy watching broadcasts from Chelsea Flower Show without feeling we should be outside doing a rain dance.

I’ve only been to the show once in person and while I loved it and was thrilled to be there, I found that the difficulty in moving around and actually seeing anything was severely hampered by huge crowds.

For that reason, and of course for the bother of getting there and back, I choose to stay in the comfort of my own home and watch Chelsea on the telly with Monty Don and Co.

And if I sometimes have to turn up the volume to hear them above the sound of the rain drumming on the roof, then so much the better. It has to be one of the rare occasions when a gardener can experience a little frisson of smugness.

I certainly don’t get that smug feeling very often where gardening is concerned. I might get an appreciative pat on the back sometimes for the herbs that I grow, and I am also partial to a spot of praise for the compost, which, though I say it myself, is textbook stuff.

But that’s it on my Scale of Smugability: herbs and compost. Must do better. Help me, Monty!