Leaving the restaurant at half ten, throats sore from an eight-way conversation in the middle of a Friday night crowd, past a drunk and angry man punching a wall like that might help, we find everything outside sparkling wet, even a few puddles on the ground. Rain at last.
It’s been seven dry weeks, which is nothing compared to properly arid places; but this is England, where seven dry days in a row is an event greeted with surprise.
Unprepared for the heat and dust, beset by biting flies, everyone is fractious and weary. On the scorching terraces outside airless pubs, recently ice-white skin flashes scarlet and crumpled, hastily-unearthed holiday wardrobes look out of place.
This time last year we spent a night in Death Valley, and even while I’m burning my hands on the steering wheel and stumbling downstairs in the middle of the night to lie on the cool kitchen floor, I remember the heat of that place. Desert heat like a punch in the face; every bone in your body knowing that you’ve ended up somewhere you aren’t meant to be. The urge to scuttle under the shade of the nearest pile of rocks against the likelihood that snakes have beaten you to it.
Checking in, the lady in reception told us politely but firmly not to mess with the air-conditioning unit, and we didn’t, even though it was like sleeping next to a bus. It may have been loud but it knocked twenty-five degrees off the temperature outside, and that was worth it. This week, I could do with one in my house, noisy or not. The rain lasted an hour.

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