It wasn't quite Camp Granada but the feeling in the air was a little like the end of the song:
Wait a minute; it stopped hailing.Guys are swimming, guys are sailing.
Playing baseball, gee that's better.
Muddah, faddah, kindly disregard this letter!
And talking of Granada and very high temperatures [pause to allow you to admire that segue] I’ve just finished reading Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart, a book about living in the arid, mountainous region called the Alpujarras in southern Spain. A few months ago, I heard this this podcast interview with the author and started reading his books about Spain — the others are A Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society — in the wrong order. They are very funny.
I am fascinated by books about people giving it all up to live in a shack half-way up a mountain in the middle of nowhere. I think mostly I'm captivated by them because when I read about the deprivations, the enforced asceticism, the long winters and dry summers, I can't help feeling that I've actually had the experience; lived the life. And the more I read about it, the more I've experienced it and the less urge I have to ever actually contemplate doing it.
I have become an expert armchair shunner of city life. Reading Kenneth White's Lettres de Gourgounel, I vicariously spent a couple of years living alone in the Ardèche. Through Gerald Brenan's South from Granada, I paved the way for Stewart and his ilk, living the hermit’s life in an old farmhouse in Andalucia before the Second World War.
Inevitably, however, there comes a point in each book when I realise that rustication and the dry and dusty life are not for me. In Driving Over Lemons that point came with the following passage:
The host of creatures that had moved into the cane and brush ceiling of our bedroom began to breed and multiply, scuffling and skittering not six feet above our upturned and tremulously wakeful faces. As the heat of the night increased, the breeding and multiplying above us became even more frenzied , and soon, as the population soared out of control, we found ourselves spattered with larvae, maggots and other young deemed surplus to requirements. This was hardly conducive to a good night's rest.