SW France Weather August 2013 and a Conundrum

Wood pile ready for winter
Wood pile ready for winter

The weather post is late this month. This is because we have spent most of this week cutting and stacking four tonnes of oak wood for the winter. It is delivered in metre lengths and we cut each one into three so that it fits into our poêle (woodburner). It’s hard, repetitive work and doesn’t leave much time – or energy – for anything else. But it’s satisfying when you see the end result (above). As we worked at temperatures exceeding 33 C in the afternoons, it was a little difficult to imagine cosy evenings in front of the poêle but they will arrive soon enough.

By a coincidence, the day our wood arrived, the ramoneur (chimney sweep) phoned to see if we wanted his services this year. We did. He provides a certificate to the effect that he has done it – useful for insurance purposes in case of a fire to prove that we have kept our chimney swept.

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been in our corner of southwest France, based on the statistics we have kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar.

Weather assessment for August

Glow worm in the slabs by the pool - a common August sight
Glow worm in the slabs by the pool – a common August sight

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In August, we had:

Pluses – 24
Zeros – 6
Minuses – 1

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each August for the past 16 years (the line is the trend). This was one of the finer Augusts. Only three others have been better: 2012, 2009 and the blisteringly hot summer of 2003.

Proportion of pluses in August over 16 years
Proportion of pluses in August over 16 years


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. We would normally expect 62.6 mm of rain in August but had only 36.5 mm (58%) this year. It still rained on nine days (the average is around eight).

Rainfall year to date
Rainfall year to date

It has been very dry indeed for the past few weeks and we have watered more than at any time over the summer. Our lawn is brown and crisp: even the plantains don’t grow now. However, the total for the year to date is still well above the average at 698.5 mm compared with an average of 564.4. Hopefully, the aquifers filled up during the lousy winter, spring and early summer we had. There has to be some compensation for all that rain.

Now for the conundrum. What do you think these objects are? Suggestions below, please, and I will provide the correct answer next week.

Conundrum image 1
Conundrum image 1

Here’s another photo of similar objects in a different location.

Conundrum image 2
Conundrum image 2

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Your wood pile looks very healthy! Leaf is dreading cutting ours. With a wood-burning cooker, the pieces have to come in all sizes of small! Mind you, I love cooking on it and it does heat the water too.
    I thought they might be wasps of some sort.
    As for the weather, we’ve had a good summer in terms of sunshine, but with more storms to keep things green.


    • It was hard work cutting all that wood but, after 16 years, we have plenty of experience of cutting and stacking. We can get quite large logs into our wood-burner provided they are not too long.


  2. I know what they are as a determined set of potter wasps has been attempting to build them and fill them with paralysed spiders on top of Ben’s wardrobe AND UNDER OUR DUVET which we put, folded, onto the wardrobe during the summer…. silly wasps. I wouldn’t have given it away unless your previous commenter hadn’t said the answer- I feel we have an unfair advantage due to our slightly unenviable experiences with the potter wasps this summer!


  3. They are the nests (or hatcheries) of potter wasps, aren’t they?
    The good thing about a crisp brown lawn is that one doesn’t have to mow it. It has been raining hard all afternoon here in the Finistère, so I shall have to mow mine again!


    • That remains to be seen! I shall blog about it next week.

      The only advantage of the current sécheresse (which, by the way, broke today with several mm of rain) is that mowing is no longer necessary. In July and August, I still had to mow: the grass didn’t grow but the weeds did. Now, nothing does. We did need some rain. A number of our trees and shrubs were looking peaky.


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