So proud of my children that they are doing with their children exactly that for which they were produced - cheap labour on hot days.

On the top Charlotte & Elliot having to load a field of hay onto a trailer so that Dad (who was almost certainly in the pool enjoying a Pimms when this was taken) can drive it 50 yards through the narrow field gate into their other field where the children can offload & spread it out for further drying before the tractor and baler come along and make the 100 odd bales at the pull of a lever.

This is one of the fields next to the house & garden & will I guess now be their small herd of sheep's favoured grazing place for the rest of the summer and into autumn. Think it's about time Dad changed the gate which is wide enough for a tractor but not with a baler. Last year they made the bales by hand stuffing the grass into barrels if I remember correctly and then tying them up with old bale twine - that was serious work.

Meanwhile in southern France just inland from all those wonderful sounding places like St Tropez, son J is beating his 5-yr-old up the side of a mountain looking down at their villa (gite) with pool somewhere below. He was allowed this 2-minute pause on the way to Lidl to stock up on the bottles of beer, wine, Pernod, charcoal, steaks & camembert. With the dust & heat there at the moment, you wouldn't want to get in a car as the air conditioning would barely get the chance to kick in. The child will only benefit from the weight in the rucksack giving him a straight back. Didn't make an empire with spineless people - they were the sort that lost us world influence David Cameron.

I know Brits, in general, get the cross, wooden peg & garlic out when one mentions the word "Federal" notably in connection to Europe. I suspect the majority don't have a clue what the word means nor believe that Merkel/Chancellor has less power in internal German politics than you could possibly imagine. I can personally recommend it. One tiny example is school holidays: In 1964, the 16 Sates signed the Hamburg Agreement on most aspects of education and this included that school holidays would be 63 workdays a year. Each state was responsible for deciding the actual dates with the exception that the 16 Home Office Ministers agree every year a staggered timetable for the summer hols. Traditionally they had been staggered to allow children to work on the farms in the busy harvest time. The harvest season naturally moves from North to South - one notices it especially with the grain combine harvesters which are almost always contractors and they can nicely move in that one direction week for week. Sadly old traditions are being replaced & children being treated with kid gloves, but the scheduling remains much as before. So while much of northern Germany is, like Ireland, in summer hols, Bavaria doesn't start until 27th July.

The system though has the great advantage that not only is the local tourism spread out but that Germany avoids the massive price hike that would occur if all foreign holidays took place in a set 6 week period. Bad news for the Brits I guess because there is a constant supply of fresh Germans to reserve the sun loungers around the pools of the Med from June to September. 

Last night the thunderstorms finally arrived after such a long period of heat - unusual in recent years but what I remember when I first came here 30 years ago. We got very little rain, my rainfall gadget saying just 5mm/m³ & no hail. Found it very pleasant with the window wide open & falling asleep to the lightning & light pitter-patter of raindrops.

Today has been a lot cooler at around 25°C but largely sunny & by evening still lots of people bathing at the lakes.

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