I knew precious little about mainland Europe when I lived in England. I travelled abroad regularly until 2010, nearly always on holiday and always during the summer months. I thought that hopping across the English Channel was like opening a doorway into a world of perpetual sun, sparkling sea and hot sand.
I visited Le Mans frequently in the eighties for their famous twenty-four-hour race. The weather was scorching during the day and pleasantly warm at night. I have fond memories of sprawling on a dusty grass bank at midnight to eat barbeque chicken and drink cheap red wine. We slept on the grass all night and woke to bright sun and more irresponsible revelry. The climate was so different from cold and damp Engish summers.