The Israel trip - well, it was hot, but I've already said something about that. Apart from the heat, the distinguishing features were that a) the Sea of Galilee was at a dangerously low level following several years of low rainfall, and b) I have an extremely large number of relatives in my extended family. All of them lovely. And it was hot. I'll try not to mention that again.
(You'll have to watch an advert before the main report in this video clip, which is from May 2009.)
We spent a lot of time with the family, from the oldest (93 years) to the youngest (11 months).
We climbed the hill behind the kibbutz to see the archaeological dig that's going on, and which was the main reason for choosing to visit in July. Luckily it was cloudy at 6 a.m. when we set off, and the sun only came out when we'd finished at 8.30, otherwise - but I wasn't going to mention the heat again.
Despite the drought we did get to swim, although it's a long walk to get to the water. It's the only place that I ever go swimming; each time I get my swimsuit out I wonder if this time the moths have been at it while it's been in the drawer. We had a big family dinner in the restaurant, and a trip to a 'multi-sensory experience' at Beit She'an roman ruins. Otherwise we slept, ate, read, spent time with family and friends, sweated and showered.
The kibbutz is a magical place. I spent a year there as a volunteer in 1987-8, when I worked 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and I've never had as much free time before or since. Outside work I had no responsibilities, except perhaps occasionally sweeping the floor of my room. Laundry, cooking, washing up and cleaning is done for you, there's no shopping to do, the lake is on your doorstep, and when I was there the lake was full - after a sweaty shift in the kitchen, we just waded into the water without bothering to take our work clothes off.
Much has changed since those days, but the welcome we receive from friends and family is just as warm, and I hope to return before too long. But not in July.