There is absolutely no question that some of our residents here in the foothills are stark, raving barmy.

Here's what I mean: One of our closest friends rides a bike. Nothing unusual about that except he starts off in the middle of the morning and rides for 26 miles at a time. Yep, he does it when it's 95 degrees outside - and furthermore enjoys it.

Then there's the lady down the street who's out walking her dog at noon. OK, so she carries a bottle of water and wears a big sun hat, but in my mind she's still bonkers. Can't she get up in the morning? I walk my dog at 6 a.m. and even then it's pretty warm by the time I get back.

I totally disagree with Noel Coward that "only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." I'm an Englishman and I can assure you that I do not.

It's tough enough in this heat to get Millie, my dog, to go out for a pee when the temperature is above 90 degrees - and she's an Australia cattle dog, bred for the heat.

There again, she's not mad.

During my years at work I have lived in a number of really hot places. Hong Kong (to which Mr. Coward's song refers), Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Borneo - all sweltering infernos where the sweat pours off you like a river for eight months a year.

Then there was Saudi Arabia. Let me tell you, the heat is like a blast furnace in that terrible place. If and when you ever venture out, the heat hits you like a solid wall. No wonder everyone wears dresses - you'd soon be dead wearing a jacket and tie.

And now I live in the foothills. At least we don't have the humidity of the Far East or the stifling heat of the Gulf, but it does get hot, especially in June.

July through September is hot, but during those months we are cooled by the monsoon - if and when it comes.

Well, this year I found the solution to the heat.

"Where can we cool off?" my darling wife asked.

"Where it's winter," I mumbled, envisioning my bank balance rapidly sinking before my eyes.

"Let's go there," darling wife said.

So we unpacked those winter clothes, darling wife shopped for snow boots (hard to find in the foothills in June) and we are off to Australia, including Tasmania, and New Zealand.

Oh, we'll be back in time for the monsoon, but while you've been frying, we'll have been freezing.

You see, only mad dogs go out in the midday sun. Englishmen do not.

E-mail Michael Matthews at