I hate to be a party pooper, but have you noticed how the shops are starting to discount the BBQs and bikinis? My mouth hung open in shock as I was confronted with a huge rail of floral swimwear at huge discount in my local department store. It can only mean one thing; winter is coming. I know that retail works a season ahead, so whilst the roses will bloom for a while longer, it was really the wake-up call that I needed to embrace the summer. It won’t be around forever.
I start counting the extra minutes of light on Boxing Day because I long for summer. Watching the garden for signs of life, buds, blooms and growth of any kind gives me that excited sense of hope that the dark days of winter are long behind us.
As the days lengthen and Easter passes, I somehow lose my way. Summer arrives and I’m stuck in waiting mode and before I know it the shops are full of school uniforms and my friends are showing me their newly purchased Autumn wellies.
Where am I’m going wrong? I treated myself to a picnic basket two years ago and I’ve yet to use it. I skip from ‘it’s too cold for a picnic’ right round to ‘it’s too cold for a picnic. Not this year. I am going to embrace Summer and this is how:
Grow Your Own Food
The longing to grow food has been with me for years. Summer is when most of the harvesting happens and picking your own is more popular than ever. I’m not a very seasoned gardener however this year, I took ownership of my very own growing plot at Winterbourne House. I had great plans, I still have great plans, but sadly all I’ve managed is a few strawberries. When I say I’ve managed some strawberries. I don’t think I’ll be getting the cream out any time soon. Look at these babies!
So, I may not be opening changing careers to an organic fruit producer? The fact is, I’ve had a go. I’ve dipped my toe and well, I’m going to try again, because that’s what it’s all about. Growing food forces you to embrace the seasons by immersing yourself in nature. Maybe some lettuce in a nice window box should be my next attempt?
If you’re far more successful at growing your own eats than me, then eating seasonally isn’t an issue. It’s ready, you pick it, you eat it. Those in the gardening hall of shame (guilty face) can join me in the queue at the farmers market. But, it’s not just about seasonal produce. In much the same way that we eat certain dishes at Christmas, Summer is no different. My summer’s are always filled with salad sandwiches with Heinz Salad Cream, Strawberries sprinkled with sugar and home made quiches. This year I’ve added two new additions to my summer repertoire that I know will be enjoyed for years to come. For family gatherings and BBQs, try my Bellini Pavlova – it’s a bit special but so worth it. My personal weekly treat, to both make and munch is the perfect Ciambella – not just for breakfasts, this baby can be sliced and served for snacks, afternoon teas and any left overs work wonderfully in the base on an English Trifle. Yum!
So maybe I have a bee in my bonnet about the picnic basket?. But, let me make this clear; I will use it, maybe I’ll use it this weekend. Yes, I think I will. Whilst my ‘alfresco dining on the go’ isn’t a picture of the perfect lifestyle blogger.
I’m quite the pro and enjoying a bit of garden eating. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, evening meals and that last cup of tea are all regularly enjoyed at my patio table. There is nothing more summery than eating amongst nature. I can’t get enough of it. Not only is it a much cooler way to dine, especially in this heatwave, it’s also a beautiful spot to dine.
Embrace Your Inner Child
Remember when summers were magical? The days lasted forever. The six-week holidays felt like a year and there was a magic and sense of freedom only rivalled by Christmas. Whilst I’m not suggesting enjoying the hottest days in your undies as so many little ones do. (Maybe this is the way to go?)\
This year I have been revisiting what summer means to me. Instagram kind of makes me feel to be a successful adult in summertime, I should be filling these sunshiney days with picturesque beach huts, creating floral masterpieces from my own garden and posing beautifully in the perfect sundress with trendy accessories. That’s all well and good and I hope I do get to indulge in at least one, just for my own sense of Insta-worth.
However, the summer of 2018 has seen a return of paddling pools, bike riding adventures and water fights. Yes, I said water fights. The paddling pool was Monty’s fault. Honest! You see, we have a pond. A pond that we inherited but we have no idea what to do with it and actually I’m kinda scared of the lovely frogs that live in there. I may buy their offspring special food, but this might be in the hope that they are dependent enough on me not to kill me. Like Stockholm syndrome, but I’m not sure which one of us is the hostage.
Anyway, this pond; it’s rather smelly and Montgomery (His name when he’s naughty) is rather fond of going in the pond to try and sniff the frogs and you know just lie in it like he’s some sort of garden hippo.
The Paddling Pool
So a paddling pool was purchased. I did choose one that looked quite close to my childhood paddling pool because there was nothing more exciting than my dad pulling the pool out the shed and hooking up the hose. My brothers and I would run up and down the garden in our swimming gear with sheer summertime excitement.
Fast-forward a few decades and Mr SV is something of a humbug in all matters of life, so I did both the pool filling and the running up and down in my swimming gear as the water slowly rose. It might only be six inches of water, but as a woman who doesn’t really holiday, it has been heaven. Monty loves it. (It was all for him, obviously.). He likes to wade about in it, chase his ball in it, lie in it and drink it. Everything a pup could want from his very own garden pool. Shame he still goes in the bloody pond. He now thinks every body of water is for the taking.
I love going in it to cool off at the end of these super-hot days. If I’m not in the mood for a full plunge, I’ll drag a deck chair to the edge and enjoy a paddle with a cold drink. The pool has also marked the return of water-fights. Mr SV will always willingly partake in a fight – be it snow, food or water, he is always first to arm and first to fall. You don’t challenge a middle child with two brothers to a water fight without regretting it. Monty joins in too, shaking his ball and barking with glee as we run up and down the garden laughing with water pistols.
Whilst a fish motif paddling pool might not be the height of Insta-fabulous – it certainly has made my summer so much more fun and I’m so into that.
Bike rides have been around for a year or two, but they are happening so much more. I spent a lot of my childhood riding around the country lanes of Co. Kildare and it feels just the same when I head into the lanes of Worcestershire with a packed lunch and an hour of sunshine. Bliss.
Love Your Outside Space
Whether you have a window box, a balcony, a favourite spot in a local park or a garden of any size. Taking ownership of your bit of outside space is brilliant way to help you embrace summer. I’m not talking about a show-stopping, sprinkle some money all over your garden type of love. I’m talking about caring for it and making it a space you want to be in. When all I had was a deep windowsill, I grew lavender so that I could open the window and enjoy the relaxing properties each evening. The window planter, which I still have now, was discarded in a skip and I wanted to fill it with nature.
For me, outside space is about nurturing. I enjoy watering the garden each evening, I enjoy buying affordable, small plants and watching them grow. I love picking colours and scents I want to be surrounded by.
A good friend of mine has no garden at all, but she has a spot in a park that she goes to everyday. Whilst the tending is taken care of for her. She picked out a beautiful picnic blanket that she always takes with her so it feel like her own little patch.
Summer is all about being outside for me and I know that life can become so busy that the seasons just skip past us in a blur. I really hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post and have been inspired to embrace the summer a little more before the leaves begin to turn.