Sunday 26 August 2018

Holding on to Summer

The long, hot, sunny days are behind us now, and predictably we are experiencing some mixed weather as we head into late summer. 
We've had the best time this year and I'm grateful to have had the chance to enjoy some wonderful days outside, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air with Lily.
Last week, rather spontaneously and most unlike me, I arranged for us to spend a few days away on the South coast. The weather here had turned much cooler, we didn't have any plans and the opportunity of being able to capture some extra summer sun was too good to miss.

So it was on Monday morning we found ourselves making the long journey south towards Kent, and I'm so glad we did. The weather was glorious, we spent a lot of our time at the beach, treated ourselves to fish and chips, enjoyed a bike ride and it also gave us  the chance to catch up with family we hadn't seen in a while. We visited the lovely little seaside towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay, walked along the shore to Reculver, and spent some time in Canterbury. (In future I must remember to check Lily hasn't sneakily put pebbles in the back pack after a day on the beach. I thought it seemed heavier than usual!) The shingle beaches took a bit of getting used to, but the fresh sea air was just the same.

Watching the sun set on our final evening, I realised that it had probably been the last week of warm sunny days, for us at least. Since our return home, there is an unmistakable change of the seasons in the air (we even drove through hail on our journey back!) and as I write this it is damp and grey outside. Next week will see a return to school and work, but before then I have name labels to sew into uniform and an earlier bedtime routine to establish.
J. X

Saturday 18 August 2018

August Days

Once again August is upon us in the blink of an eye. Around here some subtle hints of autumn are beginning to creep in, along with some blustery winds and wetter weather. The garden is looking a bit worse for wear and the grass which has barely needed cutting over the last few months has suddenly shot up. This week our days at the beach have been exchanged for walks through the fields and the woods, and instead of summer footwear we find ourselves in need of our boots.

I've recently had a little look back through some earlier blog posts and have noticed a gentle repetitiveness to our lives. The rhythm of the seasons, days out, general day to day happenings. In ever changing times I find this pattern very grounding and reassuring.
The hours of daylight are getting shorter and I find I'm closing the blinds earlier each evening. There is no escaping the fact that the year is marching on and the colder days will soon be upon us. We are already looking ahead to the start of the new school year, with the purchase of new uniform and during the next two weeks there will be appointments for a hair cut and shoe fitting.

For us, the middle of August is usually when the blackberries begin to ripen in the hedgerows. I can't decide if there are more than usual this year, or if it's just because I know exactly where to look for the best ones. Last Thursday morning I went out with the intention of collecting just enough to make some blackberry vodka, but as there was such an abundance within easy reach, I gathered a few more and made some extra pots of jam using the same recipe as for my raspberry jam.
In the last few years the flavoured vodka has become a firm favourite and is so easy to make.

For the Blackberry vodka you will need...

A 70cl bottle of vodka
Approx 300g of blackberries
3 rounded tablespoons of sugar
10 cloves
1 cinnamon stick broken in half

Rinse the blackberries and put in a large air tight glass jar with the sugar, cloves and cinnamon stick.
Pour over the vodka, close the lid and shake gently until the sugar is dissolved.
Keep the jar stored in a cool dark place and give it a gentle shake every few days.
After around twelve weeks strain through a muslin, bottle and enjoy.

It's delicious served up after cold winter walks when cosying up and warming your toes in front of the fire.
J. X

Sunday 12 August 2018

On the Beach

If there's one thing that really makes the summer for me then it's time spent at the beach. Long, lazy days, the warmth of the sun, and a gentle sea breeze. The soft scent of sun cream, sand between my toes, the time to relax and unwind.
At this time of year we spend a lot of our time at the beach. Our bag and picnic rug are always at the ready for a sunny day, and fortunately we have enjoyed so many of those recently. Just a picnic to throw together, grab the bucket and spade and we are out of the door.

There is something so soothing that comes from sitting on the sand, watching the waves and breathing in the salty sea air. And Lily is happy to while away her time pootling about on the beach, making sandcastles, collecting shells and poking around in rock pools. Some days we make sandcastles and sometimes sandpizzas with shells, pebbles and seaweed as toppings.
A paddle in the sea and jumping over the waves as they lap against the shore usually means getting more wet than originally intended but we soon dry off in the hot sun.

As the day comes to a close the air is cooler, the heat of the sun on our skin is replaced by our sweatshirts and we return home with salty skin, windswept hair, and sandy toes, but more importantly, happy memories of another summer day.
J. X

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Summertime Bliss

Our summer break is now in full swing and with this week having been a little less busy than the first, life has taken on a slower pace and I have finally managed to stop and catch my breath. 

Although the mornings are delightfully unhurried, especially if we have no set plans, my day still begins with a little face asking 'what are we going to do today?' and staring at me in anticipation.  No pressure then.

I am always grateful, therefore, that I find we are able to gain such enjoyment in simple pleasures. There is usually something to keep us occupied, whether at home or a short journey away. The beautiful sunny weather and being able to spend most of our days outside has been to our advantage. 

Our garden has been the setting for bubble blowing and cartwheel practise and Lily has decided the swing can also double as a climbing frame (I find it easier not to look at this point)! The lawn is still looking a bit worse for wear thanks to the dry weather and the raised bed is becoming more sparse as time goes on, with the vegetables gradually being put to good use. We are still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen and the last remaining sunflower to open up, but I am just so relieved they have all survived the blustery winds we've been having this week.

We've enjoyed  picnics, trips to the park and the woods, kite flying and a day spent at the beach. I find a sea breeze is the perfect way to keep cool during the hottest days, and for me it isn't summer until I feel the sand between my toes and I've been in the water. The toffee fudge ice-cream I had was pretty delicious too!  

We really have been spoiled with warm days, sunshine and blue sky this year. It has felt like a proper summer. And even though I am seeing the blackberries begin to ripen and the nights are  becoming darker just that little bit earlier, I really hope it lasts for a while longer.