In the beginning and at the end

Summer arrives: full-blown, blowsy, full of heat. The year tips imperceptibly… just beyond its half way point… and suddenly—as if by magic—the countryside is filled with the sounds and smells and misty haze of high summer; and long winter nights and miserable spring chills are forgotten and abandoned and the premonition of early autumn is not yet in the air or in mind; we are embraced by the soft orange light of quiet sunsets, we glow from the heat of the long day, friends are staying, and all seems—well—pretty well with the world.

My favourite times are right at the beginning and right at the end of these days. I drove down from Wales and arrived in Dorset on Friday evening to find the garden jungular after a 10-day absence. Roses and tobacco plants were pumping their scent into the evening.  For some reason (perhaps the whole bottle of wine that somehow managed to slip down nicely in the next few hours had something to do with it?) I woke incredibly early on Saturday to find the valley and garden swathed in mist. It slowly burned off but was too beautiful to miss. I spent the whole morning deep in the veg garden, uninterrupted. Will and Maria arrived in time for a late lunch. An afternoon of deep sunshine, calling in to the end of the village fete, then home for barbecued lamb and happy times. I cannot tell you how much I love cooking and eating outside.

And the tennis. For some weird reason there’s no TV at the Old Parsonage. Perhaps not weird, I just don’t like watching it. So we headed down the valley (via a little trip, day-dreaming, to a spare, remote barn that I’d spied a few weeks ago which would make the perfect hidden world for my friend Will; I hasten to add it’s not for sale, and even if it was… well, there’s nothing wrong with day-dreaming) to my friends Chris and Caddy’s, where lunch under the apple trees was as delicious as the welcome was generous and the garden beautiful (Caddy, I’ve got SERIOUS greenhouse and fairly serious cabbage envy).

Then the tennis. I’m not much of a sports-watcher, especially not in the middle of the hottest afternoon of the year; and as regular readers of this blog will possibly realise, I’m not a particular fan of the sight of our, hmm, how shall I say, enjoying too much cream with the strawberries are we? Prime Minister managing to jump out of his seat with joy…thinking ‘maybe this will distract them all from what’s really going on’.  And, true, at Ben Pentreath towers, we are also more interested in aesthetics than national pride, and I don’t think that you’d disagree with me that in the smokin-hot stakes, Serbians win over Scots (at least on Centre Court at 4pm)…. yes, all of the above… but I’ve got to admit that I shed tears when Murray won his Wimbledon. Deserved.

Perfect summer days are made of this.


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