First, it's too cold. Our winters are too long, too wet or too mild. Our springs are too breezy, too chilly or too drizzly. Our autumns are too leafy, too foggy or too blustery. Our summers are always too cold, until the day that the sun comes out to show us what Proper Sunshine looks like - and then it's too hot.
It has been very hot this week. It's clearly scrambled the dog's brains as he alternates between lying where he can feel a cool breeze from the open door and cooking himself in front of the Aga until someone distracts him with a biscuit and takes him somewhere cooler. I'm starting to think that it's a ploy to get more biscuits!
In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are looking a little wilty despite their regular waterings. I did have a very efficient self-watering system until last Friday when I realised it had clogged and needed cleaning out. Then, in the space of half an hour, I had lost an important bit of it in the strawberry bed (don't ask - especially when the strawberry bed isn't that close to the greenhouse!) and smashed the water tank. It was made of plastic and had obviously gone brittle over the years with the heat in the greenhouse which clearly didn't help, but I think that me banging on the grass just in case the missing part had somehow got stuck inside may have been the final straw. So now my poor tomatoes and cucumber are having to rely on me and my watering can rather than help themselves to water whenever they wanted it. Luckily, I'm able to replace the broken parts so my tomatoes won't have to rely on me for much longer - thank goodness for the internet!
There is some good news in the garden, though. My paeony "Sarah Bernhardt" has finally flowered and although a week or so behind other photos that I've been admiring on the internet recently, I think it was worth the wait. I like these big, blowsy flowers very much. They remind me of Parisian can-can dancers with their frilly petticoat skirts, and they can be quite temperamental in their flowering, so I always feel rather honoured when they put in an appearance.
In other garden news, most of the teasels are still taking up residence in the vegetable bed but are getting ready to flower so I'm going to leave them to it now. I did start clearing them out but had underestimated how very much they wanted to stay where they were - it was starting to feel like the story of the enormous turnip and I decided that life is too short to do battle with a teasel that really wants to stay put!
We've been able to eat outside much more than usual, which has been just brilliant. It's a well-known fact that food tastes better when it's eaten outdoors - even if it has been cooked in our chiminea and the sausages always turn a bit black!
I'm not complaining about the weather as I know it probably isn't going to last very long (another aspect of the British weather that we love to grumble about!) and it's allowing me to enjoy one of my favourite things about the summer ... sitting outside in the evening until it grows dark. I'm all sorted with my glass of elderflower cordial and my blanket for when it gets a little cooler - no need to go back into the house until bedtime! I'm trying out a new short row heel technique on my latest sock which requires some concentration so I've been sitting outside with my book for a change rather than struggling in the fading light.
I've not really done much fiction reading since I finished my degree - I don't know whether I just haven't found the right book or whether I did so much academic reading that it's put me off completely, but I've gone right off it. It does make me sad as I used to read a great deal, but I'm hoping that it's just a (rather long) phase. Anyway, I've been trying to get myself back into it again so have returned to a series which I have read many times and love just as much each time I read the books - the Falco detective novels by Lindsey Davis. This one is Poisedon's Gold, the fifth novel in the series. They're based in 1st century Rome (surprise!) and are a fabulous mixture of history and humour, with a hard-done-by hero who still manages to get the girl. I never get tired of them!
Remember I said that the weather wouldn't last for long? Sadly, I was right! We've had some amazing thunder storms over the last few days, interspersed with spells of hot sunshine - a real mixed bag. I do like watching the storms and I've always been very conscious that I've wanted my girls to see them as one of Nature's spectacles and not something to be frightened of, so we make a point of watching them together, spotting where we think the lightning will appear next and counting the seconds until the thunder. It's surprised me that the thunder hasn't seemed so loud but some of the lightning has been pink and I've not seen that before so maybe the two things are connected.
According to the weather forecast, it's going to stay like this for a few more days - more than that and I think it's anybody's guess what the weather's going to do. I am glad that the sunshine is going to stay for a bit longer, though. Yes, I know that I'm a winter girl but there's something very lovely about being able to outside in the late evening in your shorts and t-shirt - not something that we get to do too much in Britain at all! I'm not wishing for the snow again just yet!