The Last Gasp Of Summer

On my short holiday, it didn’t rain at all. And there was only one dull and chilly day. I came home last weekend to an Indian Summer of high temperatures and blue skies. I haven’t seen any rain now since the night of the 6th, and that makes me very happy.

Today it is also bright and sunny, with some heat in the sunshine. Ollie is sleeping in a shaft of sunlight next to my desk, and I can hear soft music coming from a garden across the road. Nobody is cutting grass, drilling, or hammering. Traffic is light on the road outside, and peace dwells in Beetley so far this morning.

The weather people on TV tell us that this is all soon to change by Wednesday. Rain will arrive from the north-west, and the 24 C we are enjoying today will be down to a more seasonal 15 C.

Unusually, I am not complaining about that. We had a summer, and it was suitably hot. Then I had a holiday, with no rain. Then I came home to great weather as a bonus.

With all that has gone wrong in 2020, at least the weather finally worked.

One day in the sun

Saturday was very warm in Norfolk. The sun was out, but it wasn’t what you would call a ‘nice day’. Humid, often cloudy, and pushing 26 C (78 F) at times, it was what some people might describe as ‘uncomfortable’.

I was out with Ollie of course, for just over two hours. He must have been feeling the heat, as he made at least five trips into the river, including a venture into deep water that made him have to swim.

The heat brought out squirrels in abundance, so Ollie was kept busy chasing them too.

I was happy enough. It wasn’t raining, always a plus. I was dressed suitably, enjoying my shorts, and the occasional breeze around my legs. I carried on with my dog walk as usual, though it was obvious that Ollie was not so keen, given the rather oppressive heat. Accordingly, I spent a lot of time standing around while Ollie cooled off in the river, including investigating a juvenile swan.

The evening was also warm, something I welcomed. The temperature was pleasant, well up to the time it got dark, and beyond that too. Unlike life in big cities, Beetley evening warmth is to be enjoyed.

I spent some time cutting the grass, and clearing up afterwards. That made me decidedly warm, and a second bath was required before dinner.

Once I had eaten, I felt relaxed, in what I think of as the ‘Mediterranean’ way. Evening felt like daytime, and I lamented the absence of pavement cafes and Tapas Bars in Beetley. An evening stroll or ‘promenade’ would have been most welcome. But here, it would ultimately be pointless, sadly. Unless I wanted to navigate a few residential streets in the late evening sunshine.

Perhaps I should have retired to Spain?

My new fluffy gown

I have to come clean dear readers, and tell you one of my dark secrets. I am a wearer of dressing gowns. Not those seen in Victorian dramas or old Sherlock Holmes films, worn over smart clothes after a day at the office, or solving crimes. No, big fluffy ones, that keep you warm, and make you feel cosy.
When I used to work, I generally had to wear a uniform. Rather than have to use more clothes to change into when I got home, I would don a suitable gown, and relax after work in this ideal item of apparel. Since retirement, I rarely feel the need to get dressed too early. Why create the need for more washing, drying, and ironing than is necessary? So, I put on my dressing gown, and remain in it, until time to get ready and take Ollie out, or go to the shops.

This choice of attire is not without its drawbacks of course. I don’t think that the postman has seen me dressed other than in a gown, ever since I moved here. He must think that I am either an invalid, or that I spend a great deal of time in bed. Occasional callers, seeing me answer the door in a gown, will often apologise for disturbing me. Finding a householder dressed in this way in the middle of the day must be a rarity. This can be useful though, as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Double-Glazing salesmen rarely hang around too long, when they are met by a gowned resident. Taking things to the bins outside is no problem, as dressing gowns can cope in all weathers. I expect that those passing by must think that I am getting ready for bed a little early though. Our neighbours have finally got used to always finding us dressed this way too. I am not alone you see, as Julie also loves to get into her gown as soon as she returns home from work, and for most of the weekend too. So, when someone drops in, we just have to be caught in our gowns; showing no shame or remorse, feeling no need to apologise.

For warmer weather, we both have lightweight versions, ideal for humid days, when any other clothing feels too stifling. But it is the winter when gown-wearing comes into its own. Not only does it solve the problem of ‘what to wear’, it provides warmth and comfort, so even cuts down the heating bills. There is nothing nicer than getting out of a hot bath, then slipping into a fresh dressing gown, warmed on the towel rail. It might also come as a shock to you, to realise that almost all posts on this blog are typed when I am wearing a gown. The sleeves protect my wrists from the desk, and the deep pockets store anything I need during my time at the keyboard. The wide collar keeps my neck warm, and the length is ideal to wrap around my legs.

Yesterday, Julie visited a local shop that is closing down. They have a huge sale on, a kind of ‘everything must go’ situation. She arrived home with a very nice lightweight fleece gown, in brilliant white. Despite appearing thin, the fleece material is very warm to wear, and incredibly soft too. She was soon happily wrapped up in it, declaring it to be her best yet. Later that night, she popped outside to her car, which I thought unusual, given the gale force winds, and temperature of around two degrees. She returned clutching a bag, which contained a surprise for me. It was an identical fluffy dressing gown, in a manly shade of Merlot Red. (My favourite wine too…) She was going to keep it as a surprise, but couldn’t contain herself. I quickly changed from the navy blue gown I was already wearing, and tried on the new one. As expected, it was warmth and comfort in a single garment.

Just perfect.

(Now admit it, you never thought you would read a blog post about dressing gowns, did you?)

Summer comes to Beetley

Like much of the country, we have enjoyed an exceptionally warm introduction to Summer recently. The arrival of unseasonal high temperatures for May has brought life back to the whole area. I even got the enthusiasm to cut the grass, clean some windows, and dig out the garden furniture from inside the garage. Julie did a lot of weeding, and now the small rose-bed at the front of the house looks a picture. Ollie has started to venture outside to sit in the sun, and we have been able to take advantage of that uniquely good-weather pleasure, hanging out washing on the rotary line. There is something really appealing about line-dried washing. It smells fresh, feels nice, and saves the trips to the shed, to load the tumble-dryer.

The muddy walks over the meadow are suddenly a memory, and we can get back to a nice stroll, unencumbered by boots, heavy coats, hat and gloves. If Ollie gets too hot, he just jumps into the river to cool down, and I can rest in the shade on the picnic benches, if I feel fatigued. Children are playing excitedly, both in their gardens, and on the playground nearby. The sound of lawn-mowers, strimmers, and a hundred other DIY jobs breaks the Beetley silence, but nobody minds. Down at the river, youngsters arrive with small fishing nets, some of the older ones even have inflatable boats. It is shallow and safe on the bend, and parents can look on, without being too fearful.

Another sign of better weather is the presence of outsiders. People who drive to the meadows from elsewhere, rarely seen during times when the temperature is low. New dogs, new owners; people for me to meet, and dogs for Ollie to greet. Teens hoping for a romantic interlude away from home, soon realise that there is little chance of privacy. Toddlers queue for turns on the slides and swings, and the still meadows of a few weeks ago seem like a different place. The smell of barbecues is on the air, extra cars parked outside houses indicate the arrival of visitors and guests. Impromptu parties are held, and the locals sit out in their gardens once more, happy to see the end of the long dull season that prevailed.

Cycles, scooters, and skateboards see the light of day again. Cats doze on warm driveways, and it stays light until 9pm. We enjoyed the company of visitors yesterday, one of Julie’s daughters, and her boyfriend. Our decision to cook a roast dinner was perhaps ill-advised, but we all enjoyed it, despite the hot evening. We sat outside until quite late, drinking wine, stroking the dog, and chatting happily. It must be nice to live somewhere where this lifestyle can be enjoyed on a more regular basis, as it is definitely conducive to wanting to hold social events, and generally feeling good. The light is nice, after so much darkness.

By next weekend, it is forecast to drop to 17 degrees, with heavy rain. Just as well we made the best of it.