Summer’s end

Yesterday
Rain is lashing against the windows as I sit here writing. Proper driving rain. Our little black cat appeared just now and jumped up onto my lap – soggy paws! She’s now settled onto ‘her’ chair in the kitchen. The black-and-white one is fast asleep curled up on the back of the settee in the lounge. For weeks now, they’ve been out all day snoozing in the long grass or gazing hopefully into the pond but today they’re back to their wet-weather habits of mostly snoozing indoors. It’s been so dry and sunny for weeks and weeks that I’d got used to seeing them only at mealtimes and I’d got used to leaving the doors and windows wide open, wandering into the garden in bare feet, perching on the front steps in the sunshine with my morning coffee… Reliable stretches of hot, dry weather are unusual in the UK and it was lovely while it lasted but the season has finally turned in east Kent. Autumn has arrived.

There’s been plenty of ‘family life’ going on here recently: we’ve had a birthday (middle son – 15); a sleepover in a tent outside (daughter and three friends – loud); I’ve had two school information meetings for different year groups on two consecutive evenings (hmm); and I’ve driven to and from the station so often lately for my brood that I’m thinking of getting one of those signs for the top of my car. You know, the one that says ‘taxi’.

Today
I was so wrung-out by parenting this week that I couldn’t wait for David, my comrade-in-arms, to get home. We met in a local school car park where our middle child was to be presented with his Bronze Certificate in a mass presentation of Duke of Edinburgh Awards. A quick hug and a dash through the rain to the hall where we sat for 2 hours watching the presentations, occasionally whispering to each other as we were treated to amazing piano-playing by a talented boy, a confident girl singing while playing her guitar and an Interesting Dance by two girls. I’m not sure any of the parents knew what to make of that. I rushed off afterwards to collect our daughter from her tap class and we rendezvoused back home for a late supper of omelette and chips and beer. What a week.

I’d love to think we had an empty weekend lined up but we have four teenagers arriving this afternoon for a belated birthday sleepover. We had planned kayaking, campfire and camping in the garden but I suspect it’ll be more like film-watching indoors, perhaps a bonfire in the garden if the rain stops, and sleeping indoors. We’ve been invited to a house-warming party up the road so we’ll hopefully put in an appearance for a couple of hours. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t answer that 🙂

It’s meant to be dry tomorrow and I’m planning to get out into the garden. A good dose of cutting back, pruning or digging usually restores my inner peace although I am now slightly worried about all the trees I’ve pruned over the years after reading an article in a newspaper cutting from my mum. German forester Peter Wohlleben says trees live in communities, some can warn each other of danger and react when hurt, almost as if they feel pain. If you think about it, this isn’t as bonkers as it may seem and now I’m fretting about the poor cherry tree that we chopped back last year. Will our descendants look back on our barbaric ways with trees? Bonsai-owners may be locked up!

Oh yes, village show news
My tea loaf came first! The lovely judge said it was one of the best she’d tasted. Good old Mary Berry (I used her recipe for Bara Brith). Middle son won the Junior Adult baking class with his cheese scones and David’s cottage loaf (which didn’t look like one) came third. My flowers came second out of two entries (ha) and our raspberries were disqualified – we’d failed to read the show tips which said that the calyx had to be attached. Oh well. The tea loaf triumph more than made up for that.

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Finally
Have you been listening to The Archers? At last – thank goodness!!! I hope we can get back to crop rotations and Bert’s courgettes for a while now; I’m an emotional wreck.

Wishing you a super-duper weekend.

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37 thoughts on “Summer’s end

  1. Hearty congrats on your baking success! That tea loaf looks delectable.
    We’ve sat through a few Interesting Dances in our day although I admit I am intrigued! I’ve been overwhelmed myself by the back-to-school madness combined with sudden-end-of-summer syndrome. It seemed to end too soon.
    Hope your busy weekend is going well.

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  2. Congratulations, you blue-ribbon baker, you!
    You remind me of a week when my four were all in school, two in the elementary and two in the secondary — and during the last week before Christmas break, because the schools were both full to capacity, they each divided their December concerts into two nights, and — you guessed it — somehow in each school, my two were concert-ing on different nights, for a total of four nights watching a variety of youthful talent on stage. . . of course my husband was away that week!

    I wouldn’t say I miss those days or would want them back, but I will say that despite my doubts when older friends told me this at the time, those days passed astonishingly quickly. Sounds as if you’re very wisely savouring them even as they exhaust and challenge. Such important work you’re doing — carry on! 😉

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    1. Ha ha, Frances 🙂 I’m sure our parents weren’t nearly so attentive to our various goings-on when we were kids. But it is all to be savoured, isn’t it? Hope you’re enjoying life in your new place.

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  3. Congratulations to you and the DofE-er, and I hope your son had a good birthday. Good luck with the weekend sleepover, don’t stay too long at that housewarming… I was just thinking the other day what a pleasure it is to leave the doors and windows open all day. I love it, all that fresh air. I’m off to look up Mary Berry’s bara brith recipe now, I was just telling the boys about it when we were in Wales a few weeks ago, you have reminded me. Time to make one I think. I agree about The Archers, it’s been emotional. And he’s not gone yet… Enjoy the rest of the weekend. CJ xx

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  4. Sounds like you’ve had a really hectic time – and I hope the sun comes back soon – it’s been gloriously sunny here 🙂 and vv well done for winning with your Tea loaf – one of my favourites 🙂

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  5. Life sounds full at your place Sam. Many good things but I am very excited about your village show success, well done! I love show cooking. I haven’t competed in our local show for some time but I adore looking at the cakes, flowers, eggs etc. Wishing you a happy week ahead. Jane x

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    1. The village show happens twice a year here – spring and late summer – and I love it. I’m on the gardener’s society committee now and realise that a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. The shows are well-supported, though, which is great.

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  6. The whirlwind of children and their activies seems such a long time ago, but I have to say that for us it’s just as much of a whirlwind in retirement, if not more so! Glad to hear of your show successes and that the bara brith made up for the raspberry faux pas! What glowers did you show? Hope you are managing some of those garden jobs this w/e – and liisten out for whispering trees… The Archers? Very emotional listening this last week and still scope for dramatic storylines while He is still around – and unresoved issues too…

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    1. I picked a bunch of what was looking good in the garden – cosmos, ammi, Japanese anemone, lavender, verbena. I though it was pretty but a big vase of alstroemeria won first prize. One day…! Yes, ‘he’ is still around in the Archers, sadly. I’m sure the script-writers will get more mileage from the storyline.

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    1. Gosh, yes, I’m not sure how I’ll feel when they’ve all left home. One of my friends is getting a puppy after her eldest goes to uni and she’ll still have two children at home! Hope this next transition goes well for you.

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  7. I am now feeling double guilty about cutting our quince tree down…. I am tired after reading your post! So much parenting in one week sounds exhausting, particularly when it is just you during the week. I hope you had a good time at your neighbours party, nothing beats a good party! Congratulations to all the winners and achievers in your family. Your tea bread looks amazing, hopefully there is some left to toast and butter tomorrow morning before the madness all starts again. x
    P.S. I may have commented twice, but I am not sure where my first comment went. Just in case you receive two and wonder 🙂

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  8. Eeep, please don’t add to my burden of guilt, you know what I’m like with the loppers. Do trees bear a grudge? Do their neighbours bear a grudge?
    And very well done with that cake! I may now need a piece to settle my nerves.

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  9. Well, congratulations on your prize! And to all your other prize-winning family. Your post reminds me of the busy days when our kids still lived in the house. Rewarding, but can also be exhausting. Who are the Archers?

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    1. Ah, The Archers… It’s a long-running radio soap-opera that’s had a particularly contentious story line running for a couple of years about psychological abuse. It’s been a roller-coaster and gripping listening. David always used to make fun of me for listening to it but even he’s been gripped.

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  10. Glad you won, sounds like it was well deserved after all that juggling. Somehow summer seems so long ago once you are back into the melee of term time. Hope you have a slightly less frazzled week and I’m sure your trees will be fine 🙂 B

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  11. hurray for tea loaf success! and congrats to the Duke of Edinburgh achiever. I’m currently nagging my teenager about working on this Duke of Edinburgh presentation, after they finally managed to complete their expedition which I thought might never happen………

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  12. Oh well done on the cake. Goodness, I had forgotten what a busyness teenage children create. Sometimes my house used to look like a refuge camp with bodies sleeping in the most unlikely places.
    As for the tree thing, it reminds me of a rather fey gardener I had once. When I asked her to do any pruning she insisted on asking the tree or bush permission. She then said she had to leave it a while to withdraw its energy from the condemned branches. I have to say I found her exasperating; always hanging about and communing with the garden spirits when she was supposed to be digging.

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  13. It seemed as though the summer would never end and it was rather a shock last week not to fling open the windows and doors for the day. How disappointing about the raspberries.
    Nearly 3 years ago a midwife friend told me how the Archers story line was going to develop (she’d read the signals that had passed me by at that point) so it’s been a long wait for it all to get this far! It’s interesting that legal people have been picking holes in the proceedings because we farmers have been saying that about some of their agricultural story lines for years.

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    1. I actually stopped listening for a few months because I couldn’t bear how drawn-out the Rob/Helen story was and found I was getting really cross and shouting at the radio. I really hope it’ll calm down now for a while. Some of the proceedings did sound a bit dodgy and I’m sure it’s very irritating if they get a farming issue wrong.

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  14. Great post, Sam! No wonder you’re knackered :-). Belated happy birthday wishes to middle offspring and congrats on the first prize :-). Archers….exhausting but am v glad the result was the right one xx

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  15. What a lovely post and pictures!
    Congratulations on your win!
    I’m going to look the tea cake up as my mouth is watering just looking at it 😉
    Yes, I did and still do listen to the archers all the way from Chicago!
    Greetings~

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  16. Well done on your baking prize. Looks very well deserved, I can almost taste that gorgeous looking loaf from here! What a hectic time you are having, sometimes a month can pass in a total fog of commitments before you know it. Interesting anout the trees, hmmmm…. ! X

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