A random summer summary

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  • It’s the last day of August and the school holidays are almost over. Other parents of school-age children will recognise marking the passing years in school terms – we’ve had 13 years of them so far in this family and next school year will be our eldest’s final one. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was rushing to get him to school by 8.45am with a baby and a toddler in tow. My perception of time seems to concertina and bow at the moment; something to do with middle age and teenage children!
  • I’ve temporarily taken my foot off the pedal with my blog and Instagram. It felt right to spend less time online and looking at screens, especially as I’m trying to help my daughter step away from social media a little. She has been experiencing the downside of it – girls’ social interactions are complicated and can be subtly cruel; there have been tears. I am grateful that I’m around to listen to her, give hugs and be a sounding board.
  • My middle son loved his trip to Madrid. The whole experience, from travelling with a couple of friends and no adult, to eating proper tapas and paella and staying with his Spanish friend’s family, was hugely positive. They took him to the Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid (lucky thing) and he even enjoyed that!
  • We had a grown-up party at the weekend and incredibly the weather was amazing – warm and still, with a crescent moon in the sky – we were so lucky and it meant the party could be mostly outdoors (phew). There were fairy lights festooned about the place and tealights in jam jars along the garden walls, straw bales for people to sit on around a fire and dancing indoors. I’d made all the food the day before – beef tacos, Moroccan chicken and a squash and spinach curry – and we had fig tarts (with more of our neighbours figs!), mini scones and other delicious puddings from friends. A load of friends and family came along and we had a blast. It took a few days to recover.
  • In the run-up to the party, I’d written many lists to keep track of everything: who was coming, food, drink, seating, lighting, music, etc. As someone who is an inveterate list-maker, I loved listening to Jenny Eclair is Listless Today recently on Radio 4 about why women write so many lists, especially to-do lists. Did you hear it? I always feel more in control when I’ve written a list (even if I’m not actually) and even better when I cross things off.
  • My favourite flowers in the garden this summer have been the zinnias. They took a while to get into their stride with flowering but they’ve been loving the hot, dry weather and I’ve picked many handfuls of bright blooms. They last really well – at least a week – in a vase, too. There’s something about their shapes and colours that just cheers me up. I’ll definitely grow them again next year.
  • My jam pan is full of raspberries and sugar macerating ready to be boiled up into jam later. I’ve made several jars already but I’ll keep going while there’s fruit still coming. Opening a jar of fragrant homemade jam in the depths of winter, when it’s dark and miserable outside, will remind me of long summer days, the heat of the sun on my back as I pick fruit from the bushes, my fingers stained with raspberry juice.
  • It’s the Late Summer Show in the village hall on Saturday. I’m entering a cake (a ‘fruity banana bread’), ‘7 raspberries’ and maybe the ‘flower arrangement in a milk jug’, if I have time. The bread class is a sourdough loaf, so David’s entering that and my daughter is planning to make ‘5 meringues’. I’ll be helping to set it all up and put it all away at the end, then we’ll be cracking open a bottle left over from the party.

I hope you’re enjoying this last day of August and have a lovely weekend. Thank you for stopping by.

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18 thoughts on “A random summer summary

  1. Sam, you are truly amazing. Having followed all your blogs, I simply want to move in, look at your garden, your vases, eat your bloody enticing food and just enjoy your brilliant company. What an inspiration you are. Please turn it into a book, that becomes a second and third book. It’s beautiful. XXX

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  2. So many different colours in your seascapes – you’re so lucky to be by the sea. Rather glad my girls were out of school before SM really took off. We had problems enough without adding SM into the mix. Why are teenage girls so horrible to each other?

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    1. It’s quite hideous and I am often at a loss when she shows me stuff. I have to thank my lucky stars that she wants to talk to me about it and that she values my opinion/advice. That may change as she gets older, of course! There are some horrid manipulative misses out there.

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  3. I’m guessing that’s not the football club then. Sorry about the social media unkindness, it’s pretty common I think, and so hard for young people to deal with. Glad you’ve had a good summer otherwise. My middle child starts big school on Monday. Still one school run to do, with the littlest boy and the puppy. I have a feeling he is trying to ditch us though. Good luck with the village show, no doubt it will be a good day. CJ xx

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    1. Good luck to your middle boy starting secondary school. I used to combine the school run with the dog walk, even when my daughter was perfectly able to walk to school on her own – she often left me picking up the poo!!

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  4. Sam, my old buddy, my friend, I identify with so much of what you write here and have to say, in agreement with Deborah, I would buy your book. You have a tone that soothes me. Did you ever think of writing a magazine column? Or a friendly gardening book? I can never find a gardening book with personality which you have in spades (ka-boum, terrible joke).
    I have taken a similar step back from the inter-webs (as the boy has called it since he was tiny). I think lots of us struggle to get the balance right but real life must trump screen-time or we are doomed. I attended an internet safety talk at our primary school which scared me witless. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s harassment. Girls are so skilled at being mean.
    I can’t wait to see photos from your Summer Show, we don’t really have the same thing here, at least not in the city, but I find the very idea of a ‘seven raspberries’ class quite thrilling! Small pleasures, eh?
    Your photos make me ache for a trip to the sea. In consolation, I’m saving that Jenny Eclair piece for my coffee break so thanks for that. I need to figure out how to get Radio 4. Note to self, put Teenage Son on the case (as a college student he now has acres of time on his hands!). Lynda.xx

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    1. Thank you, Lynda – I am chuffed to pieces that you enjoy reading what I write (the feeling is mutual). Of course I daydream about getting a call about paid writing (don’t we all?!) but I am ridiculously ‘English’ about promoting myself.
      Yes, some girls are vile and arch manipulators – I’m not sure why that is. She’ll be ok but I shudder to think how vulnerable children cope with it all.
      Hope your son sorts out Radio 4 for you and you enjoy the Jenny Eclair programme xx

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  5. As usual, your days sound busy, rich, and fulfilling. I would have a difficult time raising children these days, I’m afraid. It was hard enough dealing with mean girls when my daughter was young. I imagine that it’s a nightmare now with social media. I would want to confront those kids and their parents and shake them by the collar. Unfortunately, some parents are as mean as their children.

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  6. This is such a beautiful post of family, holidays and summer. Really enjoyed it. I am sorry your daughter has been having social media issues. Teenage girls are such complicated creatures. My daughter had a few negative experiences, some of her own doing, some not. I do get quite anxious sometimes. The party sounds fun! I tried to grow zinnias from seed but was utterly unsuccessful. The slugs liked them too much. Yours are so beautiful, I am inspired to try again next year. x

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  7. Your sea pictures make me smile they remind me of the summer days here too! It is difficult to limit the time spent on the computer. I try to reduce the time spent on it, but it can be difficult. Congratulations to your husband on his sour dough loaf. Hope you all settle back into the new school year quickly. Sarah x

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