So many crises have been screamed from newspaper headlines this summer. We’ve read about the post-Brexit panic and the disharmony in both major political parties as new leaders put themselves forward. Politicians have been maligned and rejected and new leaders have emerged. We’ve read about the queues at Calais, the dreadful attacks in Nice and Munich, the threat of Trump and the massive political instability and uncertainty in the UK, the fall in the value of the pound, the mendacity of our leaders and the failed coup in Turkey, and the gigantic attack in Baghdad and 200 lives lost. This is not to mention the ongoing crises squeezed out of the news by this catalogue of terror and trepidation. The civil war in Syria rages on, as does the migration crisis it has sparked. I could go on.
It’s natural, then, that we hang on to the weather being kind and the hope of balmy days to come to soothe our troubled souls.
It is true: the warm weather brings optimism with it, however shallow and transitory. We are boosted by the vitamin D from the sun and, rather than being stuck indoors in front of the telly, we gravitate to the bottom of the garden with the barbecue or we head for the beach with a rolled mat and a bottle of coconut- scented factor 30.
Sadly, the summer ends sometime between August and October, and we will be left with nothing but memories of the fun we had and a fading tan. So, if we could bottle summer, and keep the elixir of happiness and well-being to warm us through the winter months, how would we do it? When winter’s icy blast is roaring round our ankles again and we want to do nothing but snuggle under a duvet with a hot water bottle or eat butter-soaked crumpets around a blazing fire, how can we banish the lethargy of winter and bring back the energy and joy of the summer months?
I have compiled a top ten of ideas below and I challenge you to try some of them out.
10: Shorts: There’s a freedom to wearing shorts when we have tanned legs and trainers or flip flops or open-toed sandals. Maybe we can hang onto our shorts as long as possible. We could even wear them around the house with reasonable central hearing to support our prickling cold skin. After a day at work, when you come home and fling your clothes aside, why not give a pair of denim cut-offs or some cool floral beach shorts an outing rather than lounge pants, jog bottoms or – dare I say it – the ubiquitous winter onesie?
9: Music: The music we play reflects not only our mood but the weather outside. Before we hear the opening bars of the Christmas Slade song once again, maybe we should be belting the Beach Boys out in the living room? What about some Good Vibrations, a bit of Surfin’ USA or the timeless Barbara Ann? Then, eyes closed, we’re on the beach again and the surf is rolling in and the sun is beating down.
8: Barbecues: It doesn’t always rain in the winter. So, in between downpours, why not put a tent up in the garden or on the front doorstep for shelter and recreate barbecue bliss? Whatever your dietary inclination, be it chicken wings or a roasted cob of sweetcorn, steak or veggie burgers or a chunk of tuna, it will taste special on the Barbie. Add a nice salad, a beer or lemonade with a sprig of bruised mint and you have summer on a plate! You can eat it snuggled in the tent in your kagoule. Bon appetit!
7: Beach life: I miss the beach when summer ends. Remember how wonderful it is, soaking up the sun, sand between the toes, and those long glorious walks into the sunset. We’re so lucky that there are beaches in abundance where we live, we can still spend a day on a glorious beach, even if it’s a bit windy. If it’s chilly, we can always wrap up in hats and gloves – wellies if need be – and what fun to have a water balloon fight on the sand in November!
6: Boules: Summer brings with it warm weather sports such as tennis and so, to relive the carefree days of July and August, we could stage our own boules competition. Complete with strawberries (I know they can be a bit tasteless out of season, but even a bit of strawberry jam on a scone may do the trick) and cream and a cup of best tea afterwards. Even if we play boules in the lounge with the sofa and TV moved to a safe place and celebrate afterwards with a cream tea, then it’s almost August again.
5: Swimming: It is such good exercise to swim, whether in the sea or in a pool, and what a shame to give up in September. There are lots of heated pools out there so maybe we need to deny the winter months by keeping a firm grip on the Speedos and diving in the deep end every week!
4: Ice cream: Ice cream tends to be the go-to treat in the heat of July. In the deep mid-winter, try a huge cone of your favourite ice-cream flavour or an ice cream lolly covered with chocolate. Now close your eyes and imagine the sun on your skin and the scent of the salty sea in your nostrils, and you can still dream while you devour one of the great tastes of summer as you lie in front of your log fire.
3: Picnics: I’ve tried this out myself and it is a fantastic treat for the whole family. Take a double bed and cover the duvet with a plastic table cloth. Now bring out the picnic hamper, the sandwiches and little quiches and cake and lemonade or a jug of Pimms and have a picnic in the bedroom. Invite family or friends, sit on the edges of the bed and enjoy a winter picnic even if it’s cold outside. No cow pats either. Bonus!
2: Books not TV: My plan this winter is not to vegetate every night in front of films and football. I’m going to put up a hammock in the living room and read even more books. A straw hat enhances the ambience. Who cares if it’s snowing outside? In my lounge, it’s August.
1: The great outdoors: This is a really big one for me. It is easy to enjoy the natural outdoor life in the summer, the fresh air, the countryside, the sea air, the bounty of flora and fauna we have on our doorstep. In winter, it’s still there; it simply manifests itself in different colours. There are lots of walks to be had, from beaches to woods to moors to coastal paths, and it just requires a little planning in terms of comfortable clothing and footwear. Whatever the season, there’s so much to discover outdoors and I’m not going to neglect it this year because of a bit of rain. If you can’t make it on foot and you have a car, a bike or access to a bus route, it’s only moments away. The countryside in autumn, with its musty smells and misty landscapes is to be captured, whether one is a photographer, a poet or a dog walker. Or even a lone stroller. I’ll see you out there. I’ll be wearing floral wellies.
We can’t all banish the winter with a jaunt to warmer climes, although I’m sure it’s a health booster to grab a fortnight in the Algarve or the Canaries in November or February. But if we are fit and happy, then we are fortunate and it’s all out there for us to enjoy. Of course, if we’re having a whale of a time, it will soon be Christmas before we know it. Then summer 2017 is just around the corner.