This summer’s a bit of a weird one for me as I usually go on holiday to Cornwall with my friends but due to babies and slack organisational skills it’s failed to transpire. Also, the massive sporting overload means that there’s always another match or event on TV worth rushing home for leaving little or no time for the usual things that I like to enjoy during the summer.
Thankfully the weather’s just as rubbish as always, some things never change, but in homage to days gone by I’ve compiled my top ten list of things that I associate with the British summer.
A quintessential English summer’s day out for me is at the beach and from skipping in freezing cold shallows to turning lobster pink under the midday sun, I can recall many a wonderful day on the mudflats of Mersea Island in Essex. Beach cricket, sand in your sandwiches and wind-breakers all conjure up magic memories of long hot days at the beach.
As a kid, going on a picnic was pretty much a weekly occurrence and from lush green hillsides to shady woodland glades, the choice of location from where to unveil a cornucopia of savoury and sweet delights was endless. I think, most of all, I remember everyone lying down after we’d eaten with dad snoring and mum reading her book – good times.
Sausages, burgers or fish, you name it, my family grilled it and if there’s anything that sparks of summer nostalgia it’s the smell of a barbecue wafting over a warm breeze. Of course, with the English weather, cooking outside isn’t always an option but after seeing many a man covered by a golfing umbrella whilst valiantly tossing his meat over an open fire, summer wouldn’t be complete without a barbie.
I simply adore being outside and the chance to sleep out under canvas and wake up to the smells and sounds of another day is, to me, pure bliss. I think this affection for all things outdoors stems from going to summer camp as a child however, these days, I have my own children that I can drag along so we can all enjoy the delights of camping as a family.
In the summer I always remember going cycling as a family and as we’d traverse through golden fields of corn and past resplendent patchworks of rapeseed I can still hear the ring of my sister’s bell as we’d pass by a waving vicar. My love of bikes hasn’t waned and these days I cycle my daughter to nursery whatever the season.
Ah, the Great British pub, where would we be without it? Thanks to the smoking ban, beer gardens are on the up and even in the winter months they provide solace for the solo smoker however, come the summer, and they really excel. Give me a ploughman’s lunch, a pint of cider and an English beer garden on a hot summer’s day and I will show you heaven on earth.
From trekking over hill and dale to strolling to the local shops, there’s just something about walking in the summer that puts an extra spring in your step. I do a lot of walks for charity and even though I now consider myself a man I still fondly remember the days of June, July and August when I’d be dragged kicking and screaming on a family walk – great fun!
French cricket, rounders and Frisbee are exactly the sorts of sports that should be played during the summer as they require just the right combination of standing around and sudden movement. Summer games, such as those mentioned, can also be played with a can of lager in your hand which is, of course, a real bonus when enjoying a day at the beach or a picnic in the woods.
I used to think that it was a disappointing sign of old-age when people spent more time in their garden than they did in their house however, these days, I can certainly see the benefits, especially in the summer. Flowers, veggies and rockeries provide an essential oasis within suburban sprawl and although I still haven’t acquiesced to mowing a lawn in parallel lines I certainly recognise the benefits of a well-kept herbaceous border.
No Glastonbury in 2012 and rightly so, I’ve got a little tired of seeing middle-class thirty year olds dancing around to Coldplay whilst supping on a thermos flask of Pimms. That said, I do love a proper festival where you can roll out of your tent, grab a tinnie and enjoy another day getting stuck in the mud listening to bands you’ve never heard of and talking to people that you’d normally cross the street to avoid.
Long live the British summer!
Chris fondly remembers undertaking summer programs at camp which left him with a love of both the summer and the great outdoors.