How was your summer (or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere?) I greeted the 1st of September yesterday with joy, even if I felt a little disappointed that August had gone so fast. This is my favourite time of the year. The days are still long enough to be outside until late, and warm enough during the day to wear a summer frock. The allotment is suddenly in full-on ripening mode, with courgettes growing faster than we can eat (I made killer zucchini flower fritti over the weekend, from a recipe I learnt in Rome), tomatoes finally turning red, beans, maize, and beetroot all ready for harvest. Golden autumn raspberries are gigantic. I thought the allotment wouldn’t produce anything this year (apart from the strawberry glut) because the peas did badly, and everything else was struggling and growing so slowly! Suddenly though, there is a wealth.
But the mornings are crisp and clear now, requiring a jacket or jumper as I head out to work. Grasshoppers and bumblebees are still about, but the swifts and swallows have gone. The nights are starting to draw in. I’ve lit the first candles. I’ve started knitting in the evenings again. The angle of the sun has altered.
But August was a glorious month for me. Something has settled. I cannot quite explain it, but I’ve been feeling more ‘me’ this month – less anxious about work, not churning about ‘what next’, less worried about being successful or whether the future will bring what I hope. I’ve been living in the present and it has felt good.
We went to the seaside twice in August. First to southern Spain, to be with A-‘s family. A super week of sunshine, beach walks, sea swims, family chats, late night pool swimming, wine, and seafood. Then, over the bank holiday weekend, we headed to Lyme Regis with my dad and sister. More beach days, a festival, some paddle boarding, fish and chips, ice cream, fossil hunting…
I’ve read more this summer then I have in a long while. (I deleted Instagram from my phone and went on a self-imposed Insta ban for pretty much all of August. I slipped a few times, and checked messages occasionally). I have actually felt relaxed. I switched off from work entirely when I was away. And in the evenings we’ve been home, I’ve been introducing Pan Cat to the world outside. She had her first encounter with another cat over the weekend. It was hilarious. I’ve done some yoga, a lot of swimming, and some paddle boarding too. I’ve blogged about summer, about finding my values (and living them), and about the on-going list of things I feel I’m doing successfully (only two of which are related to work). We’ve been painting the house, gardening, fixing. It has felt good.
Things I’ve loved this month
Why women need the same vast stretches of time that men are privy to.
Inspiring read about La Cocina, an organisation helping immigrant women start up food businesses in the US.
Women bakers in California.
This story about food and poverty is amazing.
The swift! I look out for their return every year, and am sad when they go away again.
Fig leaf ice cream. To make now, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.
All of these jam recipes!
Running businesses out of your home kitchen.
The role of cookbooks in the digital age.
Books I’ve read and loved this month
Chocolat by Joanne Harris. With the arrival of The Strawberry Thief in bookshops (and the Kindle edition being all of £0.99 at one point), I decided to re-read the series from the beginning. It is joyous.
The rules of magic by Alice Hoffman. A prequel to Practical Magic, I loved this more.
Garden spells by Sarah Addison Allen. Another re-read but perfection while on holiday in Spain.
City of girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was recommended by a friend in my bookclub Signal group and it was just wonderful.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Another re-read but it never gets old.