An ode to the end of summer.
August bank holiday - the start of the end of summer if I ever saw one.
British weather means it’s normally pouring, kids are picking out their pencil cases for school next week and you can practically feel the chill of autumn in the air.
And then, then August bank holiday 2019 came along, the rain that has plagued us throughout the month broke and the sun blazed through. And oh man what an end to summer it has been.
There is something about a bank holiday that makes the British people embrace all the stereotypes. You’ll find is all in B&Q and doing a bit of DIY. There’ll be picnics and pub crawls and selfies galore. We’ll be down the beach or at a festival or in the local park with the rest of the world on blankets and kids running left right and centre. You’ll find us in the back garden with every neighbour, friend and family with hosepipes in paddling pools and ice lollies in every sticky hand. There’ll be bbq’s and a ‘big shop’ bigger than Christmas itself and a panic run on hotdog buns. You can bet there’ll be a family argument or two and more Pimms than you can consume and a few hangovers to boot.
I myself had the dreamiest of bank holiday weekends, probably the nicest I’ve had since I started working a year ago. We kicked it off with a corker of a Friday afternoon at work with snacks and music and a lot of laughter and then Jos and I picked up a Dominos and ate loads and watched Friday Night Dinner with his family in his parents house.
On Saturday I had a chilled morning whilst Jos was at a cider event and then met him in Tesco for ‘the big bbq shop’ where we battled the crowds and eventually ended up scouring 4 different shops for rolls. And you betcha I picked up some more outdoor dining kits. We spent the afternoon tidying and cleaning and we worked hard in the sun preparing for the next day. We put up the patio set we’ve had in the shed for a whole year waiting for this garden to be done and then we ate leftover pizza and chips in bed watching Parks and Rec till the early hours.
Sunday saw the inaugural Rees/Craddock family bbq which is set to be a yearly tradition and as stress inducing and as manic as it was, we had a bloody wonderful time. We woke up early and it was already boiling hot and we had the bbq set up by half 9 when we sat with a cuppa and basked in our beautiful garden and how long and full a day feels when you’re up at dawn. We brushed the patio, we hoovered the house and I prepped the salads and dips and potatoes ready for the big event.
My parents, brother, sister in law and both nieces came after lunch and stayed till the kids bedtime and we had a mad afternoon of food, fun and laughter (and a bit of omfg I simply CANNOT get all this food done in time from me). My Dad, brother and sister in law drank cider in the house and did quizzes, my Mum and Jos chatted in the garden with the sleeping baby and me and my oldest niece did crafts at the kitchen table whilst she munched on toast. It was one of those afternoons when the house is full of bodies and you’re all in little groups but all together and there’s kids running from room to room and more dishes than the dishwasher to take and all the while all the windows and doors were chucked open and our skin was sticky with suncream.
By 4pm everyone was outdoors basking in the sunshine and Jos was flipping sausages on the bbq with a bottle of Vale Cider in his hand and I was furiously cooking food and sending my brother out to the garden time after time after time with bowls of salads and dips and jugs of drinks. We ate more food than we could fit in our bellies but still managed magnums and strawberries and cream for pudding and we played outdoor games with my oldest niece and the baby went from lap to lap in the sweetest bonnet whilst the dog tried to find the coolest shadiest spot in the garden - which just so happened to be on top of my new plants.
After the baby had a snooze and I gave my niece a bath there was just enough time for pjs on, teeth brushed and a bottle of milk or two and then everyone was bundled into the cars and off home, leaving Jos and I two hours of tidying up after them all dancing around the kitchen to Come on Eileen and a bit of Queen.
I am terrible for over committing myself and for saying yes to every plan and generally making my life full with pleasure but chronically over busy so having a Monday with very little on was a welcome relief. We didn’t set alarms and when we woke naturally we found a heavy haze, one of those mists you just know is going to turn into an incredibly hot day. We are doing the Couch to 5K training programme and today was the first big jump in the plan where we had to run 20 minutes without a break, our previous longest run just a few days ago only being 8 minutes. But with the mist we decided it would be cool enough to go so we snaffled a banana down and off we went and we bloody smashed it. I could easily have gone on longer and it felt like such a good achievement to have got ticked off early in the morning we went home for breakfast on a high.
We spent yesterday afternoon doing some DIY, putting up pictures in our kitchen, living room and a few upstairs and then Jos settled down to watch the rugby and I took myself out to the patio to spend a few hours in the sun. I took the salad leftovers from the bbq and painted my nails, caught up on some old episodes of KUWTK and did some work on my laptop with the birds singing and the sun on my skin.
And then, as if our social quota wasn’t filled for the weekend, I made two massive pots of macaroni cheese and we hosted Jos’ parents for dinner. They hopped the fence between our gardens and brought salad and wine and we sat out until it was dark and we all got bitten by flies and we chatted and had the best end to three lovely days off, toasting the end of summer.
So sure, we might have an Indian Summer and maybe we’ll have a heatwave until October, but it’ll be a new month at the end of the week and summer, for this year, will be over. And oh wasn’t it a nice one?
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