I take it back. Every snarky thing I’ve said about English summers, about unending drizzle, jumpers and woolly socks in August or sun parasol fixtures being entirely unnecessary on prams; gone. Well at least until next week. You see, the thing about English summers is that when they come good, they nail it.
Brilliant blue cloudless skies, sunshine that warms your soul but allows the integrity of your ice-cream to remain intact, a gentle breeze to set the trees rustling, and long gently lit evenings. I once read a suggestion that the reason Seattle is supposed to be so rainy is not because it actually is much wetter than any number of other places in the USA, it’s just a rumour the locals have allowed to persist because it puts off the tourists and allows them their city to themselves; I’ve a sneaking suspicion the English came up with that plan and set it over with the colonials.
With two tiny people to entertain it is such a blessing to be able to get outside, to get some turf underneath tiny toes, to run around in giggly circles and to bring home sleepy girls, at least one of which needs a serious bath to remove the mud and grass stains from places where they ought not to be, and the other who smells that wonderful mixture of baby and warm suncream.
We had two really glorious afternoons this week, and we spent them both at the park (perk #617 – someone else mowed the grass). We are a little spoiled for choice for playparks around here, and the one in our village has done us proud over the winter (all hail the bouncy rubber matting for wet weather playtime) but I’m afraid our allegiances are changing.
You see a few minutes drive from us is a park that has not only an excellent selection of swings, see-saws, slides and other clambery things so beloved of two year olds, it also has the nearest thing that I’m going to find to my childhood summers inside the county boundary: a beach!
Well, a splash pool anyway.
If Kitty was a little uncertain at first, she soon overcame any reluctance with a bit of sploshing in the shallowest bits and was soon striding out into the middle leaving her bucket and shapes clattering in her wake. At its deepest the pool comes up to her knees (about my mid calf), so it’s nothing quite so much as a large and significantly colder version of her evening bath, and with Elma parked up in her buggy on the ‘shore’, sometimes sleeping, sometimes making a concerted effort to chew the tail off her cat, I wandered along the waterline as Kit sploshed back and forth.
She’s really into We’re going on a Bear Hunt at the moment; they’ve been reading it at her nursery (plus actions), and it’s one of my favourites in the bedtime story rotation, so as the pool quietened down in that brief moment after the picnickers go home, just before the school children arrive, we stood in the middle of our ‘river’:
“We can’t go over it!”
“We can’t go under it!”
“Oh no! We ha to go true it”
And at the other side we found a tree with dancing leaves to mesmerise Elma while Kitty was rubbed dry and bustled back into her clothes, and just enough time left on the parking meter to run around to the see-saw and have a go on the slide.
(Look Mama – I’m flying)
I’m really hoping we get to spend lots more sunny afternoons there before it gets mobbed by the school holidays. But if this turns out to have been it as far as the summer goes, at least we spent it well.