Yes I know I’m in the middle of a blog tour but since the publication of Watercolours in the Rain I’ve had more time to actually breathe. And during those moments of my new and wonderful freedom from my writing routine, I thought it was about time I turned my attention to my Writer’s Journey blog. So here I am, planning to jot down a few thoughts about this year’s warmer months.
The summer of 2016 has been one of the weirdest to say the least. It spent most of its time between late May and early September trying to decide whether it wanted to join us. Unlike 1976 when the UK basked in temperatures of 33 degrees for months, standpipes were introduced, we were encouraged to take baths together (!) and I resorted to doing the ironing in my underwear, the summer 2016 has been a bit of a shy season. It did eventually, albeit somewhat reluctantly, make an appearance, but rather too late to be of much benefit.
Our weather experiences began in February. We’d taken ourselves off to Sidmouth for a few days to celebrate OH’s birthday with friends. February/March is never a time of year when you can predict the weather – although on a ‘way back when’ occasion in 2008 in Devon , we actually got to sit in the garden of our rented house and eat lunch. This year, however, there were only three words to describe our experience – cold, damp and windy. Looking back now this was obviously an omen of things to come, but at the time we shrugged it off. It’s early in the year, we said. It’s bound to get better.
We may have had the daffodils but the weather was generally yuk!
In March we took a trip up to London to visit Greenwich and the Maritime Museum. Once more cold wind and its best friend, rain, greeted us. However returning to the Capital in April to see Kew (where we glimpsed David Attenborough filming) and Hampton Court Gardens (which were absolutely fabulous) we fared a little better with a few teasing glimpses of sunshine. That cold wind, however, was still reluctant to leave.
Grey skies over Canary Wharf in March but more spring-like in Richmond in April
We always go away for my birthday in May and this year I wanted a return trip to Fowey in Cornwall. Anywhere with boats and water has always appealed as it’s so atmospheric and relaxing. We’d been there the year before and fallen in love with it all over again, remembering it had been a regular holiday destination in the late 1990s. The house we stayed in was gorgeous with a great view of the estuary. Unfortunately it became a case of breaking out the wet weather gear again – although we did have ONE WHOLE DAY of hot, sunny weather. We were so pleased to see sunshine it actually fooled us into thinking we’d at last closed the door on the awful spring weather we’d been experiencing; that ahead there were warm, bright days to look forward to. But the next day the grey skies and sea mist were back once more.I guess the only saving grace during that week were the flowers, especially the rhododendrons – such a fabulous array of colours in contrast to those dull troubled skies.
A mix and match: Grey clouds, mist and sunshine but always the flowers
As June approached we felt by this time we really should be getting some sunshine…or maybe not. We rented an apartment in Salcombe during the second week of June and I remember the morning of a planned trip to Dartmouth. I drew the curtains to find sea mist completely obscuring everything beyond the balcony outside. It felt as if we were in an updated version of the 1980s film The Fog. All that was missing was the ghostly pirate ship with its demonic crew waving cutlasses as it crept into Salcombe shrouded by the gloom of the estuary. However, like Fowey there was ONE whole day – Wednesday – when we walked down to South Beach. I remember glorious wall-to-wall sunshine and sitting outside the Salcombe Harbour hotel eating lunch and telling myself the weather really was on the change. Of course it was – back to grey and rainy the next day as you can see from the shot of Burgh Island below.
The changing moods of South Hams, Devon
During July we went north to Liverpool for a few days. It’s an amazing place and if anyone reading this hasn’t already made it there, it should be a definite addition to their list of British cities to visit. I absolutely loved the place…and the people. On our first evening we found a restaurant which pulled in Monday night diners by offering a bottle of wine EACH when you ordered two or more courses. Needless to say this was far too much alcohol for even us to manage. As the restaurant didn’t allow the bottles to leave the premises, we added it to the wine collection of a large table of people celebrating a birthday.
All in all we had a wonderful stay, but, oh dear, the weather. There was an afternoon of sunny spells on the open top bus tour but other than that…wind and rain – same old, same old…so disappointing.
Liverpool: In sunshine and in shadow
Finally, our last break – September and one week in Desenzano on Lake Garda. I have an on-going love affair with Garda (or anywhere Italian for that matter) and we’ve stayed on the lake several times. As we got off the plane at Verona Airport, on went the shades. I thought yes! Sunshine at last! It was a fabulous week, especially the meet we had with friends for a drink in Garda on a scorching hot day. However, on the final afternoon coming back on the ferry from a trip to Sirmione just across the bay…you’ve guessed it…an absolute deluge which saw us sheltering in a coffee shop watching the locals running for cover.
Sunshine in Garda, rain in Desenzano
So, here we are, in the last few months of 2016 and I’m wondering what 2017 is going to bring. What’s in store weather-wise for next year? Shall we wheel out the reliable old seaweed to find out? Or maybe cling to those old country adages, such as red sky at night or rainbows in morning? Perhaps not. As usual it’s all in the lap of the gods. But I’m hopeful that maybe, just maybe, the jet stream will decided to get its act together and settle somewhere that will bring us the sunshine and the summer we deserve…here’s hoping!