I start each summer with a clear idea in my head.
As the long summer months stretch out ahead, I excitedly plan the trips I’ll take with my family, the BBQs we’ll host and the half stone I’ll shift so I can comfortably don my denim shorts.
I dig out my daughter’s paddling pool and note the dates of local fairs and galas in my diary. I file away recipes for refreshing summer salads and imagine how great it will be to have all our clothes drying on the washing line in the garden, rather than on radiators around the house.
And then, somehow, in the blink of an eye, we’re heading towards September and I realise that things haven’t worked out quite as I’d hoped.
We did manage a BBQ. I remember it clearly. I’d called my husband excitedly as I watched the sun beating down from my air-conditioned office. We agreed he’d buy meat on the way home, I’d pick Imogen up from her grandparents and we’d meet in the garden. Perfect. Except by the time we actually got home, the sun had already cooled and we ended up having to pull on jeans and jumpers. Then it started to rain just as the burgers were done, so we ate them in the kitchen with Immy looking wistfully out the window at her slide. This seems to happen to us a lot.
I watch in envy our next door neighbours whose own garden consistently has the most wonderful BBQ smells coming from it for a full four months of the year. They’re out there every evening, when we get home from work, the kids running around giggling and playing in the paddling pool, looking the picture of health and summer happiness. We’re inside slopping suncream on a frustrated toddler and frantically blowing up her paddling pool in an effort to get outside with her and catch the last rays of the day, which we always seem to just miss.
On the rare occasions everything comes together, I find myself getting click-happy with my iPhone, trying to take enough pictures of Immy eating icecream and splashing in the garden, so that when she’s older, we may just be able to fool her into thinking that’s how our summers really were spent.
The reality is that I usually misplace my summer salad recipe cards and end up serving spaghetti bolognese on the hottest days of the year, and remember the washing machine of wet clothes after the sun has gone down.
But I’m remaining optimistic, there’s still a few weeks of summer left. So if, like me, the summer is getting away from you, grab it by the scruff of the neck now and make the last month count.