I'm not sure if the hot weather has broken, but there are clouds today, interspersed with the sun, bringing hope of rain. The rain is desperately needed. Fields are brown and corn is ripening at an alarming rate. The countryside looks more like September than July. And the hedgehogs are thirsty and coming out to look for water. A sweet little thing was in the driveway last week, so I've put out water.
English summer things abide. We've been to a party in the garden of a house in Norfolk, with Pimms and white wine, and heels sinking into the lawn. And I was worried I was dressed too loudly. And that my heels may have been too high. It's hard to find the balance. DM's ex was there too, just for added angst. So what do you do but drink too much sauvignon blanc and dance just a little too enthusiastically at the silent disco? The following day we floated out to sea on the North Norfolk coast. The sea was warm and sandy and inviting, and it was all washed away. I am not sure much beats swimming in a warm, gently rolling sea with the one you love, while English holiday-makers frolic with colored beach umbrellas and throw tennis balls for their black labradors in the background. And England had won their game, so everyone was happy.
And driving around the Norfolk countryside, along tiny lanes with arched hedges that practically meet in the middle, by families walking with dogs, bike riders in their lycra, staring intently at the road, cattle lazily flicking away flies, groves of horse chestnut trees in large, formal fields, eccentric little bridges, and crazy Queen Anne architecture, and found objects. My friend has a large iron cart wheel, just the rim of it, ancient and rusted, hanging in the tree above their pond, like an Anthony Gormley sculpture, providing a specific and site-specific view. The essence of the land in one little circular piece of metal.
A friend I haven't known for years and hardly knew as a child really, but someone I oddly felt connected to, is an artist, and we were surprised and delighted to go to the arts fair she helps run. Serious work. Good work. Strong work. Nothing like what you'd expect in a sleepy little country village. A lovely surprise. But best of all to know you have found your people. "I feel like myself when I'm with her" I said to DM. It's true. We laugh as if we're 12. We're children. That's a very good feeling. Seek out those with whom you feel childlike.
The dogs, I'm unhappy to report, are still very very naughty. At a little birthday in Hyde Park last night, they rushed enthusiastically at every other dog - a lurcher and a rather gentle Weimeraner - with the ferocity of storm troopers. The Weimeraner, uncharacteristically named Scooby, fell in love with Bean, and as you do when you're in love, followed her everywhere and wanted to do everything she was doing, including stealing chicken bones from the trash bag under the table. Old and young, human and canine, on the grass, with blankets and rosé and tiny cupcakes, until it was dark and we realized it was time to go home. A lovely way to celebrate a birthday.
English things abide. A nice man is boxing in our bathroom cupboard so that the mice no longer congregate there for group therapy and potluck suppers. His name is Neil and he lives in Tring and he has told me that it will cost between 600 and 800 pounds to replace the windows in the house. I am worried that they won't last another winter. He agrees, which makes me feel slightly less OCD.
The gooseberries are doing extremely well. We've decided to harvest them this week, for jam and crumble and fool and vodka.