The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like a long time ago now. Elizabeth seems a dear old lady, but I have mixed feelings about the institution of monarchy. I lived in Scotland, where the Crown has done some truly terrible things. My mum is from Wales, where the Crown has done some truly terrible things. I’m learning more and more about global British colonialism and imperialism, where, in the name of the Crown, some truly terrible things have been done. And I’m from Devon, a region with a proud history of rebelling against royalty. But at least the monarchy does have some accountability to the public, unlike faceless multinational corporations or the likes of Richard Branson, spending our carbon budget on flying into space. So we went to stay with our friends in the Pennines, walked the hills, fed the chickens, had a go at driving a tractor, toasted sausages on a fire, thanked Liz for an extra bank holiday, and ignored the Jubilee.
At the allotment, I turned back the tarpaulin covering the muck heap and found the most enormous, elegant slow worm relishing the warmth. I speedily dug out what I needed, careful not to disturb her, and pulled the cover back down. I love the allotment for these sorts of encounters with wildlife. These moments always catch me when I’m least expecting it and make me smile for the rest of the day.
So far, other than my parsnips, which haven’t come up at all despite re-sowing, it’s turning out to be a good growing year on the plot. The sweet peas have been magnificent and we have jam jars full around the house every week. We’ve gorged on strawberries and raspberries. My experiments with perennial kale and cabbage are going well. And my red Duke of York new potatoes have been delicious – not a bit of blight.
I attended an in-person book event at our local independent bookshop, Bookbag, the other week. I’ll just say that again… an in-person book event! The event was part of the Africa Writes Festival and featured Karla Neblett, author of the King of Rabbits, a story of class and race in rural Somerset. I loved hearing about how she had been inspired to write this story for the men in her life and found her thoughts on the loss of a key family member severing a link to your heritage very poignant. But mostly, it was just really lovely to be at an in-person book event! Too often, I think I’m too tired to get along to things like this, but a bookshop event is not like going out in the ‘socialising’ sense. You sit and listen to people talking about wonderful books in the soothing atmosphere of a bookshop. There’s no pressure to make conversation or ask questions if you don’t want. And Bookbag are only up the road… so, one of my resolutions is to get along to more events.
We went camping last weekend with my sister. We usually go at this time of year. We head to a remote, rural spot where we love to mark the lightest days. I say camping but really our camping days are done and we stayed in a cute little wooden pod with views over the fields. I did my knee in playing rounders, which was okay because it was time for snuggling up under camp blankets with a hot chocolate. I had to share this picture with you; the sun setting over the fields. Whenever I have lived away from Devon, the thing I have missed most is lingering evenings. No British county (whispers: perhaps Cornwall!) does evenings like Devon.
I am posting this after getting back from the summer school fete, where it didn’t rain, though it did look threatening. I’ve had my head down in edits so I wasn’t doing my usual PTA duties and this year, I was able to wander the stalls with Wren (Finch was off with his mates). I managed to steer her clear of the Colour Table (colour-themed raffle prizes, win every go) in case we won back our donations!
There will be no blog post from me next month. Last year, I took August off from social media and found it was a helpful month of recalibration, so I’m doing the same this year. Comments will be off on this post as I get so much spam and really can’t face coming back to the sheer volume of unpleasantness that will have accumulated. I’ll share this post on Twitter however, and would love to hear your thoughts there. But for now, I hope you have a good summer and that the light-filled days, lighten your soul.