Thursday, 12 June 2014

Here Comes Summer

Summer seems to have landed here in Berkshire. I know this not only because of the mild sunburn I acquired over the weekend but also because I heard Don Henley's Boys of Summer on the radio during the week. Although summer isn't my favourite season (that's Autumn and all it's Back To School glory) I can't deny I love the longer days, warmer weather and all the opportunities that affords me. I'm not very good in the cold. How I got through a winter of marathon training I'll never know. I'm a bit like a lizard... I need some warmth to get going.

The storms on Saturday morning cleared enough for me to take a trial gliding session early afternoon. This was something that had been on my "Things to do before my next birthday" list and I was a bit nervous. I've done a bit of flying before but gliding is essentially free-falling and therefore is on a similar risk level to sky-diving, in my mind. My instructor, Graham, briefed me on what all the levers and instruments did before supervising me strap into the parachute and getting us underway. There are two ways a glider can get into the sky, by winch launch (which looks pretty dramatic) or tow from a plane. We got towed up to 2,500 feet, unclipped and soared around in the sky for almost 20 minutes looking out over the Isle of Wight, Reading and beyond. And it was glorious. So quiet and serene. I was allowed to take control of the glider and take us through some turns to try and find the thermals we could see other gliders making use of. There are few things more beautiful than seeing a host of gliders circling lazily and elegantly upwards on a thermal. I was given a certificate and a £5 voucher to spend in the cafe where I sat with a slab of banana cake vowing to make use of my three months temporary membership to come back and try a winch launch.

The rest of the weekend offered some unexpectedly unplanned, a rare treat indeed, so I decided to take a trip back to Kent to visit my parents, or rather my mum in particular seeing as how I've just spent two weeks with my Dad in America. We spent a lot of time chatting and lazing in the sun with magazines and the Sunday supplements, moving only for a stroll around the park, to replenish our glasses of iced tea and eat a delicious meal on the patio. We were outside almost as long as light would allow and then a little longer to watch the International space station pass over. It was utter bliss and I managed to banish all feelings of guilt from inactivity.
Fantastic alfresco luncheon
Much as I love lazing around, it's against my nature to do so very often as I generally feel I should be "doing" something but I'm making more effort to get the balance right over the summer. Lunchtime runs with work buddies have made a reappearance on Mondays and Thursdays wherever possible and I'm still trying out a few different classes. I was meant to be trying a dance class on Tuesday but it got cancelled, leaving me at a bit of a loose end and loathe to spend a beautiful evening in the gym so I established myself and a book on a bench by the lake round the corner instead. One passerby commented that I had "the right idea" but otherwise I was undisturbed save for a pair of swans teaching their cygnets how to duck for food.
My view of the lake
It's also the start of the season of abundance on the allotment. I was gifted some strawberry plants last autumn and they're proving to be very fruitful... I've had about five punnets worth already, perfect with the last of my homemade balsamic ice cream! For the first time since I planted it 3 years ago I've had a good crop from my gooseberry bush and I'm looking forward to the promise of home grown spuds (blue and white varieties), tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, figs and assorted salad. There's nothing like homegrown food to encourage healthy and creative meal planning.
Flapjack, straight-from-the-plot strawberries and yogurt... my kind of breakfast
This summer I'm looking forward to alfresco meals, home made iced tea and lollies, adventures with friends, reading in the sun, evening runs in the forest and rocking the local running track in my shorts and croptop.

What signifies the start of summer to you? What are you looking forward to?

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