Summertime Gladness Day Three:

This weekend has been an absolute joy. The sort of weekend that makes you feel all warm and content inside. It was one of those summery weekends that just stretch before you, a little eternity. A mini forever bookended between Friday and Monday.

It started with a car journey, the radio on full blast, windows down, a flurry of haphazard follicles. Racing along the motorway, my boyfriend focusing on the road ahead, whilst I played disc jockey and admired my newly painted toenails as they wiggled in my wedges.

We were headed for a garden party complete with succulent hog roast, to celebrate a family friends Ruby Wedding Anniversary. And it was a day full of delight, of laughter and a collection of smiles as we all celebrated 40 years of happy marriage. Occasions like this excite and inspire me, because one day I’d very much love to be stood in a marquee in the July sun, my hair greying slightly and my skin wrinkled and crinkled at the corners of my eyes, with my hand clasped in the hand of the one that I love with my entire being, celebrating our lives together.

garden 2

The hog was outstandingly delicious and I’m kicking myself now, for not having snapped a picture of the pig in all it’s glory but I was distracted by the crackling. The afternoon was spent frolicking in the family swimming pool which was full to the brim with lots of children under 8, an open invitation for us to act like children ourselves; joining in with their games and shrieks of laughter.

Once dried and with make up re-applied, we sat on the lawn. White chairs stood studded with the bodies of the older folk, whilst, us younger ones, opted for the prickly, browning grass; the green crispness having diminished slightly under the sun’s throbbing. And on the terrace music began to trickle onto the grass and soon enough everyone was swaying and clapping along to the old ditties that the couple knew when they were ‘courting’ as well as a medley of seemingly ageless children’s songs such as the wheels on the bus and here we go round the mulberry bush, shortly followed by some classic Disney songs. Champagne and cake were next on the agenda. Sipping the golden fizz in the evening rays, warm and tired from the swim and the shower, it dawned on me that I only have two weeks left of work until I can enjoy six whole weeks off. It may have been the champagne bubbles swimming to my head, but I suddenly felt giddy and numb to any pre-existing worries.

The evening ended with a symphony of goodbye hugs, half empty promises to see each other again soon and a search for my boyfriends misplaced contact lens. The journey home was swift and there was a peach Melba sky to accompany us on our way. We travelled via Sainbury’s to pick up some bread so that we could have cheese on toast with red onions for tea. Snuggled on the sofa, nibbling at our toasted bagels, oozing with cheesey, oniony goodness, I once again felt a sense of gratitude. At that exact moment there was no place I’d rather be. If a travel agent had knocked on the door offering me a free holiday to Australia, I honestly think I would have politely declined.

Ingredients to make Rebecca happy:

  • Best boy I know
  • Comfy sofa
  • Cheese on toast
  • An episode of Gordon Ramsey
  • Freshly brewed cuppa

I couldn’t have been happier. It really is the simple things.

Sunday came around quickly and was an unexpected pleasure. The weekends are normally really busy for Oli and I, we have various church commitments that limit our freedom a little. But this sunday after church, we were completely free. A blank and vast canvas of an afternoon stretched before us. I had this unquenchable desire to go fruit picking since June and finally a window had appeared in which to make such a reminiscent dream come true. As a child I’d often gone strawberry and blackberry picking with my family and somewhere from deep within my subconscious was this need to rekindle such an experience.

I also had a strong urge to have a picnic and so Oli (who is incredibly accommodating of my whimsical summer yearnings) and I busied ourselves in the kitchen preparing Smoked Salmon and Prawn baguettes, along with salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, apples, some chocolate chip cookies, crisps and a bottle of squash. We loaded this all into the car, along with a picnic rug and headed for the National Trust’s West Green House Garden, where we promptly devoured our edible bounty.

After mooching around the absolutely gorgeous gardens, sunbathing by the lake where we enjoyed a lengthy conversation about soft drinks – both currently available to buy and ones that no longer exist – we journeyed three minutes down the road to West Green Fruits, the PYO fruit farm. And so we spent an hour searching for ruby red treasures amongst a low canopy of green leaves and a bed of thick cut straw. We also popped a great deal straight into our hungry mouths, but that goes without saying really. It’s only to be expected. They were exquisite, sweet and juicy and…well, just perfect really.

We ventured home, the box of strawberries at my feet as I nodded off, the whirr of the engine sending me straight to sleep. Oli made the best chicken and white wine risotto for dinner and we finished it off with a bowl of the red fruit we’d scavenged earlier with some double cream. Semi healthy, right?

Yes, it was one of those weekends that replenish and restore you, ready for the week ahead. And today I cannot help but smile because it was so idyllic and countrified. And I suppose in an immature way, I felt quite grown up, self sufficient almost. Picking my own fruit, arriving at the Ruby Wedding Anniversary party as part of a couple, no parents, just the two of us.

I feel grateful to summer. Grateful for the warm air, the brightness, the need to squint, for the little berries of vibrant colour that are just asking to be devoured. Preferably with icecream.

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