As the summer comes to a close (sorry folks, we must face facts) and autumn draws in, it’s time to get back into a routine, settle in for some quiet nights as TV ups its game and start setting the alarm again. As a teacher (and I’m sure many fellow teachees will agree) – during the summer holidays, I feel the most ‘me’ of all. No longer exhausted everyday, finally able to keep up going to regular exercise classes, taking the time to cook healthy meals and seeing the VIPs in my life all contributes to feeling the most completed human.
This summer, after having a pretty tough year overall, I wanted to make sure that rest and looking after myself was the main priority. To do this, rather than escape to a faraway country, I made the most of a good old-fashioned Great British Summer. When it comes to the UK as an island, I’m a huge patriot. There are so many beautiful places just a short drive away – I honestly think our countryside and beaches are some of the most fantastic in the world.
I started off with a summer standard – a wedding in the countryside. One of my oldest friends in Brighton had a wonderful wedding at a farm in West Sussex and I was privileged enough to make it into the Brides Tribe. It was a quintessential classic. From the beautiful wild flower arranged barn down to the mismatched tea-set and garden games, it made for a great day.
One thing that I always love about a wedding is the people – with everyone in their best dressed in one place, it was a great reminder of what a fantastic group of people my friends are – from jewellery makers to designers and all-round awesome people – so talented, kind-hearted and thoughtful.
A summer in Brighton wouldn’t be complete without Pride! I’ve always loved what Pride brings to the city; rainbows, outrageous-ness, glitter, love, fun and overall compassion for our fellow humans (that, and it was where I met the love of my life). This year was no exception. My friend Kate and I partied until the early hours covered in pink glitter and false eyelashes.
The next stop on the GB tour was up to Whitby in North Yorkshire. Every now and again my huge family all get together for a summer holiday in a big house somewhere. The days are usually filled with eating, drinking, chatting & a huge game of hide & seek – as well as a bit of exploring.
Whitby is a seaside classic. A cute town with little pubs, lovely long beach and the moody remains of an abbey on the cliff side. We flew kites, went fossil hunting, gorged on fish and chips and froze to death (a normal Yorkshire holiday tradition). With its link with Dracula, there’s plenty of spooky gothic shops and an excuse to perform a comedy play (my family are nuts FYI and I love it.)
Back to the South Coast, Brighton was being its usual lush self and spoiling us with hot beach days, bbqs and awesome sunsets. It never gets old. Wiling away the hours with swimming, hanging out with friends, more eating & drinking (obvs) is what summer holidays are about. I always love the Olympics and it quickly became a daily obsession. If you don’t get an overwhelming sense of pride watching people achieve ultimate human endeavors then quite frankly you’re a moron.
A new coffee shop/ bakery opening on the end of my road meant an increase in caffeine in my system but sitting outside reading a book in the sun with a long black is just….. yes. Ahhh…. Summer!!
Late August arrived and I travelled my usual route back to the shire to see my family for a weekend and celebrate my beautiful Mum’s birthday. It was always going to be an odd day, and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about it. I couldn’t possibly miss her more than I do, so that wouldn’t be different, but ‘firsts’ of anything the year after feels pretty big. In the end, surrounding myself with those closest to me and just ‘feeling the feels’ was all it called for. The weather in West Yorkshire is a completely different climate to the rest of the country and of course it was absolutely bucketing it down the whole time I was there. Not wanting to make it a morbid or woeful affair on the day, we braced the gale force winds and rain to walk to ‘Mum’s place’ – shed a few tears, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ into the wind and smiled as the sun came out and a rainbow appeared again. You see, you can’t have a rainbow without the rain.
The summer stretched on, with days of laying in, making healthy foods and heading to the gym, I truly felt like ‘myself’ – recharged at last from the battering of work and grieving at the same time. More beach days stretching into lazy evenings and a few trips into the Sussex downs made me feel utterly spoilt. Borde Hill is a gorgeous spot to visit on a summers day if you want to surround yourself with flowers and cream teas (and who doesn’t!)
The summer ended with more rain and even more smiles. I headed to Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion – Wales, with some of the best people I know. Portmeirion is truly ‘a place like no other’ – seriously, go there. Now. Or whenever – but stick it on the bucket list. The only way to describe it is to throw more adjectives than you can shake a stick at – here goes… The striking Snowdonia National Park creates the backdrop for an extraordinary town designed to look like Portofino, which overlooks a stunning estuary, and is the cherry topping on the incredible setting. Add to the fact that it’s a festival (and I LOVE a festival!) – I was the cat who got the cream all weekend. Even the deluge of rain that flooded the campsite couldn’t dampen my spirits. With the best mix of comedy, music, Michelin star chefs banquets, beautiful venues and wonderful humans, it has to be the most memorable festival I’ve been to. I’ll be sure to return.
The summer has been good to me this year and I’m actually going into the September looking forward to cosy-red-wine-nights. So Autumn, I’m ready for you….