ALERT: Summer

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel pretty behind on Summer. It’s mid-June, I’m wearing tights, and my scorecard looks like this:

Barbeques: 1
Sunburn: 1 bout, mild, on the shoulders
Afternoons spent laid out on the grass: Half
Times at which sunglasses were genuinely needed: 1
Magnum ice creams: 756*

So, amen to this. And amen to Nathan Rao at The Express for saying it:

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Get the razor and fake tan out, gals.

Apparently “temperatures are poised to skyrocket over the next 48 hours as a plume of sweltering air sweeps in from the tropics”. Say no more, Nathan. If you, like me, are now panicking about your lack of Summer preparation, here’s a selection of lovely fun items you can pick up from supermarkets and retail parks on your lunch break, for emergency barbeques and frolics that are long overdue. They’re all pretty cheap, too.

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Strawberry napkins, Sainsburys; BBQ napkins, Sainsburys; Grey picnic rug, Wilko; Pink faux plant tray, Primark; Citronella bamboo torch, The Range; Fruiti wine goblet, The Range; Three ice cream cones, Wilko; Havana stripe bowl, The Range; Pineapple glass jar, The Range; Glow in the dark mushroom stake, The Range; Floral bunting, Wilko.

* Never weather-dependent

How to keep the outdoors vibe in Autumn

It’s 9pm, three days into official Autumn, and it’s pitch black outside.

Despite the promise of beautiful crunchy leaves, flavoured lattes and pink cheeks for the next three months, the end of light nights does make you want to a) hibernate b) survive only on a diet of hot chocolate and pasta, and c) do nothing else.

It takes a lot to roll the duvet cover back and get outside at this time of year, so start slowly with some garden/balcony time. We’ve managed it over the last few weekends and feel a lot better for it:

  • Don’t give up on the outdoors. Do what you need to make your garden cosy, and keep seeing it as a room you can use all year round. Chimineas give off loads of heat in the evening (and will definitely toast marshmallows), inexpensive throws and cushions will soften up hard garden furniture, and boozy warm drinks will make a perfect evening outside. Try hot chocolate with amaretto or, if you’re hanging onto the summer vibe, a Mexican Agua Fresca. We had it with a barbeque a few weeks ago and it is delicious with a splash of vodka and soda water instead of water.

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  • Clean the windows. Tidy windows, tidy mind. It takes no time at all (so you can get back to the sofa in mere minutes) and you can blitz the WEIRD spider egg balls that hide in the corners and inevitably wander into the house at some point..
  • Add some fairy lights or lamps to your garden. Drape them over a tree, along a fence or dot individual lamps along the edge of a flower bed. We have little solar powered stars twisted around our rose arch and they really take the edge off six months of black.

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  • Rake up the leaves. This will offer no psychological benefit whatsoever, as they’ll be back in two days. But put your back into it for half an hour and you can burn 100 calories, and get an outdoors glow that no highlighter can match.
  • Plant daffodils. I can’t resist daffodils – who can feel glum with a bunch of them waving at you in the wind? Scrabbling around planting bulbs in Autumn might feel like a chore when you won’t see any action ’til March, but you’ll be thankful of it in Spring.
  • Plant herbs. We planted tiny bunches of mint, parsley, chives and rosemary a few months ago, and we could sell it by the bunch now. They don’t need much looking after, you can grow them on your windowsill and you’ll find ways to sprinkle them into everything. You are the Queen of Herbs.
  • Invest in a garden survival kit. Whatever it takes to make things exciting, whether it’s pulling on a pair of fun wellies or knowing your freshly painted nails won’t meet any rough surfaces…

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Stats taken from Saga

Lovely items from:
Birds and the bees boxes, notonthehighstreet.com; Heart fairy lights, B&Q; Ceramic herb pots, Debenhams; Gardening gloves, B&Q; Tealight holder, Orla Kiely; Striped wellies, Sainsburys.