Summer’s ripening breath

Perfect weather for the Annual Horticultural Association Coach Outing on Thursday, and everyone’s polite muttering about lack of air-conditioning in our Luxury Executive coach is soon forgotten at first sight of Great Dixter; house, gardens and surrounding countryside all looking stunning in July sunshine, and find it impossible not to smile at complete strangers when confronted with such glorious Technicolor exuberance.   Am, childishly, excited to bump into well-known Head Gardener down one narrow path, and tell him (no doubt to his great relief) that The Gardens Are Looking Good.

Return trip takes us through one ridiculously picturesque village after another, and we make afternoon stop in particularly charming town where I buy plasters, book about Homer, and a solar-powered hula girl model. Man from Head Office has meanwhile been despatched to fix coach’s air-conditioning, and we travel home in cool Executive comfort and general agreement that it has been A Lovely Day.

Spend yesterday doing best to resist Siren Call of garden and make some headway on overdue deskwork (efforts to resist further village duties having proved almost wholly futile). Decide that my confident observations to son about “Romeo and Juliet” in preparation for his Controlled Assessment on Monday might carry more weight if I had actually read the play,  so do so, and find own intermittent concerns about teenage relationships usefully Put Into Perspective.

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Bus to town this morning very late, giving unknown lady at bus stop ample opportunity to confide all current worries. Make what I hope are helpful suggestions, and we are just boarding bus when she suddenly asks whether I used to be a lawyer. Rather horrified to have been so precisely identified, and vow to be much more mysterious and enigmatic from now on.

Am joined on return journey by rather lost-looking German student, keen to spend day exploring England (she has been in London, but we agree that that is not at all the same thing). Discuss various possible itineraries, I apologise for gloomy weather, and we do our best to spy  typically English sights through misted-up windows.

Take younger son to watch Village Pantomime in evening.  Story, jokes and Dame all comfortingly familiar, lots of enthusiastic song and dance routines,  and plenty of Audience Participation, especially in second half (bar does brisk trade during interval). Congratulate parents, grandparents and everyone else I see, and walk home in crisp cold night singing Chapel of Love. (Son walks ahead.)