This morning I needed to pick up a parcel from Witney sorting depot before they returned it to the sender. Whenever I have to drive in I tend to listen to Radio 2. Yes, I know, but it’s closest to the frequency of my iTrip, and so the first station I find when I tune away from it. This morning Wogan was reading out some communiqués from his self-styled curmudgeonly viewers, and one said that there was suddenly a nip of autumn in the air, because the weather had cooled down and it had started to rain.
Far from it. Having had the qualified privilege of spending most of my childhood summers outside at the park where the family caravan was stationed, this cooler weather is reminding me of my youth. Not wishing to unfurl all the sails on my personal nostalgia skiff, I primarily remember every summer month but August as being an alternation between gentle sun and even gentler rain. That’s what having temperate weather means: even-tempered, moderate in all its vices. Such weather is healthy and refreshing, and enables one to enjoy the outdoors, rather than having to travel between bits of it with the windows up so the air-conditioning “works.”
The Cotswolds are thriving off this weather: the fields, dried to dust by the sweep of a harvest and several days of baking sun, have begun to exude the smell of fresh soil and mown crops; animals are more lively and spend less of their time sheltering under trees from the heat and sudden, unrefreshing torrents of water and hail; the number of cyclists on the roads has diminished, but there are more joggers, and the people I do see are much happier to be moving around without stickiness and discomfort. Deep in the bones of anyone who has grown up in this country, and especially in those of the pale, sickly types such as me who have been bred to its climate over generations, this is the sort of summer we desire.