Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Summer time love . . .
And seemingly overnight July arrives! I find I am always a bit surprised it's here. It's like . . . wasn't it just winter and now it's summertime! With any luck we will have a hot dry and sultry month, just like July is supposed to be. Not too sultry however . . . July can leave the humidity in the bottom drawer with her socks. We no like-ee.
There are no bank holidays in July . . . we have no Canada/Dominion Day or Independence Day. We just have July. Bank Holiday is the term they use over here to describe a day when the banks, post offices and maybe a few shops are closed. In the old days all shops would be closed, but nowadays most stay open so as to take advantage of all those folks not working . . . unless you are a shop worker, in which case you get paid extra to go to work.
The British love their Bank Holidays. Normally to go anywhere in the car on a Bank Holidays is an exercise in futility as you are sure to spend most of your day sitting in a hot car in a traffic queue because everyone has decided to go to the seaside, or the countryside, or the nearest National Trust place. (The National Trust is an organisation which preserves some of our finest homes, estates and woodlands here in the UK, so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come. When Beatrix Potter died she left most of her property to the National Trust, which means we can go and visit them and they remain just as they were in her lifetime. You pay a fee to visit them, but this fee goes towards upkeep and preservation.)
There is one day in July on the bank holiday/occasion calendar, which is Orangeman's Day on the 12th, but that's only celebrated in Ireland. In the rest of the UK we are . . . holiday-less. But we make up for it in August this year as we have two then. So there!
Not having an official day of celebration however doesn't mean we don't have something to celebrate.
This is the month of the summer fete! Summer fetes are fabulous events, which can be hot and dry or a complete washout depending on what the weather decides to do, but if the sun chooses to shine upon them, they are hot and glorious and very festive. With coconut shies and sack races, strawberries, fairy cakes, white elephant tables . . . bat-a-rat stalls, pickle and preserve and cake competitions, pet shows, tugs-of-war, fancy dress and the ubiquitous Morris Dancers . . .
I adore watching Morris Dancers! The Morris Dance is a type of English Folk Dance, usually done only by men, and accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. I love to watch them. They really get you in a mood for celebration!
I found this video of some Morris Dancers to show you and they actually happen to be in Chester City so you can see a bit of the lovely place I get to live in!
Summer Fetes are great and can vary as much as the villages and towns which celebrate them.
One place that you will find most people flocking to in July, in good weather . . . is the great British seaside! We're an Island and we have sea-sides in abundance. With Promenade strolls, candy rock and floss, icecreams on the pier, Punch and Judy shows, paddling in the shallows, shell collecting, donkey rides and fish and chips, we Brits do love to celebrate the seaside and there is no greater month to do it in than in July when the schools break off and the living is easy. You have to get there pretty eary to get a parking space, but if you can manage that, you are in for a lovely day of sun, sand and frivolity! Picnics by the seaside . . . there is nothing nicer. I have always wanted to go and book an overnight stay for one or two nights at a seaside town, so that Todd and can experience walking along the pier when the sun is going down and the lights are coming on. Some of the more popular seaside towns have amusements and rides . . . crazy golf, dodge-em cars, merry go rounds, etc. . . . and of course penny arcades where you can try to win yourself a teddy bear or some other cheap gift. I suppose the American equivalent would be something like Coney Island.
At their hey day in the post War 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's summertime found a lot of families going to what was known as Holiday Camps. Cheap and affordable, they provided opportunities for a family to holiday ensemble in an enclosed environment which provided everything from accomodation and meals to entertainment for the whole family, with activities planned for every age group from sun up to sun down. They are not as popular these days as they were back then, but you can still find them . . . although they are more likely to be called Holiday Parks now. With the affordablity of the foreign holiday, these days a lot of people choose to go abroad rather than stay here in the UK where the weather is not very reliable. I think I would have enjoyed going to a Holiday Camp when my children were growing up. We never ever went on holidays however. It just wasn't within our means at all. If we had any money to travel at all, we went home to visit our parents with the kids so they could get to know their grandparents better.
I think in July the thing that we celebrate most here in the UK is just plain old summer. We catch every ray of sunshine that we can and celebrate it to the hilt. We're in our gardens and out and about. Bicycling and hiking and gardening. Enjoying the sunshine and nature and just being British. We're great picnickers. We love the great outdoors. We love to amble and we do it rain or shine. We love Mr Whippy's with nice fat chocolate flake bars stuck into them. We love hot cones of chips smelling of malt vinegar and salt, mingled with the smell of the sea. Burnt cheap sausages mascarading as hot dogs, slathered in hot mustard . . . and outdoor concerts, lawn bowling and croquet . . . strawberries, Pims and Wimbledon.
That is the British summer . . . I have to say that what I love most about it is that there are no extremes. We may get the odd really hot and humid day, but for the most part it's just plain lovely and agreeably comfortable. Kind of like us really . . .
Someone got a haircut for the summer! Baxter looks like a completely different dog! Still as adorable as ever though, I would have to say. We were supposed to be taking Mitzie today to be bathed and clipped, but the groomer called last night to say his wife is in the hospital so he had to cancel her appointment. I hope he is able to fit her in soon however. She really is looking quite shaggy!
And that's all I have to say for today. It's a gorgeous day out there so I may grab the Toddster and amble over to a seaside or some such. We shall see. In the meantime here is a thought to carry around with you all day . . .
Each fairy breath of summer,
as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Crispy Chicken Casserole.
Have a fabulous Wednesday!
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