An explosion of August-ness

I have to say, summer is not my favourite time of year. Yes, there’s colour and sunshine and spectacular thunderstorms, but somehow it’s all a bit green and mad. I think, what it comes down to, is that in summer, I feel grumpy that I can’t be outside when I want to (for now, work, and I’m rubbish in the heat), and, more to the point, it’s at this time of year that I feel everything has completely overtaken me and I just can’t keep up.

The Smallest Smallholding in August is a riot. Bindweed, thistles, rampant brambles (which are currently producing big fat juicy crops of berries, so they’re not ALL bad), grass, grass and more grass are all growing, exploding or tangling around my years. Weeds have taken over the borders, the veg plots are doing well but looking nothing short of chaotic, and I just tend to close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening.

Of course I love the busy-ness of the bees hard at work, ladybirds beetling around, the haphazard blurs as butterflies follow an erratic flight path from buddleia to buddleia. Blackbirds hopping across the fence, hidden finches tinkling in the trees and rotund woodpigeons ambling around the lawn.

But the simple fact is that at this time of year, I feel like I can’t cope with this much space. Not with work. Actually,  not even when I was freelancing. I haven’t found a way to make it work when I’m so pressed for time, and with less inclination than I’ve had in the past.

To be honest, it just makes me feel more and more like I’m slipping away from my quest for the Good Life. I find myself thinking, ‘if I really wanted it, I’d be working harder’. Of course, I love the idea of it, but in practice, am I made for it? Can I really do it? I don’t know.

I’ve decided to hand over the responsibility of the allotment to Mum. I just don’t have the time to be down there, and feeling responsible for it all the time (even though it was always our allotment) has left me feeling like I’ve got this medium-sized albatross hanging around my neck. It was different when I took it on; I was freelancing, the recession wasn’t really here so work was fairly abundant and I didn’t know that little over a year later I’d be back in full-time work.

I just wonder how I’ll feel in a few months’ time when the evenings draw in, and I wake in the dark and make my homeward-bound journey in the dark too. I wonder how much I’ll be craving sitting outside with the countless fat bumble bees, butterflies, wishing I was weeding away. I’ll have forgotten about pesky wasps, annoying flies and headaches from being too hot, being woken up at stupid o’clock because that’s just when sunrise is, and the relentless screaming of overexcited children during the summer holidays.

What I’m really looking forward to is Autumn. I think Autumn is my favourite season; when you get that very, very slight chill on the air, but the sun is still fairly warm and golden in the evenings. My favourite curcubits and root vegetables come into season in Autumn, it’s when I can revel in glorious soups and stews, stodgy crumbles and custard. Then there’s the frosty mornings, the riot of colour as the leaves turn, collecting firewood in anticipation of evenings spent infront of a crackling fire. The feeling that the rush and business of summer is over, and that it’s time to sit back and relax a little, and join the birds and mice in foraging, and stuffing your face in preparation for winter.


  1. What a fantastic photograph, and what a gorgeous pair of pussycats.

    I don’t think you’re doing so badly, Lucy. These are hard times for us all, and if you’re in full-time work and earning a living… well, I reckon that counts as Success right now.

    ‘Jam Tomorrow’ never did it for me. But as things stand at the moment, most folks’ dreams are on hold to some extent.

    PS I feel exactly like you do about Summer. Love it and loathe it, because the untidiness, the weeds and the work just start to drown me. Roll on, autumn.

  2. I also tend to suffer from end of Summer melancholy. I can’t remember which gardening TV presenter said this now, but it was something along the lines that for gardeners Autumn was forgiveness. All the things we never quite got done are buried under a blanket of leaves and eventually frost. So enjoy your soups and stews without feeling bad and you’ll be making plans for next Spring before you know it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, mice and birds don’t have day jobs!!

    Love the pic of the ladybug and your cats look very pleased with their owner!

  3. Don’t feel bad about it. Sometimes I swing back and forth between loving and hating the idea of the Good Life. I abandoned my garden for an entire year once when I was busy with work and burnt out. I just covered things over with carpet and plastic to stop the weeds growing and left it.

    John Seymour and other purists would have us believe unless you have five acres, a cow and a tractor you’re not living the good life. The reality is whatever little bit you can do is fine. Do the bits you enjoy and leave the rest.

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