Balloon Repair Station

Steve Roake – What makes British Summers so special?

Coming to the end of September you know the weather is about to turn for the worse, you reflect upon the last few weeks and how glorious the weather has actually been and how much you appreciate British Summers, but when did you actually sit down and consider what it is that makes the summers here so lovely. To me, I think it is the mix of such diverse instances of tradition coupled with an iconic simplicity that we all take for granted that forms the collage that adds both pageantry and structure to the whole occasion.

The British summer has some iconic events that everyone associates with summer, whether that be Wimbledon, Strawberries and Tennis, or Chelsea and the Hampton Court Flower shows, Glorious Goodwood, perhaps Cowes week, or those Festivals dotted across the country that take in Period Architecture and picnics on manicured lawns with classic cars everywhere, there is an accepted format to the occasion that everyone revels in.

I believe it’s even more fundamental than that. Who hasn’t enjoyed the sight of 13 grown men trying to get their “whites” dirty on the quaint village green seen from the seats outside a thatch roofed Pub? This scene isn’t unique to any area. Its punctuated by the odd classic car receiving an airing, or two to three bikers out enjoying the sunshine or even perhaps, as the sun starts to drift lower, a local balloonist setting up on the green and gently setting off into the stillest skies.

There is definitely something to be said for getting out there and immersing yourself in the ambience. Whether you are walking through a local village beauty spot by a river, cycling through the back roads past the corn ready to harvest or driving along those roads we all have in the back of our brains where the flow of the road is just as enjoyable going slowly with your summer’s music blaring, the adventure puts you into a decent frame of mind.

A trip to the local takes on new meaning as the combination of heat, sunshine, alcohol and atmosphere refines our well-being. We love quirky things and the more eccentric they are, generally, the better received they are. A group of people dancing around a maypole with ribbons attached to their ankles isn’t seen as barmy because it harks back to tradition. After those long winter months of wind rain and doom and gloom, people are mainly in a happier place.

The draw to be besides the seaside infuses in our minds and we flock to be alongside the lapping of the waves whilst basking on sandy beaches enjoying over-priced ice creams and traditional Fish and Chips. We even tolerate the over priced car parks telling ourselves it’s worth the pain for the gain.

Stately Homes open their doors to all who are prepared to pay a king’s ransom to glimpse at the lifestyles we can only dream about. Decorative follies and manicured gardens are essential elements in the cocktail of attractions that we all subscribe to. Nowhere does it quite like the British, so they say, and based upon the evidence, they are right. Pensioners perfecting the best “end” whilst playing Lawn bowls in the village simply typifies a traditional midweek gathering.

A simple act of climbing a hill and flying a kite from the top is a truly memorable event especially if completed with a youngster. How many times have you taken the impromptu picnic and found a quiet spot to enjoy your cucumber sandwiches or on the way home from work, stopped at your favourite butchers shop to get choice cuts for the Barbeque. The sheer pleasure of wafting smells coming across your neighbours’ fences as they burn the meat is an experience on its own, coupled with a tranquil sunset and House Martins completing aerobatics as they hunt for airborne insects just adds substance to the setting.

I love to hear the sound of running water and watch the wildlife go about their daily tasks, perhaps loiter on a hump backed bridge and catch a sight of a kingfisher darting across the river in search of its next meal. The Lone fisherman at one with nature as they quietly sit by their bivvy ever watchful, awaiting the bobbing of their float as a fish takes the bait.

There is something special about waking up fresh in the morning having spent the night under canvas and cooking your own breakfast with the first cup of tea, the whole scene still serene from the quiet of night having glimpsed an owl taking flight just prior to sunset and then hearing it hunt in the still calm conditions.

Some people are intent on spending their whole lives rushing from one place to the next at break neck speed and yet the whole British summer experience is out there, waiting for them to slow down and take stock of what really matters, your own well-being.

So, another season has concluded. In the coming months we will reminisce about what we have lost and yearn for the return of those balmy days and sleepless nights when we couldn’t generate enough flow of air to keep cool under our duvets. I for one always embrace the Summer season and try to maximise my time outdoors almost basking in the rays of light and radiant heat we all take for granted.

They say, “the simple pleasures are the best”. For Summer this is simply true. Everything given to us by Mother Nature fills us with joy and well-being and whilst some might like to tell you “it’s only 100 days until Christmas”, I wish they would change the subject to how many days until the start of summer again. Christmas spending can start three months early if you are that way inclined, why can’t summer be introduced with the same aplomb? I’m sure more people get motivated by summer than they do by two single days of winter and yet we don’t revere the season with the same affection.

In conclusion, what makes the British Summer so special? Quite simply its all of the above and more, fine tuning the elements that build your picture-perfect scene with people you wish to spend time with, over a very sociable occasion or two, individually tailored to your own specific remit of what defines pleasure and down time. Quite simply put, there is nothing comes even close to a British Summer and long may that remain so. Now how long till the first of May?

Steve Roake

Pictures from the top down
1 Our hidden Holloway down Eddie brown’s field up the Hale-late summer
2 Cassington Bike Day-off the A40 out of Oxford. Splendid gathering.
3 Early doors-Bedale in Yorkshire.
4 Dunkirk Little Ships Gathering, Home Farm, Windsor Great Park.
5 ‘Here comes the Sun’ seat in memory of Dave Boardman-back of Wendover Woods
6 Longest Day celebrations Coombe Hill-waiting for the sun to set, as ancient as it gets

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