It’s September already, and I can’t quite believe that another Summer is over. I really can’t complain though because it’s been a fantastic one in so many ways. The weather has been so much better than we’ve come to expect – I even sunbathed in the garden in my bikini! By the time Isobel finished school for the year I was well and truly feeling the Summer vibes.
June and July are my favourite months; I was born in July and so was Isobel. Having a birthday and finishing school for six weeks is bound to make it a high point of the year! I remember counting down the days to the Summer holidays as a child. Even as an adult I relish the height of Summer. I love the long evenings when it stays light until 10pm. Being able to sit in the garden watching the bats circle around me until late is magical. But there have been many memorable moments, so now we’re into Autumn (meteorologically speaking anyway), I’m reflecting on my highlights of the Summer.
Although it seems like a distant memory now, the World Cup got everyone talking. England fans found themselves daring to hope and dream, despite many past disappointments. Before the tournament started I was adamant that I wasn’t going to watch, but after a couple of days I was hooked! Isobel’s birthday party was on the day that England played Sweden and it was a really hot day. The kids went wild in the garden with water pistols while the adults sat inside watching the match (occasionally mediating when someone breached the rules of engagement!). I don’t know who had more fun – the adults or the kids – but we were all exhausted by the evening! And maybe a little bit tipsy too 😉
Just over two weeks later school finished, and the following day (my birthday) we flew to France to spend a week with my Dad. We made the most of the glorious weather by going to one of the nearby beaches during the day and sitting outside in the evening. Isobel had her French playmate for the week so she was a happy girlie. It was also great for us because we got to relax while they played in the sea.
It’s usually the only time I get to see my Dad, although we speak on the phone often. But phone calls can never make up for actually being with someone, so that one week in Summer is very special to me. Likewise, I don’t get to see my Mum very often – mainly because we live so far apart and I’m tied to school term times. It’s difficult for her to come to see me because she’s dependent on dialysis three times a week. It’s actually easier to get dialysis overseas than it is to book it in another hospital in the UK! In fact we’ve booked a big holiday with both our mums for late Autumn, so I’ll be writing about this more in a future post.
Spending a week at my Mum’s, in the house I grew up in was wonderful. I just relaxed and did very little, except sleeping and watching TV. We played cards and looked through old photos and school books. I think sometimes our kids forget that we were children once too! I was sad to leave but I’m looking forward to our holiday together 🙂
In between returning from France and going to my Mum’s, me and Isobel had an amazing evening with four very special badgers and their equally special human friends. I first discovered Mr Lumpy & Friends on Facebook and have been a fan ever since. A lovely lady called Christine and her husband feed a family of four badgers (and some foxes) on the decking area of their garden every evening. They have built up such trust between them that the badgers go right up to the open patio door and allow Christine to film them while they eat. Once or twice a month Christine holds open evenings for wildlife lovers to get up close to Mr Lumpy and his family. We went on a special fundraising evening for Cheshire Against the Cull – a group which campaigns against the badger culls in my area. It was actually the badger culls that gave me the final push to become vegan (which I explained more about in this post).
When I booked my place I had never seen a live badger, only dead ones at the side of the road. Well, badgers must be like buses, because after waiting so long to see just one, several came along within a short space of time. My first encounter was with one at the wildlife hospital where I volunteer just before going to see Mr Lumpy. Admittedly, the experience was very different as the cub at the hospital wasn’t used to human contact (he growled like a dog when I cleaned his pen out!). Since then a second cub came into the care of the hospital, so this Summer has been badger-tastic!
Meeting Mr & Mrs Lumpy, plus their offspring Bumpy and Humbug was a truly magical experience. Watching them munch nuts, raisins, cheese and grapes just inches from me seemed unreal. They are going to feature in a Channel 5 programme called Nocturnal Britain soon; I’ll share any updates on the exact transmission date as soon as I hear.
Isobel has been really spoilt when it comes to animal encounters this Summer because she’s been coming to the wildlife hospital with me. Curbing her enthusiasm to do the more difficult stuff wasn’t easy at times, but to her credit she knuckled down and worked hard. The first time we cleaned out 20 hedghogs, and she was completely exhausted afterwards. The second time she came with me I introduced her to a fox who is very tame. But of course they are still wild animals and do exactly what they want. That cheeky little vixen introduced herself in her usual method by sticking her snout right up Isobel’s bottom! I’m surprised the scream she let out didn’t spook the owls! Since then she’s stayed outside the pen and watched me do the feeding and cleaning! She’s much braver with the swans though.
Another first for Isobel was going to watch Ninja Warrior being filmed in Manchester. In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s an obstacle assault course based upon the format of Japanese game show Sasuke. Isobel loves watching it on TV so this was a real treat for her. Having worked in TV for years it was less of a novelty for me, but still a fun day out. Afterwards we went for a meal and made the most of our trip to Manchester.
Along the way we found some of the bee sculptures that are dotted throughout the city. Over 100 super-sized bees designed by Manchester’s artists have been placed around the city to form a trail. In addition to these, there are more than 130 little bees designed by school children and community groups for the Bee in the City exhibition. Each bee reflects the city’s industrial heritage and music scene (the worker bee is the symbol of Manchester).
It wouldn’t be Manchester without a bit of rain!