Sunlight Attack

Mossy bank with wild geranium leaf backlit by sun

Usually there are plenty of opportunities to pick an overcast day if we’re planning to visit a garden or, if not, at least chances to wait for a cloud. But this year is different. Unrelenting sunshine is not usually a big issue in northern England but Texan-style blue skies (with not a cloud in sight all day long) are all the rage.  

In my last few garden visits, I’ve been in the unusual position of having to battle with the sun to get a decent picture. The score so far? Something like Sun 96, Susan 4. Undeterred, I’m sharing the four (top to bottom: Herb Robert; Jovibarba heuffelii; epimedium leaves; roses) while listing a few woes. An attack of sunshine clearly brings out the worst in me – if you don’t want to hear me grumble, avert your eyes from the words and look at the pictures.

I won’t go into our (lack of) air conditioning, other than to mention that’s why we start to get warnings of killer heatwaves when temperatures outside reach 85F / 29C. A small, flimsy plastic fan offers some respite, but my car’s air-conditioning has given up the ghost, despite being recently recharged.

We tend to associate sunshine with happy days, but our moorland is on fire in parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the scent (or stench, depending how close you are) of smouldering peat has spread for miles around. The wildlife has so far taken the brunt of the fallout, although some people have had to move out of their homes as a precaution and I dread to think what conditions must be like for the soldiers and firefighters battling for control.

Hens and chicks leaves colourful in the sun

English people are already in an overexcited, anxious state because of the World Cup – a good proportion of us are waiting to see how our team will perform while another good proportion who don’t like football are het up because all our soaps have been rescheduled.

When the World Cup is on, you may be very surprised to learn that more beer is consumed in the UK. No? And not just us? All the more strange, then, that some of Europe’s carbon dioxide suppliers thought this might be a good time to do a hefty chunk of routine maintenance, all at the same time. Supplies of staples like bread, chicken, pork and beer are threatened just as everyone is wondering whether a British person can say ‘Let’s get the barbie out’ with any degree of credibility. But it’s OK, the BBC and other news channels are saying that we aren’t facing shortages, just less choice. I spy some marketeer’s subtlety behind that statement.

It all sounds like a plot to me. Sap the spirit of the English when it gets hot, just when they’ve taken their eye off the ball… er, make that when they’ve got their eye on the ball. I suppose ice lolly shortages will be next.

Heart shaped leaves with lighter veining

At this point, I’m reminded to share one of my latest games, invented to help make long road trips more tolerable. This one legitimises brief bursts of cathartic grumbling. It doesn’t sound convincing, but try it. Occupants of the vehicle have to take it in turns to grumble for 30 seconds without stopping or being interrupted. The game commences when it appears someone is going to start grumbling anyway. Might as well make a game of it.

My sweetheart and I play merely for the accolade of being best grumbler, but feel free to adjust the rules and prizes. For example, the grumbling time period could be extended to challenge an exceptionally skilful carload of grumblers and you could permit more than one cycle of grumbling per hour, which we do not. Start off with 30 seconds though. You’ll usually find it surprisingly hard to grumble for a full 30 seconds without stopping when forced to do so.

Having done my good deed for mankind by helping make long car journeys more fun, I’ll sign off with this tumble of roses shot for those who prefer flowers to leaves.

Small pink semi-double roses facing the sun

None of my ‘winning’ shots are perfect, but together they give me some hope that I can learn to get along with the sun… if I have to… I guess.

35 Replies to “Sunlight Attack”

  1. It’s hard to imagine an out-of-control fire in the UK. I’m sure it’s an event that occurs only rarely, and it must be a serious worry for everyone. I do hope some rain arrives soon to aid in the fire-fighting.

    1. The one on Saddleworth Moor has been unusually difficult, so far as I remember. It seems to be under control now, but the peat makes it hard to extinguish completely, so a good rainfall would be welcome.

  2. Your photos are lovely. I have been watching the footage of the fires wondering what it is like in reality to be near them. We were there visiting family a few weeks ago. I do like your car game. My dad used to play the ‘glad game’ if we got grumpy in the car – this is the complete opposite. It also got comical, because you can be glad of very small things if you try hard, e.g. dry clothes, roof on car, round wheels.

    1. We sometimes try a version of your dad’s glad game (1 thing to be grateful for after the first hour, 2 after the second, 3 after the third etc). We’ll perhaps include the very small things next time!

  3. Lovely photos. They counteract the tone of your post.

    Australians often refer to Brits as “whinging poms”. You’ve validated that stereotype. LOL 🙂

  4. My son and his family just returned from England — first time in Europe for my grandchildren! — and, of all the stories to be told, the one that had my son hyperventilating was the shortage of carbon dioxide and subsequent threat to the beer supply. Even the happy thrill of watching the World Cup right there didn’t compensate for him. They were loving the sunshine as you were trying to adjust to it. My years in California taught me proper respect for fires, and I send my sympathy. Your photos are elegant, sunshine and all, and I think the Grumbling Game is brilliant. I can modestly say I’d be very good at it.

    1. I trust they had a good trip, potential carbon dioxide shortages aside. You’ll glad to have them all back safely after their travels. Did they stay in one area or was it more of a route march?

      The fires seem on another level for us this year – it is rare for us to have so much fine weather.

      1. They had a great time: a couple days in Edinburgh, a couple days in Nottingham/Leicester, and a couple days in London. They needed sweatshirts in Edinburgh and rejoiced in the unusual weather in England. It was very thoughtful of England to arrange such weather for my family!

  5. Lovely photos, grumbly Susan. Sounds like it is a fair grumble though. Peat fires are so difficult to put out. All that carbon released to the atmosphere! See, you are not the only one that grumbles. Take care of the garden and you, and stay cool.

    1. I’ll try my best. 🙂

      It’s spectacular and scary at the same time, like all natural forces. I saw a car ahead of me drive into the kerb yesterday, just looking at the smoke cloud.

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