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. Lovely shots – and thank you for the game! The heat is rather unbearable right now and not many flowers survive…

    1. It’s interesting how some flowers thrive in our climate when it’s sunny while other plants look like they have fainted away and need resuscitation – like people, I suppose. Hydrangeas and astrantias always seem to wilt dramatically.

    1. That one was taken in the greenhouse at Harlow Carr. They keep the plants refreshed so there’s always something diminutive or delicate to see up close in flower.

  2. So sorry for the heat. Fires in Yorkshire–that’s truly scary! It’s more miserable to be in England during a heat wave than it is here in Texas, because we’re better equipped for it. Last time I was in England (’13) it was very hot in London, and we would go into certain stores simply because they were air-conditioned. I love the car game–thanks for the chuckle!

    1. I imagine our seaside towns will be booming – their spokespeople always point out with glee when local resorts are hotter than the far flung places we traditionally fly to in search of sun. Hot weather does seems to take us by surprise. Few homes have air-conditioning and stocks of fans sell out if demand varies much from the norm. It’s one of those products the forecasters can’t win with.

  3. We are delighted to have days of sunshine while we are in Germany and it’s much cooler here than at home. No grumbling from us!

    1. That’s a win-win then! Have you found any rose gardens over there yet? Wishing you safe travels – I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

  4. Personally I’m a sun person, just love it but not when it’s too hot. Right now here, as it appears to be where you are, it is too hot. Expecting 94 F (37 C) today with heat index of 114 F (46 C). I would warn you not to go out into the midday sun but I’ve heard that only mad dogs and Englishmen do.

    1. I have thought of that phrase whenever I’ve been out in Mississippi at midday, even though I’ve never been there in the height of summer. 46 C is scary!

  5. Your photos are lovely despite the sun 😀
    The moorland fires are tragic, but hopefully nature will revive once again after the next rains. I have almost given up watching the telly, reading in the garden is a nice hobby I have found, since gardening can only be undertaken in five minute chunks. Have a lovely weekend Susan, lollies withstanding!

    1. You’re right – the moors are hardy environments. My lolly stash has dwindled to perhaps-if-you-dig-around-you-might-find-an-old-rocket-lolly stage. I’ve tried making those luscious looking lollies you see in pictures several times, but they’ve always tasted a bit underwhelming, so I go back to shop-bought ones. Hope you have a lovely weekend too. Are you reading anything in particular?

  6. Obviously the fires are tragic, but we have sun like this so rarely that rejoicing and having a permanent smile is the only way forward for those of us not near moorland. Photos in dull conditions is our default position, so just put your camera away!

  7. I think your photos are great and i will certainly try you ‘grumbling’ game in the car!!

  8. They look pretty perfect to me. Each made me stop and go….”ohhhhh.” Can’t even decide a favorite I thought the succulents…and then the one after that…but I love that first one and the last one too…so I guess they are all winners!

    1. Aw – thank you! I ought for balance to have shown some of the Sun’s winning shots, but I had already deleted the worst of them before I thought of writing the post.

  9. I think the pictures are pretty classy. Especially the second one. As to the game, gee, we’ve been playing a game like that since the kids were small! LOL Car trips can be awful! Give me a plane (or train?) ticket any time!

    1. That seems to be the most popular one. I find plane journeys boring too, but I do like trains.

      It is the kind of game you can find yourself playing by accident. 😉

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