The mystery of the great yellow ball in the sky, or Scotland’s first summer since 1976…


Yes. You read that correctly. After a winter that seemed to drag on for years, and a seriously bad start to the food-growing year; a very strange thing happened. I was forced to buy a bottle of sunscreen. I also removed my denim jacket for around twenty minutes before I got a bit of a draught at put it back on again.

No, seriously. Scotland got a summer. The first decent summer since 2006. I remember that summer well, Ellis was a few months old and I, crippled with post-natal depression, was too scared to take him outside in case he spontaneously combusted. I spent most of the summer gazing through the window whilst furiously dusting and tidying up all the things that didn’t need tidying whilst awaiting my latest interrogation session with my health visitor.

We have had great fun. There have been picnics (with my proper, grown-up, terribly middle class wicker picnic hamper); and plenty of visits to the community garden, where our little raised bed is thriving and providing us with plenty of fresh organic food, some of which the children even eat. We have been to the seaside, even venturing as far afield as Fife where nobody hit us with pointy sticks or chased us with flaming torches, disappointingly. The boys went to Nature Explorers at the David Livingstone Centre, which I reviewed for the Community Garden blog.

Look! See?

Look! See?

In my quest to have children who love nature and the outdoors as much as I do; it became quite the norm to kick them out of the house a 8.00am each sunny morning to let them play on the scheme’s field on their bikes with their friends whilst I conveniently forgot about the enormous pile of ironing threatening to take over the kitchen and just plonked my gargantuan backside in a deckchair with a coffee and a good book.

I did have a momentary parental ‘failing my kids’ crisis whilst listening to the insufferable Carol Vorderman on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ rabbiting on about the need to continue giving children ‘homework’ throughout the long summer break. Then I realised how much better Fin’s speech had become; and how his confidence had grown. I heard Ellis identify trees, birds and butterflies he’d recognised from his I-Spy books. I saw them run around, playing happily, building relationships (and occassionally having conflicts) with their friends. When we were out walking and they asked a question about where we were, or what they could see or hear, I would answer them as best I could. Even ‘how to internal combustion engines work?’, ‘why is Bothwell stone red?’ and ‘Would the castle still have been standing if it had been attacked by the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars’.

Dear Mrs Vorderman. Please shove your Oxford Reading Tree books and your fifteen minutes a day maths homework where the sun don’t shine. There’s more to successful, enthusiastic learning than that. Our summers are so scarce, I was determined that the children wouldn’t miss a minute of it.

(Expect a flurry of blog posts from me over the next fews days. I have another hare-brained scheme afoot. You, dear reader, have been duly warned).