Summer came and went. The gusts of wind yesterday were strong enough to rip medium sized branches off trees, and left the lanes littered with twigs, while by the middle of this morning it was so dull and grey that I had to put the kitchen light on before I could see to type. I'd vaguely expected it to brighten up, having heard the bit of the radio weather forecast that talked about it being brighter and drier elsewhere, but by half past ten it was raining, so wherever elsewhere was it was not here. I was working in the greenhouse, where it gradually dawned on me that it was extremely damp and I was getting cold. I gave up. After my last series of hideous colds I fear that damp and cold are to be avoided for the foreseeable future, and probably forever. That's not very convenient for a keen gardener in our damp, chilly and windswept isle.
But this is what UK summers are like. We cling to the image of the golden afternoon, tea on the lawn, Ravilious watercolours of his wife and friends in their summer dresses sitting in the shade of apple trees shelling the baskets of pea pods in their laps, croquet and tennis and the drone of bees in the flower borders and lingering lunchtime pints outside a country pub. We forget the chilly years at the Chelsea Flower Show, eating damp pork pies while trying to shelter from the rain under the trees in the Ranelagh garden, and the planned punting expeditions cancelled because the river was too high for safety, and the endless August bank holiday weekend spent in gale in a small Dutch town where nothing opened on Sundays, and the five stormbound days in Plymouth. The Gulf Stream is all very well, but we live on an island as far north as Newfoundland. It is frequently wet, often windy, and not always terribly warm even in summer. The Clacton coastal strip is about as dry and as sunny as it gets, and even then my respiratory system would prefer somewhere warmer and drier.
After lunch we took the kittens to the vet for their booster jabs. They did not like being in their cat baskets, and especially did not like being driven in the car, though they calmed down once we arrived. They have gained an impressive amount of weight, and the vet gave them all a clean bill of health and said they were going to be big cats, which pleased us since we both have a weakness for large cats. She said that large framed was fine, but not fat. We had better hope that she doesn't ever have to see Our Ginger.
He has had a week's reprieve from being expected to mingle with the kittens, since the vaccine won't be fully effective for another week. True, he almost certainly doesn't have cat flu, but the best medical advice would be to keep them apart until then. It's a toss up which is more inconvenient, keeping the kittens shut in the study (which is getting increasingly difficult now that they regard our feet as play things when we open the door), or giving them the run of the house but having to use the outer hall as an air lock so that they can't get to the cat door. Once we are in kitten mingling mode we will have to keep an eye out for Our Ginger, each time he wants to be let in from the lobby or let out of the main part of the house.
Meanwhile, the kitten rescue centre has a fresh pair of black and white kittens looking for an adoptive home. I don't know why black and black and white cats are difficult to place. I think they're lovely.