The forecast at breakfast time showed the rain was not due to arrive until lunchtime, and I thought my niece might just about manage her morning's garden work experience without getting wet, but alas, it began sooner than expected. I'd scarcely got her started deadheading lavender when it began, lightly at first so that I didn't notice from the kitchen. She stayed valiantly kneeling in the drizzle until the Systems Administrator pointed out to me that it was raining, at which point I told her to move to the backup plan, which was to pick the tomatoes and do some potting inside the greenhouse. By half past eleven when she came in with the tomatoes it really was raining quite a lot. I asked if she was getting damp out there and she said she was, rather, so I gave her some tea and she made herself useful stringing together a box of holey stones that I'd collected over the past months and not got round to doing anything with. I paid her for the full morning's work, since she is a nice girl and it was not her fault that it rained, warning her that wouldn't happen when she worked for a grasping small business owner who expected to take her rest breaks unpaid, but that doting aunts were different.
The artists formerly known as kittens were not very welcoming. I was afraid they wouldn't be, and had warned her in advance not to expect much from them. They did all look at her warily from a safe distance, which is slight progress from fleeing the house at the first sight of visitors and not returning until the visitors have gone, but not ideal for a cat loving teenager. Mr Fidget did consent to come into the kitchen with us to eat a couple of Dreamies, but then rushed out again, overcome by his own daring, and Mr Cool abruptly left the building.
By the time I'd driven her home it was still raining solidly, so I went to look for Mr Cool and found him as expected sitting in one of the chairs in the conservatory. I tucked him inside my waterproof jacket and carried him back into the house, since he had not had his lunch and had no way of telling when it was safe to come back indoors without venturing out into the rain, and he hates being rained on. He was happy to be carried, delighted to be reunited with Our Ginger, and had something to eat before settling into his favourite chair in the study for the afternoon. And so we all sat, Our Ginger on the doormat staring out at the rain, the SA in his usual corner of the sofa in the sitting room, me in my usual corner of the other sofa, Mr Fidget lying upside down on a chair downstairs, and Mr Fluffy curled in the new favourite cardboard box, a tall one they soon knocked over so that it had a roof, and which we have christened the sentry box. It is such a coveted location that when Our Ginger is already in it, one of the other cats will go and lie on the floor in front of it, communing with Our Ginger and waiting their turn in the box.
It is sluicing down now with almost tropical intensity. There is nothing like an English summer.
I recommend the Guardian's underwhelming photos of cats.