What Happened this Summer? Only the Phone Knows

The blackberries and sloes are early this year. You can almost hear them chanting: ‘Here we are. That’s it. No more summer, any more.’ How did it go so fast? What even happened?  Tip. If you can’t remember how you spent your time, look at your phone, and piece it together with whatever photos are there.

Blackberries and Sloes
Fruit Everywhere

The pear tree survived the drought and this day was the beginning of the pear harvest.

Pear Harvest

Taken on the same day as the blackberry/sloe photo. It’s more fun taking artistic pictures of free food than trying to deal with it all. All that picking, jamming, crumbling, or mashing up with gin takes hours. After the photo session just eat what you can, hope there is no maggot inside and leave the rest for the birds.

Or greedy dogs. The blackberry photos remind me of Nelly. The nicest, fattest, dog that ever lived here. She was always on a diet until blackberry season, when she snuffed in the bushes, grabbing any she could reach, as if she was a sparrow. 

A Clean Bath

Getting the bath out was a great idea this year. So wonderful to plunge into fresh cold water when it is 32 degrees, and you are too lazy to get to the sea.

It is less wonderful when the water turns to green slime. And, if you empty it out just before a storm, the slimy bath blows around the garden picking up dust and chicken manure along the way. Leave it a few more days so that everything sticks together and sets into a hard paste. Then it is ready for cleaning.

No idea why my phone thought the clean bath deserved a photo, but anyway.

Plastic Bath

Here it is all ready for some magic day next summer when somebody says ‘Lets get the bath out.’  That person is never to be seen when it is time to put it away.

Crackington Haven

North Cornwall. Growing up there was full town carnivals, village hall dances, fetes, jumble sales, plays, raffles, moors, beaches, judgemental gossip and community feeling. It was also wet. Endless rain on the moors, or sea mist on the beaches, followed by extra rain in the summer.

Going back to scamper through the valleys on a rare sunny day is magic. You wander past immaculate, empty, second homes and remember the people who used to live there, when they were crumbling farms with pigs, dogs, mud and rusting tractors outside.

High above Crackington Haven

There is Crackington Haven in the distance.

The phone says it was sunny on the beach.

Sunny Crackington Haven

Which was glorious for swimming, until we got out, turned back to land and saw this.

Storm over Crackington Haven

There was a huge crack of thunder, fat delicious rain, and lifeguards rushing out with red flags telling us to stay out of the water. 

They said you are likely to be hit by lightning if you are swim in a thunderstorm. We asked about the odds of dying if there were donkeys on the beach, because everyone knows that donkeys will kick you death if they get a minute, but the lifeguards didn’t know. 

After the storms, the rivers poured into the sea, and all beaches in the South West closed.  This is because the bosses of the water companies needed a 20% pay rise, so it made sense to cut costs on getting rid of sewage sensibly and just chuck it in the rivers. Luckily the government made that legal so the bosses got their pay rise in time.

The Chickens went Broody, and Sneaky.

We ran out of eggs.  Those chickens are fed with the finest pellets that money can buy, laced with bread and scraps of dinner, given fresh water, protected from foxes and loved by all.

Their side of the deal is four eggs a day, in the expensive wooden hutch. 

Suddenly the hutch was empty for days.  Was it too hot? Yes it was. I could not even be bothered to google ‘why chickens stop laying.’ Luckily a quiet cluck in the hedge caught my ear.

Chickens hide eggs in the hedge

The phone caught 16 in this nest. There are probably more somewhere, but the chickens aren’t telling.

Fighting over Figs

The fig tree is full of fat, soft figs, and starlings.  They arrive in noisy gangs, sniffing out the best figs and stealing them just before we get there. It’s annoying because we might need those figs, so somebody invented a fig protector with a plastic bottle. 

Fig tree with plastic bottle to stop birds

It can only protect one fig at a time. Meanwhile somebody else is busy filling up the bird feeder with expensive seed.  So it is OK if the birds take what we have bought for them, but not OK if they forage for themselves.


It looks like the phone is keen on sunsets. This one was on a perfect evening. The sort where you have a cool beer, a view over the not-raining hills of North Cornwall and a friend by your side, talking about life in general and sorting it all out.

Sunset over Boscastle

Views like this make you wish you could quickly turn into a poet.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver wrote that, not me. Anyway, according to the phone, I know exactly what to do with my wild and precious life.

Sunset in Exminster

Watch as many nice sunsets as possible.

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