I often don’t quite notice when Midsummer falls, but this year it was the most perfect sunshine-y day that one could not fail to register and luckily I was in the Northamptonshire countryside to enjoy the day, and with friends in the evening.
On Friday afternoon, after a morning pinging between a Burberry presentation at HQ in Pimlico, a vaccination clinic in Soho (a trip to Ethiopia is on the cards), Loon Fung supermarket in Chinatown, and Suzannah’s jewel box boutique in Portman Village to return my borrowed Ascot hats, I flung myself into my tiny motor, drove my sister to her monthly drug therapy at the hospital and headed for the open road.
Well, the M40.
But the moment we were free of the sweatbox motorway – and the thirty five minute traffic jam at junction 9, I put the roof down, buckled Posetta Baddog into her seat, and had a glorious drive to my mother’s cottage. (She needed help putting things in, and retrieving things from, her attic, and this was the only tiny gap I have in my schedule for the next two weeks.)
After three years, her garden is now starting to take shape, (that’s the view – above – down to her nascent potager), and we took full advantage of its terraces to eat all three meals outdoors. On Friday I cooked a supper of shitake, choi sum, tofu and enoki, garnered from my Chinatown expedition, and we finished with a bow of tiny white fleshed nectarines from my greengrocer.
We retired very early and I was passed out from tiredness by 2230hrs. Billy is always a very luxurious – and luxuriating – hound.
We breakfasted royally in the sun on poached Chestnut Maran eggs and sourdough toast, whilst my mother tackled the crossword.
The Plum & Ashby calendar in my mother’s dressing room.
We both flopped out in the sun, reading and talking, and then, as the heat started to get a bit much, we gathered up the dogs and took them down the lane for a quick trot.
Tiny dog roses dot the hedgerow like white stars
Back in the garden, the Philadelphus is in full bloom
The dogs lay gasping in the shade, whilst we tackled the attic.
I’m very taken with this ravishing Ferdinand Pichard rose with its raspberry ripple petals.
After attic climbing (and sweltering in its sauna-like atmosphere), I snarfled down a Solero in the baking heat (not ideal for clean living, but only an astonishing 100 calories), and headed back to London.
Successfully navigating the snarled up M1, I whizzed through Hampstead to my sister’s house, to hand over the small cross hot dog, before dumping the car at home, sticking myself under the shower, buying a huge bag of delicious fruit for a hostess gift from Parkway Greens, and running to the tube to travel the 45 minutes down to south west London to Putney, where the most delicious supper awaited me at Hannah and Mark’s new home.
We celebrated Midsummer by feasting in the garden on white peaches and mozzarella with basil and balsamic, and many, many glasses of Prosecco, followed by an epic tart of caramelised onions and goats cheese. Just the kind of food I adore. (Similar coming to a good bookshop near you soon!)
And pungently perfect Epoisses, and sticky figs for afters.
oh and lest I forget, a bowl of pineapple and vanilla ice cream to round it all off. I was poppingly well fed.
As the light started to fall, we walked gently down to the banks of the Thames. My camera clock tells me I took these photos at 2241hrs, and yet the night was not yet completely dark.