Virginia Barton

28 September 2013: Ginny, head-in-air


28 September 2013


When did you last lie flat on your back gazing at the sky? Coming from the north, and a landscape that rapidly changes, I’ve always loved the fact of clouds and their uniqueness. Now you see them, now you don’t. Only the sea is as changeable.


9780312420017_p0_v1_s260x420During this hot and idle summer I read a remarkable book called The Invention of Clouds. Written by Richard Hamblyn, I can’t understand how I missed it when it first came out in 2001, because it’s exactly my kind of book.

It tells of a loveable young man, Luke Howard, a devout Quaker, who classified clouds for the first time. So definitively did he do this, in a lecture in 1802, we still use the same names today: Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus, Nimbus and three more I’ll spare you. (Have become a bit of a bore about clouds of late.)

So enthralling was the book, I bought a companion volume of stunning photographs by the same author, Extraordinary Clouds. This includes some amazing images, including of supposed UFOs, and one taken INSIDE Hurricane Katrina!


One doesn’t have too much time for reading in the summer. Every newspaper recommends holiday books – how often have you taken a stack away with you and only read half of one? The heat makes one sleepy, and much time is spent dozing in the garden or gently pottering.

The family came and went for exotic hols but we stayed put enjoying exotic visitors. This city attracts thousands of summer visitors, some of whom find their way to our door. They reflect BH’s travels and interests.

Everything takes longer to do in summer – except dressing, there’s less to put on, hurray. Cooking is out, never did one want to spend less time slaving over a hot stove. And I’m sorry, I cannot bear barbecues unless they’re in a HUGE field. (It’s the smell…)

Dreamy idleness and irreproachable inertia set in at 8 a.m.


Last weekend was the autumn equinox, choice time for a catch-up and change of pace. A modest storm signalled the end of a hot summer, a summer that was extra welcome after the beastly wet spring. My water-butt had that hollow ring to it until a fortnight ago. Food prices shot up again, due to the weather, but it was a bumper year for berries.

In blazing June, a pop-up beach volleyball court appeared in the city centre; footprints, striped umbrellas and signposts saying: “This Way to the Beach”, chalked over the pavements, made quite sure one knew which way to go. (BH would have enjoyed it.) I admired the initiative and wonder if we will see a ski jump from Carfax tower come mid-winter?


Red roseAs September eases into October the nights grow longer and are distinctly chilly. Bulbs are ordered but not yet delivered, also a red rose, Royal William (right), in memory of a friend. How do you select your roses, by colour or by name? (I have to admit that if I’m backing a horse I always go by the name and invariably lose.)

Autumn TV schedules have started with Downton Abbey high in the ratings plus the inevitable Strictly.


And the risible pink sun hat is buried in the blanket box.





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