Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the lazy, care-free days of late summer: the trees heavy with fruit, the fields tinged with gold, the evenings long and light. Nowadays, of course, I spend much of my time stuck in an office, but I try to recapture some of that seasonal magic during my evenings and weekends.
So, for everyone who’s struggling to make the most of summer in what little free time they have, here are my favourite ways to slow down and savour this wonderful time of year, even if only for a moment or two…
Create an outdoor room
Morning cuppas, quick weekday suppers and long Sunday lunches all taste so much better when eaten outside. I like to make the most of the garden by creating alfresco ‘rooms’ that are an extension of the indoor living space – a dining area with a table, a lounge corner with easy chairs and cushions, and plenty of blankets to snuggle under once the sun goes down.
Now is a great time to invest in garden furniture as there are plenty of end-of-season deals around (take a look at Homebase for a comprehensive range). Even if you don’t want to buy large pieces, you can still create a wonderful space by grouping scatter cushions and lanterns around a low table.
Breathe in sea air
I’m lucky enough to live a short drive from the coast – something which still feels like a bit of a novelty after growing up inland. I like to get a breath of sea air whenever possible; even a short evening stroll along the pier or an hour sitting on the rocks watching the waves roll in can help soothe away daily stresses.
Wander through fields of lavender
Nothing beats strolling through vast swathes of purple, inhaling the heady scent of lavender. There are a number of lavender farms dotted around the UK; my favourite is Somerset Lavender Farm, which also has a café and a shop selling all sorts of lavender-infused treats.
Have a picnic
Packing up a hamper and heading off for an impromptu after-work picnic is a real treat – the perfect antidote to a day spent hunched in front of a screen. There are plenty of easy picnic dishes that you can whip up in less than 20 minutes, too.
Pick your own fruit
One of my favourite childhood memories is heading off with my brothers in search of blackberries, raspberries and more. We’d spend hours scouring local fields and bushes, returning home with juice-stained fingers and baskets that would have been brimming with fruit had we not eaten most of the spoils along the way. Foraging takes a bit more planning now that I live in a city, so this list of 15 places where you can pick your own fruit and veg comes in handy.
Go wild swimming
There’s something enchanting about swimming outdoors: plunging into a lake, wallowing under a waterfall, or dipping your toes into a crystal-clear river as birds dart among the reeds. There are easily accessible natural swimming spots all over the place (even in urban areas) – wildswimming.co.uk has a comprehensive list covering the UK and beyond.
Enjoy ‘golden hour’
Photographers always speak of the fabled ‘golden hour’ – those last few minutes of daylight when the setting sun casts a warm glow all around. It always seems particularly magical in late summer, and I head outside to catch it whenever I can. I took the photo below at my parents’ house in Derbyshire last year, but even the urban parks around my home in Bristol look beautiful at this time of day.
Light a campfire
There’s no better way to end a summer’s day than cosying up by blazing logs, toasting marshmallows and watching the stars emerge overhead. Even if you don’t have the time to build and light a proper fire, you can create a similar ambiance with a firepit or chiminea.
I’ve also created a Pinterest board with more inspiration for simple summer pleasures – just clickA on any of the photos below.
This is a collaborative post with Homebase, but all words and opinions are my own.