The first half of July was a whirlwind of organisation after the house move: things to be ordered and hung and built, plus a lot of learning to be patient as everyone is busy catching up with themselves after being unable to work for several weeks. So until I can get shelves built in mid August, I am learning to live with around 30 boxes of books and china, waiting to be unpacked. I did my usual thing and began spending money on things for the house (in this case some paintings by local artists) instead of saving it towards repairs to the fabric of the building.
There were quite a few early wakings and I realised it was silly not to take advantage of them and get out and walk along the seafront. The hour between 6am and 7am turned out to be magical – there were few people about, the sun shone on a sparkling sea and the beach was empty. The perfect time for standing a few minutes at the water’s edge, watching the waves work their way along the shoreline, before turning back for home and breakfast.
From looking at my photos anyone would think July had been a month of glorious weather. In fact, after the heat at the end of June gave way to gales and then rain, it turned out to be a mixed month, with sunshine returning at the end and temperatures climbing to 30 plus degrees. This coincided with the arrival of my first guests – we drank fizz on the beach as the moon rose, they swam the next morning and I was shamed into taking my first dip in over 25 years in UK waters later that afternoon, after a long, hot walk around town. It was still balmy into the evening so we dined in the garden by candlelight, rounding off July in some style.
I’ve made it right to the end without mentioning masks and queues and hand sanitiser – there were definitely times when July felt almost normal. But I called off my trip to France over fears that quarantine would be imposed on my return (potentially wrecking a family visit scheduled for my return). I went to a barbecue one night and on another had pizza delivered to the beach, where we drank takeaway lemon gin sitting on the beach wall, then I walked home under a beautiful sky. I walked locally and into town, had takeaway coffee at Sandown Castle community gardens – under the circumstances, it was a good month.