If you visited our house over the past week you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a scene of blissful domesticity: home-grown produce on the kitchen table, the smell of freshly baked bread, sewing-basket balanced on top of a pile of uniform to be named… The last few days of the summer holidays have been full of running errands and all those last-minute chores before Back To School – that time in early September when parents across the land heave a collective sigh (of regret and/or relief).
As well as the looming new school year, we’ve also been preparing a bumper family entry for the village gardeners’ association late summer show. My younger son entered ‘A loaf (any size/any flour)’ and has been taking every opportunity to learn from the master bread-maker in our house (my husband). Secrets have been passed from father to son and he duly baked the most magnificent bloomer yesterday evening. David entered a ‘White plaited loaf’ and was up until 3am (yes, 3am) this morning creating his masterpiece (we’d been out to see friends earlier in the evening and stayed late…).
My entries were much less labour-intensive: ‘1 Cucumber’, ‘9 Cherry Tomatoes (one variety)’, ‘Cut flowers mixed or individual outdoor varieties (1 vase)’; ‘Cut grasses and/or seed heads mixed/single variety (1 vase); and ‘5 stems of Annuals’, so I was out in the garden early this morning, battling cobwebs and gathering spiders on my pyjamas, to cut my produce. My daughter entered a photograph – ‘Insect Life’ – of an ant in a flower that she took on holiday a couple of years ago.
Our entries had to be at the village hall by 10am, then there was a four-hour wait to find out the results… We nipped back after lunch to see how we’d done.