Have you noticed that I’m a big fan of telling you upfront what you’re about to read? No second guessing required, today I’m talking all things books and my first experience of a book club, a ‘Summer Lates’ visit to Raby Castle and how everyone else is rushing into knitwear and scarves as I desperately hang on to every single last drop of summer.
Sitting comfortably? Let’s chat.
In case you’re new around here, I love to read. As much as possible, whenever I have any free time, in the bath, right before bed, there’s nothing like curling up with a good book and falling into a new world. In all the years I’ve been a book lover, and we’re definitely talking too many to count, I’ve never been to a book club. I’ve been invited to a fair few but there was always something…that I can’t quite put my finger on…that made me think it probably wasn’t going to be for me. Because as much as I LOVE to read, I’m just not a huge fan of talking about books.
You’re more likely to find me adding a picture of a book cover to my Instagram Stories with a yep, totally loved it or nope, not for me. Part of the motivation for trying out the book club was because a friend wanted to go and I think she really wanted some company. The first attempt at book club was a bit of a failure really as I only got as far as 80 pages in by the time the date rolled around and it didn’t feel right to go when I hadn’t got all the way through. This time I was buzzing as I’d actually finished the book and was ready to form some opinions.
Until I got there and found myself strangely … quiet. This is a new phenomenon for me, truly. I’m not a shy person, I’m more than happy to talk in front of strangers and meet new people, but honestly I found myself with very little to contribute. I think it was at that point that my reasoning for being reluctant to try a book club was reinforced – the idea of sitting around and chatting about what I thought of the book, what stood out for me, what didn’t I like, it just didn’t float my boat. And even though I bought the book for the next one, I already know I won’t be going. Turns out, that whole trusting your instincts thing was bang on! Me and book clubs, that’s a firm nope from me.
Luckily my feelings about castles are more of a firm yep. As soon as I saw a notification pop up about Summer Lates at Raby Castle I was all in. A stroll round some pretty gardens and grounds on a balmy summer evening? Sounds delightful. Let’s not dwell on the fact that there was actually a gale blowing and it was pretty flipping chilly…it was still a lovely evening and one I will always remember to mark the last few days of Summer 2020, the year that is very unlikely to be forgotten* any time soon (*understatement).
But stroll we did. Around the gardens, polite nods and quiet greetings to other visitors, up to the castle, across some fields. At several points whole herds of stags and deer were literally within touching distance – it was astonishing to be so close to such wonderful creatures and I was in absolute awe. There’s a certain kind of magic about all these elements combined – the castle, the sun breaking through the clouds after a day of endless rain, a quiet walk hand in hand, dashing deer, a stunning sunset…I probably over-use the word delightful but that is totally the best way to describe it. We rounded off the evening with a glass of beer, some sparkling vino and a cheeky free pizza that might have ended up in the bin if we hadn’t saved it. It’s a rough life…
The end of summer
It gets to this time of year and I start to hide from my social media. Everyone else is starting to pull out their jumpers, they’re curled up in a blanket or talking about putting the fire on and how much they can dress for Autumn but not summer and every year I am always like STOP! Seriously, please stop. Summer is still here. She’s not gone yet. There’s still time to feel bare feet on the grass, the sun kissing bare skin. I have chance for some more freckles to see me through the long winter months. There’s opportunity for more bench time on the deck before it becomes too cold to even open the door.
With every beat of my heart I stretch summer out for as long as I possibly can. I’m never ready for that first nip in the air. I’ll keep my ankles bare until they threaten to fall off with the cold. The shorts will come out at every hint of sunshine and I will eke out every last ray until slowly, I start to accept that Autumn has arrived. The shorts and vests need to be packed away until next year. Socks have to cover my feet and coats are the only way.
But not just yet. There’s still time. The rays are still warm. Soak it up….because it’s a lonnnnng time before it’s back again.