While Day 50 was celebrated in a cool autumn in Neckargemund and Day 100 in an early winter thunderstorm in Rome, Day 150 brought what felt like the summer back into our lives. It was only January 30th, but the heat coming off those delicious rays from early morning was definitely of the order we two Scots associate most affectionately with school exam time in mid-May or summer holidays in July. There was a warmth that went deep down into our bones and made us even turn our faces away from it from time to time as warm became hot.

They always tell you that you only remember the hot summers from your younger days, making you think that all summers were sizzlers in times gone by. They (whoever they are) are probably right in fact because I recall holidays in Arbroath and St. Andrew’s when I was wee Georgie and those memories are of shorts and sandals, swimming in the sea and midnight bathing, eating ice-cream and Mum putting calamine lotion on our sunburn. They hadn’t invented skin cancer yet.

Later on, I remember the 3 consecutive hot summers of ’74, ’75 and ’76. I spent the first half of summer ’74 in France finishing my job as an assistant teacher at the lycée Hoche in Versailles (astonishingly the exact same school Uncle Gerard did his Assistantship in many years before!). I watched Scotland beat Zaire, draw with Brazil and I think Yugoslavia to become the first team ever to be eliminated from the first stage of the World Cup Finals without losing a game. We watched all the games outside in the school playground with a curtain over the TV on a gigantic extension so we could see the screen despite the blinding sunshine.

The summer of ’75 turned me into a man! That’s because I finished University early as it was my Junior Honours year (therefore no exams to do) and got a job as a labourer on a building site at the bottom of Buttar’s Loan, only two minutes from where we lived on South Road. I think I did fourteen weeks there and I can’t recall a single day of bad weather. I can still picture myself on Saturday mornings standing one floor up, dressed in shorts and steel-toe capped boots, laying out the bricks for the bricklayers to use first thing Monday morning. I had to push a wheelbarrow full of bricks up a sloping batten to reach the first floor among other strenuous duties and my body simply morphed from skinny to muscular over that summer. I still have the shoulders.

The summer of ’76 was the end of University, graduation and getting married for the first time. I have very special memories of my late Mum and Dad sitting on the lawn in the Quadrangle at St. Andrew’s in brilliant sunshine, eating strawberries and cream after my graduation. I recall week after week of warm sunshine in the lead-up to my wedding but ironically I seem to remember that the weather broke the weekend I got married. Hmmm!

As I don’t remember the summers of ’72 or ’77 (or any at all in the ‘80’s) I suppose we really do only recall the good ones. At any rate I suspect we may well remember the summer of ’13, as there is a fair chance it has already started and, what with Australia and all that, may last for about 7 months! Today it was so warm we were able to sit out in T-shirts and sunbathe for a couple of hours. In the evening in the Magic Caravan it didn’t cross our minds to put the heater on, something we have done every evening since Rome probably. We also embraced that very summery thing of drying the towels on the roof and bonnet of the car, letting the sun turn wet into dry in 15 minutes!

We did take a walk up to the commercial park just 300 metres away but I came back after a short while, leaving Mary to wander around the outlet stores and make a few purchases. It’s a wee bit worrying, you know, as Mary isn’t particularly renowned for her domestic flair if you catch my drift. Yet back she comes from the shops, not with a new pair of boots or a nice top, oh no, she comes back with a brand-new …….. doormat! I feel she may be embracing the gypsy way of life more than many of you ever envisaged! I can just picture her clinging to the back of the caravan slowly eating a Cadbury’s Milk Flake as I drive off down the dusty road!

Day 150 was celebrated with a bottle of St. Emilion (none of the local plonk today thank you) and Mary served up a delicious sweet and sour chicken for tea. TV was excellent tonight and after Attenborough’s enthralling “Africa” we tuned in to BBC 4 to watch the next episode of “Bob Servant” and then 2 documentaries, the first on Billy Connoly and the second on Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame.  Did you know he came from Cullercoats?

Hope it’s still summer tomorrow!

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