It seemed appropriate for June’s seasonal living post to coincide with marking the summer solstice. While often the better weather seems to fall in Cornwall during May and early June, 21 June 2018 marks the longest day of the year and the astronomical start of summer. Another three whole months to call summer until the autumnal equinox on 23 September.
In decades or centuries past, the solstice fell between the planting and harvesting of the crops and offered a lull or rest period, meaning that June was the traditional month for weddings (we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary this June, our copper one, post on that later). We haven’t noticed so much of a lull in the farming in these parts, mind you, with the lanes and fields busy as the farm workers continue late into the night on fine days; we’ve spent many afternoons watching mowing and baling, and waiting for cows to be moved from field to field.
“Midsummer’s eve was believed to be a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, and when fairies were thought to be at their most powerful”; there was certainly a magical feel to Cornwall last night. The sea mist came and went all day but in the hour before sunset cleared to the most beautiful amber light and then a sunset which turned the entire sky red. No camera did it justice, so we just sat and watched.
In June, the hedgerows turn pink and overgrown. May’s red campions are still everywhere, but longer and leggier and turning to seed. Foxgloves have sprung up, their tall elegant spires, from the palest pinks to the deepest fuschias enchant the hedgerows and gardens, enticing the faeries and the bees (but are poisonous and must be treated with respect). Daisies and red valerian line the coastal roads and paths; the cow parsley is almost over and a pinker type has started to appear. In the garden the first few sweet peas are making an appearance and the roses round the back door smell sweeter than ever.
Things to do in June
Enjoy the last of the peonies
The short but very sweet season has almost finished but there is still time to enjoy these frilly lovelies this week and next. (Bloom & Wild’s peony bouquets end 23 June – Get £10 off your first order*).
Walk in the dappled shade in the woods
Strong prevailing winds from the coast create the most beautiful tree shapes here and once the leaves are fully filled in, create tunnel like structures through which roads and paths wind. On a hot day, only the dappled sunlight finds it way to the bottom – perfect for peaceful and cool walks.
Start eating the fruits of your labour
We harvested the first of our radishes this week along with fresh peppery rocket and a few strawberries and raspberries from the garden; the lettuces are almost ready. The strawberries from our local farm shop where the pick your own strawberries have started are at their best these next few weeks, and we’ll also be heading there to pick gooseberries to go with our mackerel. Not much beats the combination of strawberries and cream, so we turned local cream and milk into Milk Bar inspired cereal milk ice-cream to go with the berries, garnished with mint grown in an old sink outside our back door.
Long warm evenings call for late bedtimes and supper eaten outside. Keep the picnic basket packed up with everything you need; some nights we cook and then take it straight to the beach in the pan. Pasta is perfect for that and if you wrap the pan in a towel in the footwell, it is still warm to serve!
Summer solstice feast
I love gathering round our table, sharing food and wine together with friends and family. We usually mark in the solstice in some way, where we pause to reflect the year past and to come. We light candles and savour the high point of the year, revelling in the light and long evenings, storing away daylight and sunshine before the nights slowly begin to drift and draw in again. I decorate with flowers from the garden (and here, the last of my wedding anniversay peonies), vintage linens passed down from my great-grandmothers, mixed with napkins bought in Paris. Other times we eat outside, in the garden, or on the beach, sitting round the fire long into the evenings. Nights like this are for good food, wine, company and shared stories.
Seek out water
Something I learnt in London but do here as much as possible – there is something very soothing about the sound of water. Here that usually means the beach or coast path, but rivers, canals, ponds, fountains and even park paddling pools can all give that little boost of hearing water.