Have you sensed it yet? There’s a slight chill in the mornings, a golden glow about the countryside and the nights are creeping ever so slightly shorter. I can feel it – Autumn is around the corner. I can’t help my thoughts turning to fruit crumbles, hot water bottles and coats, and not-so-secretly getting excited, but then I have a word with myself. Summer isn’t done yet – especially the late season rush of sunny days we can experience in August and September in the UK. So here’s hoping for a few more mild days, more wear out of my Saltwater sandals and Summer dresses, and more memories made. We ticked a fair few items off my July Seasons of Rosie list – including a trip to our local pick your own and the beach at St Andrews – so I’m determined to get the most out of these things to make and do in August. I hope you do too!
Visit a Garden Open Day
Gardens Britain-wide are at their zenith just now and I love nothing more than a day trip to a nearby National Trust location for a potter round the gardens, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of Summer in full bloom. One of my favourites, hydrangea (more on how to preserve them below) are bursting into flower just now, a sight not to be missed. Be sure to practice a bit of mindfulness – shut your eyes and focus on all your other senses, just being in the moment. Make a special day of it by choosing a spot slightly further afield than your usual day-to-day, and take a flask and/ or a picnic if they allow it in the gardens. If not, have your picnic in the car somewhere nearby! Keep an eye on local websites (I’m perpetually glued to Scotland’s Gardens!) to find out when smaller or less well-known properties near you open up their gardens; some lovely smaller gardens open for just a day or two each Summer so your visit can be an extra special one.
Make your own ice cream:
If the heatwave ever arrives, it’s great fun to make your own ice cream – and way easier than you might think, not to mention far more satisfying. Nigella’s no-churn ice cream is a go-to for me (I’ve posted my banana and salted caramel, stem ginger and white chocolate and lavender versions) combining whipped cream and condensed milk with some freezer magic. For a healthier take on an iced treat, I blitz handfuls of fruit with yoghurt or almond milk and freeze for a tasty, guilt-free snack. If you’re not excited by kitchen experimentation, support your local ice-creamery – the queues at Mary’s Milk Bar will be astronomical come the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but trust me when I say the sea buckthorn ripple is more than worth it. If you’re near St Andrews, make it your business to visit Fife institution Jannetta’s for a scoop of their unmissable gelato. I used to live just round the corner; my waistline thanks me that I no longer do.
Create a seasonal mezze feast:
So many delicious Summer vegetables are at their peak right now – from fresh peas to courgettes, tomatoes to an array of herbs. Such seasonal flavours demand simplicity, lending themselves to easy Summer salads and classic flavour combinations. A few weekends ago I rustled up a veggie mezze feast with new season veg, mainly inspired by Salma Hage’s The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook. I made homemade pitta, falafel, tabbouleh, kofka, kibbe, hummus, muhammara, spicy chickpeas and paprika tortilla chips. Sunny evenings pottering in the kitchen are my favourite way to unwind, and your feast is just as tasty whether eaten al fresco or on top of a blanket in your living room, indoor picnic style.
Preserve the essence of Summer:
Take time this month to save a little bit of Summer to remind you of sunnier days and help you through the colder seasons to come. Whether you make jams from that trip to the pick your own or dry Summer blooms from the garden as a botanical pick-me-up, preserving will summon back the memories of those long days when you most need them. I dry out hydrangeas taken from the plant just when they are starting to fade; leaving them with a wee drop of water in their vase in a dark room for a few weeks and letting nature take its course yields the best results. Softer stems may need hung upside down – use a rubber band as their stems will shrink (they would fall from string). Wild raspberries and the first of the brambles are appearing in the hedgerows, so you can make raspberry jam or bramble jelly this month too. Just the ticket on a Midwinter day when the berries are long gone!
Embrace rainy Summer days:
We Brits tend to romanticise Summer as a hazy, sunny, nostalgic time but the reality can be quite different! In fact, the reason I think I look forward to Autumn so prematurely is because there comes a tipping point in Scottish ‘Summer’ when the perpetually grey days suggest it may as well be Autumn! That said, there’s something lovely about rainy Summer days when the rain is warm and you’re left with that fresh, clean smell after a downpour. Embrace a rainy day in with a lengthy kitchen session to master that star bake, or pop on a classic film and nibble freshly popped popcorn as the rain batters the windows. A few weekends ago we did just that, watching the breathtaking Doctor Zhivago. Good for the soul.
What do you make and do in August? All images via my Everything Looks Rosie Instagram.