Tag Archives: summer

Sunshine On Our Shoulders

I remember summers.

I’m saying this at 7 a.m. on a cold bus with windows that have rain streaked almost horizontally across them (it‘s the bus that has the windows, not me). They are steamed up from the breath and the dampness of the clothing of the passengers, so that staring out of them tells me nothing. We might be as far as Bray, we might have reached the Motorway, we may have got lost and be in Venice.
The streets are certainly wet enough, though I think Venice would be warmer.

But I remember summers when the sun shone all day, every day. Summers when we would swim in Sandycove Harbour or at the Forty-Foot just beside it. The Forty-Foot, by the way, was a gentleman’s bathing place, meaning that women were barred so that men could swim naked if they wished. I’m not sure why they felt the need to do that, unless they felt the need to show off the small blue walnut now sprouting from their groin.

This was because the water was cold. You were not allowed to say that, of course. You had to inch your way in, gasping to catch your breath, shuddering when the first wave hit your swimming trunks and, when it hit your chest, feeling for a second as if your heart had stopped. You then plunged forward swam for about four strokes, then lifted your head, picked a slimy strip of seaweed from across your face and announced “It’s lovely”.

But if the water was cold, the sun was hot. When we had finished swimming we would run around, shirtless and wearing Factor er, Nothing, stubbing our toes against stones and occasional pieces of broken glass. Our backs would turn the colour, and texture, of a ham, and would sting at the slightest touch. You knew that because your friends, upon spotting any redness, would slap you cheerily on the back. That’s what friends are for, at that age.

As the sun sank we would slip t-shirts onto skin covered in sea-salt, rawness and the beginnings of peeling, and head home to sleep, on our sides, so that we could rise early to do the same thing again the following day.

You may say that I am looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses, though there were no such thing as sunglasses in those days (if the sun was too bright you squinted, what else is the ability to squint for?). You may also say (and please do) that I am too young to be indulging in nostalgia.

All I know is that I haven’t been sunburnt for years. And I know that it wouldn’t be pleasant if I were.

But it would be nice to at least have the option.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer

Polar air has been flowing down over Ireland since March 30th.

I know this because Smiley Evelyn said so. Evelyn Cusack is the sweetest of all the weather forecasters on RTE (all actual people from the Met Office, so they know what they’re talking about, or at any rate their guesswork is more educated than others). She will stand in front of a map on which Ireland is not visible at all under the bands of rain, will forecast horrendous weather for the following day, and then will finish with the happiest smile you have ever seen.

On the Penultimate Day, when it comes, Evelyn will say something like “Tomorrow should see Horsemen, perhaps as many as Four, sweeping across the country. There will be waves of weeping and torrents of teeth-gnashing. Expect bolts of lightning, especially any of you who might have written a post lately slagging some story from the Bible. The outlook for the following day is that there won’t be one. Well, goodnight,” and her face will have a beam as big as a lighthouse.

I mention all of this to explain why I’m so excited by the fact that today was warm and sunny, it’s not something we’ve had a lot of lately. So, I worked through lunch (boo) so that I could leave work at 3.15 (hooray) and be in my back garden at half-past four. I then took out this:

and  this:

(ignore the weird twig thing on the table, I’ve no idea what it is, Mrs Tin’s gardening is a closed book to me).

Which reminds me, I brought out a book, so that I could ignore it.

Finally I prepared myself a drink. I poured some of this:

then I added this:

No, I don’t know what it is either, I found it in the cupboard behind the Tonic Water. The picture on the label would seem to suggest that it is made from some sort of berries. Or intestines.

Finally I added a soupçon big lump of this:

and ended up with this:

Ok, it looked more impressive at the time, now it just looks like rusty Alka-Seltzer.

Anyway, it tasted lovely and I could get used to living like this.

But this is Ireland, so I don’t think I’m going to.

Sunshine On My Shoulders

So, this is my second week of Six Word Saturday:

Lazin’ on a sunny afternoon……..,me.

Um, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

What’s important, though, is this:

The weather has been dreadful here in Ireland so far this month, with yesterday evening featuring a downpour so torrential that anyone who went to work without a coat or umbrella got absolutely soaked on the way home.

Trust me on this.

But this afternoon is glorious (this morning may well have been too, you’ll have to ask someone who didn’t stay up till three a.m. watching Glastonbury) and I am ignoring the Formula 1 qualifying on the TV indoors, ignoring the cricket, ignoring, rather ironically, Glastonbury. Instead I’m writing this post outdoors and co-incidentally Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has just come on my iPod, which is always set on shuffle (the piece it’s playing is “Autumn”, not “Summer”, since even co-incidences aren’t perfect).

If I’m honest blogging in the sunshine has it’s drawbacks – I can barely see the screen (I typed barley there and didn’t notice for ages) and because I’m looking down at the keyboard the top of my head is getting more sun than my face, but after weeks of being stuck indoors at weekends I don’t care.

By the way I’m not sure what the white stuff is on the chair at the other side of the table in the photo.

If it’s bird-poo then it means that a dragon has flown over our house at some time.

 (For more Six Word Saturday posts,go here:)


Lapping Up The Sunshine

When I listed ten things to do this summer recently I should have had a Number 11,”dig out sock-hat and gloves.” The maximum temperature here all week has been twelve degrees, and tonight and tomorrow night it is to fall to one degree.

It seems that a flow of polar air is sweeping down from, well, the Pole onto Ireland and this is causing the current cold conditions. These air flows move in big anti-clockwise circles (you’re right, I didn’t do Geography at school) and we’re apparently at the very left-hand side of the circle, so we’re getting the downwind, if you like. The flow then passes us, turns and heads through Spain and then travels upwards carrying warm air, sangria and souvenir sombrero-wearing donkeys, and as a result the whole of the rest of North Western Europe is experiencing a heatwave.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

The temperature in Lapland yesterday was 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees fahrenheit.

Santa must be pretty warm inside that suit.

He probably doesn’t have any other clothes. He spends 364 days a year in a country known only for being cold and for being where Lapdancers come from (did I mention that I didn’t do Geography?), and the one other day travelling at high speed and higher altitude in an open-topped sleigh, on a flight path arranged so that he is always just behind the sun, keeping it night-time wherever he is. Warm clothing is all he has ever needed, so it’s unlikely that he has t-shirts, Bermuda shorts or flip-flops. He does not own sunglasses.

I bet he doesn’t have any swimwear either, which is a shame because if his castle really is made of ice he might have got the chance to swim in his own living room, using an ironing-board propped above the door as a diving board.

He probably has no cold drinks and no fridge to get ice from (never needed it before, considering what his front garden was made of). He has no sun lounger, no beach umbrella, no Jeffrey Archer novels.

He won’t have any sunscreen either. Rudolf’s not going to be the only one with the red nose.

Here Comes The Summer

WordPress suggests I Make a top ten list of things to do this summer.

  1. Remember that it is not summer where all my blogfriends live. JMG in Oz and Laughykate in NZ are just entering their winter.
  2. Try not to chuckle.
  3. Find the house of the person who gets two minutes of media time every year telling us that this year will be a scorcher because of the behaviour of the frogs in his garden, and stamp on his frogs (a phrase which I’ve have just Googled, no-one has ever used it before).
  4. For the rare sunny days that we do get, re-discover by trial and error which is the only one of the many sunscreens in the house that I’m not allergic to, reckoning that I can’t possibly be as unlucky as last year, where it was the fifth one I tried.
  5. When I find the right one, at the seventh attempt, have the name tattooed on my arm so that I don’t have to apply the empirical method again next year.
  6. Grit my teeth when asked at work have I any holidays planned and resist the urge to say no, it was pay for a holiday or feed our children and we have opted for the latter. I get saintly brownie points if I then ask them have they any plans and listen politely to ten minutes of crap about how they’re going to Sicily, paid 24 euro online and it’s 29 degrees there there at the moment.
  7. If, however, they say “ah, you’re having a Staycation!” I am allowing myself the luxury of beating them repeatedly over the head with a rolled-up holiday brochure.
  8. Ignore all the Mickey Mouse four-team soccer tournaments that Sky Sports insist on foisting upon us during July and August. This is not football, it is methadone for soccer addicts.
  9. On June 21st, when my Dad says “well, this is the longest day, it’s all downhill to winter now“, just smile and put down the rolled-up holiday brochure.
  10. Realise all too soon that the time for JMG and Laughykate to chuckle back is nearly upon us.

Summer Rain

Since Tuesday was our anniversary and we were going out I decided to take the rest of the week off, if only because I still had 27 days holidays left and the year is now more than half over.

So I’m off now until Monday, although any of my Irish readers who saw yesterday’s Irish Times would have already guessed that. They’d have seen this:

and thought “oh, looks like Tinman’s on holiday”.

Guess I’ll be watching a lot of TV.

Not Quite Scorchio

Back in February Laughykate lit up the whole internet with this glorious picture of her niece:

(I hope you don’t mind me nicking it, LK, but I love it, & think as many people as possible should see it).

She said she was thinking of calling it Summer in New Zealand.

I thought of the picture this morning, June 8th, when I looked out of the window of our office and saw this scene (you can tell by the streetscape, by the way, that I work in a really high class part of the city):

Welcome to Summer in Dublin.

Rain Man

Last night it rained all night. I love it when that happens.

I love waking two or three times during the night, hearing the rain bounce off the flowerpots, garden furniture and general clutter of the Tinbackgarden, and snuggling down and going back to sleep.

I love the slight edge of coolness that it brings to warm nights such as last night.

I love the earthy smell as the thirsty ground drinks in the rain.

Of course, it’s morning now, so I wish it would bloody well stop.

It Brings Tears to Your Eyes

A few years ago we has some really sunny weather (ah, I hear you thinking, this is one of Tinman’s fiction posts, but actually it’s true). I was sitting happily in the back garden when suddenly my eyes began to hurt, seemingly from deep inside, and tears poured from them in floods. I decided that sweat must have been running down into them from my forehead, so I went inside and washed my face and eyes thoroughly, but it was quite a while before the pain subsided. The following day I was back in the garden when it all started again, even worse. This time the running eyes lasted for hours, and I could only see by opening one eye at a time. Mrs Tin and I were starting to get really worried when Tinson2, who was about ten, piped up “my friend is allergic to every type of sunscreen except one”.

I’d never been allergic to anything before, and was always fascinated by how they find out what you’re allergic to, given that it could be anything in the entire world. I imagined that there’s a giant clinic somewhere where they have one of absolutely everything, which they prod you with one by one alphabetically until something brings you out in a rash (if you’re allergic to zebras you’re in for a long day).

The sunscreens in the Tinhouse come in just two strengths. Since I’m a bloke I use Factor Minus Two, which is the stuff you squirt into the barbecue if you feel it needs a bit of a gee-up. Mrs Tin and the Tinkids use Factor Three Hundred (essentially a burqa in liquid form), and since it was the start of the summer I had decided to ease myself in by using theirs. It transpired that I was allergic to the brand that I used, so the answer clearly was never to use it again.

The trouble is that winters are long and my memory is short. Now that Ireland’s mini ice-age is over (yes, it was an ice-age, you don’t see any dinosaurs around, do you, because the last seven months killed them off) I had to put on sunscreen again this morning. I opened the cupboard and stared at the wide range of bottles on offer, the shher number of them a tribute to the undying optimism of the Tinfamily that each coming summer will be a cracker. All the top brands were there – Ambre Solaire, Hawaiian, L’Oreal, Lidl – all experts in skin-care and dodgy science (Oil of Olay claims to tackle the seven signs of ageing. I’ve tried it, and on the three signs that bother me most – losing my hair, losing my faculties, losing my attractiveness to women – it wasn’t worth a shit).  

Anyway, I stared at them all, trying to remember which ones make me mouth-wateringly brown, and which merely make me eye-wateringly sore. Eventually, in an allergy-based version of Russian Roulette, I just grabbed one and hoped for the best.

Which is why I apologise for any uncorrected spelling errors in today’s post. I can’t see the bloody screen.

Too Well-Bred

Sitting on the bus this morning, staring out at the teeming May rain, I cursed the honesty and good-citizenship of my great-grandparents.

Had even one of them been a criminal (had they, for instance, stolen Trevalyan’s corn), I’d live in Australia now.

Feck them for being so law-abiding.