Hot Dogs, Guns and Roses & Here Comes Summer

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 24th June 2017

Hot Dogs

What a week – it’s been scorchio! The longest and hottest heat wave for 20 years, apparently!  Just hope it wasn’t our summer.

It may sound obvious to most, but please remember that we are not the only ones that can find the unprecedented hot weather challenging. Pets of all shapes and sizes will need to be able to cool down too. Even one of my pet pigs found another use for her water trough! (See pic).

Dogs, especially, struggle with hot days – just try walking on tarmac with bare feet and you’ll see what they have to cope with!

I have a child’s paddling pool in the garden for Yogi to cool off in, a friend soaks a big towel in cold water, wrings it out and drapes it over her dog to cool him down and you can also buy cooling mats which automatically cool when your pet sits on it. They are activated by weight or pressure and the pad will be cooler than surrounding temperature for up to 3-4 hours of constant use. They are ideal for pet’s beds, and car travel, although nothing should compensate for common sense when leaving a dog in a car. The best advice for leaving dogs in cars in hot weather is ‘don’t’!

Also remember to provide water for the birds and for the bees. Bees can only drink from shallow water, so will appreciate a suitable dish, like a saucer or plant drip tray, being topped up regularly.

Birds will need fresh, clean drinking water too and will also appreciate a bath. Bird baths are a great favourite of mine as they provide fabulous entertainment as a reward!

They don’t have to be preformed concrete statue types either – Alan Gardener made a lovely rustic one based on the principles of dry stone walling in his programme The Autistic Gardener last week. I have seen lots of items cleverly recycled into bird-bathing facilities, from old sinks attached to a fence, to saucers and shallow dishes suspended from trees.

Guns and Roses

As well as ‘making hay while the sun shines’, I also made the most of the nice weather to explore a bit more of Pembrokeshire. I am a huge fan of Barafundle Bay and Bosherton, but this time revisited Marloes (my partner hadn’t been before) and topped up my vitamin ‘sea’ levels with an early morning swim. And at the other end of the day, discovering a bird hide meant that we could watch the sun set whilst listening to the chatter of a pair of stonechats and watching a pair of swans proudly show off their new cygnets.

We also explored Angle and its stunning coastal path flanked by wild orchids, dog roses and honeysuckle. And a cannon. Yup, a cannon – and that cannon led to the rather unexpected highlight of the trip – discovering Chapel Bay Fort Museum and Café.

It is the earliest known fort in the world, constructed principally in mass concrete and occupies a 4 acre site, just a ten minute walk from the beach (you can drive too). They have a fabulous café with great coffee and fabulous food, but do make sure you ‘invest’ in a guided tour whilst you are there. We were well fed by Emma but even better educated by George and Jack. Not only did I leave a lot wiser, but also coveting their Scout car.

Chapel Bay Fort is open from Easter until October on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-4pm and on Bank Holidays. It is a not for profit organisation dependant on volunteers and community involvement, and as George mentioned, “Could do with some young blood helping out!”

Do pop into the website for more details, and even better, pop in to the Fort and be educated!

Here Comes Summer

The older I get, the more I realise that I don’t know. Earlier this year, I wondered why Easter was a different date each year (it can fall anytime between March 22 and April 25 and it’s complicated – Google will tell you!) and just now I realised that I thought that the summer solstice and Midsummer’s Day were one and the same. They’re not.

Summer solstice is on June 21st (well, it is this year – it can be 20th, 21st or 22nd) and astrologically, is the longest day of the year. Traditionally it is also regarded as the first day of summer, although I think we had our summer last weekend.

Midsummer’s Day is fixed on June 24th, which is St. John’s Day, celebrating the day of birth of John the Baptist.

It does seem that the traditional celebrations for the pagan and Christian dates are interchangeable though, with fires, fairies and folklore abounding for both.

St. John is also the patron saint of beekeepers and Midsummer’s eve is a time when the hives are full of honey. June’s full moon is called the Mead Moon, because honey was fermented to make mead. It’s also where the word “honeymoon” comes from.

Mind you St Valentine and St Ambrose are also considered to be Patron Saints of honeybees too – I learned that a while ago – and managed to retain it!

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