The last days of summer

Summer is coming to an end and that means that long mad stretch up to Christmas is approaching. In the meantime, it’s still just about August and a fair few work emails are coming back with out of office messages.

It’s that bit where you try to get people to go to bed on time, including yourself, and fail dismally because no-one, including yourself, wants to believe that the summer is nearly over.

I’ve also been trying to turn people’s thoughts to things like reading just so it is not so much of a shock when the homework starts rolling in. There’s no need to worry about daughter one: she has a book on the go at all times and takes an emergency one with her in case she is bored on family outings. Daughter two, however, is not quite so keen. She has been forced to read The Catcher in the Rye for holiday homework, which is not her normal reading material. She must have read Diary of a Wimpy Kid about 1,000 times by now. I asked her how it was going with Catcher in the Rye. “It’s very boring,” she said of one of the classics of modern literature. “The main character is a bit like Wimpy Kid, though, but a lot more annoying.” Daughter three has, to be fair, been reading a couple of books over the holiday, but only son hasn’t done too much, although he is like a small, bouncy sponge absorbing every single bit of information that he comes across with huge enthusiasm.

He has been totally engrossed in some minecraft thing on the computer for the last couple of months. To me it looks like blurry lego figures in bright colours bobbling around out of focus. I can’t see anything that would get me to watch it if I wasn’t physically forced [he holds my head to the screen] to do so. There is usually a background commentary by some unlikely person with purple hair or an Irish family who seem to be permanently on the border of a nervous breakdown. I cannot for the life of me understand what attracts him to them. However, the other day only son announced the entire photosynthesis process to me in passing, including a detailed description of the manufacture of glucose which he had apparently gleaned from a minecraft-related site so I am now considering them in a whole new light.

However, because this summer has been relatively good in terms of weather, at least of late,  it has meant more time being spent on outdoor pursuits. The weekend was taken up with day trips to Brighton and to a distant swimming pool with a long twisting slide which I was forced to go on. It went very fast and I think I passed by some flashing disco lights in one section of the tunnel before being catapulted to the bottom where gallons of water went up my nose. Despite this, I think I would volunteer to do it next time round and maybe I could take more notice of the disco lights if they were not a figment of my imagination.

The bank holiday is the last hurrah of the summer holidays, though. All the kids go back to school at different times this week or next. Only son is back on Thursday; daughter three on Friday morning [because she is starting secondary school and needs time to get to grips with important stuff like where the toilets are]; daughter two on Friday afternoon; and daughter one on Monday afternoon [sixth form]. Just to make life a little bit more complicated, of course.

In the meantime, we are trying to cling on to a little bit of summer, basking in the long summer evenings, before the autumn leaves start falling, it starts getting dark at around 4pm and work goes into overdrive.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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