If I could describe June in one word it would be this one: whirlwind. The last month of the academic year here literally flew by, with all sorts of end-of-term activities, and transition arrangements for my eldest moving up to High School after the summer break. It’s also been an emotional time, with a series of goodbyes to all things primary and a leavers assembly for my son’s P7 class – more on that a bit later. We also had a lovely overnight stay at the Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland for my husband’s birthday – imagine the setting for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and you’re there! During our visit, we made a trip to the Bone Caves near Inchnadampf where the remains of all sorts of animals, including wolves, reindeer, lynx and even polar bear have been unearthed since the 1800’s. It’s a must if you’re in the area (but do take care on the final, very steep ascent!)
I mentioned in my Reading Lately post last week that I’ve been spending more time on watching than on reading recently – most unusual! I’m putting this down to my altered mental capacity (see above – end of primary, leavers assembly etc. – emotions have been running high). I’ve found myself preferring to curl up in front of the TV than in the pages of my books, but with the summer holidays approaching I expect the tide to turn again. I’ve just started Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (you might remember me falling in love with the TV series when I watched it a few months ago). At 1300 pages long, it’s a bit of a mammoth, but one hundred pages in and I’m enjoying it so far.
June, for me, was an incredible month of television. My husband and I devoured both Chernobyl, and When They See Us – if you get a chance to watch either of these two series I can highly recommend. Neither are easy viewing – Chernobyl follows events of the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster, while When They See Us tells the story of five young men who were wrongly convicted of an attack on a jogger in 1989 New York. Both shows are incredibly well made, with a lot to say about the nature of truth and justice. The first episode of When They See Us was so heartrending it just about broke me. If you get a chance, do go on to watch Oprah’s interview with the cast and the real-life exonerated five.
June was also a fantastic month for films, and one of my favourites was Green Book starring Viggo Mortensen. I don’t know how I managed to miss this film when it came out in cinemas, but I’m so glad I finally caught up. Inspired by true events, it tells the story of an Italian-American bouncer who takes a job driving an African-American pianist during a tour of America’s Deep South in the 1960’s. It’s hard to believe the injustice that was going on in the world until relatively recently. One of the fantastic things about this film is that it reminds you of all of this, but also finds a way to make you smile.
And of course, what would June have been without a trip to the cinema to see the latest outing of Toy Story? After the emotional turmoil that was Toy Story 3 (that scene in the dumpster!) I wasn’t sure if my fragile mental state would cope. But cope I did – the film is fantastic, but for me at least, didn’t have quite the same punch-in-the-stomach moment as its predecessor. But maybe that was a good thing. There have been enough tearful scenes of late!
And those tearful scenes were mostly prompted by my son’s recent leavers assembly. Last Friday, we watched he and his classmates perform a sort of swan song to their first seven years at school. There were photos, short movies and finally, a chance to listen to them sing this leavers song, which had most of us parents dissolving. I thought I had a hold on myself until my son came over to hug me at the end and I saw the emotion in his own face. I was suddenly back at the first day of primary one again. Cue a lot of snotty tears!
It’s not the right verb, but I’m going to use it anyway – I ‘made’ a book this month. After a long period of redrafting, I finally reached the end of the second draft of my novel – something I’d hoped to do before the summer break. It’s now 75,000 words long, and – (I hope) – a big improvement on the first draft. It still needs a third revision – the length of time it has taken me to write it means that there are all sorts of minor inconsistencies in the narrative – people’s eyes turning inexplicably from blue to green, and things like that. But I do know now that most of the hard work is over. I just hope that when I re-read it over the holidays it doesn’t prove to be a major disappointment (I read my first draft and nearly wept). I’m starting to understand now why people say books aren’t written, they are rewritten. I’m just hoping that after the third pass I have the confidence to let someone else read it and tell me what they think.
Apart from making up stories this month, I have mostly been making reminder lists in my bullet journal, and cooking family dinners. This chicken curry is one of my all-time favourite meals, from the Hemsley sisters’ book The Art of Eating Well. Everyone in my family loves it – just don’t tell my youngest there are about eight different vegetables lurking in amongst it. It’s one to enjoy at the weekends with a glass of wine and a bit of extra time.
Believe it or not, I’ve spent a lot of this month going out in public in my swimming costume. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know this is all due to my latest hobby – sea swimming (if you don’t read regularly, you can find out about that here). Since joining my local band of fellow ‘mermaids,’ I’ve been going out for dips around two to three times a week and loving it. We even had a summer solstice event, with tai chi on the beach followed by a sunset dip, which was a rather magical affair. There’s something quite empowering about women setting up their own communities, not worrying about what they (or anyone else) looks like in a swimming costume and enjoying everything nature has to offer. I just hope my new-found bravery can withstand the colder months!
With summer holidays on the horizon, things will be a bit quieter on the blogging front for the foreseeable. I do hope to get a bit of writing done during our six weeks of freedom (I get twitchy without it), but experience has taught me that the best laid plans for summer productivity are usually doomed to fail. Instead, I’ll be focusing on enjoying lots of family time, and fitting in the odd blog post if and when I can manage it. So for now I’ll wish you a lovely July-and-half-of-August. I hope the summer brings you sunshine, adventure – and a lot of Little Loves.
Joining up with Sincerely Anna and the Little Loves linky.