It’s possible that that was the first and last barbecue of the summer. Ow. Where Saturday was a flurry of vivacious chatter and bonhomie, Sunday took a long time to get going. Slowly, slowly the residents surfaced from their malodorous slumbers, to migrate between kitchen and sitting room, listing on sofas and slumping at tables. By mid-afternoon we harnessed the self-flagellation into an orgy of gardening – pruning, weeding, clipping and composting. All in all, the garden came out of it looking a lot more kempt than we did.

The problem started, as problems so often do, with the Pimm’s. There wasn’t any in the supermarket (that’s pretentious Balham for you), but I dredged out of my memory – the bit that should be retaining stuff about UN voting rights, dammit – that you can jerry-rig a passable facsimile of Pimm’s with gin and Martini Rosso. Funnily enough, the supermarket had plenty of Martini Rosso, so away we went with a whistle and a smirk.

The smirk froze when I opened the Martini. Dear God, it was like being a teenager again. That smell! That smell! Anyway, I wasn’t quite sure of the proportions, was it 1 part gin to 4 parts Martini? 1:5? I can’t remember which I did in the end, though science came into it (‘Does that look about right to you?’). Judging by the sprightliness of my bearing for the next few hours, the guess was good enough.

We just have to be more temperate. Or temperant, even. Thing is, I’m so in love with the garden. A friend gave me a bench (she was moving house and the new place had lots of posh garden stuff of its own) and it has really made the whole thing. Out I potter of a spring morning, startling the wildlife with the loudness of my paisley pyjamas, to sit for a few minutes with a mug of tea. And it’s too good not to share. There’ll be another barbecue, another jug of ersatz Pimm’s, another head-splitting hangover – and I can’t wait.


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