It feels like only yesterday that I was writing January in Focus, and somehow now we’ve made it to June! The sixth month of the year is one of my favourites: it’s the start of summer, and it always feels so much more full of promise than July and August, even if the weather can still sometimes be a bit up and down.
Evidently I’m not the only one who thinks June is the opportune moment to do everything on the planet though, because I’ve been overwhelmed by the choice of activities and events on offer this month… and all of them seem to be happening at the same time!
Still, I’ve tried my best to pick a handful of things for today’s post that can be enjoyed all month long. Have fun and let me know what you get up to!
During June, one of the two species of seals that call UK shores home are getting ready to have their babies. Regularly seen basking on rocky spits just a little way out to sea, harbour (or common) seals are surprisingly elegant animals… when they’re in the water at least! Even so, watching them shuffle along on their bellies to get comfortable is nothing short of delightful.
I’ve been on seal spotting boat trips twice in the past, the first time at Blakeney Point in Norfolk, and more recently off the Farne Islands in Northumberland. Both were great experiences, and I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Do you remember the sunny afternoon I spent on the allotment back in March? I planted a shedload of broad beans, and according to the seasonal veg section of Countryfile magazine, it seems as though June is the time they like to pop their heads up and say hello. I will have to return to John and Helen’s veggie patch and get harvesting…
Broad beans always seem like quite an old-fashioned food, and these chunky fellas often get folks raising their eyebrows and wondering how to cook and eat them. Never fear though, because a quick Google search will put you right and provide all sorts of inspiration for incorporating these high in vitamin A, B1 and B2 super champs into your diet.
I’ve never spotted one of these bioluminescent bugs before, but perhaps I’ll get lucky soon, as June evenings are apparently the best time to catch a glimpse. The glow worm, or Lampyris Noctiluca if you’d like its posh name, is not a worm at all: it’s actually a beetle. It’s only the wingless female that glows, and as you might have guessed it’s to attract the flying males.
If you’d like to spot a glow worm or two of your own, the good news is that they’re not as hard to find as you might think: often they’ll already have set up camp in your garden without you even noticing! If your house doesn’t have a garden then good places to try are those with an abundance of chalk or limestone in the soil.
Last year my friend Judi and I spent a weekend camping, hiking and breathing fresh air in the Trossacks, Scotland. One of the things I’ll never forget about the experience was Judi convincing me to wild swim in the still blue waters of Loch Lomond. It sounded like a very spiritual, outdoorsy thing to do, so without much persuasion I jumped straight in.
Even now, the memories of how cold that water really was makes my teeth chatter.
Wild swimming isn’t for everyone, but even if you’re a big wimp like me you can still enjoy the spectacle. Starting this Friday and finishing on Sunday, hundreds of
mad brave souls will be leaping into Lake Windermere in the Lake District to take part in the Great North Swim, an event suitable for swimmers of all strengths and experiences.
I grew up in Wiltshire, not far from the heritage monument of Stonehenge. Every year in the run up to the Summer Solstice I consider welcoming in the longest day of the year in the company of the Druids, but something always stops me. I guess it’s the additional crowd of drunk revellers, treating the whole thing like a free music festival that probably does it.
If you’d like to celebrate the beginning of the second half of the year without all that, don’t feel bad about staying clear of Stonehenge. The Druids will understand. If the idea of stone circles still appeals though, Avebury is a much better option, but it is totally acceptable just to take an early morning walk or even pop your head out of the window at sunrise instead.
Remember, it’s not what you do that counts, it’s how it makes you feel.
Here’s what I think: clothes cause a lot of problems. I’m sure we’d be much nicer to each other if we were all happier with the way we looked underneath.
Of course, if you’re taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride, (the London leg of which is happening this Saturday), you don’t need my sappy advice. This event will see cyclists of all abilities join in to peacefully protest against car culture and oil dependency, all the while making the most of the opportunity to get an all-over body tan…
But if you’re not feeling brave enough to get your kit off and join in, make it your June mission to appreciate your body instead of berating it. It’s the only one you’ll ever get after all, and it’s totally imperfect and beautiful in its own funny way.