Sunday, 21 September 2008

Badgers, badgers everywhere, and a water-butt full of rainwater to drink...

It's been a gloriously sunny weekend here in the bit of England where the Home Counties meet the Midlands and the Midlands meet East Anglia and no-one seems quite sure what to call it.

At the risk of sounding a bit early morning on Radio 4, there usually seems to be one last burst of summer to encourage folk out into the great outdoors as if to make us notice that the blackberries which were large and juicy last time it stopped raining long enough to stop and notice are now shrivelled and crunchy, and the leaves are beginning to lose their green.

Judging by the big grins on the faces of almost everyone I've met this weekend, we've all been relieved to feel the sun on what little we're prepared to expose of our limbs at this time of year - not least because it's been such a horrible summer.

I would be amazed if records demonstrated that we've had more than about a dozen days without rain since the start of June, and much of it torrential.

We went camping in Cornwall for the first week of August, and it rained and rained and rained and rained. I ran into a friend yesterday who had been there for the best part of three weeks during the school summer holidays, and by the sound of it we got off fairly lightly.

Cornwall is beautiful at any time of year, but it can be hard in a tent with three kids for nine nights when not one of those evenings was dry enough to sit outside.

Our local paper carries the headline "Park's play area becomes a bog", and spends the whole front page grumbling that the playground gets muddy when it rains. I suppose that it saves them from going out and doing hard investigative work, such as checking on the toilet habits of bears in the woods or the religious inclinations of the Papacy.

Particularly in the light of the state of our campsite on the day we left, or indeed many Glastonbury Festivals I've had the good fortune to attend, the small puddle they worked hard to locate and photograph failed to convince me that civilisation is about to end, even if the weather since April last year has often felt as though the sky was indeed falling.

Largest and smallest have been having fun racing around the garden and our local park, which is not at all flooded - or even muddy - today, and middle-sized one has gone out for the day.

She recently joined the local St John's Ambulance's Badgers Troop, which for the unitiated (as we were until recently) is like Brownies, only with bandages instead of baking. She wanted to go to Brownies, but agreed to try Badgers as she seems to be moving no nearer the top of the waiting list of the one which her friends go to.

She absolutely loves it.

It's their 21st birthday this weekend, and Badgers from all over have gone to Legoland to celebrate.

Coincidentally, at work we have a (toy) badger and whichever of us has been particularly good that week - generally for suggesting a fairly trivial idea which rarely gets acted on or for mending something which had been mildly irritating for a while - is awarded the title 'Badger of the Week' and gets to take Badger home for the weekend and out on jaunts.

Because we sort badger out amicably between ourselves with no input from management, it's fun rather than some ghastly team-building/incenti-incentiviz-incentivis-corporate bribe, which is a good thing.

He/she/it was awarded to me this week, although no one seemed to know why, and thus it was that Badger became the Troop mascot for the day and has hopefully had a lovely time.

I've never been to Legoland. Like Alton Towers it just doesn't quite appeal enough to go all that way for. I'm sure that I'll be put right about that when I collect her this evening, and hope that I can keep her awake for long enough to run tonight's compilation past her for approval.

And on that note, to celebrate the anniversary of the Badgers, the lovely weather, and indeed the equinox today - but not the breakdown of the Large Hadron Collider(!) - I've put together 21 songs about sunshine, which I hope you will enjoy.

Tracks are:

01 Incredible String Band - Sleepers Awaken!
02 Rolf Harris - Sun Arise
03 The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun
04 Daniel Boone - Beautiful Sunday
05 Status Quo - Ice in the Sun
06 Even As We Speak - Beautiful Day
07 Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now
08 Donovan - The Sun is a Very Magic Fellow
09 Jimmie Davis - You Are My Sunshine
10 Katrina and the Waves - Walking On Sunshine
11 The Ramones - California Sun
12 Joseph Arthur - In The Sun
13 Bill Withers - Lovely Day
14 The Proclaimers - Sunshine on Leith
15 The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
16 Spooky Tooth - Sunshine Help Me
17 Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun
18 The Supremes - Automatically Sunshine
19 Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
20 Tiger - Shining in the Woods
21 The Carter Family - Keep on the Sunny Side

The Sun Machine is Comin' Down and We're Gonna Have a Party!

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