Sunshine through the rain on St Swithin’s day.

I’m English.  If you’ve ever spent any time with a Brit, you’ll know that we spend a lot of time talking about the weather.  It is an unavoidable part of our national character.  Some people think it’s cute.  Other’s quirky.  Most just think it’s strange.  But whatever people from other countries think, there is no stopping the conversation turning to the weather at some point.

We even have poetry about it! This  traditional little rhyme about St Swithun’s day is a prime example:

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St Swithun’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain nae mare.

Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry; English people are never happy with their weather lot. But if the St Swithun’s day proverb holds true and rain on 15th July does herald forty solid days of rain, then that tops it for most people I would reckon.  Just your average English summer, some might say!

Whatever weather it brings, St Swithun’s day will always hold a very special place in my heart.  It is the birthday of my dear old granny.  She is no longer with me.  But I miss her still and think of her often.  Although she never got the chance to meet her, our daughter is named in her memory.  And every time I see a small flicker of feisty humour and sparkling intelligence in our little girl, I think what a fitting choice her name was.

My granny was an amazing woman.  She was barely five foot tall but more fool you if you took for a pushover.  Sharp as a tack, strongly opinionated, and fiercely loyal.  She was also a true old-school Suffolk country woman. She kept her own chickens, made her own jams and pickles, grew her own fruit and veg.  She was an avid Countdown fan, loved nothing better than spending time with her family, sharing stories from the past and looking through old photos (although she hated having her photo taken!).  She was the very model of a mad cat lady, and she had a wicked laugh that bubbled up at the most unexpected moments.

There was no way you could ever get out of her house without having at least one cup of tea and a cheese sandwich, slice of fruit cake, or both.  As my husband quickly realised when we first started dating, resistance was futile; you were best to learn it early!

Come rain or shine, on St Swithun’s day I remember a very special lady.  Some people stay with you forever, even long after they’re gone.

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