Country mouse on summer’s end

Between breaks in the juddering rain, our gang of house martins slice through the air with their non-stop chatter. But there are only a handful of these flying wizards compared with previous years and the chatter, like the summer itself, has never risen above a whisper.

The final brood is on the wing, and soon we will be waving goodbye to fewer than we normally greet in the spring. They’ve had a terrible time, and I hope they will have more luck on their migration this year. In the fields, the wheat, briefly golden, is starting to tarnish from the downpours.

The horse-chestnut trees look as sickly as I’ve ever seen them, although this may be due to the contrast with the rest of the trees, which, thanks to the rain, still look in their pomp. At the opera in the gardens of West Green House in Hampshire on Saturday, the sensible wore wellingtons. Frankly, I feel like it’s good riddance to the summer that never was, and it’s time to switch into autumn mode.

The blackberries are plump, grouse  is back on the menu and the damp promises great harvests of mushrooms. Forget summer barbeques it will soon be time for a real fire.