Town mouse: a summer for clouds

Before leaving for Norfolk, I checked the weather forecast. It prophesied heavy cloud and a splash of rain. We struggled up, with other Friday afternoon traffic, through a downpour. At 6pm, the view from the top of Happisburgh lighthouse-our destination- was hazy. But as we drove to the farmhouse where we were staying, a miracle happened- a few, determined shafts of sunshine broke through the canopy, turning the damp fields into the sort of golden landscape painted by Claude.

The next day, as I read in the garden, I became aware of the dampness of the seat I had chosen. But the clouds now played with the sunshine-and if the clouds usually won, they were sufficiently magnanimous in victory to not rain. I spent the rest of the day admiring what used to be called English skies.

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By the time I reached the Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday, the sun had got the upper hand. A column of Napoleonic re-enactors marched through the Wiltshire combe, looking distinctly warm under their shakos. It was drowsy in the tents where the talks took place. Sunset painted the sky in the colours of a 1950s ice cream parlour: turquoise and pink. This is supposed to be a bad summer. Perhaps, but it’s a good one for clouds.

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