Big Sur, 1946, by Ansel Adams
I never long for my school days and would hate to be 17 again, but I look back with more than a touch of nostalgia at the school holidays. Six whole weeks, free from from any worries or obligations. There were family holidays abroad in Spain, France and Switzerland, lazy days in the garden and hours of television – trashy MTV, and plenty of American shows like Saved by the Bell, My So-Called Life and Beverly Hills 90210. While summer generally doesn’t live up to expectations – British ones are generally a wash-out, Roger Federer doesn’t win Wimbledon, people ask my constantly why I’m so white and mosquitoes drain the blood from my arms and legs whenever I go abroad – I still feel excited around this time of year thinking about it. Long evenings, dinner in the garden while listening to birdsong, the chance to wear summer dresses and go out without a jacket, picnics and cool drinks. So I thought I’d put together some of my favoute summer things for inspiration. I’d love to hear what your essentials are.
My favourite summer drink along with Bellini which reminds me of being in Venice last year, sitting on the terrace watching the sunset. Although I must admit to also enjoying a large glass of Pimm’s whenever Wimbledon is on.
The perfect summer dresses
This one, with a pattern inspired by the Royal Porcelain collection, is for me the essence of the perfect English summer and ideal for tea in the garden.
Royal Worcester Jacquard dress, £78, Oasis
And I can’t resist polka dots
Navy spotted ruffle sundress, £22, Dorothy Perkins
Red shoes to brighten up any outfit
Lily suede flats, £198, J.Crew
The best facial sunscreen to wear under makeup
Murad Luminous Shield, SPF 50, £55
A perfect orange red lipstick
Nars Audacious Lipstick in Lana, £25
A straw shopper for that Jane Birkin feelingStraw shopper, £17.99, H&M
A cute hat for protection from the sun
Marl Scarf Summer Hat, £17.50, Marks and Spencer
The perfect tea
This delicious blend can be served hot or cold as according to the Fortnum and Mason website, it’s also excellent for iced tea.
Afternoon blend tea, from £5.25, Fortnum and Mason
The most delicious summer scent, as worn by Cary Grant, David Niven, Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn
Acqua di Parma, from £66
And of course, books for summer
It goes without saying that I’ll be reading the blog written by my friend Jan over the summer.
As for books, this year, I’ve got my eye on The Riviera Set about all the glamourous people who spent time at the Château de l’Horizon near Cannes, from Coco Chanel to Rita Hayworth. There’s also Dolce Vita Confidential about 1950s Rome and I’m dying to read The Unfinished Palazzo which tells the story of the three women who lived in the Palazzo Venier in Venice – Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim.
Or if you prefer fiction, can I recommend something by Patricia Highsmith or Ross Macdonald (I love gripping books in summer), some John Cheever short stories, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell about his eccentric childhood in Greece or The Great Gatsby which is the perfect choice at any time of year.