Vogue and other magazines occasionally publish lists along the lines of ’50 Fashion Adventures’ or ‘101 Unmissable Ideas’ filled with gems that I can only assume are satirical such as – shock horror – using jugs of tap water instead of bottled! (Only with sprigs of mint and lemon slices of course, darlings.) I thoroughly enjoy reading these outlandish proposals. Several have always stood out to me, such as the idea of climbing a New York fire ladder in 6 inch heels and a mini-dress, or wandering through the Parthenon with the early morning light catching the hem of a couture-made ball gown. Both suggestions rest somewhere on the scale between ridiculous and deeply desirable. I think it is the juxtaposition between the setting and the outfits – of the startling images suggested in placing ‘high fashion’ in real locations. These lists are wonderful precisely because they offer beautifully dressed escapism, coupled with a glimpse through an archway into another world. Like Alice, we as the readers kneel at an impossibly small door to witness the wonder of the garden beyond. It's unattainable, but the idea is enough.
Neat bullet points and numbered lists are a satisfying way to order, collect and arrange things. However, my family and I came up with a slightly more sprawling list when recently walking in the rain, ignoring the drips sliding down our necks and damp rising through our socks. We compiled a collection of favourite activities to complete while out and about in the wilds. It's tailored to our own quirks and interests (there were many references to classic comedy series), but I felt it worth sharing.
So, here are a few of my favourite things:
- · Marching down a hillside while singing the Monty Python Philosophers’ Drinking Song word-perfectly, or reciting other favourite sketches such as the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ and the ‘Argument’ scene. Bonus points are given for sounding exactly like John Cleese, or for performing an updated ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ routine.
- · Gathering up wild garlic, mushrooms or berries - according to the season. Blackberries spin purple-lipped grins, while bilberries are dark beads, threaded along a path.
- · Skipping as fast as possible down a slope or quiet road – the steeper the incline, the better. The after-morning aches are worth it.
- · Making a den using dead branches and leaves.
- · Ferocious stick fights.
- · Playing at ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ with a large umbrella and plenty of puddles to twirl around. The extension of this is a rainy picnic, details of which can be found here.
- · Alternately, an impromptu sunny picnic in the nearest field/park with a bright blanket. Food scrounged from the fridge and iced drinks drained into plastic bottles are always cheering.
- · To continue on the al fresco food theme, I'm looking forward to trying out a ‘midnight picnic’ once the days are longer - candles, warm food and tall wine glasses for clinking together while waiting for the sun to rise.
- · Plunging into mountain streams and rapidly retreating to the comfort of jumpers and flasks of coffee.
- · Making fires at night and watching sparks spitting up towards stars.
- · Taking a book and finding a sunny nook on the nearest hilltop.
- · Or, attempting to read and walk across a field in a straight line at the same time.
- · Spending a bike ride remembering and telling the rudest possible jokes.
- · Climbing trees: negotiating rotten branches and tricky gaps as knees are scored with scrapes.
- · Gorge-walking up rivers or streams in completely unsuitable footwear.
- · Leading one person ‘blind’ across an obstacle course of brambles, bumps and potholes.
I thought it appropriate to post this list (and the photos) today, as Britain is still officially in the midst of the 'wettest drought' possible. Fields are slicked with water while rivers are brown roars. The steady tap-tap-tap of drops has been the soundtrack for the last two weeks. As much as I love jumping in puddles, I am loathe to do this when carrying my college bag and two heavy folders. Instead I hunch my shoulders and march against the wet, dull skies.
What suggestions might you add to this list? Any traditions, favourite activities or brand new ideas for driving away rainy thoughts?
Everything I'm wearing above came from various charity shops, including the umbrella - which was a matter of serendipity, as it just happened to be in the car when we climbed out to find yet more storm clouds overhead.