May I invite you to hoist your imaginary trumpet aloft and play a small fanfare to the arrival of summer? Yes, I know there was a false alarm a couple of weekends ago, when I bravely embarked upon what looked like a warm sunny walk in FitFlops only to come home, chastened, with half my toes frozen off, but this time it's true, I promise.
How do I know? Simple: the following criteria have now been met.
1. The first official proof of summer is to be able to sit outside in a pub beer garden and actually be warm enough. You can often see people sitting outside in March, pretending to be warm, gritting their teeth as they snuggle into their big coat and insist that everything's fine and they're perfectly warm enough, thankyou, but yesterday was the real deal. The beer garden at The Metropolitan in West Didsbury was pretty full yesterday evening, with people actually enjoying being outside rather than pluckily battling on in the spirit of stiff upper lip, etc.
2. Ladies across the nation are proudly displaying their feet, in an array of bewitching sandals. As any woman knows, the first liberation of the feet in any given year is a complex business, requiring a firm buffing and the careful removal of the old coats of nail polish that have built up rather menacingly over winter. But now my feet, like many others, are completely naked, revelling in the classy new dark pink thoughtfully applied to their extremities.
3. People's thoughts are turning to barbecues. If you need irrefutable proof of this then simply visit your local supermarket, where you will see carefree young people with cases of beer and 36 assorted packets of chicken drumsticks, sausages and burgers approaching the checkouts with a sort of wild abandon. Everyone loves a barbecue; there's no other meal that allows for the consumption of so much alcohol and so many unhealthy meat products with such a veneer of respectability - you're outdoors, ergo anything you consume is good for you.
But...the arrival of summer also means I can put off the gardening no longer; unless I want my barbecue guests to disappear without trace in the jungle that is steadily encroaching onto my lawn. Off to earn those sausages.