Sunday, May 01, 2005

10 Things To Do To Welcome Summer

1. Buy new shoes
Nothing says “new season” to any woman more than new shoes. Now is the time to make the shoe shop your favourite haunt, as you browse the new season’s treats, and decide what your wardrobe absolutely cannot do without.(NB handbag obsessives can replace shoes with bags if they absolutely must…)(NB2 have no idea what blokes can do. Maybe buy a new spanner set or something)

2. Spring Clean
Yes I know it might sound weird, but the lovely bright evenings and other changes to the weather bring out the spring cleaner in me. Maybe it is because what we could hide in dark corners in winter, now call out for sorting. In any event, use that new energy you have to attack one room in your house and get it the way you want it.If housework sound the same any way you dress it up, use your enthusiasm to brighten up your garden instead – give yourself an additional room to live in this summer!Check out for tips for indoors.Or follow for garden inspiration.You know you secretly want to!!!

3. Eat fruit
Forget healthy eating – eating fresh exotic fruit is a sure-fire way of feeling summery. Fresh strawberries for dessert, your favourite melon for a weekend breakfast, or a whole pineapple chopped and soaked in rum is what you need to make you feel pampered and tropical.

4. Learn how to make a good rum punch
The old Jamaican rhyme goes:

One of sour
Two of sweet
Three of strong
Four of weak

Sour is lemon or lime juice.

Sweet is (originally) sugar cane juice but we boring Europeans can substitute sugar.

Strong is rum (of course). Preferably a very good quality, and preferably not white rum. Golden or dark rum has a better flavour.

Weak is fruit juice. Better if it is fresh, and a mixture is best. Don’t wimp out and go for straight OJ.

Chill all ingredients beforehand so you don’t have to dilute everything with ice.

And top off with a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a generous dash of grenadine to make the “sunset” colour scheme we all know and love from our holidays.

A mate of mine swears by a good dash of gin to add to the kick. It works.

Finally – don’t skimp on the rum!

5. Book a holiday in the sun
It’ll make you feel better – honest! And it’s a good encouragement to get fit for your new beachwear!

6. Volunteer your time - May is environment month

7. Reclaim your local open space
Within 5 miles of our house, right in this huge city, is a lovely rare bird sanctuary with a sailing club on a lake (Welsh Harp reservoir), another with ponds you can swim in and a National Trust house (Hampstead Heath), and a protected wetland (Barnes Wetland Centre).There are hundreds of miles of bicycle paths all over London too.Other cities in the world are the same! Get out there and enjoy the open spaces your taxes pay for!

8. Celebrate someone who inspires you
Inspiration comes in many forms – and in many aspects of life. We all have people in our lives who inspire us, either with their courage or persistence, or their hard work, or just their ability to see the best in people and make others smile.Let your inspirational person know you are inspired by them! Send a card (even an e-card). Give them flowers, or take them out for coffee. Or just give them a call and tell them you think they are great.

9. Practise elegant economy
It finally hit me a few years ago that the art of living within one’s means is just that — an art. It is all about enjoying, not spending money. Like the ladies in Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1853 comic novel, Cranford, I have tried to learn the art of “elegant economy”. Those ladies would walk home because, they claimed, the night air was refreshing, rather than because they could not afford a carriage. Cotton was nicer than silk, they assured each other, because it washed better, not because they could no longer afford silk.

Here’s a simple way to start: Write down everything you spend, in a little notebook or pocket diary. It works straight away: just as writing down what you eat makes you eat a bit less, writing down what you spend makes you spend a bit less. Then aim to have a few no-spend days a month. After a while, it becomes a game: how can I run my life today without writing anything down in my little blue book? How ingenious can I be?

As you claw your way out of debt, you may notice a strange thing. Money that you actually possess feels completely different from money you owe. When contemplating spending money that is sitting solidly in your account, as opposed to spending money you don’t own on a credit card, the prospect of giving up your hard-earned cash strangely seems to pall.

10. Vote
It’s a big deal for us UK-dwellers right now, with election day right upon us. But even if you are reading this after the fact, or you live in another country, take this reminder to confirm that you are still registered to vote, and at the correct address. Or register for a postal vote so you won’t have any excuse next time!People died to get us our vote. We have a responsibility to use it!