Yes, I know, we’ve not had the weather to really get the most from the long days, but I’ve been reflecting, as I watch another thunderstorm looming over the tennis courts, on what I’ve actually managed to see at this time of year.

Last year’s 5am start for a Dawn Chorus walk above Ilkley was marvellous in terms of the number of birds we saw, including tree sparrows, snipe, and an owl reflecting on it’s overnight success! But mainly the very fact of being up and about so early was novel for me. The air was fresh, a heavy mist slowly clearing from the valley below, birds and hares waking, as we were, to a new day… a most memorable walk and I’d encourage everyone to get up early at least once a year.

Getting up extra early is one challenge, but, for some of us, staying up and going out for a walk extra late is just as much of an ask!

Following six wet ,windy hours sitting at the Ilkley Tennis Tournament this year, by teatime the sky cleared and we walked home to Addingham along the river enjoying one of those luminous evenings that makes you forget that rain even exists. Long shadows and low light picked out rabbit’s ears and grasses as nature seemed to bask with us in the 9pm sunshine.

After some drizzly days I took advantage one evening of a chance to hear about Leeds city centre peregrines from the volunteers monitoring them: how they were tagged, and frequently needed rescuing when early flight attempts proved clumsy. A noisy city centre is not the nicest of places to spend a summer evening but, once again, the bus journey home was made charming and delightful by the late sun slanting across Airedale emphasising dips and hills and lime green foliage.

Even in London during the recent two day heatwave that was 2024 summer, I was reminded how magical even city parks can be when office workers loosen their ties and shed jackets to lie on the grass, enjoy a drink and marvel at the green parrots squawking overhead. The warmth and desire to linger out of doors seems to soften the city and give it a grace rarely seen on colder days.

So take advantage, whenever a gap in the rain presents itself, and just get out there!