LAURA CARTLEDGE: The heat is on to see if I can survive summer

When someone mentions, with excitement, about the ‘heatwave’ I just politely smile.

You see, for me, it is not the carefree season.

I can’t turn my face to the sky and soak up some rays without first applying factor 50.

Spontaneous picnics take a lot of planning, too.

There’s the parasol, blanket, big hat and scarf for shoulders to think about before the food comes into question.

Nights are spent trying to perfect the balance of having enough body outside the duvet to not boil, but not offering a tempting treat to the monster under the bed.

I know I am not alone in this.

Both in not being a fan of the heat and having an overactive imagination when it comes to something wanting to eat your feet.

But it can feel a bit like it.

It doesn’t matter how it is dressed up – this ‘English rose’ is wilting.

And being ginger isn’t helping.

Even science knows it.

A radio report the other day claimed red hair is thought to be a response to cloudy weather.

Which means, with global warming turning up the dial, the gene is regressing.

Even further than the school playground bullies and bottles of hair dye have pushed it.

The good news is it is predicted that it will take a while.

Longer than our summer is supposed to last.

So I guess I’ll just have to hold in there and in the meantime try some evolution of my own.

I’m already building an arsenal of survival tactics.

On work days, my getting up process now has built in ‘cool down’ interludes.

Which I’d like to think will help me later on in life.

While at weekends – time I am trying to use to tackle our new garden – the method revolves around getting up early.

Then I can best utilise something I’ve perfected over the years – shade-hopping.

And it is paying of.

In the front bed, in the shadow of the hedge I need to prune, I found a feast of wild strawberries.

Ducked down by the shed was a bunch of chives and sandwiched next to the water butt was a beast of a fennel plant.

All of which I hadn’t noticed before, in the two-and-a-bit

weeks we’ve now called the property ‘home’.

Then there’s my partner’s prized mange tout and the lettuce and tomato plants carefully cultivated in pots for us by my dad.

Put all together and we’ve found ourselves playing a version of Ready, Steady, Cook that Tom and Barbara would be proud of.

Best of all, however, is the opportunity gardening brings to get new tools.

Along with the practical – the gloves, spades and secateurs – I’ve managed to sneak in.

My pride of joy, and arguably the least useful thing we own, has to be Donald – the watering can duck.

We needed one. I saw him.

It’s as simple as that.

Sure it doesn’t actually water that well, but it makes us smile even despite the heat.