Do you remember how, when you were a kid, summers used to stretch out forever? Seven weeks as a proportion of pre-teen life is a great big chunk of time – time that, for us, was often spent on holidays with the extended family by virtue of all the adults being teachers and sharing all that time off with us. I remember ice cream cups; the chateau in France that had bats in the shower; forming secret societies with my brother and cousins (my sister, despite being only two weeks younger than the middle cousin, and the youngest one always got left out); and lots and lots of books.
Every year ever since I’ve told myself that this year I’ll make the most of the summer months, but the lack of annual leave and erratic weather – plus what, despite my best intentions at the start of the year, remains an inability to experience a weekend – means that it never quite happens. And yet, having my sister home for a couple of months from her teaching job abroad broke up the routine a little, and when I had a sharp pang of missing her over buying a breakfast roll the other day (that James Bay song she loves, and that we danced to at T in the Park, was playing on the radio) I revisited all of our adventures in my head and realised that I didn’t do too badly from Summer 2016.
There was a thoroughly excellent birthday. A week in Sorrento with my mum and my sister, and don’t think I don’t appreciate every day how lucky I am that I get to call both of them my best friends as much as my family. Our Go Ape adventure. And not one, but two music festivals – one of which the sun actually shone for, and both of which I got paid to attend, because I might not have figured out my calling in life yet but at least I’m having fun in between angsting about it.
‘Summer’ for me tends to run a little long – I’ve been to America almost every September for the past few years, so Autumn starts when I get back – but even if that hadn’t been the case, the past couple of days have been it. I noticed it for the first time on Friday night: a newfound chill in the air, a reason to pull the scarves and the winter coats from the wardrobe again. Which is funny, because when Rekorderlig* first offered to send me some of their cider cocktails the idea was that I would link it to the turning of the season and the Swedish tradition of an extended midsummer.
A few months back, I wrote about the importance of making time for your friends as you get older: into your 30s, as relationships and children and careers take up more of your time and push out the things that might be seen as selfish or childish. Nights out – childcare arranged, husbands elsewhere, calendars synchronised and planned in advance – are great, but the less “formal” ones when you head back to somebody’s house after work to watch your favourite shows, have a couple of drinks and a takeaway and catch each other up on your week are my lifeblood.
That taste for wine I always thought I’d develop post-30 probably isn’t going to happen now – I just don’t like the taste – but necking spirits on a Wednesday night just doesn’t feel right, even if we are watching You’re The Worst. The Rekorderlig cocktails are a perfect compromise: they’ve got a little bit of a kick to them, and you avoid that bloated, gassy feeling you get after a couple of proper ciders.
The cocktails come in three varieties: passionfruit, with gin and a hint of lime; wild berries, with rum; and strawberry and lime, with vodka and elderflower. The last of these was the favourite of both myself and Jehane (we tried all three, in the interests of research and friendship) – it was sweet, but not overly so, and reminded me of watermelon Jolly Rancher sweets. I really enjoyed the passionfruit/gin combination too, although all three were tasty blends and really easy to drink.
It’s been a really difficult few months for some of my closest friends, so these nights of chat and takeaways have become more important than ever. Now the nights are drawing in, Rekorderlig’s spiced plum cider will be hitting the shops, and I’m looking forward to making some more memories with my favourite people.
This is a sponsored post, but all views are my own and unbiased.