Getting the work-life balance right in the sun

The Hamlet of Cray in upper Wharfedale.  3 June 2013. Picture Bruce Rollinson
The Hamlet of Cray in upper Wharfedale. 3 June 2013. Picture Bruce Rollinson

After the rains of summer 2012, many people had developed a not-really-surprising cynicism about the weather prospects for this summer.

As the cold spring months rolled by with no real let up, and once again May was disappointing, June proved to be a thoroughly reasonable month ... but could it last?

Steeling ourselves for a return to the now seemingly usual meteorological horrors, we arrived at July with some trepidation, but instead we got hot sunshine, and it seems, the “stuck” weather systems are now for once playing in our favour. July has been marvellous with almost wall-to-wall sunshine once the early morning mist burns off.

At work, at Reedley, watering has been a vital priority. As soon as I have arrived, the sprinklers go on and the daily routine of watering begins so we can get on top of things before the public arrives. That usually means just after 9am as the momentum of the gardening season, while the sun has shone, has kept rolling on. This has put me in a dilemma. The season is usually dying off as we get towards late June, with hanging baskets and tubs planted and people shifting their focus towards the holiday season, but this year it has kept going. So I’ve found myself (metaphorically speaking) with the harvest in but with more corn to gather. Do I stay on at work seven days-a-week, or do I restore the work-life balance and take Monday and Tuesday off?

I have never seen a gravestone with the words “I wish I’d gone to work more” and so my decision has been to take some time off and get out-and-about having time for myself ... and Wifey, of course! We have had some lovely outings, especially in the evenings as temperatures fall, but last Tuesday would take some beating.

Wifey and I decided to drive over to Wharfedale for one of our favourite walks. Parking at Barden Bridge just up-dale from Bolton Abbey, the riverside path is only yards away and you are instantly walking through trees and meadows with the sparkling waters of the Wharfe never far away.

It was the river that featured prominently in little Monty’s day. At every opportunity he was in the water cooling himself from the heat. He needed little coaxing from me. Under the hot summer sun (let me be clear I am NOT complaining) you soon start to feel it, and for a dog in a thick fur coat it must be fairly taxing, unless of course there is water nearby for a quick dip, so Monty was in paradise. Me too! The path is lined with spotted orchids, harebells, campanuala macrantha, ox-eye daisies, wild geraniums, wild scabious and a host of other stuff. All this amid the grandeur of the hills, Wharfedale and the sparkling Wharfe itself.

But while beauty in the landscape may sustain the soul, it does little for the thirst, and under that sun it was looking forward to imbibing isotonic fluids at the earliest opportunity. The Red Lion at Burnsall did the trick and soon my body’s fluid balance was restored to equilibrium as perfectly kept Yorkshire ale slipped down easily. Reluctantly taking our leave we strolled upstream, but then the clean dales air hit my system and my legs turned to lead. How I managed to get across the stepping stones further up at Linton without falling in I do not know. My work-life balance might have moved into equilibrium but when it came to walking across the river on those stepping-stones the balance very nearly eluded me. For me it was a perfect day out!