Sunny days are here again...

We had our summer in spring - and now we're having it again in autumn! Five months ago we basked in glorious sunshine over Easter. Temperatures then dropped, of course, but we didn't mind: it was still only May, after all, and reasonably mild. And then came those months which are officially summer; except that the thermometer was still stuck in spring.

As June rolled into July there was still hope: after all, isn't rain at Wimbledon as traditional as strawberries and cream? Here and there hopes were again raised by a few gloriously sunny days: but no sooner would we begin to enjoy them than temperatures - and rain! - would drop again. In mid-August a Peruvian sister arrived for six months' study, and straightaway began to wrap up in warm woollies. She noticed that we were wearing cotton and short sleeves, but when we explained that this was summer her incredulous face indicated that she thought we were delusional - and to a certain extent we were!

Even then there was still the hope of a final glorious burst, of an Indian summer, but instead, as nights lengthened so did our sleeves... and our gloomy faces. There was low-level grumbling about our alleged summer, and if the sun ever did stick its head above the parapet, we grumbled that it would soon be gone again. Even for a nation accustomed to northern gloom this was all a bit much. As I packed for a week in Italy earlier this month I gleefully anticipated sunshine and the final chance to wear some scarcely-worn summer clothes. At the same time, mindful of the likely downward trajectory of our temperatures, I stashed other summer things at the back of my wardrobe, replacing them on their hangers with warmer clothes, more suitable for autumn. Luckily, the Guardian Angel of "Just-in-Case" advised me to keep a few things out - just in case - but I forlornly assumed I was unlikely to get anymore wear out of them this year.

And then, just when we thought it was all over, the unbelievable happened. Just as we had started admiring autumn leaves, so summer decided on one last blaze of glory. Here we are at the end of September - October tomorrow - and it's not just mild, or even warm: it's HOT, the sun is blazing down from a brilliant, cloudless blue sky, everyone is back in floaty, summery clothes, and - loveliest of all - we're all smiling! For the last few days we've been greeting each other not with grumbles but with Isn't it lovely today?

A few times I have commented on this to people who have agreed - yes, everyone seems to be in a better mood. There's definitely a spring to our national step and a lift to our collective spirits. One work colleague, seeking to explain this, said there's so much bad news right now, what with the recession and the cuts and unemployment... it's just lovely to have something to smile about!

I don't know how long this glorious belated summer will last; I just know that right now, it feels like a real bonus, a lovely surprise gift. Right now, I'm just enjoying smiling at the sun, and feeling the sun smiling right back...