It's the best summer we have had for years. We must do our best to make the most of it - we may not see it's like again, at least not for a long time. England is in the semi-finals of the World Cup and Mrs May has Brexit sorted out. Well possibly. Regardless, this glorious summer must be enjoyed as the heat and the sun and the football and the tennis and all that sort of stuff means the Englishman (and woman and, for that matter, dog - Labradors in particular) must relax in a seriously enjoyable fashion.
And that is why we have been given, by a higher entity, two great pleasures to make our summer days, and evenings, float away quite happily.
On the furthest edge of Birmingham, in West Heath, is a little cake and coffee shop, run by two charming young women. Kiss Me Cupcakes serves the most delightful cakes, baked freshly on the premises, in the form of delightful cupcakes (as you might expect) or truly wonderful lemon drizzle cake, enormously moreish Rocky roads, light and tasty Victoria sponge and, sometimes, fabulous scones with clotted cream and the fruitiest conserve. The cake worshipper can sit in a delightful dining room with plush armchairs and the most unexpected wood panelling or outside under the parasolled tables where an accompanying dog will be brought a bowl of water and possibly a doggy treat. An accompanying child might be brought a milkshake served, delightfully, in a milk bottle with a Cadbury's flake in it to add to the pleasure of it all. Birmingham food isn't all about what's going on in the city centre or about 7 course tasting menus - even its remotest little suburbs perched on the edge of the Worcestershire countryside can be the host to special little places where the food is simpler but in its own way is as fine and pleasurable as a Michelin starred restaurant.
The cakes can of course be taken home to eat or made to special order including large cakes for special occasions. Today Kiss Me Cupcakes was serving a lovely Wimbledon cupcake appropriately
topped by a fresh strawberry but it was so tempting I ate it before I could photograph it! But I did
manage to hold back from consuming the blue berry and strawberry cupcakes so an idea of their prettiness can be gained from the illustration at the head of this piece.
And so to the drink of the summer of 2018. Previously mentioned in Blog 24 is the amazing pure pleasure of drinking Warner Edwards Victorian Rhubarb gin with ginger ale as the heat of the afternoon gradually calms into the evening's cloudless sky coolness which I discovered on a recent visit to Purnell's. I thank the prize-winning restaurant manager and award-winning sommelier, Sonal Clare for suggesting I try the drink and consequently giving me so much pleasure.
But I must also draw attention to Gun Dog Rhubarb Gin from Herefordshire which when combined with ginger ale may actually be even better than the Warner Edwards nectar.
No matter what ... the drink of the hot summer of 2018 just has to be Rhubarb Gin and Ginger Ale. What a summer this is turning out to be.