NOT all parts of the country are sweltering in unbearable heat just yet, however it may seem on the TV news reports.

It’s another of those countless examples of how the media ignore northern England. If it’s hot in the south then they believe that’s all that counts.

But there is still time for Cumbria. We have another week of June, all of July and August and if we’re lucky early September to hope for bright, sunny weather.

The summer solstice – when the sun rises earliest and sets latest – was on Tuesday. The hours of daylight will now begin shrinking by roughly 15 minutes per week.

By September 23 we’ll reach the autumn equinox, when hours of sunlight and darkness are equal. And we’ll commence the slide towards Christmas.

It will be here before we know it. And that’s what I find depressing. One of the things I’ve learnt over the last 30 years is that time passes far more quickly as you get older.

And as you reflect over what you didn’t do – more than what you did do – you’re reminded of the warning that life is not a dress rehearsal.

But these cheery thoughts are perhaps ones to reserve for after Christmas, at new year’s resolution time.

For now, let’s enjoy the summer while we can.

There are plenty of familiar characteristics of the season to look forward to, like hosepipe bans, traffic jams, sunburn, hay fever and sand getting into your sandwiches.

There are also T-shirts, shorts, bikinis and short cotton dresses, my own favourite thing about the summer.

If you walk more than a mile on a hot summer day you are reminded why beer was invented.

And when you see some beer-bellied men stripped to the waist, you are reminded why the shirt was invented.

Some people have a physique best suited to winter.

Sports fans look forward to tennis and cricket. I used to take a keen interest in tennis when Anna Kournikova was still playing, but life’s too short for cricket.

But there’s one seasonal feature we may not see this year. It seems 99 ice creams are disappearing.

Ice cream soon disappears in the sun anyway, of course. But ice cream sellers are discovering a chronic shortage of the chocolate flakes that are stuck in an ice cream cone to turn it into a 99.

Flake manufacturers Cadbury’s have been asked about the shortage but haven’t given any very clear explanation for it, only muttering something about greater demand than they had expected – which I find hard to accept. Did it not occur to them that people might ask for a 99 in the summer?

Do turkey farmers find greater demand than they expected in December?

Apparently there was a similar shortage of flakes last summer.

Maybe it was down to Covid. I don’t know why it would have anything to do with it, but everything else seems to get blamed on Covid at the moment.

Putting a stick of chocolate in an ice cream is a British tradition, but reading about it I discovered that the term '99' may be Italian in origin.

It does not – as some assume – indicate the price of the ice cream. Given ever-rising food prices at the moment it would be good if it did.

It is thought to originate from a time when a manager from Cadbury’s saw some Italian ice cream makers, working in Britain, chopping chocolate fingers in half and inserting them into cones.

In the days when Italy was a monarchy, the king had a specially chosen guard of 99 élite soldiers, so the term '99' came to be used to describe anything special or first class.

And ice creams with a stick of chocolate in them were considered first class.

I never thought they were first class myself. I had a bad experience with a 99 while on holiday one summer in Cumbria, aged seven.

My dad had bought each of us one and I bit the bottom off my ice cream cone. Before I knew it all the ice cream had slid out onto my sandals.

Ice lollies, in my experience, were more practical, not as messy and less likely to end up on your shoes.

And in any case a cone of vanilla ice cream never really appealed to me when there is such a wide array of ice creams of other flavours and colours to try.

I would always opt for rum and raisin, which is safe enough if you’re not driving.

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