Hotter than July

An Indian summer they’re calling it. What the insanely cheerful telly weather people really mean is this is the weather we should have had in June, July and August. It’s just inconveniently turned up in late September.

Which is fine if this is the weather you’re expecting and you hadn’t – like me – already packed away the garden furniture and barbie after last month’s gales and torrential rain. The grass is still bloody growing and needing cut every week too. On the plus side, the remains of the (potted) vegetable garden have undergone something of a revival in the last week and Debbie’s tomatoes (oh stop sniggering at the back) look and taste delish.

What now passes for my workplace

Weather – there’s an awful lot of it about. And I seem to be in the middle of it, all the time.

I realise at this point, dear reader, you are ready to nominate me for a Statement of the Bleeding Obvious Award – after all, you’re saying, what the hell did you expect, woman?! You swapped an office for trudging up and down beaches and hills. With dogs. The weather COMES WITH THE TERRITORY!

Well, okay, there’s no need to shout. My point – and I do have one – is that my first ‘summer’ in the job has confused me in what an appropriate wardrobe sense. No change there then …

I am rarely - ahem - less 'comfortable' than this, hat notwithstanding

I have never been a gal who’s been interested in fashion – if you must, think Calamity Jane before the ‘darn crick’ makeover.

Jeans and T-shirts/shirts out of work, trousers and shirts (never blouses) in work – not for nothing did my late mother, stylish to the end, sigh in long suffering fashion and raise her eyebrows heavenwards whenever I appeared. Never mind Trinny & Susannah, my mum made it her life’s life work to tell me exactly What Not To Wear with one pointed look and a hand gesture that told her all was lost.

Obviously jeans and T-shirts are de rigeur among the dog walking fraternity (or should that be maternity? Most of them seem to be women). And it’s attire that’s perfectly adequate. Most of the time. Or at least some of the time. But no good in certain conditions – like when it’s particularly hot (jeans are horribly heavy and lead to thigh chafing) or a bit chilly (T-shorts are no protection against wind on the South Downs or beaches) or really wet (wet jeans cling to your ice-cold legs until you lose all feeling from the waist down and have to peel them off in the back garden like a particularly plump and inept stripper).

The very weather conditions, in fact, in which Lead On has been operating these last few months.

I’ve experimented with other outfits, notably shorts on those days when it was actually ridiculously hot (there have been 2 of ’em … until this week). But in shorts and stout walking shoes, I look like Dawn French as George in the Comic Strip’s rather brilliant spoof of the Famous Five. So I’d really rather not. And I don’t think the good people of West Sussex deserve that sight anyway.

Fran goes mad in Sussex

My new go-to store is Sports Direct for its cheap selection of sporty trousers – yes, there are no depths to which I will not sink. Worse than that, I even invested in some Wundaweb so I could hem my new ‘golfing’ trousers myself (as an official short arse, there isn’t a pair of trousers I buy that don’t need taken up).

And don’t think I’ve been fooled by the so-called Indian summer. By next week, it will be bloody Baltic again as the rain lashes off the windows and I’ll be back rooting around the waterproofs racks, searching for the perfect trews that offer comfort, protection and – importantly – style.

Only kidding about that last bit. As if I would let a little something like style get in the way of a comfort fit.

So the search for the perfect dog walking outfit goes on. I’d like to say I’ll keep you posted but something tells me you won’t actually care.

In the meantime, the mercury is nudging 25C and I’m thinking these acrylic mix joggies I found at the bottom of a suitcase might chafe a smidge when I take Alfie down the beach in a mo …

Och don’t you lot start with the What Not To Wear!