‘Devon, Devon, Devon/ Where it rains six days out of seven.’ Nothing beats a British seaside holiday. And north Devon is especially blessed when it comes to vibrant weather patterns. We have watched in awe this summer as high-pressure systems from the Continent have collapsed in the face of sturdy Atlantic lows and extreme weather warnings punctuated the news. Our companion in all this has been the Met Office, whose forecasts are dashingly presented by the hunky Tomasz Schafernaker. So it was a shock to see the third-rate bureaucrats running the BBC replace it with some cheap and rather remote New Zealand outfit. Until recently, an institution like the BBC would have thought that supporting our science base, investing in UK-based research and development and having pride in a globally admired public organisation was part of its remit. No longer. It makes defending the BBC from the encircling Tory hordes all the harder.
If Devon was damp, the Isle of Mull was drenched. But my son and I had a joyous few days visiting an old friend, Guy Grieve, who runs a hand-picked shellfish business. His divers individually harvest each scallop, a contrast to the dreadful dredgers raping the Scottish seabeds. As mist and drizzle fell across the Sound of Mull, we filleted, fried and grilled king scallops with delicious results. I also managed to make it to the mystical Isle of Iona. With its white beaches, crystal-clear sea and incredible fauna, it all felt a little like the Scilly isle of Tresco, but joyfully free of the red-trouser brigade.
Accompanying me this summer has been Edmund de Waal — in literary rather than personal form. The celebrated potter has written a beautiful new book on the history and meaning of porcelain.