Monty Halls is basking in the last of the summer sun

Monty Halls is basking in the last of the summer sun



22:38 GMT, 28 September 2012

Monty Halls is still lapping up the Indian sunshine

Monty Halls is still lapping up the Indian sunshine

We’re basking in the unseasonal warmth of an Indian summer down here at the moment.

Each sunny day feels like a gift, something stolen from autumn while its back was turned.

The restless winds have stilled, the sun has made a shy reappearance, and everything that makes a living along our ragged little stretch of coastline is out harvesting the final rays of warmth before winter sets in.

Quite frankly I’m happy to see the back of summer this year – it’s been swinging hysterically from one mood to another like a hormonal teenager. At least winter has an idea of what it’s supposed to be, a grey few months where the clouds hang over the coast and the sea heaves and churns.

Personally I can’t wait – more time to indulge in a bit of ‘pottering’.

This involves getting round to all those jobs I’ve been putting off for months. It also requires a vast number of coffees, and pauses for chat, which seems a very civilised way to pass the time.

But right now we’re at the vanguard of the sun worshippers, heading out in the boat most days, with Reuben on the bow as an unlikely figurehead, trailing drool and barking at the sea.

I’ve seen the mood of the great volcanic outcrop that is the Mewstone change over the past months, from the expectant clamour of spring, with new life the order of the day as eggs are laid, through the bedlam of summer where young are raised and the battles that rage are very much between life and death.

What remains are the survivors – young cormorant, shag, and black-backed gulls. They swagger over the crags and fissures of the rock, no longer timorous infants but cawing adolescents, chasing harassed parents.

The adult birds just look knackered – a summer of foraging and feeding behind them. They seem as though they want to curl up with a good book, but can’t because they’ve got a large bundle of feathers and attitude following them at every turn. For the first time, I sympathise.

My daughter Isla is now ten months old. It’s incredible how a tiny little bundle can turn everything on its head. She is a pink hand grenade, shock and awe in a nappy.

Now she’s crawling it’s like living with an energetic raccoon. It may seem that her life is based around the key principles of anarchy and chaos, but – as with the scenes on the Mewstone – if one observes closely it’s possible to see that there is order and structure. Her day works to a strict timetable, which proceeds as follows…

Wake about 6am. Test bars of cot by shaking vigorously. Once it has been established that escape is not an option, bellow for attention.

Monty and his dog Reuben have been taking in the sights of black gulls

Monty and his dog Reuben have been taking in the sights of black gulls

Attention duly arrives in the form of room service provided by one of your two personal slaves, wearing a dressing gown and carrying a bottle of milk. Sit like an ageing duchess while the bottle is carefully held to your mouth. Finish milk and attempt to punch the slave in the face.

Thus fortified, it’s time to face the day. Having been carried into the kitchen, it’s time to explore everything at a height of 3ft and below. For some reason everything that should be on the floor – which is, of course, everything – has somehow made its way back onto the shelves overnight.

These objects must be meticulously pulled down and frisbeed across the carpet. Before each object is launched, a taste test is important, particularly if it is an old flip-flop, which should have the sole licked repeatedly. For some reason the slave may object to this, in which case it is key that one has a tantrum.

The slave may also pick something up, in which case it is very important the object is returned to the carpet as a matter of priority. Repeat this cycle in each room.

The slave will eventually put you to bed at 7pm or so, a muttering wreck of a man. Sleep comes relatively quickly – it is, after all, tiring being Isla.

And so as I edge past the Mewstone on another boat trip, I catch the eye of an exhausted looking herring gull being hotly pursued by it’s young. We exchange a look of complete understanding and as she turns to feed her offspring, cawing indulgently, I’m sure we both reflect that we wouldn’t have it any other way.