It is not often that you'll find me ranting about my own stupidity, but this week I am jolly cross about myself. You'd think that after 35 years I would have figured out that, even in Britain, even in March, the sun sometimes gets quite hot. So, why is it that on the first sunny day of every year I forget to wear sunscreen and get embarrassingly burnt? Not just once, but every year. I don't even have the excuse that I'm a genuine redhead, because (like that hottie from Mad Men and everyone else who's cool these days) I'm not. It actually takes time for me to get this burnt. Several hours of sitting in the garden reading two novels back to back, or thereabouts. That's what happened last weekend, and all week I have been dressed in a bizarre combination of too-hot clothes, trying to cover up my stupid red bits. This weekend I am ready with the factor 50 and won't be so silly again. Typically, the forecast is for clouds.
I'm all for these 'ere genetically modified purple tomatoes, which scientists say contain antioxidants just like blueberries, but you don't need a laboratory and a degree in bio-engineering to get hold of freaky coloured fruit and veg. Last week, I ordered about 20 packets of seeds (I don't know where I'm going to plant them all; my garden's about the size of a postage stamp but less expensive) from gardenorganic.org.uk, which used to be known as the Henry Doubleday Research Association, in Ryton, near Coventry. The Heritage Seed Library there conserves 800 varieties of veg – the kind that supermarkets wouldn't dream of selling you because they're lumpy, don't travel well, and taste of something other than water. So, if the library were not growing and keeping them they would soon become extinct. Two hundred of these seed types are available to buy, so this year my tomatoes will be purple, orange, green and stripy, white, red, and little yellow pear-shapes. They're a great way to persuade children to eat up their veg, apparently. And there's not a genetic modification in sight.