Leading article: A classic British summer

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Three cheers for autumn, for high pressure systems that sweep in from northern France, and for the glorious unpredictability of the British weather.

The summer proper may have been barely worth the name: the glancing memory of a lovely April washed away by months of unseasonal cold, wind and rain. But after a week of blazing sunshine and record-breaking temperatures, our temperamental climate seems worth it once again.

Gleeful Britons rushed to bask on beaches so recently suitable only for a brisk, well-muffled walk. And with tales of lambs born early and fields of sunflowers suddenly bursting into bloom, it seems even Mother Nature was taken by surprise. Sadly, the heatwave is set to peter out next week. And if last winter is anything to go by, there may be icy blasts ahead. Plymouth council's gritting lorries are already on stand-by, just in case.

Even more reason to head for the countryside, dust off the barbecue and enjoy this patchy summer's splendid last hurrah.

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