But the jolly redness of the tomatoes seem to defy the leaden skies, and the taste hints at Mediterranean summers and terrace living - if you shut your eyes quite tight and sit close enough to the Aga to feel the warmth.
The polytunnel has protected these tomatoes from the blight, and kept them warm enough to ripen up - the pretty frilly ones are Costoluto Fiorentino, a variety which has been consistently successful for us, in spite of our distinctly non-Mediterranean climate.
The Head Chef has been slaving over a hot stove preserving them for winter - we make an all-purpose tomato sauce/soup which is quite easy to do. Just cut the tomatoes in half and spread one layer thick on a baking tray (no need to peel or deseed). Scatter liberally with basil leaves and thinly sliced onions and garlic; drizzle with copious amounts of olive oil and season well, before roasting in the oven for half an hour or so (medium heat/middle of the Aga). Leave them to cool when they come out, then blitz in a food processor or blender. Freeze in portion sizes suited to your family.
|Nice green beans|
This tomato blend will then do duty all winter in lasagne or vegetable bakes, as pizza topping, pasta sauce, thinned down as tomato soup - the list is endless, and with food prices predicted to rise quite dramatically (and pig feed already escalating) we are eagerly squirrelling away as much as possible.
|Tasty but few and far between|
It has been a mixed year - the cucumbers are succumbing to mildew after a very modest crop (Marketmore, which is usually quite prolific), and unlike most years we have certainly not been overrun with courgettes - although that could be this pale green variety (I forget the name) which has such an anaemic air that we will be going back to the mix of yellow and dark green stripes which was so much more aesthetically pleasing.
|Pale and uninteresting|
The good old runners are still running away, and if you look carefully you can still see that everything is coated in thistledown. I fear that next year our little cottage is going to disappear in a prickly green forest and we will be machete-ing our way out.
|Machete at the ready|
I hope that you have had a sunnier weekend than we have, and if you don't feel up to the famous one, this Shades of Grey was very entertaining, and as far as I can remember, quite decent . . .