It’s holiday season – time for ice cream and deck chairs and the aromatic burn of barbecues.

It’s time for mosquito bites and criss-crossed tan lines.

It’s time for my legs to shine bright like matchstick beacons during the one week of the year they’re let out from their shroud of denim.

And this year, for the first time in five years, I partook of an actual holiday. A holiday in the sun. A break from the pressure and the strains of everyday life. And I went italianing.

It was hot. And it was the best of holidays. Good friends, good wine, good food. Days of walking and evenings of card games. Seeing the sights – the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower, the lesser known Torture Museum of Lucca.

And it was amazing.

And in honour of this great event, this instalment of Creative Input is all about summer reads, music for the hottest of days, televisuals for dusky evenings.

Reading: The Fireman by Joe Hill. I’d picked this up to consume in Italy but only really cracked into it a few days before the flight stole me back to the UK. So far, so good – I mean, apocalptic spontaneous combustion? What’s not to like for your summer read?

Watching: My current binge is Sons of Anarchy. Midway through season three and I just want to point out right here how brilliant a character Gemma Teller is, and how great Katey Sagal is at playing her. I will be losing days to this programme until it’s done with. Perfect for days where it’s just too hot to leave the house.

Listening: Cards in a hot country was accompanied by the blues harmonica strains of Muddy Waters. This has featured previously in the Creative Input files, but deserves the second mention. Seriously, try it. I suggest playing a version of Rummy with bespoke house rules invented after a few glasses of wine, just don’t ask me to explain how we played it.

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