After a sunnier and warmer than usual June and a not half bad July, I can exclusively reveal that summer has returned to normal. It was only a few days ago when I was rejoicing at the sight of my increasingly parched lawn, a clear sign that it hasn’t rained much for a good while. The spring and summer of 2015 have not been stunningly hot in the UK, but then that doesn’t happen too much in a country with a maritime climate anyway. But it’s been pleasant enough, we’ve managed to sit outside the pub and in the back garden much more than in recent years and the local cricket teams have not lost too many games to bad weather. And then came today.
Looking out my window, it is almost impossible to believe that this is the height of summer. If I had woken up after a lengthy hibernation, I’d say it was probably October. It’s a miserable 14c, for goodness sake, a mere 20c cooler than my holiday destination of choice, Corfu. But if I feel the misery of this awful weather, what if this was my main summer holiday and I was staying in England?
I have had my share of British summer holidays. In fact, I was well into my twenties before I even had a package holiday abroad. My younger years were spent in caravan sites, like the one in West Bay, Dorset and the odd one in Weymouth and my memory is not that the sun shone every day and I spent most of my time on the beach. The truth is my main memory is of sitting in our little caravan, which had no toilet, never mind a TV, witching and listening to the rain beat on the windows. And when our children were small, we would go to Cornwall and it would rarely, if ever, be warm and sunny. We would visit small towns and attractions, shuffle round with lots of others doing the same thing, and we would get wet. This is why I have the utmost sympathy with those who choose to stay in this country, drive to a beautiful coastal resort and then it chucks it down, like it is doing today.
I find weather like this literally depressing. It can make me ill or it can make me feel worse if I am already ill. I hate the fact that there is little light to be lost when the sun goes down. I am sure I am not alone. I can see why people go abroad to get away from our general rubbish climate. We’ve got a sort of “something and nothing” climate where it is rarely one thing or the other. It’s never that hot but it’s rarely that cold. The default condition is cool with showers. I should be used to it by now!
Many people, including family members, have chosen to spend their dotage abroad, getting away from the increasing number of aches and pains that accompany the ageing process, especially when its damp and cold. Sometimes, mind you, they complain that it’s just too hot abroad where they live, which for someone who has lived for much of their lives under a cloud, literally, it probably is. I could live abroad but I wouldn’t want to.
It’s not that I can’t do the foreign lingo, I could learn that, or I don’t like all that foreign food, which is more of a problem, embarrassingly enough, but for all this abysmal weather I still want to be here. My life would certainly be enhanced with a large financial windfall that would enable me to take a shed load of foreign holidays throughout the year, but there’s the rub: it’s holidays I like. I like the very act of being on holiday and I like it to be distinct and quite separate from real life. I am quite sure if I was living abroad, effectively on holiday all year round, it would just feel ordinary. Anyway, I want my family around, I like super fast internet access, I like the fact that my family and friends are all nearby (except the one who is in Canada), I like going to my local, I like visiting record shops, I like going to Asda, I like having a wide choice of golf clubs at which I can visit a variety of different fauna, I like the huge variety of eateries in Bristol, traditional and those owned by the big corporations, I like going to the English seaside, even when it is chucking it down, I like buying and then reading my newspaper, I like going to gigs in Bristol and further afield, I like the British way of life.
I wonder if the summer that was looking so promising has come to a juddering halt, when it’s not even halfway through. July and August have, for some years, been unreliable weather wise and the evidence today suggests that recent history is repeating itself. My back door is closed today for the first afternoon in a good few weeks. We’re going out for a bite tonight but I’ll need to wear a coat. Summer’s here and the time is right for getting soaked in the street, Martha and her Vandellas didn’t say.
Try and enjoy the British summer if you can. It’s usually crap, just like the weather is for most of the year, but life’s not all that bad over here, especially if you have a good coat and umbrella.