Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lovin' Summer

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so what the hell have I been up to? Has civilisation crumbled in Blighty since the Brexit vote? Am I too busy scrabbling around for scraps of Fish n’ Chips and sleeping in abandoned BHS dressing rooms to bother posting to my blog?

No, nothing so drastic (though Parliament just reconvened, and if anyone can bring that about it’s them, so watch this space), I’m simply too busy enjoy the unexpectedly stunning summer weather.

Just like New York, except the buildings aren't as tall and there's not as many people.
It is just as hot, though. Check out the guy in the background thanking the gods for the unprecedented weather.
To the uninitiated, summer in Britain generally consists of three hot days (not always contiguous) and long stretches of cloudy, 60 degree weather. And drizzle. But this year, it got hot. Proper hot; not the 75 degrees that usually passes for hot in Britain, but actually into the 80s, and a few times into the low 90s. And it stayed that way. We have had (and continue to enjoy) sunny days, blue skies and “where is the nearest swimming pool” temperatures for weeks now.

Sunny, but at least 3 out of 5 people think it's too cold for short sleeve shirts/
This is the type of weather that drives people into supermarkets so they can hang out in the frozen food aisle. It is, in short, a New York Summer, and I have not experienced one like it since I landed on these shores.

It is also wonderful that I am able to enjoy it with (as opposed to despite) my fellow Sussexonians, who usually start predicting doom after three days of decent weather.

“Haven’t had much rain lately,” they’ll say, as soon as the words, “Nice day, isn’t it?” leave your lips. And then they’ll continue: “That won’t do the farmers any good, mind. We’ll be paying three month’s wages for a pack of cheese and onion crisps come October. This keeps up, there’ll be standpipes in the streets.”

Yeah, we had standpipes in the streets
No, this time everyone seems to be enjoying it, and making the best of it by crowding into the frigid sea or taking the 23 bus to Arundel to lounge by the lido. My theory is, the gloom has not descended because something like this happened within living memory — 1976 to be exact — only it was worse, with severe drought and, you guessed it, stand-pipes in the streets, and those who remember it are happy enough just telling anyone who will listen about their recollections of that year, while the rest of us are just happy to be able to go outside in July without needing a puffer jacket.

This is July. Yes, JULY!!
It has been so like a real summer that I have actually put off doing some chores until the autumn, with its cooler weather, arrives. (These chores involve digging large holes in my MIL’s garden to uproot some trees, so I’m not really being a wimp here.) It has also seen me wearing short sleeved shirts.

For the first several years I lived here, I didn’t even own a short sleeve shirt. I bought two about ten years ago, during a summer that flirted with “hot” for about five days in a row. After that, the shirts migrated to the bottom of my dresser draw where they remained for many years. But thanks to the current climate, I now posses a baker’s dozen of short sleeve shirts, and have been wearing nothing but (well, pants and stuff) for many weeks, even out doors.

'nuff said.
It has been so consistently nice that my wife and I travelled to London a few weeks ago without even bothering to take a jacket or umbrella. Believe it or not, we simply walked out of the flat with the clothes we had on, without having to layer up. Incredible! I get giddy just thinking about it.

(I sincerely hope this isn’t like the jumper debacle. As with “not-so-hot” summers, Britain--in the south, at least--has “not-so-cold” winters, which rarely require the wearing of a sweater/jumper. When we had a genuine cold spell some years back, I gleefully bought a stack of jumpers and wore them around for a few days until it got up into the 40s again. They are now all tucked away in a box; I do not wish for the short sleeve shirts to join them.)

Yeah, the guy in the background is wearing shorts, but someone is always wearing shorts,
so that's no clue to temperature. Check out his jacket, and the fact that whoever has their arm
around him can't supply enough love to keep him warm.
Don't get me wrong, it was a nice day, but it was not in the 80s.
Today. alas and alack, is the final day of summer, as the Brits count the 1st of September as the beginning of Autumn. The superb summer weather is still with us, however, and promises to remain for another few days, but as one might anticipate, cooler weather and rain are predicted for the weekend.

I supposed we should expect it, and we certainly can’t complain; it has been a memorable summer—one to compare with the historic summer of 1976—and I hope we are blessed with a repeat some time soon.

But lets hope these superlative seasons do not continue throughout the year; I don’t want this winter to be one we can compare to the historic winter of 1963.

Longest, coldest, snowiest -- sounds to much like a New York
winter to want to experience one here.
But at least I’d be able to wear my jumpers again.


  1. After living in Arkansas all my life, I greatly appreciated my British summer (2014). I thought the 60 degree drizzle was the loveliest thing in the world! Not great for swimming though, I'll admit.

    1. While I enjoyed this summer immensely, I don't mind the "normal" summers. I have too many memories of 100 plus degree days, steering wheels that are too hot to touch, spongy pavement and brown grass to complain about a comfortable 65 degree afternoon. Even if it is sprinkling a bit.

  2. We (in Chicago) are still in the "bloody hell how hot is this?" dog days of summer. It's hard to imagine that within a few short months we'll be knee deep in snow and talking about frozen snot!

    1. Strangely, after getting a few cool, rainy days, we're back in the 80s again, with warm, muggy nights. It's getting so I am looking forward to cool autumn days. No frozen snot over here, though ;) (Gosh, didn't I hate that!)