I know I may be being a bit premature, but with a thundery last hurrah (or just thunder to you and me), our lovely British summer is coming to an end. Wait, I hear you say. It’s not even August yet. How can you be so sure that the British summer is finished for this year? Well there are a few pointers.
Let me take you back to April 2012. The south of England was parched. There had been no winter rains for the previous two or three years and as is traditionally the case, the water companies decided to enforce a hosepipe ban. That will work, they thought, and it did, because they had forgotten about the special English summer weather magic and tragically imposed a hosepipe ban on the same day the cricket season started, and even worse, the day I bought a brand new barbecue. Thus, on the very first day of the hosepipe ban, it started raining and didn’t stop (except for a couple of weeks in July for the Olympics) until December, when the rain changed to snow. 2012 is officially the second wettest English year on record.
Now let’s move forward to June this year. After what seemed the longest winter in living memory more rain set in. The average temperature in June was around 15 Celsius and letters were sent to newspapers bemoaning the lost balmy summers of our youth (otherwise known as a figment of the imagination.) Then, just as all hope was lost, some long term weather forecasters claimed that Britain would suffer from wet and cold summers for the next 10 years. The English summer magic stirred into action once more and a heatwave enveloped the nation. Cue panic.
You see, the British aren’t built for hot weather. We don’t eat the right foods for a start. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy are not a summer food, and as I’ve said before, we aren’t that great at barbecues. We sunburn very easily, usually in those hard to reach places that never see the sun for 48 weeks of the year, e.g. the backs of your knees, and our homes are insulated to withstand the damp of winter. Air conditioning is for supermarkets and office spaces. After a few days the newspaper headlines screamed that the heatwave was deadly, demonstrating just how deadly with pictures of ladies in bikinis in parks and on beaches around the country. With temperatures reaching heights only seen in places like France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, the USA, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, China, India, Thailand, Australia and so on, Britain’s infrastructure started to crack. The M25, the busiest road in Europe, melted and train tracks into London buckled. Even the crowd levels at one of golf’s most prestigious events were lower than expected because of the hot weather. It didn’t take long for the moaning to start.
Well, the good news is that all this is about to end. For a start it’s the beginning of the school holidays. Nothing is guaranteed to stir the weather gods than the desire of children to burn of energy by playing outside. It is no coincidence that the storms started today. Then there is the cricket, a sport so sensitive to the weather that like vampires in sunlight, umpires have been known to combust at the first sign of rain. England have a chance to whitewash the Aussies 5-0, so at least one, if not the next three games will be rained off.
Another, more personal reason, is that we have decided to holiday in the UK this year. If you live anywhere near the north of Wales, start filling your sandbags and readying your flood defences, as we will be visiting mid-August.
Finally there are the weather forecasters, who all agree that the coming storms indicate an end to the heatwave and back to more changeable weather.
I’d better start bulk buying the sun cream now.