The British are known for many things, not all of them that complimentary, and one of those things is our preoccupation with the weather.
It is true that a lot of small talk on our small island revolves around the weather.
We are obsessed with TV weather forecasts. Weather forecasting apps. The shipping forecast. The Countryfile extended forecast. Even those of us disinterested in rare breeds of sheep or rustic cheese making in the Cotswolds will tune in to Countryfile for that last ten minutes just to catch the extended forecast. I tune in partly because John Craven reminds me of my youth and Matt Baker makes me feel all youthful, in my dreams. But mostly I tune in for that forecast. With the weatherman in casual clothes. They dress it up as if it is for farmers but they know and we know that that slot probably gets higher ratings than Game of Thrones.
I am sure many of our European partners scoff into their chocolat chauds or flaming schnapps about this seemingly inane obsession.
But here is why we are so obsessed. British weather is totally unfathomable. Unpredictable. A right royal pain in the arse.
Take this week as an example. On Friday last week I was still wearing a thermal vest and duvet jacket on the school run. Now it is fair to say that I am nesh. In case you do not know what that means, and many of you may not, it is a term that refers to the fact that I am always cold. Well colder than the average person anyway. I blame my extraordinarily low blood pressure. Once in hospital, I think it was on the second of my two bouts of pneumonia, the nurse had to recheck it because she thought she had made an error with her pressure cuff, that or I was clinically dead, but no, it was just very very low…anyway suffice to say I feel the cold. But even so most of the parents at pick up were in jackets of some description.
I rolled up to Youngest’s football match on the Saturday morning in jeans and the afore mentioned vest and duvet jacket. Obviously I had other stuff on as well, for the sake of decency. By about 10 o’clock I had divested myself of much of it. I had not divested myself of the vest because that would have involved flashing the referee or doing a complicated manoeuvre with sleeves. But most of my other garments were in a pile on the floor. It was damn hot. The sun on the back of my legs was burning through my jeans in a severely uncomfortable way.
When we retuned home I felt as if I had been bitten by some insect on the backs of both knees. But, no, in fact it was just a severe case of heat rash.
So there we have it I went straight from thermal vest to shorts, well ok not straight as I had an unpleasant couple of hours on a football pitch in far too much clothing, but you get my drift.
Sunday was the same. It hit 28 degrees. We went hiking. I had to apply sunscreen. We left the house with no waterproofs but copious bottles of water. We still ran out.
Monday was similar. I worried about Middlest playing long hours of cricket. Luckily they wear long trousers and for some bizarre reason he had his cricket jumper on over his shirt. So only his face caught the sun and thus began that annual process of the freckles on his cheeks and nose joining together. In that really rather endearing fashion that happens every summer. He will hate his inability to tan in a few years, it is all his father’s fault. I also got five loads of laundry washed and line dried. And thank god I did.
Because then Tuesday arrived. Wet. The sort of persistent, mizzly wet we get sometimes in this country. It rained here all day. Steadily but gently. We are not really given to short sharp bursts of intense and impressive rain. No ours likes to linger ensuring it is unavoidable. Even a brolly doesn’t really help as the rain seems to come in from all directions. It was still warm though. And so there was water vapour coming up from the pavements too creating a sort of mist to meet the drizzle coming down.
Wednesday had promised brighter weather. Well my weather app had anyway. My weather app is often wrong. My husband loves weather apps. He has several. One is called optimistic weather app. We tend to use this when lieing in bed on the first morning of a UK based holiday trying to decide how to spend the day.
Then there is pessimistic weather app. I use this to attire myself for pitch side supporting. Hence my overdressing error of the previous Saturday.
My husband will often look up the weather on his weather app and declare that the weather is not what should be happening. As if the weather should replicate the app and not the other way round. He really gets quite disgruntled. “It shouldn’t be raining now it isn’t four o’clock yet” and such like.
Anyway my app said Wednesday would be cloudy but mostly dry. The air was still damp from the drizzle fest of the previous day so I headed into town in my waterproof coat with my mother. She was not there for weather reasons but just along for the ride.
We went into Boots for some migraine tablets. High pressure plays havoc with both our heads. And in the ten minutes it took us to raise a member of staff we had been transported to monsoon season. The rain was hammering down in a way not often seen on these isles. As I think I have mentioned. It was raining so hard the drops were bouncing up off the pavement. We were trapped in a pharmacy. In the end we used the rear exit and headed through the undercover shopping centre to a coffee shop to allow it to pass. So there was an upside, chocolate orange tiffin tray bake.
Thursday was a non descript sort of a day. I went out to sing in a concert in the evening with no coat. On the way back to the car it was cold.
By Friday pick up I was back in my duvet jacket. I watched my daughter turn slightly blue in a rounders match. The heating kicked in Friday evening.
And yesterday we were back to football watching. It was one of those days. Sunny in parts and cloudy in parts with a northerly wind with a bit of a bite. It was a woolly hat and sunglasses day. We all got our faces sun burned, or it might have been wind burned. But by golly I had needed that duvet jacket and on occasion gloves.
Lots of people were horribly underdressed. Making me feel cold. That is because some people have a ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ wardrobe and have to make ‘a decision’ about when to swap from one to the other. I do not possess enough clothes for that. My wardrobe is my wardrobe which makes switching from flip flops to knee high boots and back again on a daily basis much easier.
So there you have it. The weather has been weird. And actually this is quite often what it is like here in the UK. We sort of take a run up to summer. One step forward two back. Sometimes we never seem to achieve summer at all. We all look back on that weekend in May and realise that WAS summer.
I hope this year we get more than that.