English SummerJune 25, 2017 in the United Kingdom
A few weeks ago I was working back late one night when an English colleague asked me why I was still there. I explained that I wanted to get a few things done before I took off to enjoy the English summer. He smiled wryly and replied, "please make sure you tell me what day it was".
I arrived last week at the height of the heatwave. The radio was issuing public health warnings and advising people to stay cool any way they could. Britain hadn't seen such a spike in hot weather since 1995 (which incidentally I was also here for). And the mercury last week topped 31 degrees, so I did what the locals would do and took a dip in one of the most famous rivers in the world, the mighty Thames.
Spending the day on Thursday at Royal Ascot in the sun ensured I would come away with a sunburn that could only scream to anyone looking at it that "hey summer is here and I got out there in it". It was to be a carrot dangled so low you would believe it was going to be the great Summer of 17, but reality was about to hit. In the form of a gorgeous coastal national park.
Exmoor is stunning. I saw it today but camping in England anytime of the year should come with a warning on the box. You can leave home with blue sky above and arrive one hour later to sideways rain. Now living in Melbourne does prepare you somewhat for changes in weather but mother nature UK division is a whole new level. Last night we camped in a beautiful spot surrounded by sheep. We got in around 4pm, set up camp and popped the cork on a lovely bottle of Italian Prosecco with Elderflower. How very English Summer. By 5pm, all three of us had applied every layer of clothing we had with us. You could say, no amount of layers could keep the chill away, but we were not to be defeated. We carried on with the bubbles with only the slight indication of discomfort in the conversation where we discussed whether we really thought it was Prosecco weather or not. After draining the bottle the vote was in. It was red wine or whiskey weather. And we would huddle around the Weber after the BBQ was done.
Today I woke to the rain washing the Campervan. I looked out the back of the van to the field of sheep and one was standing defiantly against an incredibly strong wind. The sheep was losing and I thought I was about to see my very first sheep blow over or even my first natural sheer with fleece littering the campsite, but the sheep held firm and in the end mother nature gave up and turned on a reasonable day.
We walked through a stunning gorge to arrive at a chocolate box looking village by the sea. The sky was blue and for a brief minute we could feel the warmth on our backs. We even managed to sit outside while we tucked into the great Devon institution, the cream tea. More about the jam and cream, cream and jam argument another time...
I am in Cornwall now. A place where beaches and sunshine are the name of the game. The British take their summer holidays there and there is the stoic hope that each year is going to bring a great Summer. I will go to the beach, and I will eat fish and chips. But I will also take a jacket, maybe two. And I will be as determined as the next person to get a touch too much sun, just so it feels like Summer.
It is too early to answer my colleagues question around what day the summer might be, but I sure hope I get a few more heatwaves while I am here.Read more