Sunday, 12 May 2013

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'Britain Basks in Glorious Sunshine!'


It's a headline my fellow countrymen back in the UK could only dream of a few weeks ago.

After what seemed like 22 months of unending cold winter weather, Britain is finally emerging from its annual deep freeze. With a brutally determined cold snap lasting until late April and records tumbling as the country shivered its way through one frigid month after the other, the Brits can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

For winter is over.

And the weather isn't the only tell-tale sign. There is one other sign those dark days are behind the British.

People are coming out of hibernation.

Facebook is buzzing with activity, status updates glowing with stories of sunburn, unbearably hot weather, and impending heatwaves.

The talk is of an end to those desperate days of January, February, March and April, and the arrival of better times - long weekends away, Spanish holidays, hosepipe bans, summer festivals, fruit picking in farmer's fields, and the triumphant return of the British BBQ, charcoal briquettes n' all.

A visit back to the motherland suddenly looks much more appealing. There'll be alcohol-fuelled beer garden stop offs, lazy afternoons spent paddling in local rivers, and an Australian summer tan topped up and finished off by the persistently hot summer sun.

If we head back to the UK while this stretch of high temps continue, we'll take advantage of off-peak airfares, a strong Aussie currency, cheap car hire, rent ourselves a quaint cottage by the beach, drive down to the coast, and seek out some Vitamin D in these unusually warm days.

The long awaited British summer is here and the people are waking from their slumber. Life is good.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (Peter J Dean)

I hear hearing nothing for months from loved ones and close friends, wondering where they've gone to and why they've hidden. It's as if a deep freeze sets upon the British Isles like the coming of the second Ice Age and only now, with the onset of a late thaw, are people surfacing from their burrows to breathe in the fresh spring air.

I'm suddenly contacted by folks I'd long ago assumed were missing or worse.

And the cycle repeats every year.

As winter hits in early November, emails drop off, online contact disappears, and all attempts at positivity seem to be abandoned. Then the sun arrives and the country erupts in a much improved frame of mind.

The weather is such an important part of life in the UK and the mood shifts and turns with the weather's own movements.

The return from the summer holiday, the autumnal depression, the growing quiet and negative mood as winter approaches, long absences from the electronic airwaves, then a glimmer of hope, a flower, a green tree bud, an early outburst of colour, followed by a sunny day, temperatures in the 20s, unexpected heat, obligatory sunburn and obvious relief.

Then the dismay returns.

Because the weather does what it always does best in Britain. It never stays the same. It changes and it often disappoints.

I take it for granted in Australia because the weather often delivers - consistent, generally according to plan, with not many surprises. And because of this, I forget about it, don't talk about it - it simply doesn't crop up in daily conversation the way I remember it did in England.

If things were different here, I'm certain I'd be more vocal.

As I watch my countrymen and women share their joy at the recent run of good weather, I remember back to how important something as simple as the sun is - the warmth, the feeling on your face, the positive impact around you, and the flicker of hope that maybe, just maybe, this year will be different and the summer will persist and endure.

According to the Telegraph this week, after one of the dullest winters for decades "sun-deprived Britons must worry whether they are D-deficient. Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin" being crucial to good health".

When that sunshine fails to last and when the weather changes for the worse, I too worry for my fellow Britons because it won't be long again before, in the words of Game of Thrones' Ned Stark, winter is coming. Again.

Have you recently come out of hibernation where you are? How important is good weather to you? Is it the be-all and end-all?

10 comments:

Claire Fitzmaurice Bentley said... Add Reply

Oh, I enjoyed this Russell! Having left the UK for Kenya nearly 10 months ago, it was one of the first things we noticed....people don't talk about the weather! Our weather goes in seasons - it's the dry season: hot and sunny every day. It's the rainy season: it will rain at some point every day, usually late afternoon and overnight. It's very simple! It took us a long time to get used to idle conversations with strangers that didn't involve an in-depth discussion of the colour of the sky or a general moan about the persistent drizzle. And equally, the weather app on my phone hasn't been opened in months. But get on Facetime with the family 'back home' and they turn the screen round so you can see the sky!
Hope it's not getting too cold for you as 'winter' approaches ;-)

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

The cold is staying away... for now ;-)


Pleased you liked this post - I didn't want to write it as a whinge about the way the weather crops up in daily conversation there, but more as an observation of how I see the same cycle repeat every year. It is funny though. People love to talk about it, whether it's rain, sun or snow. My current favourite is when folks exaggerate about how bad it really is - I've lived in one of the coldest countries and one of the hottest, and yet I'm often told how extremely hot a particular UK summer has been and how the winter will be colder than I could ever imagine. Always makes me chuckle :)

TheAmericanResident said... Add Reply

Ha! Another GOT fan!



Ok, back tot he post ;) I really notice the lack of sunlight here in the UK. On the other hand, compared to Minnesota at least I can get out in the winters, grey skies or not. But yes, this year the winter really did drag on and on and on and on... I remember the first sunny, warmish day and everyone just sort of went really slow motion, trying to soak it up.

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Absolutely! Big fan over here :) At least those wintry days are behind you... now you've got to tell me, when that first ray of sunshine came out, how many pairs of shorts and t-shirts were spotted on the streets of Blighty?! I hope you have a lovely, long, hot summer ahead of you - and that it remains in time for a visit later in the year. Would be good for a meet-up?

Kym Hamer said... Add Reply

While I have noticed my increased predeliction for discussing the weather over the last 9 years (an unavoidable by-product of living in a country of such change-able weather I think), I have to say that I am a bit over the weather talk over here Russell.

In the office I sit across from a Turkish expat and every time it's a lovely day, instead of grasping the moment/hour (even day if we are lucky), she checks her i-phone weather and tells everyone within earshot that it won't last/will be terrible tomorrow/it will be bad on the weekend.

I told her the other day I was going to confiscate that bl**dy i-phone.

She thought I was joking....I think she needs to get over it... or live somewhere else.

I keep these thoughs to myself and breathe deeply - A LOT.
...from the Increasingly Intolerant Aussie Expat ;-$

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

I'm hearing you, Kym. I know this person far too well. I knew lots of these people. Then I moved. I'm currently in Vancouver which is known for really rainy weather... but there's still not so much talk about it. The people don't have time because they're too busy out in it, climbing mountains or chasing bears. Different countries, different perspectives ;)

Mandy Southgate said... Add Reply

Alas, you spoke to soon for winter has returned! We're still using the heating!

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

You're kidding me? Really? No to more winter!

Mandy Southgate said... Add Reply

It's true. It's positively arctic today.

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Brrr.

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