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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Weather the Weather.


Isn’t it strange that in Britain we need to read articles about how to stay cool in the hot weather? Like we’ve never had hot weather before or no-one has the knowledge to pass down to our younger generation or new arrivals from the planet Zanussi.
When we have a snowfall here traffic comes to a halt, our supermarket shelves are empty five days later and A&E have additional winter stresses: broken bones from unrehearsed folk slipping on the ice.
Do we not know how to adapt to changes in the weather? Or is it that we are neither a very hot nor a very cold island thus we aren’t prepared for extremes?

My own frailty in these unexpected but welcome temperatures has been to stave off heat-induced migraine. It’s a combination of the unexpected glare from white-walled buildings, disrupted sleep patterns, dehydration and changes in eating habits that can create the malady.
In this particular sun-soaked spell of super-strength sunshine I appear to have come through it migraine-free. Hooray for that!

My own coping strategy is to drink even more iced-water than I generally consume on warm days. I always eat breakfast so that I am fed and watered before I use the hose or watering can to nourish my plants. I go to the shops before the heat is up too. 

I try to accomplish these chores by 10:00 or 11:00. a.m. And I always plaster myself with sun bloc, wear long sleeves, hat and shades. I dress as if I’m on my way for a sea-water swim in baking-hot Cyprus. Odd but cool and practical. Only a parasol is missing.

By midday I allow myself a rest or, when the temperature is mid-eighties (29C) or more, I take a siesta. The challenge is coping with the bright sunlight at 6:00 am. It’s a bugger waking up so early when you really want your energy to tackle household tasks before the heat becomes too much. And that lack of sleep can create a migraine. Oh the woes of the effects of glorious summer sunshine.

How must it be for the vast majority of people who are in full-time work? Labouring on a building site, creating bread in an already hot bakery or repairing wires atop a vertiginous telegraph pole, your head facing upwards, eyes blinded by penetrating rays from a fierce sun. I am the lineman for the county.

Sitting in a hot car, or on an airless bus or a delayed, overcrowded train must be, at the very least, exasperating. You’ve done a day’s work by the time you reach your place of employment. 

When at your desk you can’t lose your rag because of feeling weary after a sleepness night in a hot bedroom. You can’t shout at the phone because your stress levels from a hard journey into work are trying your patience. Everyone else is likely the same.

At least at home it’s easy to keep all the windows and doors open and just go for walks in the cool of the evening. And you can swear at things getting stuck down the plughole in the kitchen sink or flies hovering around the cat’s food. You can lose your temper and not risk alienating anyone else in the room or a client at the end of the phone. But what if you have to go into town or a big city, pollution hanging in the air like a toxic cloud? 

Yesterday my husband went shopping for our holiday. It was 85 degrees (29/30 C).Rather him than me. He came back ringing wet with sweat and could barely speak. He went for a lie down. Was it ever thus? Or is it getting hotter, drier and more stifling for longer than it ever did?

Today he needs to go in to the city to collect euros. Thankfully a delightful breeze has taken the sting out of the heat and temperatures are hitting a relatively cool 79 degrees (26C).

As I sit typing I sense I actually feel pleasantly warm rather than overwhelmed. The temperatures are dropping. I think we’ve peaked.

What other vagaries of the British weather will we endure next week? Hail storms or thunder and lightning? And how much does it matter when we have good water resources - at the turn of a tap - and enough to eat, petrol in the car and a crime-free neighbourhood allowing us to leave our front doors open?

We have a good life. It is frightening to think of those in refugee camps or living in perennially hot countries suffering crop failure. 

Enjoy the heat while we can, I say! In Britain it’s a gift. Not a threat.

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