Friday, 14 August 2020

But it’s just not British!

We are to be beset with these ‘tropical days’ ( BBC Weather’s words, not mine) until Tuesday it seems. 

For the third night in a row I have changed beds at 4 am and 5 am respectively. After a time the marital bed gets simply too hot and I transfer, first, to the sofa bed. 

Last night (and the night before that) even the sofa bed was in a room that felt as though the doors from three heat-blasting ovens had been left open. My sojourn there didn’t last long. 

Yesterday, downstairs at 5 am, I opened the back door and all the kitchen windows. I wanted a through draft in the coolest room of the house. Our living room does stay at a survivable temperature while the rest of our home is finding it hard to breathe.

My bed, on the six foot, four-seater sofa, yields a comfortable sleep. And yesterday  it was already made up with sheets and pillows. Indeed we have had guests who chose to sleep on the long sofa rather than bother with a fold-up bed. It suits me. My gammy knee prevents me from wrestling with furniture, however light-weight and foldable it may be.

The forecast for hereonin is thunder and one or two heavy showers every twenty four hours until Tuesday and this is only Thursday. Nights continue to be ‘tropical’. Hardly British! 

Yesterday I didn’t even attempt to sit outside. There was something menacing, powerful even, about the heat on our patio. I pity anyone who had to work in temperatures of 30 degrees plus (86 F). Apparently the humidity factor made it feel even hotter than that. And we just aren’t set up for domestic air conditioning in the UK. If we survive the 2020 plague having air con installed might be a good investment. Our summers are getting hotter.

Apart from sleep deprivation my moonlight flits from room to room necessitate remembering a kit bag that I transport with me: my water bottle, wheat bag, co codamol and eye mask. As it gets lighter outside my eyes need the mask. My gammy knee requires a supply of strong painkiller and the joint-soothing wheat bag that I heat up in the microwave, although that act seems like masochism when one is already so hot. And I always have water nearby. At dawn, yesterday, I had the early flickerings of a migraine. A sure sign of overheating, tiredness and dehydration.

Looking back Lockdown, for us, hasn’t been too tricky. We have a large enough home and garden to spread ourselves out in. So much so I hadn’t seen our cat much over the last 24 hours. He would have been sheltering in a dark knell under the cool, leafy shrubs in the garden or in the woods opposite. But he was very hungry when he did return from his away day. No sooner had he fed, at 5 am, than he was out again. It’s simply too hot for him indoors. And as soon as he hears my movements on the stairs he waits for me to feed him. Only then can I resume sleep.

However, Lockdown, my husband’s illness, a painful knee and tropical nights require coping strategies on my part. And a lot of patience and adaptability. But I keep my life simple and, at the moment, I don’t expect too much. But I do need my sleep. 

I read that the modern concept of sleeping for eight hours at a stretch is in contrast with the medieval way of life. Apparently it was quite usual, then, to sleep for four hours, to wake and eat, then to resume a long, deep sleep until morning. I appear to be medieval in my habits. At least while we have this heat wave. 

Next week I promise myself that, providing my knee allows me to walk any distance, I will resume a healthy sleep, eating and exercising regime. But the temperatures have got to drop down from tropical for me to return to a life of discipline and good habits. Just walking upstairs brings me out in a sweat and my knee injury prevents me from tackling steps, either up or down. 

When temperatures are less tropical we will meet friends in our gardens, again. And sitting outside in drizzle is much more British. The challenge will come in November when the air is dank, patio tubs are devoid of colour and it just isn’t pleasant to sit outside for long. And it will be dark by 5 pm. 

Let’s hope for a vaccine against covid-19 sometime during the winter months of 2020-2021 so that we may resume enjoying life as it used to be, indoors - and out. 

(Then we can tackle climate change.)

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