Joys of the Great British Weather
Rain, rain go away… Actually, you can stay! Spring may seem like a distant dream, but dismal weather doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, says Nilima Marshall.
‘If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ the romantic poet Shelley mused in his Ode To The West Wind. Not this year, it seems!
The winter came – and overstayed its welcome, and any sign of spring seems to be obliterated by endless rain, hail, sleet, frost and even snow. The unwelcome guest shows no inclination of leaving just yet, either.
The Great British Weather, eh? We’ve just had the coldest March in 40 years, the fourth coldest since UK records began in 1910, with average temperatures of 2.5C.
The weather’s been taunting us with its unpredictability, too – on March 11 it plummeted to -12.9C in Aberdeenshire, while on March 5 the mercury shot up to 17.5C in parts of west Wales.
It’s impossible to know what to wear in the mornings, and the winds have wreaked havoc with my favourite polka dot umbrella, which now sits mournfully under the stairs waiting to be discarded.
Yep, it’s dismal, and just about everybody is fed up.
I spent Easter Sunday wrapped up in two jumpers, several layers of leg warmers with the central heating on full blast – I’m dreading the heating bill.
As I gaze into the garden, disenchanted at the alliums that have failed to sprout and daffodils that have died a premature death, I think I have to agree with TS Eliot’s words in The Wasteland – ‘April is the cruellest month!’
When the lupins looked like they would meet the same fate as the daffodils, my husband and I decided it was time to take action, and transferred our favourite foliage into pots. They now inhabit the garage at night and are moved into the garden every morning for a bit of sunlight (if we get any).
British weather’s always been fickle, but now it’s fluctuating from one extreme to the other it’s becoming increasingly hard to second guess – or make sense of. Just days after last year’s hosepipe ban warnings were issued, I was wading through giant puddles on the back lawn.
Cursing the cold and the rain has become not just a daily ritual, but an hourly one. It’s hard not to moan but, if you do it all the time, moaning becomes almost as bad as the dismal weather!
So last week I decided to beat Mother Nature at her own game. Enough is enough, I thought, dragging myself from the comforts of my duvet to tread the snow-covered path to the gym (yes – booted, coated, gloved and scarved).
After an hour of intensive push-ups, hammer curls and mambo steps that left me sore in the most unexpected places, I didn’t even notice the cold as I stepped out in my shorts and T-shirt.
High on endorphins, I spent the rest of the chilly weekend telling myself: “This isn’t bad – I can survive this.”
A phone conversation with a friend in India confirmed I’m better off in the freezing cold than she is in the morbid, oppressive heat. “It’s about 40C here, and the ever-present power cuts makes it even more unbearable,” she groaned.
Poor thing, I thought, reminded of the recent BBC One series Death In Paradise with fictional detective Richard Poole simmering uncomfortably in the fierce Caribbean heat. Who needs sunshine anyway!
Ok, so perhaps I’m going a bit too far. But there’s no magic switch to change the weather. So instead of just dreading the cold, we should come to terms with it and look at the positives. Like the fact we live in a climate that allows us to indulge in snow games and splash out on trendy macs and fun umbrellas every now and then.
Still not convinced? Here are some ideas for turning dismal days into dreamy days…
Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and the Baker Brothers have made baking fashionable. If you’ve been longing to hone your baking skills, what better chance than a cold rainy day? Forget the drizzle outdoors and focus on lemon drizzle instead. Once you’re snug and warm in your kitchen, with delicious aromas wafting through the house, moaning about the weather will be a distant memory.
Yes, we’ve been stung by the sewing bee. Inspired by the BBC Two show The Great British Sewing Bee I recently had an evening in to alter a floral vintage dress I’d previously been too embarrassed to wear. And I’m happy with the results! Pick up a sewing book if you’re a beginner and get creative. It’s a fun, therapeutic way of whiling away the hours, and a few bright cushions or throws will soon make those grey skies fade into the background.
If you’re not one to pull on your wellies and do the rain dance to appease the weather gods, how about a game of poker instead? While most of us aren’t going to do a Prince Harry and agree to strip poker, you can change the rules so that the loser serves tea and biscuits dressed up as an Oompa Loompa, for instance. Being holed up indoors is the perfect excuse to reconnect with your inner child and get some board games out, or even rally the troops for an afternoon of charades!
:: Home cinema session
First of all, put the kettle on – never underestimate the power of a hot drink. And who needs the sun when you can curl up on that cosy sofa with a soothing brew and Jennifer Aniston romcom or the Audrey Hepburn classics you’ve always loved? Ask your friends and colleagues if they’re up for DVD collection swaps – a good box set will soon have you savouring those wet weekends.
Written by: Nilima Marshall
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