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Blog 2: My top 5 tips on how to survive an English summer

If I was writing this blog on a scorching hot day – I know it would be written differently! But it’s raining – AGAIN! So, this blog has a certain – shall we say – attitude! Be warned!

A typical English summer: sunny days, sharp showers and thunderstorms probably covers it. The summer can vary depending on whereabouts in England that you live; down south (perhaps in Cornwall) you will find it is probably warm and sunny –up in the northeast (say in Northumberland), on the coast it can be cold and windy and probably wet. Apparently, we have a “temperate maritime climate influenced by the gulf steam” ( which is why our weather varies on a daily basis – island living eh? I live in the middle of England and we get kind of “middle” weather – sometimes it is wet and windy and decidedly unsummer-like and sometimes it’s warm and sunny. It has been known to be hot – but I have to say that is rare. And to repeat – today it is raining AGAIN! In August!

So, everyone needs top tips on how to survive an English summer in the “middle” of England – and here are mine:

1. Be spontaneous – don’t plan a BBQ weeks in advance – just get on with it when you see a patch of blue sky

2. Always carry an umbrella

3. Get your back-yard summer ready (just in case!)

4. Make the most of every beautiful summer evening (they’re precious)

5. As a last resort – go to Menorca!

And,

How to survive an English summer

Every summer starts – probably around May time – with intense expectation, especially in our household, Mr B just loves the summer - that “this summer will be the best ever!” and by mid-June we’re still optimistic that the weather will change and we can have (let’s count – June x2, July x4, August x4) maybe 10 weeks of glorious sunshine? Of course, it never happens and both of us are steeped in intense disappointment. Although, for those of us old enough to remember, it did happen once in 1976! Ah yes! Remember how wonderful 1976 was?! That was a glorious summer of endless blue skies sunshine, caravan holidays in Wales, hosepipe bans, water shortages and ‘O’ level exams and results! Ah yes!

But being English (stiff upper-lip and all that) we soldier on because we love summer – because we love:

  • Flips flops

  • Ice cream

  • Effortless hair

  • Light nights

  • Eating outside

  • Pretty dresses (no tights)

  • Sun glasses and suntan cream (I love the smell!)

So, here are my top 5 tips for enjoying the English summer, whatever the weather:

1. Be spontaneous – don’t plan a BBQ several weeks in advance (if you do, you are braver than I give you credit for!) – just get on with it when you see a patch of blue sky. And don’t forget every summer its almost obligatory to have at least one soggy wet Sunday afternoon BBQ.

Our BBQ is built in and cannot be moved to the safety of the garage so an umbrella is a must but when the right kind of day arrives, we fling open the kitchen bi-folds, move the dining table into the back yard, call some friends and sit back relax and crack open some chilled Prosecco (or should that be Pimms?) because you know the food tastes better when you eat outside.

2. Always carry an umbrella: It’s not an English summer without rain and the odd flood alert – we live on the side of a hill so no problems there (Sorry if you live on a flood plain with the constant fear of a flash flood), but wellies and a brolly need to be kept close to the back door just in case.

3. Get your back-yard summer ready (just in case!) Living in the middle of England we are rather distant from the beach unfortunately, so our back yard, compact and bijou though it might be, must become the summer haven. It’s private and south facing (actually, when we bought the house, that was my first question – “which way does this yard face?”) We have durable but comfortable garden furniture,

We also have a small bistro table and chairs for eating outside on those light nights, lots of pots of summer flowers that smell divine. Why is it that food eaten outdoors somehow tastes healthier and more delicious?

​4. Make the most of every beautiful summer evening – time to make some memories! Don’t you just love going to the beach – my favourite (in the UK) is Saundersfoot in South Wales. As a family, we were taken there as children many, many times and I have such wonderful memories of sand and sea, setting up camp as a family, and sailing and the harbour and fish and chips. (Please tell me why in those days, the sun always seemed to shine throughout the WHOLE of the school holidays?! What’s that about?) And one of the best times to walk on the beach is after a hot day, when the sand is cooling down, to walk bare-foot – bliss!

But if you cannot get to the beach, then make the most of the summer evenings and go to an outdoor concert. Set up camp on the damp grass with your friends, open some Pimms, eat sausage rolls, pork pies and squashed sandwiches, dance (in this case to an ABBA tribute band) and have the best of times and make some memories!

5. As a last resort – go to Menorca!

You get to early August and the BBC weatherman informs you that the Atlantic jet-stream, which should be north of the UK, is in the “wrong place” and is below the UK and therefore bringing cooler weather and “moisture” from the Atlantic i.e. rain for the foreseeable future. It’s then that you finally give up on a glorious summer for another year and go in search of some sunshine further south of the dreadful jet-stream. You start to trawl through the internet looking for a last-minute bargain, knowing full well that the kids are off school, a bank holiday is looming and the prices have shot up but you decide to throw caution to the wind – what the heck – lets go to Menorca!

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