Tuesday 9 August 2011

In denial about the weather: the best approach to a summer holiday at home

Yesterday was Day Eight of the Hann family’s summer holiday in Northumberland and two-year-old Charlie was simply in denial. “No, not rainy” he announced firmly as I helped him to update the symbols on his stick-on calendar, ignoring the audible evidence of yet another shower stotting off the conservatory roof.

The Boy's is blue, naturally

He would not even concede that it was cloudy, despite the fact that we were eating breakfast with electric lights and heaters going full blast. The worst he would admit was that it might be a little bit windy. “We go beach, build sandcastle,” he asserted, as he has done every day of his vacation without a single new turret arising anywhere along the coast.

Partly because his enthusiasm, like that of Craster our Border terrier, tends to wilt once he gets outdoors and is confronted with the reality of determined precipitation. I once went out with a Westmorland lass for whom driving rain merely added to the joy of hillwalking. “Come on, you won’t melt!” she would announce in the tones of an old-fashioned hospital matron, adding that the dog needed his exercise whatever the weather might throw at us.

Unfortunately the dog did not see it like that, and used to dig his claws into the back doormat when I tried to take him out under inclement conditions, fixing me with a look that clearly said “Have you finally gone completely mad?”

Walks? Who needs them?

To be fair to Northumberland’s reputation as a holiday destination, there was one absolutely glorious day last week that would have been perfect for the beach, if only I hadn’t arranged to spend a large chunk of it in a gastropub in Newcastle with a couple of other elderly men, putting the world to rights.

Then there was the day that would have been bearable if we had wrapped up and invested in a windbreak, plus a Primus stove on which to heat up reviving mugs of tomato soup. (My father always considered this essential kit for our summer excursions to Druridge Bay half a century ago.) But sadly I found myself chained to my desk writing something for a client until it was too late to head for the coast.

I mainly blame Caroline “Jonah” Spelman, the Government’s forestry expert and weather supremo. Have you noticed how it has chucked it down pretty much every day since she stood up in Parliament and officially announced that the country was suffering a drought?

She brought us the wettest drought since records began

All we can do is clutch at small pieces of consolation. There is no need to worry about a ban on garden hoses or automatic car washes. Arriving in Alnwick on Thursday afternoon to find the town centre full of ambulances, we could only share the general relief that torrential rain had kept so many people out of the market place when that car ran out of control.

Perhaps, as you read this, we will finally be out on the sands with our bucket and spade; the forecasters seem to be unanimous that Tuesday is going to be the best day of this week.

And surely things can only improve from the nadir of the local TV news on Sunday night, when the story of a tragic cliff accident in Seahouses was followed by one about a walking party being airlifted off Cheviot, apparently suffering from hypothermia. Mrs Hann fixed me with a beady eye and asked if there was any good news hereabouts.

Well, I observed, there had been no rioters burning down shops in Alnwick or Rothbury, attractive though they might well have found the resulting heat. And I was pretty sure that no one anywhere in Northumberland had yet been attacked by a polar bear. She graciously accepted these points for the defence, though I could sense her thinking that it was surely only a matter of time.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

I may have found your desired weather....
right here in eastern Pennsylvania.
Daily record breaking heat and humidity.
We are steamed, broiled and roasted to a
fare-thee-well. Exhausting. The trees look
like over cooked broccoli. The only positive thought, surely it won't still be in the 90's at Thanksgiving in November.
The AC bills match your heating bills.
Global warming, global warning.