The sun is finally shining and overnight the UK has emerged from a very long hibernation, ditching the hearty comfort meals and heavy red wines and heading out with flip flops and a summery thirst for something cool and crisp. Restaurant menus are awash with inventive salads and we even put salad in our drinks, as jugs of Pimms suddenly adorn the garden tables of every pub. My Spanish partner, Rudy, finds this Great British Weather Switch bizarre and comical –how can the whole mentality and tastes of an entire country change overnight?
I suppose to someone used to almost 365 days of sunshine a year it must seem a little odd to witness the sudden appearance of shorts-clad pasty legs in a measly 10 degrees of ‘heat’, and the transformation of every supermarket into a land where the BBQ rules supreme. In Madrid, they’re still wearing jeans and knocking back aged Rioja and the thick meat and bean stews of Asturias. It’s been warm enough for T-shirts and the chilled white wines of Galicia for a while now, but they’ll make the transition into summer calmly. There’s no rush, after all. So why in the UK are we so determined to embrace a complete U-Turn from winter to summer, rather than ease into the new season?
Personally, I believe this mentality is testament to our great appreciation as a nation of good weather and the holiday spirit. When I lived in Spain I actually found it quite difficult, monotonous even, to exist in a state of semi-vacation permanently. Every other weekend there has a bank holiday attached to it, with a multitude of Saints days and other public holidays providing many a 3 or 4 day week. In theory it sounds wonderful, but I couldn’t help but feel it made you take it all for granted. I missed the palpable anticipation and universal good mood created by the appearance of sunshine or the prospect of a rare bank holiday. Those weeks are 2 a penny in Spain, so they must see us Brits as over-excitable children, with our instant sunburn and insistence on eating outside even when it’s chilly enough to necessitate woolly jumpers over our sundresses. But we don’t care. Somehow this pathological need to enjoy every ray of sunshine has become as much a part of being British as drinking tea or respecting the rules of a queue. Stereotypes, yes, but not necessarily bad ones.
So I say, we should embrace our sun-deprived culture, dust off the BBQ, brave the sandals and re-discover the merits of a good rosé. Cheers!