Last year in England it was sunny and warm – even hot on some days – from mid-May to mid-September. Our rain jackets never left the boot of our car. I wore short sleeves all summer long. It rained for a few days in July, but we were traveling in France and missed it. For us it was the perfect British Summer.
But people said it was not a good summer. The school holiday schedule is different here than in the US. In the US students have a long summer break. School lets out in May or June and starts again in August or September (differs by region). In England schools have week-long mid-term breaks throughout the year at seemingly random times. One week I hear the laugher and footsteps of children walking down our hillside to the local school; the next week the mornings are silent. The summer break is August. Hence, August is the summer.
If we get two weeks of not-perfect sunny days in August, it is declared a bad summer. After last summer I read in the newspaper “the promised barbeque summer never happened!” I don’t barbeque, but it sure seemed like a barbeque summer to me!
This year summer started in March with a couple of weeks of sun and warmth. We spent many days hiking. On the warm days we headed to the woods for shade, as we do in summer, but the leaves were not out on the trees yet!
The weather changed to typical cool and wet for the first week of April when we were conveniently visiting Boulder and Santa Fe in the US (where we had 70 degree temps one day and snow the next – Rocky Mountain weather).
We returned to three more wonderful weeks of summer. Bluebells and Ransoms (Garlic flowers) bloomed in April, a month ahead of time. Farmers complained that their crops were not getting enough rain. A drought was declared in southern England.
This perfect weather lined up with a longer than usual mid-term break. They combined the long Easter weekend which came late this year (holidays on Friday and Monday) with the Royal Wedding (everyone got a day off for the Royal Wedding – no separation of Royal Family and State here) and the first May Bank Holiday (May has two Bank Holidays - one at the start, one at the end). People could take an 11-day holiday by combining these holidays and taking three days off work.
The people who decided to holiday in Britain got summer-like weather and avoided the crowded airports. Those who flew south to Spain, France or Italy has worse weather than we had here. A small victory for English weather.
I said “If this is all the summer we get this year, that will be okay”. But I didn’t mean it.
May started out good. We spent a hot and sunny week on the east Devon coast. After that it turned cool and wet. Followed by June which was cool and wet. And now we are half way through a cool and wet July. Is this the very British summer?
We had visitors from Santa Fe in June who dressed in layers of sweaters and jackets and sometimes even wore ear muffs when we were out hiking. We had to cut back on the number of hikes because they didn’t want their travel clothes to be covered in mud.
In July we had a visitor from Portland, Oregon who is used to rain, so we hiked in the rain and through the mud. We did a four night mini-break with her to the Dorset coast and had good weather – we even went swimming in the sea! But after that the bad weather returned.
I am not complaining. It is just that when you have visitors, you notice the weather more because every day you want to be out and about.
Bad weather is not rain all day. Instead it is very changeable weather – sunny one minute, clouds rolling in and drizzle the next, sometimes a sudden strong downpour. Very nice, sunny days come along. There is an underlying warmth so even on the bad days all you need is a light jacket. When the day looks good, we go out hiking. When it looks dismal, we stay in and work.
I kind of like this weather. But I am looking forward to August and hoping for a barbeque summer.