Expat-ish

Expat-ish
On the Beach

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Back to the weather

I've lived in England, and the English are obsessed with the weather. Living in Cape Town, it is quite clear that the Capetonians are too. In fact, all South Africans are- there seems to be some low level rivalry on climate between the cities of Jo'burg, Cape Town and Durban. Low level in that it is not quite THE topic of conversation, but  a Durbanite will never miss the opposition to gently swipe at that "rubbish" Cape Town climate, if it comes up-even obliquely. Bizarrely (to me), Cape Town is pretty low down the South African weather chart rankings.

So what got me thinking about weather the other day (and, believe me, it doesn't take much) was the fact that we are going back the UK to visit for the first time in 2 years.

Normally, when you go on a summer holiday you don't check the weather, you assume sun and loveliness and throw swim stuff, shorts, sunglasses and sunscreen into the bag. Not so with UK. The word "summer" is used differently there- it is merely descriptive of a period of 3 months from June- August and not used to describe a warm set of weather conditions, as is the norm in other countries and part of the world. If you're travelling to the UK in "summer", do yourself a favour and check the weather forecast before you go. You might think that you can buy the clothes that you need while you are there, but you'd be wrong as the locals insist on deluding themselves and  stocking "summer clothes" in shops. Oh, except it is the summer sales now so there will be autumn stock in stores which is more appropriate...my, the world is confusing.

I have heard so much complaining from the UK about the weather this year, and it seems it is justified. Aside from a few anomalies of sunny and warm days, the predominant weather picture is of clouds and of pathetic rain whose only purpose is to ensure that the day cannot be classified as sunny. The most interesting for me though is looking at the historical averages: the temperatures this year are only a degree or 2 out. So it seems to me that the British are harking back to a time of grand old summers that never actually  happened. Capetonians, however, have justifiably high standards and never miss an opportunity to apologise for the weather: you know, like when there is a cloud in the sky in summer.

All this "research" was being done on a day in mid-winter in Cape Town where it was 27 degrees C and the wind was so hot and so strong that it was strange, almost ominous. You do get those days in winter (I speak with SUCH certainty after 3 winters here).

Fortunately, we are not going to Europe for the weather. We are going to see family and friends and visit places that we love and no amount of drizzle and cloud can stop us doing that (although I see from the forecasts that the weather has rather laid down the gauntlet on that one).

For the sunshine, we come home to Cape Town where the sun is very generous with its time.

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