It was the heatwave felt around the world. Or so it seemed.In the middle of April, when the seasonal average is somewhere in the low teens (Celsius) or 50s (Fahrenheit), many Brits sweated through incredible increases of 10C and more. Records were broken everywhere, with Thursday, April 19th earning the “hottest April day in 69 years” accolade, (29/84 recorded in London) and Sunday seeing “the hottest London Marathon in its 37-year history”.
This sudden burst of heat did not come without its problems. Inevitably, we had the peeling off of outer layers up and down the land. Pasty limbs and stomachs were exposed without shame or hesitation, with many Brits resembling a rather large, rare steak the next day. (There’s a reason why the French call us rosbif.) Experts warned anyone considering taking a plunge in our seas or lakes that cold weather from the recent Beast from the East has left Britain’s waters colder than an “ice bath,” and the frigid temps could cause severe health complications, including hypothermia.
The heatwave also saw us heading off to eat at our beloved British beer gardens. I have to say; there is nothing in the USA quite like this experience. Yes obviously, one can eat al fresco in the States, but few places I frequented ever had a kiddie play area, along with whatever bucolic view was on offer, and many wouldn’t let you in with your mutt. No, there is nothing like it, and the views aren’t bad either. Unfortunately, this April I was unable to partake much (see below) and am hoping for better luck in the coming months.
Like many airborne allergy sufferers, I was felled in the week after the heatwave. Apparently, various things that typically bloom over a number of weeks in the spring, all came bursting out at once in our little spell of warmth. Usually, when I have allergies, my symptoms are the typical red, itchy eyes or uncontrollable sneezing. September’s ragweed in Chicago used to get me every time. Currently, however, whatever I’m allergic to is causing much loud, dramatic and uncontrollable coughing; most embarrassing when I answer the phone or even just attempt a conversation. The rattle of this cough has people inching away from me as if I’m something out of a Dickens novel and not long for this world. Given that I haven’t spent an April in England for almost three decades, it’s not surprising that my symptoms are slightly different from my US experiences. Apparently, when we move around the world, we can experience “new” allergies. I wrote about it here a few years ago; little did I realize that my claim to not suffer allergies in the UK would come back to haunt me. Pah.
Less than a week after the heatwave, we were warned of much cooler temps afoot, coming in from Iceland and the north-west of the UK. It’s got a name (of course it has) – The Pest from the West* and involves thunderstorms, hail, frost and possibly snow in some parts. Sadly, PGA golfer Chris Reed lost his home in the Isle of Wight when it was struck by lightning and caught fire, so not something to be sneezed at. I’m hoping that this foul weather will be short-lived, but then again, knowing British summers, it could go on until August. Fingers crossed.
*(Fun fact – The Pest from the West is the name of a 1939 short story movie starring the late Buster Keaton.)