the hottest longest day

June 21, 2017

As the sun began to rise just after 4 am, I grabbed my swimming bag and drove down the quiet streets of the early morning, admiring the beautiful regency architecture. It had been sweltering for the last few days, but the early morning air felt moist and cool, with a light breeze. I rolled down my car windows to enjoy the fresh fragrance and hear the birds sing their happy summer tunes. As I approached the Lido, I realized that I must be one of the first to arrive. It was such a rare luxury to have my choice of parking space and no children to tend to as I leisurely strolled toward the pool. Sanford Park Lido opened in 1935 and retains it's original charm. I took some time to snap an iconic picture or twenty of the fountain with the pool and the sky at dawn lighting up beyond. After changing into my bathing costume, I choose a lane for swimming, adjusted my goggles, and dipped myself into the cool waters. The air was already beginning to warm and was significantly warmer than the pool. I swam until I was tired and the sun was above the horizon. By this time the pool had filled up with various other Cheltonians who were most likely too hot to sleep as well. I had enough time to pick up some fresh coffee from Café Lido, one for me and one for Husband. I was home before anyone even knew I was gone... is what I wanted to do this morning...

 

In reality, I slept. I slept from 11 pm last night until almost 8 am this morning. I did have my swimming bag ready to go in case I woke up early, but for the first time in over 2 weeks, I slept past 5 am. My kids slept as well. We are all exhausted! So I celebrated the solstice asleep, not having a glamorous early morning swim. Maybe next year I will be rested enough to get up for a solstice celebration. Probably not. There is one at Stonehenge that would be pretty amazing! 

 

Today was the hottest day in the UK in over 40 years. Such exciting things are happening since we have moved here, but, I would be okay with boring. I really would. We have not been sleeping (too hot), or really enjoying ourselves (too hot). Yesterday, while grilling salmon, our barbecue burst into flames. We had to clean out our food (fridge and cupboards) because everything is spoiling more quickly. We forced our children to walk to a restaurant two days ago in the heat and were rewarded with the meal being vomited up in a case of severe heat exhaustion. Our 4 year olds are sleeping on the main floor, (where are basements when you need them?), as their upstairs room is sweltering. I have resorted to sleeping with windows wide open (remember there are no screens- so I am welcoming a plethora of insect friends when I do this), no blankets, soaking my pyjamas in water, then scurrying to close the windows when the birds wake me up at 4 am, if my children have not already awoken me. Fans in every room. Cold showers and cold baths bring temporary relief. I remember when we lived in New Brunswick, we had insufferable heat. We used to put our pillows in the freezer. Our freezer here in England barely fits the necessities. It's three small drawers. I know that there are freezers that are only ONE tiny drawer all around me in this gorgeous country, so I shouldn't complain. When we had unbearable heat in Ottawa, we didn't really mind because we had air conditioning, and really, Southern Ontario is too hot in the summer to not have some sort of AC. When we had hot days in Edmonton, I think we just sweated a lot and stood in front of a fan. As I grew older I spent most of the scorching days at the mall. If you are from Edmonton, you know which mall I am talking about. Alberta was not as humid, I don't recall suffering as much. I was also young, and survived off slurpees, and had less responsibilities, so most things felt easier. These days we just live in the kiddie pool in our garden. 

I do take delight in the fact that no one here is enjoying the heat. The Brits are melting and out of sorts. Some of them refuse to take off their wool sweaters. My friend from Barcelona seemed unfazed, maybe even amused. Probably in the same way that I am amused when Cheltenham has a deep freeze of -13 Celsius! Front page news! Today, whilst chatting with my grocery delivery man (everyone gets everything delivered here- shhhhh), he mentioned that, there is *"no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." Fair enough, but I don't think it would be suitable for me to do the school run in my birthday suit. My delivery man also bowed to me before heading off, and that has never happened before. This heat is really getting to people. Either that, or I look like royalty when drenched in sweat. 

 

Now, it's nearly 9 pm and absolutely light outside, as it will be for a while. I will celebrate the solstice sunset by listening to my twins intermittent playing and fighting- but definitely not sleeping- in the next room. I will try to reason with my nearly seven year old that, no, he does not get to eat chips (crisps) all night, and yes, he will need to go to bed shortly, and please, let's not make a big fuss about it, but he will because he is a grouchy little man in this furnace land we have been inhabiting lately. As I typed this, he brought me a Freddo to open, because tonight all he is into is searching the kitchen for treats. I obliged with the promise of extra teeth brushing, but that chocolate frog, was basically a liquid. Poor melted little Freddo and poor melted little me. 

 

*quote originally attributed to Alfred Wainwright, an amazing Brit who walked literally EVERYWHERE. And wrote about it, which is always the best. 

 

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