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English Summer

It’s pouring with rain in England. We looked pretty ridiculous in Cornwall with no raincoats or waterproofs, heads bent down against the driving rain walking around the harbour wall of St Maws, or crabbing on the quayside in Mylor getting drenched. Ours were the only kids on the beach in St Agnes without wetsuits. Yesterday we braved the play park but only lasted five minutes before another downpour struck and we all got soaked again walking home. We’re considering a shopping trip today, but the prospect seems like madness. I think that there’s been another severe weather warning.

Joking apart, it’s not always wet weather here, but there certainly has been a lot this summer. Living in England seems to be all about having the right gear and being prepared for all weathers. Holiday-ing in the UK must be a mother’s packing nightmare, with fishing nets to remember, waterproofs, sunsuits, wetsuits, boats on trailers, surf boards, extra kids beds to put on floors of self catering cottages, sun cabanas, buckets and spades, beach towels and wellies (or rather ‘crocs’ this year). Days on the beach necessarily involve trailing endless waterproof bags down to the beach in a series of heavily laden trips from the car park and all the while hoping that the rain holds off and you don’t have to pack up and go home at a moments notice. Most people bring there dog too, which means poop scooping and unsavoury jobs like that to do.

The long light English summer evenings are a boon though, even if our ‘only just two’ year old insists every night that it’s NOT bedtime when we sling her into her cot. It’s so nice to be pottering around hanging out washing (when it’s not raining) and thinking ‘Oh, it’s 7pm already – by now it would be dark at home and the mosquitoes would be starting to bite’.

Another nice thing about England is that you can almost guarantee good loos wherever you are, for instance; in petrol stations, on trains, airports or in shopping centres. What is normally a perennial dread of mine when living in Africa, becomes almost a pleasure. ‘Oh look, this soap comes out of the machine as foam! Or, if I put my hands here I will have them washed and dried for me automatically, if I wave my hand about here the loo will flush’. In fact, you never need to do without a flush loo or running water – hooray!

Downsides are that to pick up a coffee or sandwich on a shopping trip will practically bankrupt you. Last night we ordered ‘homemade bread and dips’ in the pub for £5.90 and got six slices of whole grain bread with a small ramekin of olive oil and another of balsamic vinegar. I think we were ripped off. Shopping is bewildering, especially during the summer sales where there are just so many over spilling rails you can face, all displaying a daunting array of colours and styles. There are jostling crowds and snaking queues for the till. Our youngest wont spend more than five minutes in a push chair, because she’s never had to before and doesn’t feel like starting now. You tend to get easily duped by buying the wrong kind of rail cards etc. because you don’t know what the dickens you’re doing and systems have changed since you were last here.

It’s fun to drive on endless smooth roads and spot flashy, sporty cars that you would definitely buy if you had loads of money and lived in England one day. I’m afraid that as each year passes we get more and more ‘out of it’, out of the loop and out of the England rat race which is a relief and quite scary at the same time.

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