Wildfires and record temperatures in Europe are ruining the holidays of thousands, while its damp, windy and chilly in the UK – so make the most of it! NADINE DORRIES pays tribute to the return of the classic British summer
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Record temperatures and the misery that goes with them, from raging wildfires to holiday dreams in ruins, are dominating the headlines across Europe.
Here in Blighty, however, it’s business as usual thanks to a stubborn jet stream drawing in low pressure systems across the Atlantic.
And it’s kicked in just as the schools break up, delivering a classic British summer: unsettled, damp, windy and occasionally chilly. It disrupted Wimbledon and denied a revitalised England a chance of recovering the Ashes.
Yes, we enjoyed blazing sunshine in June, but it’s July and August that matter most to families who’ve opted for a staycation, perhaps because of the cost of living squeeze. I sympathise but I urge them not to despair.
Like millions of us, my childhood memories of our summer holidays — spent in the west of Ireland or on day trips from Liverpool to New Brighton — were all about rising to the challenge of ‘unsettled’ weather.
The poor weather has kicked in just as the schools break up, delivering a classic British summer: unsettled, damp, windy and occasionally chilly
Yes, we enjoyed blazing sunshine in June, but it’s July and August that matter most to families who’ve opted for a staycation. Pictured: Holidaymakers in Skegness, Lincolnshire
The day before a trip to the beach would be filled with excitement and a huge degree of optimism.
Olive oil — used for medicinal rather than culinary purposes back then — would be decanted into a large brown medicine bottle to be slathered on as ‘sunscreen’.
Shippham’s fish and beef paste sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and a damp tea towel the evening before; old pop bottles filled with Tree Top squash while the scones and fairy cakes mum had made were packed into a biscuit tin along with Smith’s crisps and a packet of biscuits. No one went hungry.
We’d set up camp near the tea hut, hire some deckchairs for the adults and my dad would buy a big, brown earthenware pot of tea for 1s 6d.
I was five or six at the time and, regardless of grey skies, occasional showers and goose pimples, the days were filled with joy: donkey rides, the fun fair and amusement arcades. If the sun actually shone, it was a bonus. I didn’t even mind the stinging sunburn on my back as my mother coated me in calamine lotion before bed and wondered why the olive oil hadn’t worked.
Later, with children of my own, we would holiday with close family friends, Uncle B and Aunty A, and their kids.
Uncle B’s mantra was ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’ and we certainly put that to the test on numerous, rain-lashed, windswept country or coastline walks. Our grown-up children have a host of joyful and hilarious memories of those adventures.
My favourite is of Uncle B swimming doggedly through the cold Rutland Water in a thunderstorm, with the tow rope of a boat we’d hired between his teeth, and my husband at the rear, pushing the vessel towards the shore. As for the children, they’d abandoned ship — and their dads — and swum in.
NADINE DORRIES: Like millions of us, my childhood memories of our summer holidays — spent in the west of Ireland or on day trips from Liverpool to New Brighton — were all about rising to the challenge of ‘unsettled’ weather
The day before a trip to the beach would be filled with excitement and a huge degree of optimism. Pictured: Bournemouth beach in Dorset this weekend
I was reminded of those days as we assembled in rainy Cornwall recently, with little prospect of better weather to come. So we made the best of it, hiring a hot tub for the garden of our rented house and ransacking the nearest Tesco Superstore for all the board games we’d failed to bring with us.
Each morning, we sat in the car overlooking the beach, eating almond croissants and drinking cappuccinos (never before had they tasted so good!) — waiting for a break in the clouds to get the dogs out for a run.
We invested in dry robes — a revelation to me in cosiness and preserving one’s modesty when struggling to change out of wet costumes — and swam in the Atlantic — which was surprisingly warm (once you were in!).
There were rock pools for the grandchildren to explore, crabbing and beach cricket, fruit-picking and crowded, steamy cafes with hot drinks and crab sandwiches. In the evening, there were quizzes and charades — and, I’m not going to lie, wine and beer imbibed. We have had the best of times.
And I our relentless positivity and determination to enjoy ourselves was rewarded when, on one coastal walk, the sun burnt away the rain clouds and broke through in a dazzling blast of warmth and colour.
A British seaside holiday has much to recommend it, and as a family we will remember it with as much — if not more — fondness as any other, despite the grim weather.
All it takes is an Uncle B in your ear, reminding you: ‘There’s no such thing …’
Why are so many clothes for girls potato beige?
Shopping for clothes for my two-year-old granddaughter should have been a joyful occasion, but it left me feeling rather miserable.
Gender-neutral colour options now dominate childrenswear: a palette of dirge brown, potato beige and wet-day grey, plain or patterned but not a flower in sight.
There was nothing pretty in pink and not a single dress good enough for a little princess.
And talking of pink, thank goodness for Barbie! The movie broke box office records in the U.S. in its opening weekend, with the UK not far behind.
I can’t wait to see it. High heels, hairspray, lipstick, rhinestones and every shade of the glorious colour that many women enjoy wearing despite the frosty disapproval of some feminists.
I loved the pictures of young women sporting their sartorial tributes to Barbie as they queued for cinema tickets over the weekend.
The film fires a magical salvo in the fightback against those who seem to want to suppress femininity.
They won’t win.
Des Lynam, the veteran sports commentator, says Gary Lineker should stick to commenting on what he knows, which is football.
I agree. Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid on-air ‘talent’, is a product of our social media-enabled world. I think he fears his stock would fall and his deluded fans desert him if ever he stopped spouting his views on politics, race, migration and human rights.
In Des’s heyday — and his broadcast career spanned 40 years — there was no social media. Nor did he need such validation. He was good at what he did, just got on with it — and we respected him for it.
Let our telly stars sparkle
ITV and the BBC are at loggerheads over which of their stars appear on top billing rival shows. ITV contracts now reportedly ban celebrities from taking part in Strictly (unless they meet very strict criteria), while TV executives would ‘support’ an artist appearing on the channel’s own I’m A Celebrity. And vice versa for the BBC.
Isn’t this all a bit self-defeating? True talent is fast becoming a rarity on terrestrial TV channels, which are vastly outspent by streaming platforms.
Where it does exist, we should nurture it, not stifle or limit it. It would surely benefit both broadcasters and their stars in the long run.
I was desperately sad to hear of the death of newscaster George Alagiah, just 67, after a courageous nine-year battle against bowel cancer. He didn’t hold back from sharing what he and his family were going through and I’m sure he’s done much to raise awareness of the disease.
George was such a gentleman and someone who exuded warmth, calm and kindness in his smile.
A true professional and one of the best. We need more like him in broadcasting.
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