Growing up in Northern England was wonderful in many ways, with one large, grey cloud (literally) threatening to dampen everything: the weather. It is a stereotype of the British that we constantly discuss the weather. It’s true, we do. The main reason being that we are deprived of, so desperate for a slither of sunshine that we discuss the forecast as if it is a conspiracy theory:
[In hushed whispers, looking furtively around] “The clouds seem to be clearing, could it be…?”
“Perhaps, I did hear on the radio this morning that the upcoming week will be a dry one, and the cows are standing tall and proud!*”
Memories of my hair braid freezing into icicles as I walked the five minutes from the school swimming pool to the main building and long lunch breaks staring out the window at the torrential rainfall outside feature heavily in my childhood memories. For as long as I can remember, being in the sun and the heat was utter bliss. That was, until I moved to a country where the thermometer doesn’t stray from 30 degrees for four months a year.
Nowadays, I find myself celebrating drops in temperature and of rain; usually with a large glass of wine, a steaming hot shower and listening in my dressing gown to Corinne Bailey Ray as I stare meaningfully out the window, watching puddles form and imagining I were a film star. I must admit, I’m torn: which is preferable – hot or cold weather?
Cold is cosy. Cold is cuddling up in blankets, movie nights in and hot chocolate. Cold is Christmas and snow days. Hot is… hot — half naked, toned men sunbathing slathered in oil, skinny dipping in the ocean, parties outside, tropical flowers, Pimms, sangria, mojitos! Hot is summer holidays and freedom. Tricky.
If you are cold, you can add an extra layer or two, or slip under a blanket or don a pair of fuzzy socks. There are ways to prevent yourself from being cold. Being hot, on the other hand, is trickier. There is only a certain socially acceptable level to hot-weather dressing, and it doesn’t include being butt naked which is ultimately the ideal situation. For every floaty dress, there are upper thighs rubbing together. For every t-shirt, there are sweat patches. Dressing for anything other than the beach is a task, and any formal occasion is torturous. Sure, there is air conditioning, but it gives you a wicked cold and itchy eyes. Cold wins, for sure.
Whilst cold is cosy, it is also code for: laziness. Why leave the house when inside is so-o-o comfortable and warm? Braving the elements is barely worth it when you can stay in your pyjamas and cuddle on the couch.
Heat, on the other hand, invites you to step outside. Exercise is far more enjoyable in the sunshine, and with such weather develops a sports culture, where outside gyms are everywhere, the promenade is packed on early evenings with contented (OK, smug) runners, and weekend activities are centred around physical activity. There is, however, a downside as scientists have noticed spikes in violence in hot weather, particularly when such an occurrence is unusual, as is the case with a heat wave.
Health and Wellness:
Health wise, hot weather wins. Bitterly cold climates can be extremely dangerous on the body, causing damage to your heart and respiratory system, as well as affecting your blood pressure. Whilst many are blessed with central heating, colds, the flu and throat infections are all minor, but pesky, illnesses brought on by chilly weather. Plus, the ice and snow pose risks to drivers and even those walking on the streets. Mental health and well-being is also affected in many during seasonal changes, usually at the beginning of winter when the weather turns colder and the nights become long. Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD) is a very real condition, where victims can suffer from anything from nausea to overeating and anxiety.
Cold weather is great, for a few weeks. Whilst skiing, say, or over the holiday season. Sooner of later, however, you will start to get sick (pun intended) or dreary days, icy winds and grey skies and yearn for the sunshine of yesteryear. Sure, 100 degree temps come with their challenges, but at the end of the day there are always smoothies, iced cocktails and cold beers to cool you down.
*For those unversed in old wive’s tales, it is believed that cows lie down when it is about to rain. There is little to no evidence that this is the case, though researches in the universities of Arizona and Northwest Missouri found that cows lie down to preserve their core body temperatures, and stand up to cool down, and release heat.