Lessons learnt in the heat wave

Officially, THE HEAT WAVE broke yesterday in a cacophony of thunder. In reality, we’re still enjoying temperatures in the mid 20’s – still something of an English heat wave, but less extreme than nearly 3 weeks of weather during which I covered my arms just once.

Doing my best to maintain the belief that the British are obsessed with the weather, I will share with you what this delightful period of time has taught me…

1. Never under-estimate the power of a humble gel ice pack, especially the small ones. You can tuck them practically anywhere – from a cool box to a handbag and even down a bra. Yes, a bra. Hot in the evening thanks to a Victorian building that retains heat? Cool down with one or two gel packs secured in your bra. Honestly, it works a treat.

2. The up-do is essential. Stupidly, I forgot this lesson at the wedding I went to, but ever since that horribly hot, sweaty hair day, I’ve ignored my own vanity and put the hair away. The best one involves two french plaits, intertwined with hairpins securing them. It looks awesome (IMHO) and people think it’s a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Hot up-do

3. Make the most of the time when it’s coolest. In my flat, I’ve been awoken by the sun in my greenhouse of a bedroom at 6.45am every morning. For several days last week, this provided an ideal opportunity to clean – an activity that was unthinkable in the heat of the evening. (Even with gel packs in place.) It’s amazing what you can achieve by 9.30, when a sleepy looking teenage lodger appears…

4. Take care when choosing where to sit in the park. Living the classic London life of no garden, I have to make the most of local parks and squares. Thing is, some very strange people also do the same. Like the man a couple of weeks ago, who spent several hours in Lincoln’s Inn Fields wearing just a pair of very unattractive white pants. Why? Why?? WHY???

White Pants ManI was respecting his privacy & your eyes by not zooming in. At times he was facing towards me – too, too much!

5. Sleeping becomes a chore, not a joy. What with the heat and the early, strong sun, sleeping has not been easy or fun – which is sad, when you like your sleep as much as I do. The Guardian suggested putting your pillow in the fridge, but mine (like most sane people’s) was too full of cold beverages and vegetables.

6. Specifically, my fridge contained cans of Diet Coke and jugs of iced tea (Suki tea’s Mango Tango, to be precise). The worst part of a heat wave is the inability to imbibe caffeine in its usual hot form, thus cold, refreshing alternatives need to be sought.

7. Ice your traditional summer beverages. I have developed a Pimm’s slushie – like the traditional jug, but icier. It’s super simple: make your Pimm’s & lemonade mix; pour it into a ziplock bag; place in freezer; remove a few hours later and bash it a bit; serve with fruit, cucumber & mint. I also had some divine frozen G&T at a friend’s house this week – it’s a little more complicated as it involves sugar syrup, but worth googling.

Pimm's SlushiePimm’s slushie. 

8. Find a beach, soak up the sun and drink some cold wine. I chose Wapping. Yes, Wapping…

Canary Wharf from the beachFor the two hours preceding low-tide, there’s a viable beach at the bottom of the river steps next door to my friends’ building. They’ve been enjoying wine there for weeks – Monday was my first visit. It did not disappoint. 

9. Ensure you have some excellent friends with whom to have fun in the sun. Fortunately, I had lots – both fun and friends.

Statue Game dung beetleStatue game fun at Zoo Lates.

10. Finally, make the most of it. You’ve no idea just how long a heat wave is going to last. I’m hopeful this isn’t the last we’ll see of temperatures around the 30C mark, but you never know…