In the Summertime when the Weather is fine

Hot, boiling, sweltering, humid: Any way you look at it the UK, just recently, has been hot! (I should stipulate here: Has been hot! By the time you read this it will probably be raining!)

We can’t complain about a rainy summer this year, so far, but in the UK we are just not prepared for heat. Spain for instance is perfect for a hot, sunny, holiday. It has its cool outdoor pools, outdoor bars and restaurants, and if we want to cool down more then we can go inside where traditionally built properties with their tiled interiors and whitewashed exteriors are an oasis of cool, a short walk from the heat of the outdoors.

In the UK with our insulated walls and roofing, our houses seem to hug the warmth, it’s hotter in our homes than outside and when we leave our windows open to cool down you can guarantee some inconsiderate noisy sod will be playing their music far too loud, Well, that’s the British summer for you.

Something that really bugs me lately is the way the metric system has started to grip its clammy fingers around the UK media. When I’m watching a rather interesting documentary on the BBC I’m not interested in the least about how many metres long this or that is, or how many kilometres it is to there from here, I want to know it in feet and inches, I want to know in miles! I’m English and OK when I’m travelling in Europe I accept kilometres and KPH and do the mental adjustment but in the UK I shouldn’t have to do that, especially when I’m watching a BBC documentary.

On the motorway I understand what it means when I hit the 300 yard marker to the next exit. I know what a yard is, I can visualise it. I understand that the next services are twenty miles away because I understand what a mile is and how long a mile is so don’t start putting kilometres on the motorway to confuse me!

Image credit: Daily Express

And, coming back to the heat, when did all this Celsius stuff start creeping in? The temperature today will be a maximum of twenty degrees? What is that about? If you are going to tell me the temperature tell me in the Fahrenheit that I have been  brought up with and understand and then I will actually be able to tell whether the temperature is cold, hot or even very hot!

I wonder if, now that our nation is committed to Brexit and we are finally leaving the EU with all its nasty metric ideas, we will return to imperial measurements? After all, our prospective business clients in the USA still measure things in feet, inches and miles, just like we used to do!

This is the time of year when the papers will say that it was hotter in Birmingham than in Barcelona or hotter in Brighton than the Costa del Sol! Interesting. Of course, they don’t say that it happened on one day out of three hundred and sixty five or that the last time it happened was in 1973 but either way it’s still pretty interesting. But, and here’s something you should know, on the day the temperature  hits 37 degrees Celsius in somewhere like Blackpool the papers won’t tell you that. No, what they will say will be this ‘Temperature hits 100 degrees in Blackpool!’

Yes, the big one hundred, that’s Fahrenheit of course . .


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The Saint, James Bond, and a Rather Hot Afternoon.

The Saint and James BondI spent a lot of time last week trolling through my book collection and photographing the books for last week’s post about Marilyn Monroe. It wasn’t quite that easy because since my divorce my books have been boxed up in the spare room at my Mum’s house and it took me a while to search through the boxes and find the books I wanted. The other problem was that being a bit of a book fanatic, I kept coming across books I’d not read for ages or forgotten about and my original task was put on hold while I sat and started reading! I came across my James Bond book collection and as you will know from reading these posts I do love James Bond.

One of the Bond books I found was ‘Live and Let Die’. It’s not one of the best in the book series but it’s pretty good. Roger Moore played Bond in the movie version, in fact it was Moore’s first Bond movie and I have to say, Roger just didn’t do it for me as Bond. He just didn’t look the part unlike the previous 007, George Lazenby, who completely fitted in with the Bond of my imagination.

Live and let DieSadly, Lazenby listened to some poor advice which advised him that secret agent espionage films were on the way out: They weren’t, but it turned out Lazenby was. Sean Connery filled in for one more Bond film, Diamonds are Forever, until Moore took over on Live and Let Die.

Moore was a poor Bond. He looked like a sort of tailor’s dummy all the way through the film and was unable to present that hard edge that a real spy must have had. Don’t get the idea that I don’t like Roger Moore though because the fact is he’s one of my favourite TV and film actors and was great in the TV version of the Saint. His slightly flippant, happy go lucky personality was perfect for Simon Templar, the playboy cum adventurer of the TV series.

I have always loved that opening sequence in the Saint. You know, the bit where he meets some pretty girl, something happens like an attempted robbery or something, Templar saves the day and the girl says, ‘aren’t you the famous Simon Templar?’ Moore then looks up, raises an eyebrow, a halo appears and then we cut into the theme tune and the opening titles.

Funnily enough, The Saint is currently being reshown on ITV4 during the day and as I have come into possession of one of those freeview digital recorders it’s so easy to record all the episodes. Just a touch of the series link button and there they are, queuing up on the hard drive waiting for my viewing pleasure.

I started watching one today; it was an episode about an actress who is what they call today a ‘diva’. The Saint was invited to watch some filming by his old friend Lois Maxwell who would one day play Miss Moneypenny to Moore’s James Bond. The actress threw a bit of a wobbler and retreated into her caravan which was then hijacked right out of the studio and the actress held to ransom. I’m not sure how the episode ended because it was so hot (Tuesday as I write this) I had to get outside for some fresh air.

That’s the thing about the UK. You know how it is -once a year the temperature in Manchester is higher than in Barcelona and the newspapers suddenly revert from Celsius to Fahrenheit because 100 degrees is so much more exciting than 37.7!

The other thing is that in Spain, if it’s too warm you automatically go indoors, because indoors in Spain is so much cooler. In the UK it’s the opposite, it’s warmer indoors!

Looks like I’ll just have to wait for a much cooler evening to find out what happened to the Saint and the actress!


If you liked this post, why not try my book, Floating In Space? Check out the links at the top of the page for more information or click here to go to my Amazon page! Why not take a gander at the video below and hear the author talk about the openeing paragraphs?

 

More Random thoughts from a (French) Sun Lounger

sunloungerlogoI really do love France. I love travelling here, driving down the picturesque country lanes. I love the quiet sleepy villages. Driving is a joy here, even on the major roads. OK, I’m sure that in Paris or any of the other major towns driving is just the usual nightmare that it is in London or Manchester but here in the countryside, driving is just a joy.

What is a little annoying is the French system of signing. I’m talking about traffic signs, directional signs. You follow the signs, for instance on the way here we followed signs for the town of Nevers for a while, then we were looking for a right turn and none appeared. OK one did appear but it was unsigned. After a while we realised we must have missed something, so we turned back and guess what, coming from the other direction the road is signed for Nevers but not from the original direction. Maybe there is someone in the French road sign office thinking ‘Ha! Got those English idiots again!’

On holiday in France Liz and I spend a lot of time at the weekend at vide greniers (car boot sales to you) and brocantes, a sort of antiques/ flea market. It always surprises me how well attended these events are in the French countryside and bad weather does not seem to put people off at all. In the UK the first sign of rain or even dark clouds and it’s ‘get the stuff in the van -we’re off!’ The French are made of sturdier stuff and if it rains, OK, get the covers over the goods and it’s off to the wine tent for some vin rouge and some frites while it clears up. I often wonder though, if there isn’t a fete or vide grenier on, what do French people do? They certainly know how to keep quiet! Read this previous post for a few ideas on what they get up to!

The French have a strong connection with food and in particular bread or ‘le pain’ as they call it here. On arriving at our gite in the french village of Germigny L’Exempt we began to unload the car and numerous neighbours came out to talk and advise us. One French chap came over, said bonjour and proceeded to babble away at a ferocious pace in his native tongue. It took me a full ten minutes before I could stop him and say I didn’t speak french that well. ‘Je ne parle pas bien francais!’ Did that stop him? Well, for a moment, then he began again only at a slightly reduced speed. Did we have bread? If not he had some to spare for this evening but in the morning we had to be at the bakers by twelve otherwise, well various dire consequences were explained, none of which I understood, but of course a Frenchman must have bread.

Here in France it reminds me of the UK twenty years ago. Shops closed on Sundays and bank holidays. Unthinkable isn’t it? Over in Calais they tempt British day trippers over to huge hypermarkets and wine stores selling so called ‘duty free’ merchandise at inflated prices. Stores may be open on Sunday there but here in the countryside that is not the case. Of course the bakeries do open on Sunday morning. After all next to liberty and fraternity it is bread that really matters to the French.

Photo by the author.

Photo by the author.

Anyway, one last thought about France. Why is it that whenever I arise from the swimming pool (it’s quite a nice pool, check out the picture) wet and dripping after a welcome cooling dip and looking for my towel, some irritating French fly seems to want to buzz round my head? Just by our gite, there is a road that brings traffic in to our small village. As you approach our holiday home there is a rise and one can see a car rise up and then dip down again as it comes towards us. As I am about to get out of the pool I can just imagine a Frenchman and his son, heading back home with the thought of lunch on their mind. As they crest the small rise the boy looks out at a man rising from a swimming pool and then turns to his father and asks, “Why was that man waving his hands about and doing a dance when he gets out of the pool?”

The father thinks for a moment and then replies, “Il est Anglais!” (He is English!)


If you liked this post then why not try my novel, Floating In Space? Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

Checking the Temperature and the British Summer

checking the temperatureHot, boiling, sweltering, humid: Any way you look at it the UK is hot! We can’t complain about a rainy summer this year but in the UK we are just not prepared for heat. In Spain for instance it’s perfect for a hot, sunny, holiday. They have their cool outdoor pools, their outdoor bars and restaurants, and if we want to cool down more then we can go inside where traditionally built Spanish properties with their tiled interiors and whitewashed exteriors positively hug any coolness that might be about.

In the UK with our insulated walls and roofing, our houses seem to hug the warmth, it’s hotter in our homes than outside and when we leave our windows open to cool down you can guarantee some inconsiderate noisy sod will be playing his or her music far too loud, Well, that’s the British summer for you.

Something that really bugs me lately is the way the metric system has started to grip it’s clammy fingers around the UK media. When I’m watching a rather interesting documentary on the BBC I’m not interested in the least about how many metres long this or that is, or how many kilometres it is to there from here, I want to know it in feet and inches, I want to know in miles! I’m English and OK when I’m travelling in Europe I accept kilometres and KPH and do the mental adjustment but in the UK I shouldn’t have to do that. On the motorway I understand what it means when I hit the 300 yard marker to the next exit. I know what a yard is, I can visualise it. I understand that the next services are twenty miles away because I understand what a mile is and how long a mile is so don’t start putting kilometres on the motorway to confuse me!

 

image courtesy wikipedia

image courtesy wikipedia

And, coming back to the heat, when did all this Celsius start creeping in. The temperature today will be a maximum of twenty degrees? What is that about? If you are going to tell me the temperature tell me in the Fahrenheit that I have been  brought up with and understand then I know that seventy is hot and eighty is even hotter!

This is the time of year when the papers will say one day, it was hotter in Dartford that it was in Barcelona or hotter in Brighton than the Costa Del Sol! Interesting. Of course, they don’t say that happened on one day out of three hundred and sixty five or that the last time it happened it was 1973 but either way it’s still pretty interesting. But, and here’s something you should know, on the day the temperature  hits 37 degrees Celcius in somewhere like Blackpool the papers won’t tell you that. No, what they will say will be this ‘Temperature hits 100 degrees in Blackpool!’

Yes, the big one hundred, that’s Fahrenheit of course . .


Enjoyed this post? Well, if you did why not try my book, Floating In Space? Click the links at the top of the page for more information or HERE to go straight to Amazon!

Wedding days, Cumbria, and what to do with those Wedding Snaps!

Wedding day!

Tania and Alex

Well, you can’t beat a good wedding but weddings are hard work,  what with the planning, the arranging, the compromises, the cost, the logistics, and of course all the attendant stress that comes ready built in; very hard work indeed!

The wedding I went to at the weekend had a lot of great elements and the one important thing that only nature can provide; good weather! I shouldn’t complain really but I was sweltering in my three piece suit and a couple of degrees cooler would have been nice but that would be quibbling. The day was wonderful and one that all went to plan as far as I could see anyway.

Another fact that comes built in at a wedding are tears. I am referring to tears of joy of course and the bride and her Mum did their fair share as well as others. I doubt if there was a dry eye in the place during the speeches when it’s traditional to ponder in public about the subject of love and loved ones, those who are with us and those departed. On this occasion, the mother of the bride did a speech herself as her husband had passed away some years ago and her performance as she balanced emotions and stage fright was outstanding.

The one disaster, well for me anyway, came part way into the evening when I took a glass of red wine to my mouth,  inexplicably missed and as a result poured red wine all down my shirt. Anyway, I nipped round the corner to my room, luckily we were staying at the venue and soaked the shirt in cold water which I think was the correct remedy for the situation, changed shirt (to a less formal shirt I should add) and was back at the reception within fifteen minutes. My fiancée Liz, and also the mother of the bride, who seems to like me in my three piece attire was not amused that I had ditched my splendid outfit (jacket waistcoat and tie had seemed a little superfluous by this time) but of course you can’t please all the people all of the time.

The only other problem came earlier. The wedding cupcakes were painstakingly assembled in the reception room by bridesmaids and friends only to be told of a rule, well a law actually, that food could not be placed on the tables until licensing hours! First I’ve heard of that so the cakes had to be hastily removed! The thing is the wedding was in Cumbria and my experience of Cumbria people is that they don’t necessarily care about things like rules or laws.

A couple of years ago Liz and I stayed in the small town of Wigton. We had rented a small cottage for a few days and the first day we went to the local chippy for some old fashioned fish and chips, then decided to wash it down with a pint in the pub next door. When we stepped inside there were a number of locals smoking away, happily flouting new anti-smoking laws. We ordered our beer and one of the group asked if we minded them smoking and if we did then they would go outside. Actually we did mind them smoking but being British and not wanting to upset the regulars of a pub we reckoned we would be visiting regularly during our stay we said ‘OK, go ahead and smoke.’ Just as we were about to ask if the pub served food a couple of other locals arrived with fish and chips from the chippy, sat down at a table to eat and called over pleasantly for two pints of bitter! Yes, that’s the way they do things in Cumbria!

Not long ago I asked my Mum what had happened to her wedding pictures as I don’t remember seeing any. She replied, rather shame facedly, that after a row with my Dad she had taken her wedding pictures and ripped them up! Still, she continued in her marriage to my Dad, happily I might add, until his death in 2000. My wedding pictures are still intact in a box somewhere in the loft although my marriage ended in divorce many years ago. So, perhaps my advice to Tania and Alex should be to rip up their wedding pictures! Not so easy in the digital internet age!


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