With the beginning of daylight-saving time earlier this month and the temperature warming up, I begin to get very excited about the coming of summer.
Please understand that most British people spend a great deal of their lives both sun- and daylight-deprived. This is why traditionally when we do go to a hot country on vacation (we say holiday), we strip off to our shorts and bathing suits if the temperature goes into the mid 60s and lie outside in the sunshine.
While I have learned the wisdom of high sun protection factors and seeking shade in the height of summer in Coastal Georgia, not to mention air conditioning, I must confess to being a sun worshipper.
I am not sure if you realize how fortunate we are to live in this climate. I know the pollen, mosquitoes and humidity are a nuisance, but I really believe I am truly blessed to enjoy such a wonderful climate since moving here.
Consider this: The U.K. has less than half the average total annual sunshine of Coastal Georgia and almost double the rainfall. It does rain frequently in England, but it is more the incessant drizzling rain and dark skies than the volume of rain that makes the British weather so depressing so often.
In London, my previous home in England, there is a surprisingly low annual rain fall – but the weather is all too often gray, dull and windy.
It is often said that the British are obsessed with the weather, and this may be true as our climate is very unsettled and can change from heavy showers to sunshine to sleet and then to clouds with no rain – all within a couple of hours. Also, we cannot rely on having a reasonable number of hot, sunny days during the summer.
However, as Kin Hubbard, the famous 19th century American cartoonist said: “Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of 10 people couldn’t start a conversation.”
The U.K. is a small collection of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and it is this ocean that influences our climate so dramatically. It not only makes it very windy, but the North Atlantic currents that bring warm waters thousands of miles from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream both moderate and warm the U.K.’s climate. It has been estimated that the British Isles would be about 18 degrees colder in winter if it was not for this phenomena.
Therefore, the English can have vineyards at the same latitude that Canada has polar bears. Of course our northerly latitude also means we have a huge variance in the number of daylight hours between winter and summer. In Coastal Georgia, the shortest day in winter is about 10 hours and the longest day in summer about 14 hours. Parts of the U.K. are comparable to Alaska with long 17-hour days in summer and horribly short days of seven hours in the winter.
I, for one, welcome the opportunity to live in this humid subtropical climate of my Richmond Hill home – mosquitoes and all. God bless America!
Francis grew up in London, England, and moved to Richmond Hill in 2009 with her American husband, Carl, and English dogs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lesleyfrancispr.com.