If there’s one thing you can’t guarantee about any holiday it’s got to be the weather. This is never more true than when you take a ‘staycation’ in the UK. Not only does it feel like you’re playing a game of roulette — and putting all your chips on red — you realise it can also make or break your much yearned-for domestic stay.
Living on an island, as we do, it rains a lot, so the odds can feel somewhat against you. Geographically, we’re in that crunch spot where cold polar air meets warmer air from the Atlantic, the pressure drops… and then it rains.
Statistically, it turns out we really don’t get that much more rain in comparison to the rest of the world. Who knew the wettest place on earth is actually Mawsynram, India. Can you imagine 11,873mm of rainfall? But we don’t really care do we? What we care about is how it affects us.
You’ve heard the urban legend about Eskimos having up to 100 words for snow. Well, we’ve gone as far as inventing a whole vocabulary to describe the different types of rain. Is it heavy showers today or was it just spitting? Is it a drizzling, bucketing or a drumming downpour? Is it chucking it down? Or is it just good old-fashioned hard rain?
Indeed the weather could be hailed as a one of our great British institutions inspiring singers, poets and artists from Turner to Wordsworth, who have all celebrated our unique weather conditions.
And, of course, it produces stream-of-consciousness, existential conversations of the Samuel Beckett variety.
“Do you think it’s going to rain?”
“Not really sure, did you see the weather forecast?”
“I did, but can’t really trust them, can you? Not since the storms of ‘87”
“Think it’ll be OK today. Yes?”
And there it is. A sense of hope.
If you’re holidaying in the UK, people query your holiday spot — and your sanity — while sympathising in the same breath. ‘You’re brave; taking a chance there. It’s lovely though.’
But aside from playing this game of chance, at least you know what you’ve signed up to.
On our fourth trip to Cornwall we knew what to expect. Taking our cue from previous experiences, we realised for us at least, the days of style over comfort were long gone.
If children teach you one thing, it’s to be comfortable, practical, and, above all, waterproof. This means summerwear always comes with sensible shoes, lightweight cagoules and an uncompromising attitude.
And when you actually get out in the rain, it’s not so bad. A quick downpour rarely ruins a trip and usually looks far worse when you’re inside than actually out. You’ll be sure to see a different side of a destination and for authentic experiences, it doesn’t get more real. This is a chance to see and do things you might not have done: visit museums, check out the indoor attractions, or just sit in a cafe chewing the fat and watching the world go by.
Cornwall’s locals didn’t disappoint and were as always unphased. During our stay the rain was punctuated by spots of sun, a wedding, surfing schools and even a summer festival parade. They wore waterproofs walking the dogs, wetsuits for the surfers — and weatherproof smiles.
Generally, as Brits we’re pretty good at getting on with it when we put our mind to it, we just like a little moan too. UK festivals goers have it sussed. They’re prepared with waterproofs and wellies — rain is expected, sunshine is a surprise.
As for those who say: ‘It’s not usually like this at this time of year.’ Yes it is. Get over it and next time you get stuck in the rain spare a thought about what makes it great.
My brother says he has ‘fond memories of being stuck in a hotel room waiting for the rain to pass for days on end when we were kids.’ So there’s something to be said for the rain bringing everyone together.
A friend finds it ‘a guilty pleasure’. She loves losing herself in a book, or snuggling up on the sofa and watching a film. While I remember just going for it and getting really, really wet. To the skin. For the hell of it.
And my kids are just happy jumping in muddy puddles and counting snails.
Of course, even if you holiday abroad, there’s no guarantee it won’t rain…