Letter from London
By Alexia Saoulli
London is at its best when the weather is good, and we have been blessed with two of the most glorious weeks of sunshine I can remember in a long time. I can hardly believe how fantastic it has been. It really has put a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Life just feels so much brighter and more hopeful.
I think this good weather has been good for everyone I know. We’ve had a really long winter and the summer felt as if it would never come. I remember feeling really depressed at some point in mid-March (we had a full on snow blizzard for goodness sake!) and even considered zapping myself on a sunbed for a few minutes.
I’ve heard the experience can help people psychologically. I don’t actually know the reasoning behind this but if next winter is as long and grim as this one was, I might just take the plunge and give myself a blast of ultraviolet radiation to get me through the darkest days.
Looking back, I realise that I never really fully appreciated the weather in Cyprus when I lived there. Bright blue skies, without a cloud in sight, were commonplace. Something you took for granted. You woke up, opened the curtains, and there it was: the sun – beaming in all its majesty.
Here, such days are like Christmas come early. A longed-for gift, wrapped up in fancy packaging, to be revelled and delighted over for days to come.
I’ve actually become obsessed with the weather. I am my deceased, 94-year-old yiayia incarnate. She used to love listening to the weather at the end of the 8pm CyBC 1 news every evening.
“Alexia, tomorrow it might rain. We need the rain. The ground needs to drink the water. We really need the rain,” she said every winter. Invariably it failed to rain, leaving my beloved yiayia staring out the window disappointed. “We really need the water,” she often said, pensively.
When it did rain, she delighted in the phenomenon.
“It’s raining. The dams have flooded! Bravo, bravo,” she’d cry out, clasping her hands together in delight, her eyes alight with joy. It didn’t matter that the tourists from northern Europe, who had flocked to our shores on the premise that this was a country with 326 days of sunshine, did not share her sentiments.
Fast forward 10 years and you’ve got me, without fail, tapping “BBC weather London” on my iPad’s search engine every night.
“It’s gonna be hot tomorrow! 28 degrees,” I announce loudly. “And it’s going to be hot every day for the next three days!”
I can’t help but grin at the sight of big, round, sun images on the BBC weather site. There is something so satisfying about seeing those yellow circles bursting with warmth with their bright, beaming yellow rays.
Life is good; life is beautiful, I think to myself. It feels like I’m on my summer holidays without having to venture very far. Even walking home in the evenings is a pleasure as I amble along in my flip-flops, without a care in the world, craving an ice cold pint of lager at any one of the multitude of al fresco bars dotted along the street.
As I look down at my bright pink, painted toes twinkling up at me, I can’t help but marvel for the umpteenth time that I’m wearing open-toe shoes and my legs are bare.
Unlike born and bred Brits I do not take my kit off at the first sign of sun, so for me to be getting into my proper summer gear (floaty dresses and havaianas), it must be truly warm. In fact it feels like Cyprus warm on some days.
Granted, the Tube is deathly hot and I hate how sticky and dirty I feel. I’m afraid I might even smell and I’m horrified. I take two showers a day, use deodorant and yet by day’s end I feel manky.
In fact, is that dirt I spy smeared across my right shin? Where in the world did it come from? And are my toes really that shade of grey? I won’t complain though. This weather is a gift and I intend to accept it wholeheartedly and with both hands.
Some people have started to grumble that they can’t sleep at night and that it’s far too warm. To be honest this is actually one time I’m thankful to be living in a basement flat.
Ordinarily it’s one of my gripes but at the moment it is a place of respite from the summer heat, as I leave the windows open to let the cool night air in.
I’ve even been bitten by mosquitoes. A total novelty I must say, as I normally associate the blood sucking pests with Cyprus not London. I’ve already made a mental note to go to Homebase this weekend and buy some of those mosquito repellent tablets.
I’ve heard the good weather is predicted to last until the end of the month. Who knows if that’s true? The weathermen here get it as right as the weathermen in Cyprus do when predicting rain.
Experience has taught me that it’s best to double check the forecast on the same day. This is because I’ve checked the weather on the night before and have seen images of dark black clouds with a zig zag coming out of it only to find that the next day it has been replaced with a big yellow, smiley sun face. Unfortunately, the opposite has also been true.
Predictions of sunny weekends, with promises of picnics on the Heath in Hampstead, have turned into 48-hours of endless drizzle and damp.
Whatever the coming weeks hold, however, we have had two fantabulous weeks of summer.
In Cyprus you might get six months of it, but here, I’ll take my two weeks, and I’ll revel in them. After all, it’s better than no weeks, and at the end of the day I’m simply grateful that I, along with every other Londoner I know, have had this much-needed and long overdue mojo boost.