First off, let me apologize. I can’t believe we haven’t discussed this already.
Now that that’s over: whoever said that the most remarkable thing about English weather was that there’s not much of it was right. Crazy, right? After all, this is a country in which rain is practically an every day occurrence, but sun and snow cause a commotion. Perhaps no other culture is as reputed for talking incessantly about the weather. Once you live here, however, you realize that it just doesn’t change.
I certainly didn’t anticipate to despise English weather quite so much when I first started university. Like most things, it seemed that it would take some getting adjusted to, but after a few months it would be normal. How much can weather vary, anyway?
A lot it turns out. If I had to give one reason why I might leave England after university, the answer is the weather, hands down.
One of the first things the visitor to England will notice after arriving in their hotel room and squealing about the accents on the BBC is that, during the forecast, they show the spots of sun instead of the patches of rain. This is a country for which clouds are the default and sun comes in every now and then as a much welcome visitor. It’s amusing, it’s hilarious and you don’t think much of it.
Then it rains one day and your shoes get a bit wet. They’re uncomfortable, but you figure they will dry over night and be fine tomorrow. Except, they don’t dry over night because the air is so damp. You put them on, still slightly soggy and hope they will dry during the day. A noble wish, but impossible as the cloud coverage is so thick and the air is so moist that nothing can dry. It’s a process that gets repeated until you find that your skin always feels slightly damp, despite the fact that it hasn’t rained in days.
The clouds are to blame, especially if you’re in the west country. It’s not that England is so rainy, in fact Paris gets more rain fall per year than the British Isles, but rather that it’s not sunny. One or two grey days are fine, they provide a nice break and an excuse to stay indoors. When the clouds pile on top of each other for days on end, it begins to feel as if you’re living in a bubble insulated from the rest of the world with crazy cloud coverage.
Whenever I talk to English people about the weather, they seem resigned to it. Some even take pride in the fact that it always seems just slightly drizzly. After all, what better weather for a cup of tea and a biscuit? Actually, I can’t think of to which those two comforts are better suited.
Coming from New York, where rainy days are the aberration, the weather pattern is jarring. You need to change your idea of what a normal day is and find new motivation beyond sun and gorgeous weather to get yourself up and out of bed, into the great outdoors. I still haven’t quite found it yet.
If English weather has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy every last drop of sun and warmth that comes my way. After winters where it gets dark at 4:30, earlier even if the clouds are really thick, I am always looking for ways to spend a lot of time outdoors. I enjoy long walks in good temperature, I enjoy spending time connecting with the world.
While the jury is still debating whether or not weather actually impacts mood, weather impacts culture and how different cultures interact with their space. New York in the rain is different from Bristol is different from Milan. English weather may take on a tone of monotony for someone used to more marked seasons, but may an exhilirating shift for someone from, say, southern California. Weather may be a universal that we all deal with, but it’s surprising how each culture deals with it in their own way.
Sunny, cloudy, foggy or snow; what’s your favorite type of weather?