What the hecky-peck is going on with the weather in the UK at the moment? The past few weeks have been face-meltingly hot. We can’t believe our luck. The grey skies and woolly jumpers are but a dim and drizzly memory – the distant ghost of summers past. We’re all rushing down to Ikea and spending our wages on brand spanking new, mirrored garden furniture (“look at it shine!”) and picking up novelty paddling pools from Argos. One friend even dropped into conversation the other day he was thinking of getting an outside pizza oven, seemingly forgetting the fact that once this heatwave has cleared, his lovely new oven will simply be boarded up and left to rust, slowly get taken over by weeds and ivy and eventually be discovered, Angkor Wat-style, by a future generation who will say ‘ooh this must be an artefact from the great heatwave of 2013’.

Still you’ve got to love the enthusiasm. If there’s one thing we know how to do when sunshine hits England, it’s make the bloody most of it. And here’s 10 ways we’re doing it…


1) Let’s get BBQ-ing…

The big daddy of summer activities – chuck a shrimp on the barbie, char the outside and hope the middle won’t kill you. As soon as the sun gets his hat on in England, the scent of charcoal and sizzling meat begins to waft around the neighborhood. For me, the perfect magic of the summer BBQ is created when it turns into a big old sharing, caring feast with everyone bringing inventive sides like fancy Mediterranean style salads filled with mozzarella and basil or feta and olives or colorful, veggie kebabs. Lay everything out, admire it and then spend all afternoon destroying it.

2) Splash out at the Hot Tub Cinema

Watch a film in a hot tub in East London? We thought they were joking. Then the weather turned and bookings went stratospheric. Combining hot tubs that are cleaned and refilled before each film in specially chosen spaces on rooftops perfect for admiring that iconic London skyline, the hot tub cinema gang are definitely onto a winner.


3) Alfresco disco – the only way to disco

If there’s one thing Bristol knows how to do, it’s party. Starting as a one off, annual, summer free party, Alfresco Disco has grown into a series of fantastical events set up in secret, outdoor locations around Bristol. Brilliant DJs, creative fancy dress themes and unusual settings that have included an inner city car park; a forest glade by the River Avon; and the grounds of interesting, old properties are what makes this disco stand out from the crowd. Keep eyes trained on their website for future dates and in the words of Andrew WK, party til you puke. Well, that’s gross but you get the idea.

4) Eat ice-cream

Or gelato. Or fro-yo. Just make sure it’s sweet, swirly, cold and delicious. And be decadent with your toppings. After all, you only live once. The tinkling sound of the ice-cream van, (why is it usually playing the Old English folk song Greensleeves?!) is still enough to get me fumbling for change and rushing to the door for a Mr. Whippy.


5) Water fight!

You’re never too old for a water fight. Take a tip from the Thais who celebrate their New Year in April by, quite literally, roaming the streets chucking water over each other. The Songkran Festival is a celebration like no other where the traditional, blessed water ceremony has been adapted by hedonistic revelers and transformed into a sopping wet, super soaking free for all. A welcome relief during one of Thailand’s hottest months. If you’re feeling adventurous, combine your backyard battle with a slip and slide consisting of a tarpaulin, a garden hose and a liberal squirting of washing up liquid. Kids have the best ideas.


6) Pack a picnic basket

Nothing says British summertime quite like eating alfresco surrounded by pleasant, green space. We are spoiled rotten for delightful, picnic spots – it’s enough to send Yogi Bear’s head spinning off into another dimension. Hop on a train into the countryside and find your own little Hobbiton; visit a stunning country park like the delightful Avon Valley where you can row a boat on the lake and feed the animals; or even just hit up the park and the local Tesco and grab a choice spot, with a little bit of sun and a little bit of shade to eat, doze and watch the world go by. Try London Fields near the hipper than hip Broadway Market and its rows of trendy vintage stalls and join the creative, indie types hula-hooping, guitar plucking and picnicking with style.


7) Cocktail party!

Shaken or stirred; mixed up or straight up; sweet or sour; creamy dream or 90 percent alcohol – the summer is the best time to make your own brand of marvelous medicine. Get all your friends to bring the ingredients for one type of cocktail and make sure you provide lots of fruit, ice and some shakers. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right glasses – cute jars and tumblers are just as good. After all, it’s what’s inside that counts. Think bright, summery colors and pimp up your drinks with cute straws, umbrellas and stirrers… Then let the wild rumpus begin.


8) Hit the beach

We so rarely get the opportunity to capitalize on our beaches in the UK, we can forget just what a great selection there are. Try Rhossili beach in Swansea, a crescent of sand and sparkling surf; Woolacombe beach with its cool and surfy atmosphere; Barafundle beach, a little Pembrokeshire secret; or if you’re hard enough to deal with a few shingles, get down to the famous Brighton beach for art, culture and more fun-times than you can shake a stick at.

9) Punt for pleasure

The traditional English version of the Venetian gondola, a punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, perfect for long, lazy afternoons drifting along a peaceful river. Pick a spot like the River Cam in Cambridge where you can hire a punt for £15-£20 per hour and nominate your most co-ordinated and determined friend to take charge of the pole – it’s not quite as easy as it looks – or get a chauffeured tour. Then pour yourself a glass of Pimms, put your feet up and enjoy scenic sights such as the Bridge of Sighs and the historical university buildings as they glide by.


And if all else fails, simply buy a good old rubber boat.

rubber boat london

10) Wear sunscreen.

One of the more useful bits of advice my mother ever gave me, usually as she tried to sneak high factor sun cream into my bag like some kind of reverse, summertime pick-pocket. If you’re going to make the most of the beautiful sun, make sure you take steps to prevent your skin turning into something that resembles an old, leather boot or a cooked lobster. You’ll still tan. Just in a safer way. So, whatever else you might take away from this post… trust me on the sunscreen.

Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.

Keep up with the Saint sisters and their adventures in Bristol, London and beyond at www.saintsonaplane.com and @saintsonaplane or Alex herself @alexsaint13


Image1 via thisveganrants; image2 via Hot Tub Cinema; image3 via Foomandoonian Flickr; image4 print by Melonie Bennett via The Forecaster; image5 via Little London Observationist; image6 via drinkstuff; image7 via Oxford Student; image9 Chickabowow-Fafa via deviantart


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