When I moved back to England from Australia one of the things I heard the most was “but what about the weather?!” People seemed utterly aghast that I would trade the almost year round sunshine and blue skies for grey skies, cold and rain.
Firstly, let’s address a few myths about Australian weather or Sydney weather in particular, since that’s my point of reference.
1. It’s not hot and sunny all year round and even in Summer it’s not hot all day and all night.
I’m the kind of person who loves a hot and sunny vacation, the hotter the better. I love nothing more than getting hot and sweaty all day by the pool or the ocean, alternating reading my book with a dip in the water to cool off, followed by a humid evening of local food, lots of cocktails, my face shiny face, my hair frizzy and no need for even the lightest silk kimono. The weather is great in Sydney but those balmy days and nights happen for a few weeks of the year. What they don’t tell you (or maybe I didn’t do my research) is that the sun goes down at the latest 8pm so you don’t get those long drawn out summer nights that we’re used to in Europe. And when the sun goes down it can be surprisingly chilly. I’ve walked home more than a few times with my beach towel and sarong made into a make shift outfit. We’ve not talking cold here, but it’s no Jamaica either.
2. It’s bloody freezing in Winter because there is no central heating.
I know, crazy right? Whilst temperatures in the day might only reach as low as 12 degrees, temperatures at night can reach as low as 2 and there is no cosy warm house to come home to. You and your flatmates will pass like ships in the night, as you all retreat to your rooms to spend the evening watching Netflix in bed with two hot water bottles and one of those uneconomical, skin-drying blow heaters. (The sensible ones among us had electric blankets but I never got that far. What is this, the fifites??). Don’t even think about going out for dinner or drinks, because I can name at least 10 restaurants and bars within a mile radius of my old flat which are predominantly outdoor and if not have completely OPEN FRONTS, if you’re lucky you can huddle under a blanket next to the outdoor heater for warmth. Starting to appreciate the London routine of too hot on the tube, too hot at work, too close to the fire in the pub? I know I was.
3. Christmas is crap when it’s not cold.
This is a personal one of course, but Sydney NEVER felt festive for me without the nights’ drawing in and the weather getting colder. It’s oddly distracting to look forward to festivals in December and start buying swimwear and shorts. I made mulled wine one Christmas Day and the alcohol combined with the heat put everyone to sleep. That being said Christmas Day on the beach is a novelty and I say this because it rained 4 years in a row on Christmas Day and only once (and just before moved home) did I achieve the Holy Grail photo of me in a swimsuit on Christmas Day.
So how does this compare to England? Well, I’ve had a fantastic summer. Mid-week trips to the Lido, temperatures still soaring to the late 20s and early 30s in September! Plenty of al fresco drinks, waking up to blue skies and sunshine and working in the garden. I mean right now, I’m sat in a café awash with sunlight in early October. There’s a chill in the air but my commute is only 3 minutes home. You see there’s the thing, I think I’ve cracked it, the reason why people think English weather is bad. If like the majority of Londoners you’re up and out of the house before 7.30am, have lunch at your desk, perhaps stop at the gym after work and get home by 7 or 8pm you probably judge the weather by the number of times you got to wear a t-shirt and shorts at the weekend and honestly, if we’re counting that was probably about 5 or 6 weekends this year. Whilst if you’re fortunate enough to work from home, freelance (or be on maternity leave!) you will have had the opportunity to appreciate the good weather any day of the week. So there you have it, English weather is great! (as long as you don’t have to be in an office 9 – 5).
All joking aside, the weather in England is never going to live up to weather in Sydney which was bloody brilliant most of the time and one of the reasons I stayed so long, but I what I’ve actually learnt from this Summer is that you will always see the positives in a place when you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.