Heatwave Dresses and the Georgian Fridge

hush black summer short shirt dress

I interrupt what was going to be a stream of beauty and skincare posts (I’ve been testing affordable sunscreens, watch this space) to talk about the current heatwave. Also the scarcity of heatwave-appropriate dresses and – perhaps most importantly – the fact that my house is basically a Georgian refrigerator.

I feel as though I need to document this heatwave somehow; more than two weeks of constant hot weather is an incredibly significant event to someone who lives in the UK. It’s even more significant if they’re the sort of person who cancels all plans just so that they can get two hours of sun during the kids’ nap time, rushing into the garden with a rug to sunbathe on as soon as the babes are safely in their cots. From dressed-Mum-in-the-bedroom to semi-naked-sun-worshipper-on-lawn in around a minute. Gone in sixty seconds.

So yeah, forgive me if I have to just pop a little post up on A Model Recommends so that I can remember this glorious period of weather for the rest of my days; if I don’t make some sort of historical record then it will be forgotten and we’ll be back to complaining about how crap our summers always are. And this has to be the best run of UK sunshine I’ve ever seen in my life – I’m not sure what the stats are, and could easily have Googled them before writing this (or I could even Google them now and save myself all of this messy disclaimer!) but this dry spell must be pushing towards being a record-breaker.

Anyway, you’ve probably gleaned that I love a heatwave – granted I have no newborn babies to keep cool and I’m not pregnant (nightmare in this heat) or elderly, but I’ve always loved to bask in the sun. So long – and this is the crucial part – as there is somewhere cool to retreat to. I must have shade and a glass of icy water to hand if I am to enjoy the searing element. There needs to be contrast – on holiday, that contrast is “hot sand” followed by “dip in the icy sea”, but at home the contrast is usually “long stretch on straw-like lawn” followed by “small lie down in the shadiest room in the house”. And if there’s no coolness to be found in the house, that’s when things start to go downhill.

downstairs loo makeover

It follows, then, that I am more than a little pleased about just how cool my house is. Not cool in the snazzy kind of way but in the literal sense. Cool as in not warm. The exterior walls of my house are over two feet thick and seem completely impenetrable to heat; so whilst the outside earth has been baking in twenty-eight degree temperatures the inside of my house – especially downstairs – has stayed a steady, blessed seventeen. Cool, but not uncomfortably so – sort of like an air-conditioned department store. You require a light sweater or cardigan over your summer attire but it’s not cold enough to want a coat. Noticeably fresh, but not as frigid as lingering in the frozen aisle at Tesco.

Anyway, whilst half the country has been moaning about how unbearably warm it is in their houses (“there’s just no escape from the heat!” “I can’t get a wink of sleep without the fan on full blast!” “the air just doesn’t move!”) I have been going to bed with pyjamas on and snuggling down under a 13 tog duvet. Bliss. Scorchio weather for me to enjoy by day and the perfect chilled atmosphere to retire to at night. Another contrast. It’s contrasts a-go-go.

hush black summer short shirt dress

Now look: the only reason I feel OK about gloating over my home’s coolness is that it’s just about the one time in the whole year that having a chilly house has been a boon. The rest of the time, when it’s miserable and rainy outside, having cold flagstone floors and a load of empty fireplaces is not something to be smug about. The rest of the year I’m out foraging for old tree stumps to keep the fires going so that we don’t turn into ice cubes. The rest of the year we wear hats to bed.

And I’d be surprised if my hallway ever reached more than fifteen degrees – it’s like a bloody icebox. I don’t know why we even bother having a fridge in the kitchen, we could just keep all of the perishables next to the front door.

“Do come in! Mind the bacon. That’s right, dear, sidestep the Tropicana and watch you don’t slip on the unsalted butter.”

Excellent. Not so great when it’s frosty outside and you realise the central heating is devouring eighty gallons of oil an hour, but brilliant during a heatwave…so basically, brilliant once every five years for a few weeks…

Moving on.

Question: why do shops have to sell all of their clothes three months too early? I want to buy flimsy, cottony, barely-there dresses NOW, not a quarter of a year ago. A quarter of a year ago it was still snowing. And now we seem to be going into Autumn, in retail land – I keep getting catalogues and emails sent through with coats and roll-neck sweaters featured on the front page! It’s all completely arse about tit!

hush black summer short shirt dress

One to grab before it goes, however; the Bloomsbury Shirt Dress from Hush (here*), which is £45 in the sale instead of £75. It’s pretty short, so you wouldn’t be wanting to tie up your shoelaces in it, but it’s loose and cool and casually sexy and everything I want from a throw-on dress. Apart from the fact it’s black, which isn’t ideal unless you want to become a human storage heater, but hey.

(Oh, now I feel like a berk: I’ve just been to the Hush website to get the link for the shirt dress and they have loads of new summer dresses*, many of them suitable only for the very hottest of temperatures. Obviously I don’t include Hush in my earlier rant – bravo Hush, keep up the good work, etc. And in fairness, H&M had quite a few little flimsy dresses when I was in there the other day –  is there anywhere else I should add to my “seasonally relevant shops” list?)

Finally, tell me: are you sick of the heat or basking in it until the cows come home? And if it’s not too personal, what’s your optimum bedroom temperature? Do you even know what your bedroom temperature is? I know the temperature of every single bedroom, to a tenth of a degree, because having babies made me obsessed with room temperatures and it’s hard to break the habit. (My room: 18. Angelica’s room: 19. Ted’s room: 23 (it’s in the roof), my office: 24 (it’s in the roof and I’ve got the window shut because there’s a tractor making an annoying noise.) I own three different room thermometers and even have a thing that beeps if the room gets too hot. Not likely, not with our antiquated air-con system, aka “castle walls”.


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  1. Brandy
    July 19, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    I had one of those chairs in my house growing up. It was my cats favorite sleeping chair. I’m glad to see it making a comeback. Vintage is very much coveted.
    I don’t mind the heat, my bones don’t like the cold at all which is why I live as far South as possible. (US South) It’s the humidity that gets us. A balmy 37c feels like 50c with 97% humidity. Forget makeup, it melts as soon as you step out the door. On the weekends, if we don’t hibernate in the AC, you can find us in a kayak at the lake or definitely near some kind of water source. It’s a must!
    I turn the thermostat down to 21c at night to help cool off the bedroom but it never actually gets that cool in there and most nights wake up sweating, even with ceiling fans going at full speed. (pretty much stay on year round) We have to bump the thermostat up to 25c in the day just to keep the unit from possibly exploding from overuse, even then, it’s on more than it is off. Funny thing is, is I don’t like using the heat so much in the winter, it dries out my sinuses so we just layer up and put extra blankets on the bed. Luckily, the winters are short.

    • Ashley
      July 24, 2019 / 1:06 pm

      I agree on the humidity. I used to live near the Amazonian, we’d have 37 to 40 degrees all summer, and being between two Rivers didn’t help. 90% (and above) humidity on a daily basis felt like trying to breath inside a steam bath

  2. Sevda
    July 13, 2018 / 11:22 pm

    I’ve had enough to be honest. I do love putting the washing on the line and not having to keep an eye on it for days if I want.

    I don’t know the temperature in my room but I do know its too hot for me. I dream of lying in the freezer in tesco.

    My neighbour set up a tent in the back garden which I thought was genius. I just might take a sleeping bag out to the garden if it continues.

  3. Anna
    July 13, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    Not remotely related but randomly came across a ‘tennis’ related picture of you with Sophie Dahl from your modelling days and have so many questions….

    It made me think a video chatting about some of your more iconic or off the wall modelling gigs would be really interesting!

    • July 15, 2018 / 7:46 pm

      Oh my GOD I had totally forgotten about that one! The things I got up to… : )

  4. Kelly Woods
    July 12, 2018 / 10:52 pm

    Loving the heatwave, & long may it continue!! I live in a very cool victorian house, & I too tuck up under my duvet every night…heaven!

  5. July 12, 2018 / 3:17 pm

    Hi Ruth, just wanted to say I think you are a brilliant writer and, as a Portuguese person, I find the way you can go on about a few weeks of sunshine remarkable. I think you are fab and would totally read a novel written by you x

  6. MaryGrace Howard
    July 12, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    Ugh, this stoopid heatwave! I have to sleep in the spare room because my husband is a living furnace! Also the breeze flows better in there and I really don’t want to share it with him.

  7. July 12, 2018 / 11:21 am

    Jesus.. how glorious is that chair? When you first bought it I didn’t see it but now.. now it is just majestic

  8. Hannah
    July 12, 2018 / 11:19 am

    Normally I love it but the heat has nearly killed me this year and no, I’m not menopausal! Temper-frayed, unmotivated, knackered. I had to buy two emergency fans then it was like trying to sleep in the lukewarm blast of a hairdryer. Monday morning, I was desperate enough to look an idiot by walking the dog under an umbrella, just to get some shade.

    Last night I was actually cold in bed for the first time in a month. It was delicious.

  9. July 12, 2018 / 8:41 am

    I’m Australian so am quite at home in the heat – 28-30 is my favourite temperature. I used to have to put a jumper and trackies on for anything below 20, but then I moved to Germany and discovered what cold actually is! My bedroom is quite cool but like your house, that’s only really a good thing very occasionally. In winter it’s kind of awful.

  10. Greta
    July 12, 2018 / 8:15 am

    I didn’t even read the post, because the pictures stunned me.
    They are A M A Z I N G – the quality, the set-up, the model (obviously). Going straight to my pinterest “lifestyle vision” board.

    • July 12, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      Thank you Greta, that’s really kind!

  11. Ivana
    July 12, 2018 / 7:59 am

    That chair is to die for! I keep staring at it every time you post a photo.

  12. Gina
    July 12, 2018 / 7:36 am

    I had to do the conversions on the temps, I’m in the U.S. It was 42C here today and hasn’t been lower than 38C all month…. we keep our house at 28C, mostly for the cats! Our bedroom is at 25C while we sleep and the baby is in with us. We basically live in the least amount of clothes that we can answer the door wearing. During the winter before the baby we kept the house at 20C during the day and let our bedroom go down to sometimes 13C (it’s regularly -7C outside at night in the winter). It would be nice to one day live where the weather is less crazy.

  13. ,Jane
    July 11, 2018 / 9:42 pm

    I’ve had enough of this heatwave, but I am menopausal so feel hot regardless of the weather. Actually, I’ve always preferred cooler temperatures, 20°C is about right for me. I have my bedroom as cool as possible and always have a window open, even in the depths of winter (I only shut it once it reaches about -10). My year round duvet is a 2.5 tog but in this heatwave I’ve gone down to a 1 tog. I do love the sunshine, just not the current temperatures – give me a cold, crisp and sunny autumn day any day!

  14. July 11, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    I love this article (and the pictures with that ‘chair’, oh boy, I can’t get enough of seeing that chair – did a carboot sale (was selling) on Sunday, thought of you. I’m temperature obsessed too. I had a horrible time in my room until 2 nights ago: the temperature wouldn’t go under 26°C at night. However, my kitchen and bathroom are the coldest rooms, and, as much as this is a pain with winter, I’m loving it now! My bedroom is now 25.5°C as I type and I know it was 23°C last night the last time I looked. The kitchen is a pleasant 23.3°C, just checked. I am also talking about this heatwave in ‘mon journal intime’, it has to be recorded indeed (I even write the day’s highest temperature and draw a sun, cloud or rain for weather record keeping now..), I also draw the weather and write the temp. in my kitchen calendar; told you, I’m obsessed. I have a 5 year diary so can read about the same day last year and the year before, as I’m on my 3rd year. In the last days/weeks, I’ve been enjoyed the Hampstead women’s pond (gosh, I could write so many blog posts about that) and Brighton as well as my garden post-carboot sale when I had sun-stroke and couldn’t bear to be in my bedroom’s 26°C. I gathered the garden might have 1% of wind that would help me out as I was applying freezing packs on several parts of my body. This all cured me. Voilà!

    • Gail soear
      July 11, 2018 / 9:16 pm

      Your lovely chair is n current vogue have a look. Your cool house will be lovely and warm n winter as the sun comes in lower and walls will retain heat

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