Now That’s What I Call Summer! 2020

We’re having another heatwave here in the UK – in September! Honestly, this year must be breaking some kind of hours-of-sunshine record. It feels as though we’ve had the longest summer in history, starting in March and running all the way through into the autumn – we’ll be Trick or Treating wearing shorts and flip-flops at this rate. Imagine Mr AMR leading the kids about the dark streets in full beach regalia.

Knock knock..

“Trick or Treat!”

“Sod off you chancer – what are you supposed to be then? You’re not even scary.”

“I’ve come as a British holiday-maker trying to successfully go abroad somewhere hot!”

“Oh yeah, I get it. Nightmare mate. Have some Haribo.”

It’s a good job we’ve had some lengthy sunny spells, because holidays to exotic places haven’t really been on the cards, have they? Even if you managed to book one, the likelihood was that it would be cancelled by the time you flew out, or else you’d get there and all of the Covid rules would change and you’d have to hurry back in the dead of night, racing along the autoroutes like a compromised secret agent, albeit a compromised secret agent driving a Volvo estate with a yellow roofbox and two bikes tied to the back.

So thank God for the UK weather! A sentence I never thought I’d write. I’d like to celebrate summer 2020, if you don’t mind, because despite its shortcomings (you know, horrendous deaths, mass unemployment and serious political and social unrest, no biggies) it feels as though it has been, for many people I’ve spoken to, quite a unique time. Without sounding as though I’m about to chime some miniature cymbals above your heads and gently blow incense at your chakras, it seems that many have found the time to reflect and reset over the past six months. Reconnect with family members, examine the way they’ve been living and whether they want to continue with the same routine.

Here are some of the things I’ve noted down about Now That’s What I Call Summer! 2020 and why it may have been the best ever season of my life. Despite often wanting to stick a very long kebab skewer through one ear and push it out of the other side, mainly on the days that my kids got up pre-6am and then proceeded to scream about the fact that the special Cheerios bowls were still in the dishwasher.

Anything good, at all, has been twenty times better than it has ever been. It must be a coping mechanism in bad times – cling on to any shred of joy and amplify it. A bit like when you were in your early teens and you’d arrive at the shittest holiday Gite known to man, that had rats in the roof and a toilet inside an armoire like the lavatory version of Narnia, and your Mum (God bless her forever) would say “well this is nice isn’t it? Look! Someone left a brand new packet of biscuits next to the back door!”

Thus any short spell of intense sunshine has been met in our house with the exclamation, “we could be in Greece!” Any pop-in by a neighbour or short, socially distanced catch-up with a friend has been followed by a sappy look between us all and a “well that was lovely, wasn’t it? Isn’t it amazing to have lovely friends?” Even a quick exchange grabbed over a garden wall on our daily walk has filled us all with immense but OTT pleasure, like we’ve had all of our mental markers for enjoyment completely removed and replaced with the lowest possible benchmarks. “OH! LOOK! A butterfly, A BUTTERFLY! God isn’t the earth beautiful!”

So it goes without saying that the – quite lengthy – runs of heatwave have sent the pleasure sensors into absolute overdrive. First in Spring, for – well, almost the entire season – then again in summer proper, weeks and weeks of uninterrupted, baking hot sun that threatened to kill off everyone’s gardens that they’d spent all of their going out money doing up, but did we care? No we did not. We thanked the weather Gods that at least something in 2020 was going our way.

Time has passed more slowly. Especially for those who had to shield for health reasons. Or those with dependents. Or people who have been wondering, painfully, day after day whether or not they still have a job. Or people who have a business that was slowly, tick by tock, going down the pan. Even for those with no immediate life concern, time went slowly, I’d imagine, because they were taking things day by day. No idea of the future, suddenly thrown into the tumultuous world of Covid uncertainty (unprecedented times!) and just tentatively edging forward, shuffle by shuffle, into the new normal. Nothing like Covid to make you stop in your tracks and take stock of things.

But with this slower pace comes the welcome opportunity to take stock of things – the fact that you eat the same three meals on rotation, perhaps, or that you would love to work with animals or that you absolutely detest your flatmate. All useful realisations, even if they can’t immediately be put right. Unless you start working at a zoo, ticking off your career goals, bring home a lion to maul your flatmate to death, thus taking care of the space-sharing problem and then… no. Too far. Nobody wants that meal added to their culinary repertoire.

We’ve spent more time outside. As lockdown started, we all became avid joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists. Going outside for exercise became the nation’s favourite pastime, “doing up the garden” was a close second. It’s no wonder we’ve noticed the weather more and appreciated the sunshine hours. I suppose it’s also been easier for people to get outside because many haven’t been at work or have been working from home and not shuttered in their usual house-car-office-car-house routine. There are few better ways of lifting the spirits, I’ve found – even sitting on your doorstep for a few minutes in the sun can have a restorative effect, so imagine a whole summer spent outside!

And so, Summer 2020, I award you with the weirdest-yet-nicest season of my lifetime award. You’ve been the backdrop to the most frightening and frustrating world events, yet you showed up with the sunshine and made the bleak days more bearable. If you could just pass the memo to Winter 2020 then that would be great…

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  1. September 21, 2020 / 10:04 am

    I agree, the weather did lift the spirits a lot, what a nightmare it would have been if we had a grey and rainy summer!
    And having a garden, what a bliss! I have no clue how I would have kept the kids and myself sane without it.

    Anne from Doctor Anne

  2. September 17, 2020 / 1:50 am

    Where I live we didn’t go into full lockdown, but we did have restrictions on where we could go, when, and with whom. But it mainly happened over winter, so aside from struggling with getting my mental health walk in while supervising remote learning, I don’t feel like I was stuck inside. I was going to be inside anyway. After the awful fire summer that Australia had this year, it was nice to see the sky, at least?

    Anyway, on a lighter topic, I did laugh at your Halloween prediction because by the time it rolls around here, it’s summer daylight savings time. Kids wandering around in broad daylight on a warm evening, not bothering to dress up because you sweat to death in the plastic mask, knocking on doors in the hope the occupants a) participate in Halloween (still not a thing here, for the most part), and b) remembered to buy lollies to hand out.

  3. louisa
    September 16, 2020 / 1:23 pm

    Thank you! I have seen some people saying that the summer has been awful, and that we haven’t really had a summer weather wise, and I was totally gobsmacked haha! I mean as soon as we went into lockdown the weather was perfect!

  4. Lynn W
    September 16, 2020 / 9:26 am

    Really lovely sunny post Ruth. Sunshine does make you cheery doesn’t it? Which is why we are all trying not to feel bloody miserable up here in central Scotland because we haven’t had any! We had a beautiful April and May but since then it’s been overcast, dull, (dreich as we say here) and raining most days. Really, most days! Even the rare sunny ones have been so changeable it’s been ” Suns out, yipee! Oh it’s away. It’s out again! Oh it’s away”. I’m hoping for a lovely Autumn.

  5. Fiona
    September 16, 2020 / 6:59 am

    I’m glad you’ve had nice weather, and i am sorry about the bushfires. They got to 5km from my house last fire season, and I live in a suburb of a big city. I’m still struggling because we are coming out of a cold winter with restrictions including only being allowed out once a day for one hour to do everything… exercising, shopping for essentials etc. Can’t shop anywhere else anyway, only supermarkets, chemists and bottlos are allowed to be open. We have an 8pm curfew and compulsory face masks and we can be fined $1600 for sitting on a bench in public. We can’t travel more than 5km from our homes and they announced today that we will be fined $5000 if we try and leave metropolitan Melbourne. We are not allowed to go into the office and I live alone and I am so freak-ing lonely. Am also over the novelty of Zoom drinks…. before anyone says anything. The only biped i have looked at face to face for more than two months is the boy at the grocers when we say hello as i go through the checkout. And of course i haven’t touched another person since February. i am not coping at all and my psychiatrist said he would admit me to hospital except that I’d have to sit in my room alone in my own all day because all activities had been cancelled. I have no idea what to do with myself. If i didn’t have a dog I’d probably be dead already. My office has already had one covid suicide. A couple of us who are really struggling (and at risk, i would say) have provided doctors’ letters to support coming into the office one day week just to be around other bipeds and we’ve been refused. Too risky. This has been going on almost non stop since March apart from a couple of weeks in June when we had a brief easing of restrictions. I don’t know how much more I can take.

    • Jane
      September 19, 2020 / 10:04 pm

      Fiona I’m so sorry you’re having to cope with isolation and loneliness. I am on the other side of the world but have a close friend in Oz and known the intense restrictions you’re living under. You’re definitely not alone in feeling desperate. Cuddle your dog, take him/her out and connect with other people – we all need this, it’s just human. Hang on in there, better days are ahead.

  6. Evie
    September 16, 2020 / 6:00 am

    I spent the entire summer in Greece (from June). I’m still here actually. I visited many islands this year (well as the Peloponnese) and it was amazing. No crowds! Rental houses were discounted heavily, as were car rentals.

    I saw quite a number of people from the UK on islands like Ithaca and Kefalonia.

    I remember one of your older posts from Crete. Well, Crete in mid-June this summer was eerily quiet. The airport in Chania didn’t even turn on the lights when I arrived on June 20.

  7. K.
    September 15, 2020 / 8:29 pm

    I really needed this. We’ve had a lovely summer too. A long, gorgeous, sunny summer. But I live in Oregon and therefore our summer has been brought to an abrupt end with wildfires all around the state and a heavy cloud of smoke obscuring the sun and making our air quality the worst in the world. Basically, a miserable bummer, and I am very grateful for many things and very aware of how much many people have lost, but it is hard to feel upbeat right now. Then I see these wonderful pictures and read your lovely musings and I feel heartened. It feels like a bit of a vacation. Thanks, Ruth. You are awesome!

    • September 15, 2020 / 10:26 pm

      Ah, stay safe. I’m so sorry for you all, it’s horrendous xx

  8. September 15, 2020 / 2:38 pm

    Ruth, I just wanted to say that your blog posts always make me smilie, and very often laugh out loud. I look forward to receiving them as much, if not more than your beauty videos. And I love your beauty videos. So I guess I just wanted to say thank you for cheering us all up and keeping our spirits high. Fab photos too!

  9. September 15, 2020 / 12:10 pm

    I don’t like the “new normal” and the additional ugliness it has added to the already OTT pile of Ugly out there. But if there is one thing that can be said for the mess that is/was 2020; the weather was damn fine! And how on earth have your children got so big so quickly Ruth? Everyone I know on social media who had babies, suddenly seem to have school aged children. Its like soap operas where they are adorable toddlers in one episode, snotty teenagers in the next.

    • September 15, 2020 / 2:14 pm

      I know, they are so grown up already! *cries*

  10. September 15, 2020 / 8:41 am

    Fabulously positive post…love it…and very accurate picture of life in the UK for a lot of people.

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