What a strange few weeks it has been! I’m finally getting past my crazy cough that stopped me from fully participating in my Canterbury holiday. It’s not until now, when my energy is making a full return, that I realise how tired I really was, and how much I *may* have let slip by because of it.
And now we’re in the last week of June, and staring at a long, hot summer in the UK, with a chance of heatwaves and dry, parched earth. I’m not a natural sun worshipper. I dislike heat when it gets past the pleasantly warm stage, and especially when it makes ordinary activities like cooking, showering or walking from one point to another into an endurance sport.
And at least, I persuade myself, I am not in full time work or in school, where I remember too well there never being any shade, the end of term being a race to the finish and the heat hitting you as soon as you left the building… which, with playground duty, PE lessons, sports days and excursions you did far too often….
School is timed to happen in the heat of the day. I don’t suppose there’s a way round that, but at least as an independent woman now I have the choice of whether to act or ache at midday. In heatwaves, I basically channel my inner Tennessee Williams, find a fan, fix a cool drink and flip through a suitable book. Small summer rescue remedies, designed to keep me calm, cool and collected. Here is my top advice this year:
Match Your Reading to Your Mood: Feeling hot? Read a good book set in the heights of summer. Classics of summertime are The Go-Between, The Greengage Summer and The Great Godden but if you want a read where summer is a villain, an enemy and a threat, then try Heatwave by Penelope Lively, A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine or The Dry by Jane Harper. It seems more comforting to read about other people suffering infinitely worse in the heat than I am.
Cool The House Down: Living in the north of England, my need for air conditioning is almost non-existent, plus also not environmentally friendly. I cool my house by keeping blackout curtains closed during the middle of the day and drawing them back only once the heat has passed a little. Windows are wide open as much as possible, and I use fans in the main living rooms. My desk fan at work was so good, I bought another one for my bedside table, and if the heat is really strong I place a cooled cloth on top or an ice-cube filled bowl in front to add some coolness to the air.
Change Your Eating Habits: During the hottest days, I find my appetite in the middle of the day can be hit and miss. I don’t like eating hot or heavy meals, so a lot of salads, prepped fruit and plenty of cool water makes sense. I also change up evening meals so there are lots of easy side salads, carbs change from heavy potato-based dishes to rice, pasta or (real treat!) bread fresh from the bakery and main courses become meat or fish cooked as quickly as possible and without an oven, if I can. My George Foreman grill gets a lot of use, especially for chicken breasts with just a sprinkle of spice, and any desserts may be sliced melon, orange or just a bowl of summer fruits eaten in the gloaming.
Add Extra Touches to Your Hydration: I drink a lot of water anyway, and that amount only increases during the summer. Apart from having an outdoor fridge that we use for the large bottles of cheap fizzy water and coke from Aldi, I also like to add ice cubes to most of my drinks. Popping an elderflower or a leaf of mint into each one is a small, but sublime, gesture that elevates a plain drink into an experience. Violas, nasturtiums, lavender and rose petals can all add an exquisite touch to summer drinks. Garden Therapy has advice on how.
My neighbour buys frozen berries in bulk, and uses them in her gins and tonics instead of ice cubes, which is an elegant touch and also gives you gin-infused berries to enjoy at the end of the night. You can also use honeydew melon straight to make ice cubes for your drink/dessert.
Have a Signature Hot Weather Drink: This one I’ve done for a few years now. I love Teisseire Elderflower syrup in fizzy water, or mixing grenadine with orange juice (with or without the tequila!) to make a sunrise. I’m tempted by their mint syrup, as well…. Juleps or mojitos? That is the question. With a charity store crystal goblet and some ice cubes floating on top, even hydrating can be chic.
Become a Night Walker: When the day is too hot, or too sunny, too draining or too intense to exercise, then switch your routine out. Walking at night, after your evening meal, has benefits for digestion and can aid sleep, but be sensible. Walk with a friend, be aware of any uneven paths and choose your route carefully. During the Lockdowns, my husband and I took to walking at eleven o’clock: there were few people around, the night time sounds were clearer and we found it de-stressed us after a day inside. It’s still our preferred time of day for walking at home.
Take up A Light Weight Hobby: Now is not the time to knit a king-sized blanket, start learning a large instrument that is heavy and needs hefting about or to become a dedicated marathon runner. Choose light relaxations: cross stitch, crochet square blankets, learn the penny whistle or any hobby that is portable, needs no exertion and can be done in the cool. I already have a recorder, so I’ve set myself the challege of finding and learning a few English ballads and folk tunes, using a small book on Kindle called English Folk Songs.
And of course, the final way to cope with the heat is to remember that it, like everything else in life, is temporary. Embrace it or hate it, it’s not here forever. Soon enough, the mists will deepen, the leaves will curl and we will be in Autumn’s golden embrace once more.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash. It’s waterlilies, chosen for the reflection and because the flowers resemble lotus flowers so much. And my header is a photo by Ann on Unsplash. I chose it because the sun… the sea…. the sand… the heat. It is summertime heat in one simple shot.