This is for anyone who’s seen a June or July headline claiming, ‘Costa de Sol Summer Ahead’, and believed it. Three days of sun and a month of hoodies doesn’t make us the Mediterranean. But, for some strange reason it does make us almost insanely optimistic and even in the face of inevitable disappointment we still plan entirely weather-dependant activities. So this year we’re campaigning for weather defiance instead. If it’s sunny and warm, wonderful. Pouring with rain? That’s fine too. Blowing a gale? All good. Here are five fantastic things to do all summer long and the weather can do what it likes, because it just won’t matter.
Wise up to the all-weather barbecue
With the right frame of mind, you don’t need sun to have a barbecue. An overcast summer day – even with a high chance of rain – can work. Get the right people together, organise an amazing playlist, open up the patio bi-folds (just in case), and make sure the food is so astonishing, nobody notices the weather. If you really don’t do rain and want to grab any blink of sunshine: always have the barbecue prepped, ready and as close to the house as possible; keep a stock of marinades in the fridge, have spare standby charcoal and you’re set to go as soon as there’s enough blue sky to make an elephant a waistcoat – as the Old Wives say.
Windy day? Go fly a kite
We might not have Marbella’s heat, but the UK’s brilliant in summer for kite-flying. How do we know this? Not only are there dozens of kite festivals all over the country in June, July and August, there’s a British Kite Society. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, we get a lot of windy days too. If you live near a park with big playing fields, anywhere with a small hill or close to a beach, they’re perfect spots to hone your skills. Technical sports kites are gorgeous, but a bit complicated and expensive for beginners. Making a kite is easier than you’d think, great fun for kids and you won’t mind if it nosedives and destroys. And you definitely don’t need sun for this one, even a wet and windy day can be wildly good for kite flying.
Cities are more fun without the sun
Nobody wants to be in the city when the weather’s nice. But pick a grey day (any day this summer will do) and they’re wonderful. Free museums all over the UK can entertain for hours – even when it’s pouring. Botanical gardens look spectacular just after a heavy shower of rain. Go old school, get a paper map, plot a route that has plenty of weather-avoiding stops and make it an adventure. Find things that work well on dull days: Edinburgh’s amazing Camera Obscura is excellent without bright light, The Tower of London is creepier than ever when the weather’s gloomy. And the best thing about cities is versatility. So if the clouds clear, you’re probably about five minutes at most from something summery to do for a bit.
Rainy days walks are magical
Rainy walks with kids in summer are like winter walks in the snow: the weather might not be brilliant but everything looks fabulous. Torrential downpours and grey skies don’t take away from the leafy green loveliness of trees, so you should definitely discover some of the UK’s astounding deciduous forests. They’re filled with fascinating creatures, interesting plant life and places for hours of wild play. Even local parks can be exciting, especially if splashing around in warm puddles is part of the deal.
Be a storm-watching beachcomber
Blue sky days on the beach are unforgettable, no denying it. Sand covered in stuff after a good old summer storm can be just as much of an adventure, if you’re lucky. Sure there’s the usual rubbish that washes up on the shore, but smooth sea-glass, incredible driftwood, gorgeous shells and prehistoric looking seaweed are in there too. Teach kids some basic rules about not picking stuff up if they’re unsure, sifting through piles of natural detritus with the toes of wellies rather than hands and not touching anything plastic, metal or sharp looking. If you’re new to the art of after-storm beachcombing, start collecting pretty shells and work up. Don’t forget a bag or a bucket to carry your finds back home.
So British summer can be as typical as it wants this year and the Costa del Sol can keep the sun, we’re determined to have a fantastic holiday whatever the weather and you should be too.