Rachels Blog – Flaming June

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Well here we are hurtling towards the end of June, the month with the longest daylight hours.   Hence my favourite month.  June is supposedly named after Roman goddess Juno who was the patron of marriage and childbirth.  I also like to think of her as the goddess of gossip.  Juno……you have to say it out loud……ok, well I thought it was funny.  Anyway let’s not talk about the nights closing in again….just yet…..

June has always been regarded as the best month to get married.  And there were good historic reasons for this.  If you were a peasant in mediaeval times you probably took your annual bath in late Spring so you’d be at your fragrant best on the old smell-ometer.  Brides carried bouquets of fragrant herbs and flowers, not just to look decorative but to keep a good aroma going on around them. Even the posher classes weren’t too keen on washing as they thought it caused disease.  I remind myself that this was long before our world of Glade plug-ins, walk-in showers and scented candles.  Kings and queens took it a stage further.  Some had herb strewers at their coronations to ward off pestilence and disease – and probably clear the air a bit too.  No bad thing….

June is not only the one month of the year that begins on a different day to every other month in the year – that’s a good useless fact for a pub quiz – but it’s also the month when our British expectations about Flaming June weather go into freefall.

There’s a lot at stake: Wimbledon, test cricket, Trooping the Colour, endless outdoor events like air shows, food and music festivals that are totally weather-dependent.  This is the month when men temporarily take up cooking and become Kings of the Coals, flipping burgers and kebabs on the barbie.  Meanwhile when appropriate, the tabloid newspapers roll out their ‘Phew Scorchio’ headlines, gleefully citing that Bristol is far hotter than Barcelona while Torquay is giving Torremolinos a run for its euros.

This June so far hasn’t disappointed.  We have sweltered, prayed for rain, got rain, prayed for sun….we’ve had hose pipe bans and flood warnings ….and so it goes on.  Which reminded me of some of the weather happenings that affected our skittles weekends away.  With our British weather, you just never know.

I’m sure anyone who was at Hayling Island for a skittles weekend away one March, when the snow decided to wreck our finals day, will never forget.  We realised early on the Sunday that if the coaches had a realistic chance of getting everyone home, they needed to leave as soon as possible.  We made a (cold) snap decision to bring the skittles finals forward to the morning, and did a huge phone round, coaxing everyone out of bed, into breakfast and on to the alleys as soon as possible.  It also involved tunnelling through the snow and under the marquee because the locks were frozen.  It’s a recurring nightmare…..

Winners duly crowned, everyone made it home safely.  That was March.  Exactly one month later, Hayling Island skittlers were sunbathing in a sweltering heatwave.  You couldn’t make it up!

Back to June – and here we are after a heatwave, bracing ourselves for storms, floods and more high temperatures  And so it goes on…..records for highs, lows, epic rainfall or heatwaves – you never quite know what’s in store.  If our weather was more or less guaranteed to be fabulous from June until September, there would be no need to jet off to Benidorm.  But it would rob us of a whole line of instant conversation about the weather.