The other day I had a conversation about weather and beaches, as you do, with a friend of ours. It's one I have had several times over with a host of different people, all concerning stereotypes. The gist of it was that if he and other Spaniards were finding the very hot weather (27, 28, 29 degrees over the last few days before we flew home for a few weeks) then how much more oppressive must it be to poor Brits like us who as a rule did not have a summer to speak of and usually suffered from fog? Did we ever have such high temperatures, he went on to ask. Well, yes, very occasionally the temperature do soar. I didn't mention that when the sun comes out like that young men go crazy and walk around without their shirts.
The questions went on:
You don't go to the beach much, do you? Unsure whether he was talking about Phil and me or the British as a whole, I assured him that personally we don't mind a stroll on the beach, Spanish style, up and down the tide line, but that we find spending hours stretched out on the beach just a bit boring.
And then there are not that many really good beaches, are there? Well, considering that in Great Britain you are never more than fifty miles from the sea and Great Britain is an island and that hordes of people head for the seaside on bank holidays, I think that's a nonstarter. So I told him about some of the popular beaches.
But with the low temperatures, people probably don't spend a lot of time on the beaches, even if they are beautiful, do they? Great surprise was expressed that people actually sunbathe and even swim in the sea off the coast of Great Britain. Even with such cold water? Well, yes!
And do people go around in short sleeved shirts and t-shirts? Surely it's not warm enough for that? A little exasperated by now, I pointed out that we are English, after all, and not 'frioleros', people who feel the cold all the time.
I should have told him about the young men who wear shorts even in February, possibly as a fashion item but even so, shorts are worn in February and in the rain.
I did not tell him either about the weather forecast for Wimbledon that I had seen earlier in the week. That weather forecast predicted some rain but the weatherman said it would be quite warm, 20 or 21 degrees!
Then this morning I went out running in shorts and a vest top. This was a mistake, not because of the temperature but because I got rained on. When I was chatting a neighbour about the rain on my return from my run, he commented, "At least it's quite warm; it must be 19 degrees".
Only ten degrees lower than we had in Vigo on Thursday!
Perceptions are everything! I know English people who won't believe me when I tell them how cold it is in central Spain in the winter. Spain is always hot and sunny and England is always wet and cold and usually foggy! This is known!