So most of you already know, I live in Ireland. I'm Irish. Therefore, for me, summer lasts about 3 or 4 days out of the year. Our weather is downright terrible. You're guaranteed that whenever you take time off work, it will be cold, raining and/or misty. The sun only shines when you're sitting in at work staring out of your office window imagining yourself running along the beach with your dog. Then reality hits.
Summertime can be a fabulous time – short skirts, bikinis, sunshine and heat and fun times with friends but to those of us with summer afflictions, it can be a time to curl up into a ball and rock backwards and forwards.
Going to a friends barbecue is fine. Free beer, free undercooked food, food poisoning, sauces that you aren't quite sure what they are, flys in your relish, slightly mouldy buns…. but organising your own is a different ballgame altogether. Finding a ladder to get that barbecue out of the garage attic is usually the first obstacle. Once you've overcome that you realised that you probably should have cleaned it properly last year before putting away. Now it's rather mouldy looking and rusted. You aren't sure if your friends would be happy to eat food that has been cooked on that. You aren't sure if your dog would either. If you manage to get past that stage, go on ahead and invite 20 friends over. Or at least you thought it would be 20, but they all bring their husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, cousins, nephews as well.
You're staring down at your pack of 10 sausages and 10 burgers like Jesus, knowing you have to feed the 5000 with a few loaves and some fish. Rushing down to the butchers or supermarket to buy more half an hour before people arrive is part of the custom. Next stage is fitting everything onto your tiny barbecue. Barbecues just aren't built to feed 50 people, they're tiny, so you power-cook those sausages, inevitably leading to undercooked food and food poisoning for your friends. At that stage you appreciate the effort and swear never to do it again…. at least until next year.
For the fairer skin types, like my own, going anywhere outside in the sun can lead to complete disaster. Living in Ireland, we're pretty much screwed when temperatures go above 18°C (around 64°F for you yanks). You might think “oh… but just put some lotion on, you'll be fine!” While this works in places like Ireland where the max temperature only really ever reaches about 22°C, if you visit any other country south, you've landed in deep water. I went to Turkey once, temperatures got to around 40°C… it was crazy! I saw people walking around, fully dressed in that heat. I spent the entire week in my apartment under the air-conditioning just to stay alive.
To make things worse… the food they served in my 4* hotel made a mockery of my intestines, I couldn't hold anything down at all. It all tasted like regurgitated sausage meat that had taken a long bathe in a greasy pool. My time in Southern France was spent lying in linen sheets after getting heat stroke! Some of us just aren't built for hot places.
The changing room full of depressed and angry mothers with screaming kids running into walls while you're precariously making your way across a slippery surface to get into the pool. Trying to avoid staring at the really fat guy with the really small swimming trunks on is too much to bear. Most public swimming pools are made up of 80% urine and 20% water which makes them a fairly unsavoury place to be. The overpowering smell of chlorine attempting to hide the smell of the pee… On any hot (or in ireland, vaguely warm) day, the swimming pool is writing with bodies of wrinkly old men and annoying splashy children. Its just not fun at my age anymore.
If you aren't familiar with the term, it means an affliction which affects those who have developed an allergy to pollen.. the stuff that comes from flowers. Symptoms include sneezing, blocked nose, runny eyes, runny noses and sore throats. It's just horrible. No matter how many pills I take for it, it just doesn't go away – for the whole goddamn summer. The “non-drowsy” pills have me passing out on my office desk, the nasal-spray (which generates a lot of aggro from my work colleagues) makes me sneeze even more, the eye drops make my mascara run and the strepsils (throat lozenges) make all my food completely tasteless.
There's thousands of the dirty little beggars everywhere. All different types and sizes ready to pounce on you and bite or sting you at any moment. My worst experience was being at the beach, I was having a great day with my friends and decided to go back to the car to get some more suntan lotion (by that, of course I mean block – I'm pale and turn into a lobster when subjected to extended periods of sun time). So off I went, wading through the long grasses to get to the car when I looked down and realised that my ENTIRE body was covered in small little red lumps. I went into anaphylactic-shock and ended up in a doctors surgery for the better part of the afternoon being drip-fed anti-histamines. In the time I'd taken to walk 20-30 meters through the long grass, the little piranhas had latched onto my skin and ate me alive! Luckily I survived to write the tale on this blog.