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Most people are aware that London is famously wet. The truth is, the weather isn’t always as bad in the UK as the British themselves make out. Bear in mind that anything warmer than 20 Celsius is considered desert weather, and anything below 10 Celsius is comparable to the Arctic in the British mind. Having said that, most days in the English calendar are between 10 and 20 Celsius so you’d think we have little to complain about right? Wrong.
In London the weather can pass through all four seasons in as little as a couple of hours. You’ll look out of the window, see the sun is shining bright and that the man across the road has taken his top off only to step outside and be battered with hailstones. It’s no coincidence that the most talked about topic in the UK is the weather; the whole concepts of rain, wind and shine is a subject in itself.
Tackling London Weather
Brits have come to realise that there is no way to control the weather, so out with that old adage ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. The main thing to keep in mind when planning for a day out in London is to be prepared. This is how it's done:
Always carry a bag which is big enough to store a cardigan, a hat, sunglasses, and an umbrella. Wear a couple of layers so that when you go down into the Underground (which can become pretty uncomfortable in summer) you can strip down. There’s a big chance that you’ll be needing all of them during the day so make sure you practise the ‘quick-change’.
Check the forecast on a daily basis and then quickly disregard it. The weather man is to be trusted no more than a politician is. Do follow the Met Office on Twitter though, sometimes they are quick enough to warm of flash storms just as the rain is ending.
The Great British Seasons
One of the more endearing things about British weather is that we do actually get to experience four distinct seasons. They’re reasonably reliable and do a smashing job of showcasing bits and pieces of our fair isle to their best.
Spring should start in March and run through to May. It has been known for some of the best weather of the year to be around in April and May, though April Showers can put a dampener on things. The British countryside is alive in spring; it’s lambing seasons, everything is fresh and green, and the jolly folk start to smile again. Expect temperatures to stick around 10 to 15 Celsius during these months, but always be prepared for a sudden shower, or a brief heat wave.
Summer for the British is a bit of a sore point in that it can be disappointingly hit and miss. When the mercury does rise, British summertime can be surprisingly pleasant with temperatures hitting close to 35 Celsius. Unfortunately, these bursts of heat are so unexpected in the UK that we forgot to install air-conditioning systems which means it can be unbearably hot inside. Always carry a bottle of water if you’re riding The Tube between June and August.
Fall, or autumn as it is called here hits in September and, if Britain is lucky, sticks around until November. Otherwise London becomes increasingly colder, wetter, and windier, which incidentally gives more reason to complain about Mother Nature. September sunsets can be phenomenal if you head up to a roof bar, and it’s also time for Harvest which means food festivals.
Bringing up the back of the year, London usually starts to see the beginnings of winter in December and London is plunged into chilliness until February. In the lead up to Christmas the cold weather is a welcome reminder that it is party season, especially if it snows. After New Year’s Eve the city has had enough and people collectively start chanting for spring to arrive.
Other Helpful Weather Hints
It is obligatory to comment on the weather when meeting with an English person for the first time. A comment like ‘by Jove, it’s cold’ or ‘too hot for my liking’ will suffice.
If the weather report says there is a 0% chance of rain be sure to pack an umbrella, if not two, you will definitely need them both.
A nice big pashmina can be used for both a picnic blanket and a barrier to the cold in the same day, sometimes at the same time.