We are in a mini heatwave and, by any reckoning, that’s serious.
It’s serious because this is Ireland and everyone knows that nice weather during the summer months is in a finite supply — like oil or Ireland’s recent hit rate at the Eurovision.
And so there is a feeling that we must make the most of it; get our money’s worth and cram as many summer-y things into these days as possible.
A hot, high-summer’s day in Ireland can feel a bit like the weather equivalent of visiting an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. We want everything, all at once. And twice.
We become like Alan Partridge with his 12-inch plate. Determined to make amends for all the mean restaurant-sized portions we have endured our adult lives.
Or, in this weather equivalent, we will make up for all those overcast holidays spent wearing a Gortex windbreaker and paddling in icy water on a deserted shoreline. So when the sun does arrive we have zero chill.
This week there have been articles excitedly informing us that it is hotter in Maynooth than it is in Mexico City, and sweatier in Clontarf than the Canaries. These news reports confirm that in the game of weather one-upmanship we are finally victorious! Surely the inhabitants of Mexico City will wake up, look at the thermometer, shake their heads sadly and say ‘If only we were in Maynooth.’
Men suddenly start walking around town with no tops on. Families arrive at beaches festooned with collapsible dinghies and hundreds of squashed tin-foiled sandwiches. There are day trips and lists instructing us what to do and when.
As a result, these days tend to provoke a sun-inspired frenzy in me. On Sunday I ate a 99 cone for breakfast, I went for a swim, and then to a park, and then to a farmers market, then I ate some more ice-cream. I seriously debated if an inflatable paddleboard was a solid investment. By this stage it was 11.30am.
‘What else can we do today?’ I asked. ‘We have to make the most of the good weather. What if this is the only sunny day all summer? What if it rains for the rest of July and all of August?’
I was determined to stay out. Another swim? Perhaps we could fashion a barbecue out of some twigs? Or make a waterslide out of those discarded bin bags?
But then one of our kids piped up, they had enough of being hoiked around in the heat. It was too hot, and too bright. She wanted to go home.
After some negotiation, during which she ultimately (and inevitably) won out, we returned to our house and spent the afternoon in a darkened room watching YouTube videos of a T-Rex singing pop songs, and then we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
At first it felt sacrilegious being stuck indoors — it was glorious outside, we were missing out.
But, after a while, FOMO subsided and the appeal started to grow. It was cool inside, and, besides, Benedict Cumberbatch is a very funny Grinch.
There is a real decadent joy to doing nothing inside on a summer’s day. Hiding out of the glare, watching TV, avoiding all the sun-lust mania.
A few years back ‘Niksen’ took over from Hygge as the new on-trend lifestyle craze.
The Dutch term celebrated being idle or doing something without any use. It moved away from the concept that ‘time is money, and you should have something to show for your time — either getting work done, or self-improvement’.
It’s easy to be cynical about these sorts of crazes but there is an art and sometimes even a benefit to sitting around in your pants and being bone lazy.
Switching off takes discipline. But once you master it, you realise how fun it is to eat an entire pack of Icebergers while curled up sloth-like on your kitchen floor.
If you assume and accept that you are doing squat, there’s no pressure to prove yourself. You stop trying to assess the enjoyment of your day based on a fun summer checklist. Instead, you make your assessment on how you feel at the end of the day. And I felt relaxed, albeit a little nauseous from all that ice-cream.
I wouldn’t advise spending all of your summer holed up watching kids’ YouTube videos. But committing to doing absolutely nothing on a sun soaked day may be the best way to spend it.
‘Ride or Die’ female friendships seem to be at the centre of so many female TV shows, films and books. In Friends, Girls, And Just Like That, Everything I Know About Love — it’s all about these intense female bonds that last the test of time.
But in her new book, BFF The Truth About Female Friendships, author Claire Cohen discusses the “cultification” of the “Best Friend Forever” narrative women are sold and how limiting it can be. She argues that this begins in school; while little boys are encouraged to take part in larger social circles, girls feel under pressure to pair off with “a soulmate to whom you can tell all your secrets and who always has your back”. This is reiterated throughout our lives, she says, from the Spice Girls telling us that friendship never ends to modern day movie arcs.
But having interviewed many women for her book, Cohen says this isn’t the case. Most friendships break up — especially those from primary school or secondary school. And these break-ups can be very painful and protracted and lonely (Adele doesn’t have as many songs about female friendships breaking up as romantic ones). Instead of pinning all your friendship requirements on one person, it’s much better to have lots of different friends and be aware of their strengths and limitations. Some you can tell all the details of your private life, with others you will only have micro conversations about movies. It all comes together to form a sort of friendship smorgasbord.
I love this idea, not only because the more friends the merrier (especially when planning a party) but it also takes the pressure off each other. More friends, less BFFs.
It looks like this July and August are set to become the summer of the jumpsuit. Yesterday new pictures of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan on the set of Neighbours were released, and Kylie is back as Charlene Mitchell in her mechanics overalls.
Arguably the world’s biggest jumpsuit advocate, presenter Anneka Rice is also back on UK TV sets and has been bigging up her favourite look. She says a jumpsuit is the ultimate sexy ensemble for middle-aged women, although she concedes trousers are more practical. “Easier to pop to the loo in,” she says. A sobering realisation any person in a jumpsuit will come to when they are three drinks into a night out.