A Short Guide to the English Weather

Whatever they say about stereotypes, I have found this one to be true: The weather in England sucks. Nobody comes to England for the weather. Lots of people stay despite the weather, and are quietly resigned to it. Me, I am quietly raging.

I’m used to having seasons. I’m used to changing my wardrobe around and wearing only t-shirts in the summer months. I’m used to not bothering with the forecast, because it’ll be warm again the next day anyway. And yes, I can tolerate -16 degrees (I’m European, so that’s Celsius, it’d be 3°F), as long as they happen in January or February. Weather happens. It’s cool.

In Northern England, the default weather is grey. It rains a lot. I now own a raincoat that I use throughout the year. I combine it with jeans and sensible shoes, so that the contents of my wardrobe don’t really matter. “Too cold for the season” is a euphemism for “the usual grey, crappy weather.” I plant seedlings in March or April, so I know it must be spring when the plants start growing. The Christmas lights tell me it’s winter. That’s the way it goes. Over the last 8 years, I have worked out a method to such madness:

  • January – Christmas is over, the weather gets a bit cooler. It’s now 10 degrees (50°F), down from a balmy 12 (54°F). It rains a lot.
  • February – There’s snow! Kids go crazy. Schools close. By mid-afternoon, the snow has noticed it’s 6 degrees Celsius (43°F) and melts. By evening it’s raining again.
  • March – Temperatures climb to 15 degrees (59°F). The sun comes out. People start having picnics. The next day it rains again. Later in the month it might snow. Kids go crazy, schools close. People start moaning. By evening it’s raining again.
  • April – Temperatures are down again. It’s really quite cold, barely above freezing, but you start sowing and planting anyway. It snows. People are annoyed. It then rains for the rest of the month.
  • May – There’s a heat wave. People get sunburnt and have picnics. They smile at each other and say “It’s only May! There’s a whole summer still to come!” Only foreigners truly believe that. The second half of the month has constant rain and 12 degrees Celsius. There’s still hope.
  • June – It rains. Flowers start blooming, then suffer from depression. There is still hope.
  • July – A heat wave! Everybody gets sunburnt. After three days, half the country complains about the sun. The sun listens and retreats. It rains. There is still hope.
  • August – It’s pretty miserable. People holiday abroad. There’s now very little hope left.
  • September – The weather picks up. It’s really lovely, actually, because wearing long sleeves in September is quite normal, so you don’t even need to consider wearing a t-shirt.
  • October – Half golden, half wet.
  • November – Perfectly miserable, as Novembers should be. 12 degrees.
  • December – Only foreigners ever dream of a white Christmas. It rains a lot. It’s probably 12 degrees on Christmas Day, and they will call it “unseasonably warm.”

Because I know this pattern, I’m doing my very best to focus on things that don’t depend on the weather, like meeting friends indoors or reading a book. I surround myself with pretty things and close the curtains. I give my children vitamin D drops. But that’s the way the weather will always be, and there is no hope, and I’ll just have to get used to it. And to make matters worse, I’m not even allowed to moan about it, because I’m not British. Life is just not fair sometimes.


By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

4 replies on “A Short Guide to the English Weather”

When I studied in South Africa I was told that the little town where the campus was had four seasons in one day. Darn, wasn’t that the truth.

The Netherlands give us several options, but people always moan anyway. Summer is too late, Summer is too hot, Summer lasts too long. COLDEST WINTER THIS CENTURY. This Autumn should be wetter. And so on.

I moved from the US East Coast to Seattle, and I have the same problem. However, we do have 2 seasons: summer which is July and August, and the rest of the year. We have a week or two of decent in the middle of February (usually when schools are off so people leave town), but the rest is just rain. The poor summer interns think that the “rains all the time” thing is just an exaggeration, so they take a job and move out in, say, November, which has particularly crappy weather. They don’t see the sun again until the decent week in February.

I make my husband take me someplace warm and sunny every few years.

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