Saturday, 29 May 2010

It's cold and wet, so it must be the start of summer

There is an argument raging at the moment about when summer can be said to officially start. Is it the beginning of June or is that still a spring month. How about July, when the school holidays start?

For me, summer starts with the late May bank holiday weekend. You can guarantee that the previous few weeks have been wonderfully sunny. Particularly the four weeks leading up the first Thursday in May when I have been spending all my time electioneering and have had not chance to get anywhere near a beach.

The Whitsun bank holiday is also when Run to the Sun occurs - thousands of VW Beetles and camper vans litter the hard shoulder of the A30 and AA men book the weekend off to avoid having to try to fix the most inaccessible engines known to man.

It is the real start to summer because Cornwall sees its first real influx of holiday makers. Parents decide that prices are too steep to take the family overseas during half term. Dad misremembers the halcyon days of his childhood (it was actually August) and packs Mum and grumpy teenagers into the Picasso for a seven hour road trip to a campsite near Tintagel.

Also this weekend is the Launceston Steam Fair where I have been today on car parking duty. The show last year was steaming hot and packed with happy tourists and locals developing (if they weren't already) all the characteristics of puffer-nutters. Henceforth, they won't be able to see a cardboard box of oily engine bits without having a rummage through to see if anything takes their fancy. It doesn't matter that the dull grey metal all came from either a 1970s Indesit washing machine or an Austin Allegro - it might look a bit like the bit they think they have been searching for and so they'll take it on the off chance.

This year, the weather forecast was a bit different. I stood all day in a field wearing a large orange 'hi-vis' jacket trying to persuade drivers that their stopping distance on sloping wet grass is likely to be a tad more than usual. The rain bucketed down and the wind blew a gale. My generosity in donating my time in return for bronchial pneumonia was to support the Launceston Rugby Club minis and juniors who receive a donation from the Steam Rally organisers for their car parking efforts.

I'm sure the Steam Rally itself has a wide range of attractions and fun for all the family. It's just that when it rains, it's not quite the same.

Still, at least there weren't any Morris Dancers.

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