Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year in England

with temperatures soaring to 77 degrees!

For perspective, that made London even warmer than Athens, Rome, Nice, and Ibiza!!

tree

This unprecedented scorcher capped off an entire week….that’s right, 7 whole days…of sunshine.  The kind of bright blue-sky sunshine uninterrupted by clouds that makes you break into a sweat and put on sunscreen.

Where am I?  This isn’t the soggy England I’ve come to know so well.  So what to do with this wonderful week?

I checked something off my London bucket list and rented a Boris bike, those bright blue cycles for hire initiated by mayor Boris Johnson, and took a relaxing ride through beautiful Hyde Park.

barclay bikes

The park swarmed with people….young couples peddled their swan boats along the Serpentine, midriff-baring girls sun worshipped in the open fields, older couples sat hand-in-hand on the park benches in the rose garden, little children sailed boats in Round Pond in front of Kensington Palace, and a young boy fed the birds too vigorously and fell into the Serpentine for an impromptu swim.  He may have been on to something….though signs prohibited swimming, it was a perfect day to get wet!

swimm

Taking advantage of the balmy weather, I set out on a 10 mile hike in the countryside, trekking from Leigh to Sevenoaks.  Unlike previous hikes during which deep mud sucked at our boots, pelting rain drenched our coats, and gale force winds froze our faces…this time I trod on firm ground and was drenched only by my own sweat beneath the beating sunshine.  As always, we ate lunch at a local pub, but this time instead of warming ourselves by the fire, we tanned ourselves at outdoor picnic tables.  We walked past the usual suspects — cows, sheep, and horses — and even came upon a deserted phone booth that seemed forlorn and out of place on an old country lane.

booth

We traversed rolling hills, meadows, and vast parks before we finally wound up at the beautiful Knole House, one of England’s largest homes dating back to the mid-16th century.

knoleCloser to home, the family enjoyed a very pleasant walk through Hampstead Heath where the trees were literally exploding with fresh blooms.

blossoms

Our loop always culminates at the magnificent Kenwood House that seemed to gleam especially bright in the glare of the afternoon sunshine.

kenwood

We ambled at a slow pace to accommodate a heavily panting Lucy.  She may have been the only one among us who would have preferred a more chilly climate.  Though we always think Lu is a bit crazy, she is not a “mad dog” by Noel Coward’s definition in his song from 1931, Mad Dogs and Englishman…but I certainly am!

In tropical climes
There are certain times
Of day
When all the citizens retire
To take their clothes off and perspire.
It’s one of those rules
That the greatest fools
Obey,
Because the sun is far too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry
Violet ray.

Mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don’t care to.
The Chinese wouldn’t dare to,
Hindoos and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one.
But Englishmen detest a siesta.

In the Philippines
There are lovely screens
To protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States
There are hats like plates
Which the Britishers won’t wear.
At twelve noon
The natives swoon
And no further work is done.

But mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun.

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