Friday, 27 January 2012

One Glorious Hour

Hello all. I hope you all had a lovely year end/beginning break. I know I did. It was made all the better by a wonderful, fantastic, amazing hour today. The hour that the sun streamed through our front windows and filled the living room with its warm, delicious rays. I just sat, closed my eyes and was happy.

There really is nothing like sunshine in the midst of a northern European winter. The days are short, dark and grey. A damp, miserable day. I say this, of course, after a rather warm winter so far. I'm not at all ungrateful for this, mind you, I'm just extremely appreciative of the sun. I am not, though, the sun worshiper that many of my compatriots are. This rather unhealthy obsession with the sun is evidenced by the hordes of Irish who head to the Mediterranean and other warm climates every year. It needs to be said that they flock to these locations year round as the weather is almost certainly better regardless of season.

Brits have a similar magnetic attraction to these sun baked, sandy beaches, jetting off to Egypt, the various Costas of Spain and any number of Mediterranean islands offering package deals and cheap booze. They have all sorts of television programs about these sunny destinations; buy a home there, buy a holiday home there, go to drink copiously and make a fool of yourself, parents sneakily watch their children drinking copiously and making fools out of everyone, and any other variation of the aforementioned. It's fun in the sun.

Competing with these exotic locales is Jersey, "The warmest place in the British Isles." Really? That's the slogan you're going with? For those of you who haven't heard about this tiny island, it's just off the Normandy coast of northern France.  Yep, in the English Channel. Anyone ever crossed the English Channel by boat? I have. Several times. And I can guarantee you that the weather is often miserable and not much better than on "mainland" England. They refer to the Channel Islands as islands of this island. A dubious distinction, if you ask me, but I suppose it's essential because otherwise the UK would have to admit that they have been successfully invaded since 1066. Instead, the Channel Islands are not part of the UK, but instead are British Crown Dependencies and so everyone pretends that the German invasion and several year occupation of both Guernsey and Jersey doesn't count.

Point being that Jersey is not so far from Brighton as to make it a sunny beach destination. Sure, it's close to France, but it's close to the cold north coast, not the Riviera. "The warmest place in the British Isles" is, quite frankly, a bit of a backhanded compliment. For next year I suggest they really go for it with "Jersey, it's warmer than Siberia."

Needless to say, we haven't booked our holiday there quite yet, but I am enjoying my own little patch of sunlight. My day-by-day seasonal tracking of the sun is an inherited obsession. My Granny had the same fascination with the lengthening of the days. Every afternoon from December 22nd through June 21st she would look up at the twilight sky and say, "The days are getting longer, now. Isn't it lovely?" Everyday, the same thing, as though it was a wonderful surprise she had never expected.

While I have always shared her love of the days lengthening, today was the first day that I found that moment of pure joy. For the last two months we have only gotten 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight into our flat, but today, oh today! Today we had a solid hour. The sun is finally high enough in the sky to clear the significantly taller building across the street from us for a full hour. I actually exclaimed out loud, when it didn't disappear behind the edifice. Some might say a little crazy, I say celebrating a family tradition.

So bring on the longer days. Bring on more sunshine hours, even if it's cloudy. Bring on spring.

Granny never really talked about the length of the day after summer. Shortening days weren't of much interest. I guess we just have sunny outlooks.