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Heather Large: Come rain or shine, I’ll be prepared!

By Heather Large | Weekend | Published:

It seems I've become the stereotypical Brit that's obsessed with the weather.

Rain

I'm constantly checking the forecast to find out what our famously unpredictable climate is going to throw at us next.

Before heading out to the office each morning or making plans for the weekend, a visit to the Met Office website is a must.

It will end with me either celebrating when I see a row of little sun symbols or complaining at the abundance of rain clouds on the horizon.

If a day out is planned then I find myself checking what the weathermen or women are predicting even more frequently as the date approaches. This means I both love and hate the 10-day forecast.

It's great if it shows you what you want to see but if the weather isn't looking great when you want it to be dry, it's not much fun. In fact, it's probably worse knowing this a few days in advance as it leaves you hoping it will cheer up but I can't stop myself.

Nobody wants to get caught out in the rain when they aren't prepared for it or to be sweltering in a thick duffel coat when it's 20c outside.

The problem with our lovely British weather is that it's so changeable. My car boot is full of "just in case" items including a spare waterproof, jumper, hat and gloves and pair of wellies - I'm not taking any chances.

But as much as we are a nation that loves to check the forecast,we don't entirely trust them either. We've all heard about weatherman Michael Fish, who in 1987 failed to predict one of the UK's most catastrophic cyclones.

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And while technology has certainly improved, there have been enough times when a dry day has been predicted only for a downpour to occur out of the blue just when you need it the least.

In the forecasters' defence, our weather can change hour by hour - that's what makes it so distinct - so it's no wonder meteorologists don't always know what Mother Nature has planned.

And I'm certainly not the only one obsessed with the weather - there is a reason us Brits have a reputation for it.

A recent survey even suggested that on average we each spend the equivalent of four and a half months of their life talking about temperatures, sunshine and rain.

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A poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned on behalf of Bristol Airport, found the British stereotype of chatting about the weather is true, with the subject coming up three times in a typical day.

With each of these conversations about the temperature, sunshine or rain lasting just under three minutes, that amounts to almost ten minutes a day or an hour of each week spent speaking about the weather.

As it's changeable at the drop of a hat, there's always something going on to chat about and it's long been considered a safe topic for small talk as it's common ground that is non-threatening.

We all know that in Britain, you can be basking in glorious sunshine one day and battling torrential rain the next. And just when you think it's safe to pack the winter coat away for another year, there is a sudden dip in temperature and out it comes again.

For the residents of places where it is possible to rely on the elements, the weather is of little concern. Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles are said to have some of the most predictable temperatures and levels of sunshine.

There is something about knowing the weather that is comforting as it means that, unless the forecast is terribly wrong,you are unlikely to be caught out wearing inappropriate clothing or have plans ruined.

My weather monitoring has stepped up a gear during the past week as I'm heading to Edinburgh for the weekend with a long to-do list of outdoor activities such as a walk to Arthur's Seat and wandering around the labyrinth of cobbled streets in the Old Town.

Deciding what to pack would usually depend on the forecast but with an unsettled outlook for the days ahead, being prepared for every possibility is probably a better move.

After all, Scotland is said to be a place where it's possible to experience all four seasons in one day.

But, as the well-known saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.

I'm off to pack my weekend bag - mustn't forget the suncream or my waterproof!

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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