Maybe it’s because I hail from the desert and bask in the glory of a gloomy rainy day, maybe it’s the lack of green space in said desert, or maybe it’s a totally different cultural experience, but it’s so interesting to me to see that the slightest ray of sunshine and jacket-optional weather brings every Brit in sight out to the parks.
Last weekend, my friends and I had our first group picnic of the season when we made our way to the Thames for the Oxford v Cambridge rowing races with bottles of wine and snacks in tow. TBH, I was there for the company and to people-watch, but it was genuinely so fun and relaxing (also shoutout to all my friends for dressing for the occasion and looking SUPER CUTE). I was in London the summer of 2015 and had similar park experiences nearly every day I wasn’t in class or at work, heading to a shady spot in Kensington Gardens with a book or my laptop to type up a paper without the distraction of wifi.
Clearly, Brits are not alone in taking advantage of the good weather as my friends and I take every opportunity to walk through the park or opt to lay in the grass and chat in lieu of sitting in a coffee shop (jokes, we make time for both). People take picnicking v seriously here, bringing mass amounts of food and bottles of champagne in everything from tote bags to proper picnic baskets. It truly amazes me how quickly everyone makes their way to the park, but what astounds me more is how many of them find a spot and immediately begin removing clothing to get a tan. This actually gives me anxiety because a) I’m certain 90% of them are not wearing sunscreen and b) you shouldn’t be out in direct sunlight like that anyway with all the damage your skin suffers with extended sun exposure. Also, my mom drilled the dangers of sun exposure throughout my entire life, so I’m always packing SPF.
Again, I come from a desert, so I’ve had enough sun in my life, which is why I observe from the shade. I just find it so funny that the parks are full of sun bathers, snackers and sports enthusiasts from now until about September. Back home, we don’t have many parks and even then, it’s too hot to stay out without shade as long as the Brits do, so canopies and later hours are the busier times. Even then, you’d never see so many people enjoying the parks, and I’m not sure why that is? Maybe it’s because you dont’ get the chance to read outside with Kensington Palce (or any other royal establishment) in your line of vision? I get the appeal of heading to park at any time, and definitely more so during the warmer months because it’s fun, it’s free and you have a good chance to take advantage of the beautiful parks scattered around a very busy and industrial London. It makes sense, just please practice proper sun protection; you’ll thank me when you’re older.