Roses bloom in the warm sunshine in the elegant Georgian surroundings of Park Square, Leeds and we can hardly believe our luck – the temperature is balmy, you can actually plan a barbecue or a picnic a couple of days hence and, hard to believe, I know, but Wimbledon has had a full week of play uninterrupted by rain.
The British, sometimes unfairly, are regarded as a nation of grumblers – we love to complain, and particularly about the weather, but when it is warm and sunny it feels like all is well with the world. (Until it goes on for too long and then there is an opportunity to moan about drought conditions...)
At the moment, though, we are still loving it and it certainly changes people’s outlook. There is a spring in the step of office workers striding along the city streets into work – some of them are even smiling – and the temptation to stop off, before heading into the office, at some pavement coffee bar, of which there are plenty around Leeds, is tough to resist.
Many will give in to that impulse after work, streaming into the beer gardens and waterside outdoor spaces of the pubs and bars of the city.
But how comfortable are we Brits with al fresco living? A nation of home bodies used to a cold climate, our lives tend to revolve around indoor social activities and we feel oddly self-consciousness and exposed when the weather invites us to do our socialising ‘en plein air’.
The Europeans have got the business of outside living down to a fine art. The Italians have the evening ‘passegiata’ or stroll – basically an excuse for immaculately dressed beautiful young people to parade themselves in front of other immaculately dressed beautiful young people, while the French are old hands at café society – a heady combination of weighty intellectual discussion on a bistro terrace and copious amounts of red wine. The problem is we Britons can never properly relax into the habit of stylish outdoor living because we can’t ever quite believe the weather’s going to last and, generally, it doesn’t. My advice is – let’s just enjoy it while we can.
* Technical details: Nikon D3s Camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 125th sec at f13, iso 100.