After the wonderful flurry of early summer sporting occasions and seemingly bottomless bottles of Cotes de Provence Rose, August can often feel a smidgen peculiar to an Englishman.
Historically England’s hottest month, it is also the time that London’s sun-seekers leave their homes for the white sands of Ibiza or the azure sea of Capri.
As beautiful as England looks under the clean, crisp August sun rest assured that the Mediterranean coast trumps it.
That said, there is strong case for staying in London and holidaying earlier or later in the year. There is the financial advantage of cheaper travel and accommodation in the off season – the timing of school holidays mean that in August the travel agents have the family market over a barrel and that means higher prices.
As a bachelor I can take advantage of the lower prices by holidaying when I want. Avoiding the raucousness of families and children is an added bonus.
I am a simple chap on holiday – and in life I hear you say – preferring to relax with a glass of something cold with a plate of something local, preferably by sea. Needless to say, the accompaniment of a Mother and child competing to shout loudest is low on my hotel pre-requisites.
Right ho, I digress from my point about August. While all and sundry are checking the internet for the best ‘all-inclusive’ deal to the Costa del Sol, I am dreaming of peaceful London, even if it can be a disgustingly humid one.
For me, August in England is a cricket-filled joy, notwithstanding the ghastly return of soccer to the back pages.
I rejoice as the lawns and Royal Parks turn that unique ever-so-singed hue of the second week of Wimbledon, the birds bathe excessively and the dog is too lazy to give them chase.
For the footloose bachelor the opportunities are legion. The pavements, for example, become a runway for imagination where one can dither and daydream without the fear of an overzealous walker battling for space. Transport becomes less of bun-fight and almost a pleasure to take.
The Royal Parks, London’s verdant oases of calm, can at times be overrun by impromptu drinks parties or sporting contests, large picnics, sunbathing ladies (although you won’t hear many complaints from here), angry swans and some crazy cats on roller-skates. It can be rather overwhelming and a dark padded cell seems all the more appealing.
Yet, in the high days of August the parks are certainly a place to visit with a bottle of something fizzy and the usual hamper of treats – pork pie, cucumber sandwiches, chutney with cheese, and smoked salmon on rye – and waste an afternoon.
If the temperature rises as a quick a meerkat from its trench, then a paddle in a fountain without toddlers snapping at ones heels like angry terrapins is just the tonic.
Or, there is, of course, the splendid option of grabbing a little rowing boat and channelling one’s inner Ratty and Moley on the Serpentine; this is infinitely more appealing when one has the run of the lagoon to oneself.
Away from the grass and the water the bars and restaurants are sparse but full of the right sort of chaps. Libations are served cold and filled to the brim with ice, likewise the food, even the soup. An early evening stiffener at the local, perhaps to the backdrop of televised cricket, is often joined by a random garrulous soul at the bar who talks of the weather and the greatness of James Anderson. There is no rush to leave as the need for a dinner reservation is deliciously low.
The pavements of Kensington or Fulham radiate with the day’s heat and a gentle hum of low-revved engines juxtapose with the horns and disquiet of the day. One picks the restaurant form the specials on the A-frame or the availability of an outside space. A post-prandial stroll is an evening must.
I am, dear readers, unable to resist the temptation to resist the temptation to laugh at those of you seek warmer climes in August and that includes those of you who look for the British beaches.
However, I shan’t chuckle too proudly otherwise my empty walk to the thinned out bars will become only a thing of memory. So silently I raise a glass of Cotes de Provence Rose to London in August.