After living in Malta for two years now, I’m going to try to explain the main differences between living here and England. This week I’m going to start with the most obvious, the big yellow hot thing in the sky…the Sun!
It’s no secret to those that know me that I adore the sun, I’ve been burnt to bits in many countries across the world and the lure of hot weather was my main reason for moving to Malta. As a typical Englishman abroad, if there is a chance to top up the tan I will find it. From choosing the sunny side of the road to walk, to facing the sun when having a coffee or a few shandies, after more than 40 years of vitamin D deprivation, I’m on a mission to make up for lost time.
Unfortunately the UK isn’t blessed with the greatest weather, for me it’s too cold in Winter, just about sufferable in Spring, predictable in its disappointment throughout Summer and miserable in Autumn. In winter most will find themselves going to work in the dark and returning in the dark, what sort of life is that??
Although it probably doesn’t rain as much as many perceive, the sky is generally grey even in Summer, the same as battleships and not a colour normally associated with fun and happy times.
In the rare instances that the UK is blessed with a prolonged spell of reasonably hot and pleasant weather, the madness truly begins! For those not working there is the rush to the coast, creating huge traffic jams just to see the same sun that can be found in their own gardens. Then there’s the dash to the supermarkets before their complete BBQ range is cleared out, by all the other stress heads determined to capitalize on the rare opportunity to eat outside.
After making sure everyone is aware of their plight, those who have to work are constantly checking health and safety regulations, to find the temperature needed for them to be sent home. I remember working with someone who in between moaning, used to put cold wet tissues on the back of his neck through the fear of fainting. Luckily we were only working in an office, so he always managed to survive the day.
In Malta it’s very different. The sun is out most days throughout the year and it’s only the season that dictates whether you are classed as a ‘tourist’ or not for wearing shorts.
Yes at times in Summer it does get really hot and getting motivated to do anything other than have an ice cream is hard. My first Summer here we had a full on heat wave, even hotter than the one we have now! But the Maltese culture appears to be very understanding of this and if it isn’t done today, it can be done tomorrow or the day after…or whenever you want really.
In winter it does get cold (by Maltese standards) and the wind can produce some pretty amazing waves, not ideal if you have a boat but I’m not lucky enough to have one. The houses are also not really designed for colder weather but it’s easily resolved by wearing a hoodie and tracksuit trousers, not a huge sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.
I suppose with such heat it’s no surprise to find that many Maltese prefer the cooler months to Summer, some even saying they would love to live in England. Although I’m sure that the novelty factor plays a big part in this, I can assure you it will soon wear off and you are far better over here. If it was that great in England, so many English wouldn’t be living here.
I’ve spoken to many people from around the world who have all visited England and many get it spot on, when it comes to the impact the sun has in the UK. In England when the sun isn’t out (most days), people walk with their heads down, ignoring each other and are generally miserable. When the sun is out it’s the complete opposite, sun roofs open, white vests on, people smiling, everyone is your best friend and generally acting like they have won the lottery!
Recently I have been spending Friday evenings after a busy week’s work, having a couple of ‘shandies’ with some of my English friends. Every week without fail we take our sun facing seats, have our first sip and without prompting and almost in unison claim ‘this is the life’. Some may see it as a bit sad but after spending so many years in England, for us it really is.
The biggest difference that the sun makes to my life, is the ability to plan things in advance without the fear of the weather ruining my plans. I know that on Sundays I will go to the beach, this weekend I have a BBQ and in a couple of week’s time I have an event that will be reliant on the sun. Am I concerned that my plans will be ruined by the weather? Not in the slightest!
For me the main by-product of the sun is the happiness that goes with it, which in a time of seemingly such negativity across the world can’t be such a bad thing.