Scottish Spring: four seasons in one day

Thursday this week was officially the first day of Spring. It is admittedly a beautiful season. It starts to get warmer, the sun starts to come out, daffodils bloom, there’s a certain smell in the air that makes you want to be outside as much as possible, it’s lighter earlier in the morning and lighter later at night. All these things are delightful, really.

But when you live in Scotland, spring can be a bit of a gamble. You could very well be getting all the loveliness: the sun and the higher temperature, and the increased light. But at the same time, you could also be getting hail stones, torrential rain and sleet. And this could all be within the space of half an hour. You can be walking along with your jacket off and your sunglasses in one minute, and your hood up and your feet drenched the next. There’s not much point in getting your umbrella out most of the time, as the wind will just destroy it. A few weeks ago we had temperatures of 17 degrees Celcius and sun, and last Saturday it rained for the best part of 10 hours. Today I was out for a walk and had to wear my wooly hat.

I’ve momentarily regretted the decision to move here, more than once, during a spring downpour, in my first few years of living in Scotland. I remember being rained on unexpectedly, hit on the face by hail stones and then scorched by the sun that emerged 3 minutes later. However, this is my eighteenth Spring in Scotland. I am no longer a novice. I know the deal, and I am prepared.

Spring in Scotland is a series of taking your jacket off and putting it back on again, putting your sunglasses on and taking them off again, hood on, hood off, gloves on, gloves off, wooly hat on, wooly hat off, and repeat all over again. It really is that old clichè of four seasons in one day. And this used to really disturb me in my younger years.

But after eighteen springs, I feel like I have built up a little tolerance, and learnt a few tricks on how to survive and even enjoy the spring here. My three most important pearls of wisdom for Scottish Spring are:

1 Waterproof clothes and shoes

I’m sure I’ve written this before and I can’t stress it enough. A good waterproof jacket and waterproof footwear will make the world of difference. The Swedes do say “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” While I cant wholeheartedly agree with the first part, the second part is right on the money! Get the right clothes (and shoes) and you will survive the spring shower unscathed, and be ready to enjoy the sunny spell that follows.

2. Choose your moment

There are so many weather apps that do a great job at predicting weather these days. Granted, they can get it wrong, but they can also give you a bit of an idea of what’s going on. Failing that, you can read the sky. It gets ominously dark when it’s about to pour, so don’t go out for your walk just then. Wait till it’s cleared and grab the dry spell when you can. I remember my South African friend Noel saying that there was hardly ever a day that she couldn’t go out for her walk when she lived here. She just had to wait for the right moment. I’m with her on that.

3. Layers layers layers

I was caught out today at the Botanical gardens, as I did not have enough layers. So after being outside for more than an hour, I got cold. Thankfully I had my wooly hat with me. But it’s key in spring that you layer up. A light layer, at least one extra layer that you can put on top, a jacket, gloves, a hat. That way you can take things on and off, according to the changes.

So there you have it. Enjoy the spring wherever you are, and please let me know what your best Spring tips are!