Kate Simon: From scorchio to squelchio – why I won't get burnt in Portugal
Sunday 18 April 2010
I'm just repacking my suitcase for our family holiday to the Algarve. Out go the flip-flops, in come the waterproofs. You see, I've just checked the five-day forecast for that part of the world and it predicts heavy showers followed by thunderstorms followed by more heavy showers – up until we step on the plane to go home. The word "disappointed" barely sums up the mood in our house as I write.
We thought the Algarve – right at the bottom of the Iberian Peninsula, within spitting distance of the North African coast – would be a good bet for sunshine at this time of year. We weren't expecting scorchio – but squelchio? Was it too much to ask for blue skies?
Yet, this isn't the first time we've been caught out by bad weather abroad during the Easter school holidays. A few years ago, we spent a week at this time of year enduring freak conditions in Sardinia. Within a day of arriving at our resort on the north coast of the Mediterranean holiday island, the wind picked up, black clouds closed in and freezing rain poured down. We learnt our lesson about leaving the coats and fleeces at home – which paid off a couple of years later when our Easter holiday in Sicily was similarly dogged by storms.
Truth is, the weather is always unpredictable in Europe at this time of year, even if you head to the southern reaches of the Continent. And, obviously, the earlier the Easter holidays fall, the dodgier your chances are of having a warm, sunny break.
A spokeswoman for the Met Office explained that the fine weather we're currently enjoying in Britain is to blame for the soggy prospects of our family's Algarve break. "The high pressure here means there's low pressure further south," she said. "Everything is shifting at this time of year, as the sun moves north, taking the jet stream with it, so it's a changeable time."
Still, we won't be alone in our misfortune. It's not just our family that sees Easter as the curtain-raiser to summer. Two million of us were due to head for the sun during the school holiday, according to the travel industry body Abta, which seized the moment to back Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign.
SunSmart seeks to promote awareness of UV exposure as a major cause of skin cancer and to reverse the upward spiral of the disease, and it has just released news that the baby boomers, now in their sixties and seventies, are more than five times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than their parents would have been 30 years ago.
The days when sunburn was seen as the first step to a good tan are now taking their toll.
The campaign's message is an important one: it recommends spending time in the shade between 11am and 3pm; making sure you never burn; covering up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses; remembering to take extra care with children's skin; and using sunscreen which has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
That's good advice – though I think there'll be little chance of us taking our coats off in the Algarve.
Got a travel issue? Email us at: email@example.com
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...