Summer Love-In: Accepting The Truth

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And we're back to the Summer Love-In. Today, I am so happy to bring you the lovely Lauren McGlynn. Lauren also featured in my first Blog Love post, but since writing that I have been lucky enough to hang out with Lauren a couple of times and I can exclusively reveal that she is, without doubt, adorable. Like Lucy, she is an extremely talented photographer and, like Lucy, she has really nice hair. I don't know how she feels about Party Rings though.

When Lauren's post landed in my inbox it got me really excited about my holiday - her description of long, hot, carefree summers growing up in America had me itching to hop onto that plane to experience a little of it myself. Because, like Lauren, I know that what awaits me at home in Scotland is not exactly what most people would describe as "summer". Well, most people outside Scotland, that is.

And oh, the pictures - don't even get me started on the pictures...


Like most Caucasian Americans I grew up thinking that I was Irish. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 that my mother sat me down one day and explained that one of her cousins had done some research and discovered that we were not Irish after all. No, it turned out that we were Scottish, and also probably a little bit black. With a sigh of regret for my lost Irish heritage, I decided to embrace my newfound nationality and ethnicity by regularly scanning the ground for four leaf clovers and reading all of Toni Morrison’s books. The end result being that most of my friends now have dried four leaf clovers affixed to their drivers licenses, and I went through college as the whitest Scottish black girl to ever get a degree in African American studies (true story).


Fortunately by the time I met Aidan (my Scottish now-husband) I had already caught on to what a faux pas it is to tell Scottish people “Hey you’re Scottish? I’m Scottish!” and had resigned myself to identifying as boring old American (though I was still Scottish in my heart). I did tell him about my talent for finding four leaf clovers, but somehow he was not impressed. Even so, only a few months into our relationship he invited me to come back to Scotland with him, and I enthusiastically accepted.


Like any good Scottish girl traveling back to her native land I wanted to look my best, and so I packed: two pairs of strappy sandals, three strappy sundresses, one skirt, lots of tank tops, my bathing suit, some sun screen, and one sweater (just in case). It WAS June after all, but I discovered two things very quickly: a) I am unequivocally American, and b) I was going to spend the next two weeks being very, very, very cold.

Amelia cools off

Fast forward four years and I now live in Scotland. It’s June, I’m wearing a sweater, and I am still very cold. What’s more impressive is that Scottish people seem live in a chronic state of denial over how cold they must be. Just the other day I went into a shop and the owner told me “Oh it’s just roasting!” and it was only 68F/20C degrees. I am sorry but that is crazy talk. I used to think that it was cute when I would come for a visit and all of Aidan’s relatives would exclaim over how lucky I was that it was so “hot” for the duration of my stay whilst simultaneously heaping more coal onto the fire. I thought it was cute, until I realized that they were being serious. I now see these exclamations for what they really are: DENIAL. While I hate to be a killjoy, I think it’s high time that we all come to terms with the fact that it never actually gets hot in Scotland.


I have included some pictures with this post in order to try and demonstrate what summer and being hot looks like. Usually being hot involves wearing very little clothing and seeking out things like shade, or swimming holes, or margaritas. For instance you may think that it is hot because you are able to wear shorts, but I’m afraid that wearing shorts with tights underneath only counts as wishful thinking. No, my adorable Scotland-has-hot-weather-wannabes, being hot is when the only options for comfort are either lying in front of your air conditioner* in a catatonic state, or diving head first into very cold waters.


I am sure that immigration is never easy. Leaving family and friends behind is sad, but in some ways saying farewell to a familiar landscape and culture is even more disconcerting. I count myself fortunate in that (for the most part) I am not facing a language barrier. But the weather... oddly enough the weather is the part that smarts the most. It’s not that I mind being cold. It’s just that I think that being cold should be relegated to a few alternating weeks in December and January.

Amelia and her potted plants

For me the hardest bit is imagining never being properly hot again, or going swimming after the sun goes down, or tubing with my friends down a mountain river. I wanted to teach my hopeful-future-children how to ride waves and float on their backs in the ocean, and afterwards I wanted to take them out for ice cream while their skin is still warm and glowing from over exposure to the sun. Here are the time honored American traditions that were passed down to me through the generations, but somehow I can already feel them being devoured by the icy waters of the North Sea.


*An air conditioner is a machine that makes the air cooler, you know for when it’s so hot that you want that to happen. If you think about it, it’s kind of the opposite of a cozy summertime coal fire.

15 boats moored

  1. What a great post.i snorted attractively on the train several times! The part about Americans being Irish/Scottish is so true-I'm Irish, my husband's Scottish and we got that a lot when we were in New York last year. The weather part is also so sadly true-whether in Ireland or Scotland unfortunately. Even now after all these years of Irish summers hope still remains that this will be the year when we actually get a proper summer-I dream of living somewhere with actual seasons and not just varying degrees of rain and cloud! Great post!

  2. Ladylike snorting from over here too. Fabulous photos, it is indeed wonderful to be reminded what hot looks like. I long for the seasons too, like I had when I lived in France. Who minds the snow in January when you know a) there will be so much of it you can go skiing and b) come March the sun will come back and shine on you. But I for one am glad you are on our shores Lauren, x

  3. Wow yeah... as a mexican living in Holland, I fully understand the "weather shock". Also... I was looking at my closet, and realized I do not have stuff to dress nicely. All of my "nice" stuff consists of t-shirts, a collection of summer dresses... which I am able to wear an average of 2 weeks per year. For the rest... I have sweaters, but being dressed in layers and layers is not cute. I do not know how to do it. Sometimes I am even cold while wearing tights. And as of 22 of June I still wear a sweater and a red coat. How do you dress cute and stay warm?

  4. Oh this post is simply marvellous. And the pictures make me catch my breath. As a kid, I spend one month in Idaho and know exactly the heat of which you speak, of tubing down the Snake River, of lying under the sprinkler, of running arounn in my swimming costume.

    I also know what you mean about fear that your kids not knowing something that made you who you are. It's a fear of mine, a big one. It's the blessing and the curse of marrying someone from a different culture, I think x

  5. I loved this post too! Well, I moved to Scotland from Eastern Europe (Poland), which isn't famous for hot weather, although we DO have a decent summer with temperatures from 25-35 degrees. So yes, I still have a cardboard box full of linen and cotton summer dresses that I only get to wear when I'm abroad. Although sometimes I like to embrace the Scottish weather denial, paint my toenails bright red and wear sandals. even if it means having goosebumps for the entire duration of wearing them:)

  6. Oh Lauren, don't worry your hopeful-future-children will be Scottish and they'll be hardy and think that a paddle in the North Sea in February is lovely.

    I spent all my childhood holidays on the North Wales coast, which is definitely warmer than Aberdeen but hardly tropical and they are very fond and only slightly chilly memories :)

  7. Thank you so much everyone! All of your encouragement is incredibly kind, and helpful. I'm in London at the moment, still cold, but I kind of think that I could maybe be persuaded to exchange hot summers for all of this culture. Maybe.

  8. Sigh... Those photos are pure summer gorgeousness.

  9. Come back to Texas! The lakes are super low, though, so I don't know how much fun they'd be; I'm afraid Travis might actually dry up this summer, the rain has been so scarce. If I could send you about 10F, would that help? It might keep us under 100F/38C and get you up to 70F/21C. (Oh, if only.)

    (And I don't know what party rings are, either.)

  10. Party Rings are sweet biscuit rings topped with colourful pastel icing. Favourites at children's parties in the 1980s. Small, but moreish..whole packets are known to disappear in Kirsty's hands (and mine too). In short, they are awesomeness in a some!

  11. I second everyone's comments - such a wonderful post, thank you so much Lauren. And your pictures are, as ever, stunning.

    Oh and I especially second Lucy - you should go and buy some Party Rings. Mmmmm...

  12. Meghan here from We Ski Slow (having some blogger issues at sign in)...

    Lauren, your photos are beyond stunning. BEYOND. And the sticky icky is definitely part of summer in my book. Your kids will know it, perhaps just on vacation, but they will.

  13. I couldn't agree more. When I was in Scotland for Kirsty's wedding, I took my daughters for a trip around the Bass Rock and was chatting with some old dear who was saying oh it's such a shame the weather's not nicer for you. I replied that it was okay by me, I'd seen the weather forecast for the DC area for that day and it was 105F / 41C, so cool was okay by me. She couldn't wrap her head around that.

  14. Great photos Lauren. As someone who visited the Highlands at the weekend and came back very pink skinned, I am not sure if the Scots could handle the heat you describe! Saying that next time your home feel free to bring back a little of the American sun shine to Scotland :-)


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