Billy Connolly says: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.”
In the summer of 2009, Jem and I walked 110 miles of the Pennine Way with everything we needed on our backs. We carried tent, sleeping gear, cooking equipment… and thankfully, we had great weather for most of our ‘holiday’. The first night, though – just beyond Blenkinsopp Common – it rained, and the sound of rain on canvas cannot, in my opinion and that of many others, be beaten. Tucked up in your sleeping bag, knowing everything is safe and dry, you can relax and let it lull you to sleep. The second advantage of the rain on that particular night was that the ground we were camping on was not remotely porous and we had our own, free waterbed for the night. I have seldom been more comfortable.
The following morning I was less enraptured by the fact that it still hadn’t stopped. We had to don all-over waterproofs, pack away a soggy tent (which weighs considerably more, Jem will tell you), and tramp off through the mud. We couldn’t get our Kelly Kettle lit for a much-needed cup of tea until, desperate, we dropped a tealight in the fire. That cup of tea was the best I’ve ever had.
But once you have acclimatised to the constant wet, and when you are warm enough, with a packet of chocolate digestives for emergencies and a new gas cylinder for your stove, the great, wild outdoors becomes the most beautiful place in the rain. Other people stay indoors, unwilling to brave it, so you feel like you’re alone on this uncontrollable, unpredictable planet.
But it needn’t be anything as dramatic as that, either.
7 a.m. when you really want to be in bed. Open the front door and the heat of the day is just revving into gear. But overnight it has rained. The world looks clean and shiny and new again and the air is full of that unique and unmistakeable slightly metallic smell that always follows nature’s purge.
I love the rain.