I have been noting, with great resentment, that Sydney and other parts of Australia has been having a near ‘Arctic’ cold snap of late, while I have been in Europe experiencing the opposite.
As I write this it is 30 degrees in Paris, 38 tomorrow, and I just left a 34-degree Milan. None of that is pretty, especially me. I was unprepared for the Paris temperatures.
I began my travels in Iceland, which I was expecting to be, I dunno, icy, and Reykjavik was 27 and sunny. I sat clammily in the bright sun drinking white wine wearing a thick navy cable knit sweater and white fur boots, while the rest of Iceland stripped down to shorts and T-shirts.
My new cashmere beanie lay forlorn in my suitcase. I couldn’t even bear touching one of those scratchy but fab Icelandic sweaters, lopapeysa, that all the best detectives wear, let alone pull one over my head.
I then went to Greenland, the actual ‘Arctic’, and pulled out my puffers and thermals and gloves and socks and it was 23 degrees on the snow. All I needed was sunblock.
I’ve officially felt boiling hot since I turned 54 and it’s not going away. I long to feel cold. I sleep under ceiling fans and set the air-conditioning to a balmy 17 when I am in hotels. I chose the North Pole as a possibly temperate holiday destination. Clearly, I picked the wrong month.
A hot Paris is something else. I had packed jeans and light day coats, and ankle-skimming dresses with long sleeves, and velvet pants and jersey track pants and none of these were appropriate, as the perspiration pooled under my eyes, and I went through another packet of facial blotting papers.
I looked at what all the other tourists were wearing: jean shorts, singlet tops and health sandals. No matter what their shape or size or skin tone, they were in skimpy separates without a care in the world.
But I can’t do that. I just don’t go sleeveless, and I don’t wear shorts. Not since I was about 10. It’s pure vanity, and something that means I am always slightly to uncomfortably hot in most summery situations, which is very un-Australian of me.
I bought a white linen shirt to wear with my jeans, but note to self, long-sleeved linen shirts do not keep you cool. Maybe a short-sleeved one would, but that is also not a silhouette I would contemplate.
When I got to stifling hot Milan, I had to accept I had nothing suitable to wear, so I found a lovely multi-coloured Indian cotton caftan in a tiny boutique on the via Santa Marta, which looks a bit Marni if you squint.
Italian women really nail that boho look – elegant print caftans teamed with lovely sandals, woven shopping bags and great sunglasses – so I took their lead.
I sometimes wonder if there is a time, and an age, where you just say, ‘Oh, **** it! Who cares? I’m going to wear a cotton singlet and cut-off jeans and let everything hang out’.
Most of the world seems to be able to do it. But I can’t just yet. Please turn the air con up.