“Wild weather’s on the way” said the man on the radio this morning. Maybe it’s having a meteorologist dad, who taught me the names of the clouds when I was a little girl, but I’m a bit of an evangelist about embracing so-called “bad” weather. And especially at this time of year – when dramatic autumn storms hit our shores, carried across the Atlantic on the prevailing south westerly winds.
I’m sure we Brits don’t do enough to promote our interesting climate. Or maybe that should be “we English”. There’ve been some notable exceptions in Scotland and Wales (Visit Wales’ TV ad featuring the mud being cleaned from bikes at the end of a holiday springs to mind). But – by and large – England’s tourism marketers prefer to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to our changeable and unpredictable weather.
While I can see the downside to variety and unpredictability, it’s hardly something we should be hiding from. Instead of inter-destination contests about hours of sunshine, let’s stake our claim for cloud shadows racing across green fields and forests, half-naked trees dancing in high winds, choppy seas, and sudden shafts of sunlight breaking through grey skies.
We could learn a lot from the Irish when it comes to being proud of the weather-hand that Nature’s dealt us. It’s a matter of record that you’ll experience “four seasons in one day” in Ireland. And they didn’t get their “40 Shades of Green” for nothing. Working there over the last couple of years, I’ve seen more rainbows than in the rest of my life put together. That’s one of the reasons I’ve started holidaying there too. I love the Irish word “soft” to describe those days that are grey, overcast … drizzly even – the sort of gentle, misty days when you want to hunker down by a turf fire with a pint of the black stuff. Which in tourism terms is just fine to my mind.
This year we’ve been working with national tourism development agency Fáilte Ireland on their new Wild Atlantic Way initiative – a stunning 2,400 km route that hugs the coast from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south. We’re helping to tell the story to international visitors. At the story’s heart is the drama and beauty caused by those amazing Atlantic weather fronts hitting this far edge of Europe. It’s yet to be fully launched to consumers, but it’s going down a storm with travel trade and media.
Which makes me all the more sure we need to tell it how it is in Britain too: tell tourists to be prepared to wrap up well (“there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes”, as the saying goes) … and in return we’ll light the fires, put the kettle on and be waiting with the warmest of welcomes.