Monday, 20 August 2012

Red-hot in Surrey....

Phew! I’m hot, I’m very hot. From morning to night, for the past five days, I have been slowly turning into a pile of H2O combined with perspired mineral. Well, not quite. My fingers are intact and still connected to my brain. Yes, there are a zillion ‘how to stay cool in steamy weather’, blogs out there. But moving into a Moorish-style palace complete with cooling tower is not an option for most of us. And I reckon that by the time you have purchased the fans and ice cube-filled plastic sacks, your anatomy has expended enough energy to power a mobile air conditioning unit. So, I’ve decided to sit tight and explore the virtues of those folk who routinely get steamed up for health reasons – that’s right, the Finns. The word ‘sauna’ is actually Finnish. Aeons ago, these clever people dug pits in the ground and used them as winter dwellings. They lit fires that heated stones, and sprinkled water on the stones to make the living space warm enough to shed their clothes. Slapping with birch twigs happened later on, when the sauna and the living space had parted company. But even in the earlier days, the Finns were smart enough to know that it was not good to keep one’s clothes on for the duration of their harsh winters. And they were certainly aware of the therapeutic effects of mild, artificially-induced fevers, skin-cleansing and raising the body’s immune system against viruses – it can’t be a coincidence that we get fewer colds in summer than in winter. They have another custom, that of jumping into an ice-cold lake afterwards. I will explore that one day. Meanwhile, enjoy the balmy, end-of-summer days.

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