“Happy Longest Day of The Year” Day

Summer_Solstice_Sunrise_over_Stonehenge_2005

June 21st 2013 celebrates the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year. It also marks the beginning of summer for those in the northern hemisphere. Here’s some information on the event and a few fun things that you can do to honour the occasion!

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two solstices per year- the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. A solstice is an astronomical phenomenon, whereby the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky relative to the celestial equator. The term comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

The Summer Solstice takes place during a hemisphere’s summer, which means that Europe, North America, Asia and parts of Africa celebrate the occasion between the 20th and 22nd of June, while those in Australia, South America and Antarctica mark their Summer Solstice between the 20th and 23rd of December each year.

It is also referred to as the longest day of the year (for those in the northern hemisphere), as the event occurs on the day which has the longest period of daylight. For those south of the equator it is simultaneously the shortest day of the year with the least sunlight.

For those of us who thought that winter would never end, June 21st marks a special day: the start of summer! So, as a way to celebrate the date, we’ve compiled a short list of some fun things to do this Summer Solstice. See how many you will do and remember to enjoy the extra daylight (and sunshine!)

1. Cook outside / BBQ

2. Plant a tree

3. Go camping

4. Make a birdfeeder

5. Go swimming

6. Sit outside and read a book

7. Fly a kite

8. Eat some ice-cream

9. Take a trek up a hill / mountain

10. Watch the sun set

Packing sucks

young woman standing on over packed suitcase in bedroom

Since when did I start to dislike packing? Most people hate it, but I used to love it when I was younger. I used to help my mum pick out which clothes we would bring and it used to be pre-holiday game. It would build up excitement levels and get me in such a good mood. I used to look forward to getting out the suitcases and throwing open the wardrobe doors to select the lucky items of clothing which would accompany us on our travels.

Packing used to signify summer clothing, because we usually traveled abroad to Majorca, and as you may know the weather there is slightly better than what we would be used to in good ol’ Ireland. At home, even in the summer you wore your winter clothes. The odd day when the rain stopped for long enough to let a little peep of the sun shine through people went mad and lost all logic. Shorts were worn, string-tops and flip-flops saw the light of day again after three consecutive years in the wardrobe; basically we lost the run of ourselves altogether. People got sunburned and thought this was great as it looked cosmopolitan (it actually looked more like we were trying to impersonate the Polish flag: red and white).

The key to dressing weather-appropriate in Ireland should be this: layers. Start off the day by wearing numerous layers (a t-shirt, cardigan, jeans, a light blazer and an anorak). As the day progresses take off/put on additional layers as required; for example when it stops raining, remove the anorak. When the sun comes out, throw off the blazer and cardigan, and swap the jeans for shorts. When it begins to rain a minute later, add a pair of thermal tights. Etc. Etc.

But I am going off the point at which this post is aimed, to wit, packing. I used to see packing as the beginning of a summer adventure; I now see packing as my mother used to see it: a tedious task involving far too much thinking and far too little alcohol. Last night I was trying to throw a few bits into my suitcase to bring home. I should mention I am going home for just under four days. As of this morning, my suitcase will not close. I have not finished packing yet.

Where’s the alcohol?

I didn’t even think I had too many (unnecessary) items packed into my small case. It’s one of those cases that are supposed to fit in the overhead lockers of the plane, and it is currently looking like it is about to have a suitcase-aneurism. If it bursts at the airport later and I am left surrounded by a mound of my own dirty washing, I will just nonchalantly walk away from said mound as though I have no idea how it came to be there. I am trés cool like that.

So yes, my case is mostly full of washing. My mum said if I brought it home, she would wash things for me and have everything dried and ironed before I went back. I think you can all see now why I love my mum so much. I have been doing washing here for the last seven weeks straight and I’m sick of it. There is also no means for me to dry my clothes other than in the shower. I am used to having a clothes-line at my disposal; having to hang jeans up, then remove them a while later to have a shower, and then put them back up again so that they dry in under a week is starting to grate on my nerves. I forgot I had a top hanging over the shower railing one morning and because I was half asleep I just had a shower and washed my top again… this time with shampoo. Oh the joys of living in an apartment.

Anyway, I’m trying to get away without having to check-in any luggage for my flights, so I will use my suitcase as hand-luggage and my laptop case as my handbag. The laptop bag is another hot mess. It contains not only my laptop, but other such vital items as my actual handbag, make-up (I want to look fabulous when I land), phone/laptop/camera chargers and sweets for my work-colleagues at home/me if I get hungry on the flight.

Seriously, when did packing become such a nightmare? And has anyone any other suggestions for ways to get your suitcase to close, when sitting on it doesn’t work? Gott in Himmel, save me!