The weather forecast on the screen in front of me is showing that rain and high winds are ‘probable’ tomorrow afternoon. It says we can expect at least one hour of rain and winds of up to 30 kilometres per hour.
Tomorrow afternoon a group of us are having a picnic on the shore of Óbidos lagoon. This is not because we’ve missed the forecast. It is because we have all spent enough time in England to know that weather forecasts do not apply to us.
We will take precautions like raincoats and a very large tarpaulin but secretly in all our hearts we will be expecting it to be one of those miraculous afternoons when the sun breaks through and shines down on the exact spot we have chosen to make our stand and defy the weather.
I am as romantic about picnics as anyone who has ever coveted one of those ludicrously impractical wicker hampers with leather straps holding piles of dinky plates and cups. I particularly like the ones that come with bespoke salt and pepper sets but maybe that is something I should be discussing with my counsellor.
Anyway the point I am making is that I’m not knocking this idea in any way. I love picnic madness. I’m packing for war – charcoal, barbecues, rope, groundsheet, stout stakes, shrink-wrapped matches, fire lighters and a serious man-sized club hammer (some might call it a mallet but that is a word for effete hobbyists and not one I allow into my anti-weather armoury).
But I can’t help indulging in a reality check and imagine how we might explain this to aliens or even our own European neighbours. We all have perfectly good homes to go to with fully equipped kitchens, DVDs for the kids, music for the atmos, fridges for the beer and wine, heating, and comfortable seating on which there is absolutely no chance of getting sand caught in awkward places.
Yet tomorrow we will wrap up warm, lock the doors on all that comfort and head out into the wind and rain to stand with wet bread in our hands and rain dripping down our backs. And even in that moment of supreme sogginess we will still be watching and waiting for the sun to break through. Bring it on. It’s the kind of craziness that makes it great to be alive.