Don’t forget to slap on the all-important cream

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If after the weekend you’re still sporting shoulders that are slightly crisp around the edges, then I am here to tell you, you’re not alone.

In true British style last week the weather went from cold and damp to hotter than the Bahamas overnight – the weather Gods do like to keep us on our toes.

There is a point every year when we get caught out by the sun’s abrupt arrival and last week was it. All of a sudden our children are shiny and white from layers of factor 50 and we have to think about sun hats and sandals.

I love this time, when you can start packing away your winter clothes full of optimism that the months ahead will be all about sunshine and shorts, happily in denial of the disappointment that will inevitably ensue.

It was a welcome change to have such consistent lovely weather without needing to apprehensively carry around clothing for a variety of different climate changes in one day, as if we had suddenly been transported to the Mediterranean without having to drag around a suitcase or deal with any tedious queues at customs.

Britons nationwide popped open the Pimms and dusted off their barbecues. Burgers and sausages were consumed by the millions, many of which by me.

Other countries – those who are perhaps used to seeing the sun on a more regular basis – seem a lot more savvy when the sun shines. In this country it is such a welcome surprise that we tend to go a bit crazy at the thought of our legs being a slightly less opaque shade of white and what follows is a spectacle of red raw arms and strap marks. We’re a patriotic bunch; you give us an extra two days off and we’ll recreate St George’s flag on our shoulders.

You would think with all the information about skin cancer we would lead our children by example by wearing appropriate sun cream ourselves, but many of us seem to have annual amnesia about how strong the sun can be – albeit infrequently – or choose instead the burn-now-tan-later approach to sunbathing. We’re a bit simple at times bless us – we know we shouldn’t but we do it anyway and you can easily identify who these people are by a sharp slap on the back.

Even if you choose not to protect yourself, it’s essential to make sure the kids are creamed up, especially before school where they’ll spend their lunch hour out in the midday sun.

Kids generally don’t take too kindly to being smeared in cream and trying to get sun block on a child can be a fairly traumatic experience with cries of ‘not on my face’ resounding unanimously across the city. It also makes them extremely slippery to get hold of and inevitably ends up all over everything.

Still, it’s important to persevere – while skin cancer is rare in children, overexposure highly increases their chances of getting it in later life, plus I’m sure there are no fun times to be had around a child with sunburn.

In any case, I’m sure by the time you read this it will be cold and damp again and the shorts will be relegated to the bottom of the wardrobe for a few more weeks.