Summer hacks: 20 ways to make the most of the heatwave

The sun is finally out time to quit your job and become a full-time Pokmon hunter. Failing that, bunk off, play ping-pong, fry an egg outdoors or just have a nap

That big, round, bright thing in the sky? Its called the sun, and for the next week it should be hanging around. You will, of course, have forgotten what to do in this rare event, so weve handily compiled a reminder.

Have a nap

It is what the experts (people who actually live in hot countries, who dont go deranged once the temperature reaches 26C and start compiling lists of things to do) have known for millennia. Chances are youre sleep-deprived about 46% of British women have said they have trouble sleeping, and 36% of men so take a siesta to catch up. One study, by the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians, suggested that a daily half-hour nap could reduce stress, and improve productivity and cardiovascular functions.

Fry an egg somewhere hot

Try a car bonnet rather than a pavement Photograph: Straublund Photography/Getty Images

The idea that you can fry an egg on a hot pavement (or sidewalk, really, since this seems to be an American thing) is an enduring one. According to the US Library of Congress, it is theoretically possible but pretty unlikely. To cook an egg, the temperature needs to be a minimum of 70C, and concrete pavements dont get that hot not even in Death Valley in the US, where officials have asked people to stop cracking eggs in the car park. You would have better luck trying to fry an egg on the bonnet of a car, since metal is a far better heat conductor.

Go wild

Wild camping in Glen Elchaig, Scotland. Photograph: Andy Leader Images

Youve ditched your smartphone for an analogue phone to demonstrate how overwhelmed you are by other peoples need to contact you or follow you on your various social media platforms (and, therefore, how important you are). The next logical step is to go off-grid. Rewilding is a buzzword to watch and basically involves, as far as I can tell, people who have never got close to a mud-spattered carrot going all Ray Mears. Or attaching the word wild to other words, instantly rendering them cooler. Which is not to say that a few hours or days spent in the countryside isnt totally glorious. Go swimming outdoors there are numerous books and websites (try that list lakes, ponds and gorges to explore. Free camping, or wild camping, where you trudge up a mountain/dive into a forest and pitch your tent, is mostly legal in Scotland, but not in England and Wales, though it is often tolerated (ask permission first) or, you know, never discovered.

Quit your job and become a Pokmon trainer

Its not an established career move, but it seems to be working for a man in New Zealand. Tom Currie, a 24-year-old barista, loved the gaming app Pokmon Go so much he resigned from his job in an Auckland coffee shop to become a full-time Pokmon hunter. This mainly seems to involve posting pictures of himself with his caught creatures on Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, in the US, Pokemon trainers have advertised their services on Craigslist. If you cant resign from work, Pokmon Go will at least get you out of the house.

Go on a march

Remain supporters at a rally in London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

You know what makes you even angrier about Brexit? Being angry about Brexit while standing next to lots of other hot, angry people in the heat. And marching. One group, Movement for Europe, is staging protests across 16 cities on Saturday.

Hold a jumble trail

There is something so nakedly commercial and competitive about a car boot sale. If youre a buyer, you have to elbow other people past old Amstrad video phones and towers of Andy McNab books to get to the good stuff. If youre a seller, you are at the mercy of market forces and have to drop your prices accordingly. Worst of all, you have to get out of bed really early. A jumble trail seems a kinder prospect, even if the same intent is to make cash people on a street, or in an area, set up stalls of unwanted junk outside their houses. Find out whether a trail is happening near you (visit or set one up yourself. You get to know your neighbours, and make money after that epic KonMari declutter. They are so cosy and community-minded that a jumble trail even featured on the Archers recently.

Avoid children

This week is your last chance to escape kids. Photograph: Moof/Getty Images/Cultura RF

Most schools break up by the end of this week, so if you want to try to minimise how much time you have to spend around other peoples children this summer, this is the week to do it. Failing that, seek out adult-only spaces rooftop bars, late-night museum openings, matinee performances of 15-certified films, no-kids campsites. Alternatively, stay in until September, you child-hating monster.

Bunk off work

Take a duvet day, though in summer I believe its called a clammy-sheet day. This is a sanctioned, no-questions-asked sickie when everyone knows youre not really ill. Some employers have started offering them as part of their employee wellbeing package, although most still dont. Concrete evidence is hard to come by, but companies who do have a duvet-day policy report higher employee satisfaction and lower absence rates.

Create an instant garden

Put plants in pots job done. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Gardening is the opposite of instant gratification, which is no good when youve neglected your patch all year and suddenly want to sit outside, but not amid the sad, empty pots and dishevelled plants. If you plant things now, they could flop in the heat they need a bit more coaxing into life and establishing before they look their best, says Frances Tophill, a gardener and TV presenter. But at this time of year, garden centres have their sales so get cheap annuals in containers and keep them in their pots, stick them all together so you cant see the pots, and make an instant garden. If youre prepared to spend a bit more, A bamboo isnt overly expensive and looks really big and leafy. A nice, big, established olive tree, with a gnarled trunk, looks amazing. For a budget version of that, there is an ornamental pear, which looks like an olive but is much cheaper. If youve been tending house plants, they can be taken outside to boost the greenery; keep plants well watered and do some weeding. It sounds obvious, she says, but mow the lawn. It automatically makes the garden look neater. But if you like a more wild look, or you have a lawn and cant be bothered to keep on top of it, mow a path through it it looks as though its meant to be like that.

Wear a kaftan

Kaftans , very summer 2016. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Because Vogue says so. On social media, a stream of style influencers Miroslava Duma, Poppy Delevingne and Yasmin Sewell have done much to popularise the kaftan, heralding it as an indispensable item that has the power to take you through summer to autumn and beyond. You can style your kaftan in a luxe, urban way according to Vogue, this involves fur-lined loafers, which dont sound great for summer, nor for the kangaroos (yes, really) who provided the pelts. Better to go with pool sliders (never flip-flops, which you will know are past it).

Go to summer camp

Not really part of the British experience, but still familiar to anyone who grew up reading Judy Blume books or watching 80s movies. In the US, where going to camp is part of childhood, adult summer camps have been springing up. One company, Camp No Counselors, is running 10 camps in the US and Canada this year, featuring nostalgic games and bunkbeds, but with alcohol and late nights, too. Start your own version with games of British Bulldog, rounders and a Noels House Party theme.

Start a food truck

A food truck in Crevin, western France. Photograph: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Got an idea for a brand new foodie mash-up, and a vintage horsebox to put it in? Already thought up a punning name? Able to write on a blackboard in a cool font? Youre more than halfway there. Until you realise you need things such as public liability insurance and hygiene training, environmental health registration, and other annoyances. Maybe one for next summer.

Count butterflies

Large blue butterfly, check. Photograph: Gary Chalker/Getty Images

The annual big butterfly count, the worlds largest survey of butterflies, started last week and runs until 7 August. Spot the winged creatures and feed the information back to the Butterfly Conservation organisation, to help it assess the species decline.

Rescue dogs from hot cars

Dogs a happier on the beach than in the car. Photograph: Joanna Cepuchowicz/Getty Images/EyeEm

Last year, the RSPCA received 8,779 calls reporting a dog trapped in a hot car. On a sunny day, temperatures inside a car can reach 47C, and a dog can die within minutes. If you see a dog and youre worried about it, call the police straight away, says a spokesperson for the RPSCA. You can always call us as well as the police, but its more likely that police can get there quicker. You cant really go around smashing peoples car windows, even though it would make you feel like an awesome vigilante, but if you think a dog is critical and about to die, the law will probably be on your side if you choose to do this. Get evidence first, say the RSPCA take pictures or video footage, get names and phone numbers for witnesses, and tell the police of your intentions when you call them. Take the dog to a shaded place, douse it with cool water and allow it small sips. Keep an eye out for the angry/grateful owner.

Do some exercise but not too much

Ping-pong, the perfect summer sport. Photograph: Michael Heffernan/Getty Images

Being active outdoors is one of lifes pleasures, but so is lazing around. This is not the week to discover Ironman training. Instead, find a miniature golf course, which is likely to have the benefit of being in a seaside town, or your nearest ping-pong table (for England, visit

Go underground

When the heat gets too much, retreat below ground. Two of the best recently opened subterranean adventures are Bounce Below, a former slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog, north Wales, which has been transformed into a playground of bouncy nets, tunnels and slides (and has a temperature of 10C), and the Fan Bay Deep Shelter in Dover, a network of tunnels and chambers excavated during the second world war. Excitingly, both attractions require the wearing of hard hats.

Enjoy some open-air culture

An open-air cinema on the beach. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Seek out pop-up outdoor cinemas, amble slowly around a sculpture park or visit an open-air theatre, without fear of being soaked by the end of the night. Best of all, if you get bored, you can sneak out without causing much of a disturbance.

Take up foraging

Samphire, best simply steamed. Photograph: Elisa Cicinelli/Getty Images

The summer months are the best times for coastal and estuary foraging, says forager Robin Harford. You can find samphire, which everyone knows about. Sea aster can be sauteed and is good with fish. You can find sea-blite, which you can cook similarly to samphire a steam is all it needs. Or you can have it raw in salads. Elsewhere, meadows and hedgerows are blooming. Chickweed is a salad plant that you can find on the edges of woodland and fields. You can find fat hen at the moment, growing wild in allotments and veg gardens, which you can saute or make into a pesto. Mallow flowers are really nice, and you can put them in salads. Meadowsweet flowers are good in sorbets or panna cottas. Then we have mugwort buds coming through, in meadows and hedgerows, which make a really nice jelly.

Make outdoor art

Im not saying go all Banksy, unless you are in fact Banksy. But there is more to outdoor art than spray-painting and running away from the police. The brilliant recent BBC4 documentary Forest, Field & Sky focused on site-specific artists who make works from nature. Why not create your own masterpiece from twigs and rocks? It will probably look rubbish (certainly not as beautiful as a piece by an artist such as Andy Goldsworthy), but youll be outside and being creative, so youll be happy.

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