LONDON – On Monday afternoon, temperatures had reached 34 degrees Celsius (94 Fahrenheit) in north London, but residents looked forward to Tuesday, when it was predicted to get even warmer.
Mona Suleiman (45) and her friend Zaina Al Amin (40) were waiting for a bus when the afternoon got hotter.
“I’m not worried about myself in this heat,” said Suleiman, who is originally from Eritrea. “But I’m worried about my kids.”
Her apartment is getting too hot, she said, and despite being asked to keep 6- and 10-year-olds home from school, she decided to send them in because she thought it might be cooler there.
Schools, most of which are in their final week of teaching before a summer break, did their best to keep children cool, especially in older buildings that are poorly equipped for the high temperatures. At a primary school off Portobello Road, staff had set up a paddling pool, and children could be heard squirting and laughing up the street.
“Especially at night, in the summer in my apartment it’s already too hot,” Suleiman said, adding that she was worried it would be unbearable Monday night.
Al Amin said the women, who are both Muslim and wore traditional dresses and headscarves, did not care about the weather outside in their light cotton clothes, but were worried about boarding the bus.
“At this point, it’s too difficult,” she said. “There is not enough air.”
In Hyde Park, a handful of sunbathers defied the afternoon heat and laid blankets on the visibly dried grass. A few steps away, potential swimmers were turned away from the Serpentine Lido, where a sign signaled that the facility was at full capacity. Among them were Lalou Laredo, 19, and Rachel Trippier, 22, who were disappointed to be rejected, but noted that the hot water, which was 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 Fahrenheit), could actually make them feel worse. .
“London is really not good for days like this,” said Laredo, lamenting the lack of places to cool off in the extreme heat.
Trippier added that she was worried about the new reality with increasingly extreme temperatures.
Laredo agreed. “It’s always in the back of our minds,” she said. “It’s frustrating that people are still denying it.”
Across central London, the neighborhood near St. Paul’s Cathedral was bustling with activity at lunchtime, despite the heat. A few joggers escaped both traffic and pedestrians in the scorching sun. Tourists stood in the shadow of the cathedral and consulted maps on their phones. Office workers wore suit jackets outside despite the heat, and brought takeaway food.
The pubs used the scorching sun to their advantage. “Is is infant!” was scribbled on a sign outside a pub, The Paternoster. “Refreshing peach iced tea or ice cold coffee!”
On a working day, the pub would normally have at least 80 people for lunch. But on Monday, when many workers had been encouraged to work from home, there were five.
“It’s usually busier than this,” said Sam Jordan, 22, a bartender. “I think a lot of office workers work from home.”
In nearby Paternoster Square, about three dozen people sat in lawn chairs or at picnic tables, some in the shade, ate lunch and watched a large screen erected weeks ago for the public to watch Wimbledon. On Monday, the audience saw a show about politics and the upcoming battle to elect a new prime minister.
Marilyn Tan, with a protective umbrella, said she had just boarded a plane from Singapore, where the weather was a little cooler than London.
“This has had no effect on me,” said Tan, 57. “I’m fine. I did not even tie my hair back.”