Long hot summer simmers on

IT'S hot, hot, hot – and that's just the way we like it!But most people would rather be relaxing in their gardens with an iced drink in hand, or soaking up the sweltering sun on a beach, instead of beavering away in stuffy offices, shops and factories.

IT'S hot, hot, hot – and that's just the way we like it!

But most people would rather be relaxing in their gardens with an iced drink in hand, or soaking up the sweltering sun on a beach, instead of beavering away in stuffy offices, shops and factories.

Weathermen though have good news for those unlucky not to be on holiday this week – the heatwave seems set to last for a while yet.

And that will lead to the inevitable comparisons with the long, hot summer of 1976 when sun-baked Britain scorched for weeks, with the drought leaving millions queuing at standpipes in the streets just to get some water.


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It was straight from breakfast to the beach for many at the weekend as Felixstowe saw a huge influx of people keen to get sunbathing.

Traders had their busiest two days of the year so far, with ice cream and refreshment kiosks doing particularly well.

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Stan Harris, who runs the amusements on the south side of the pier, said: "It wasn't a mad panic but it was a good weekend with plenty of people about – I'd be lying if I didn't say we did all right. It would be nice if it was like that every day for six months of the year!"

Weathermen say June was one of the best months on record, and pre-Easter temperatures also made it into the record books.

But it's not a summer of '76 repeat yet.

Those who remember that year will all have special memories – lazing in the swimming pool, flaked out in deckchairs too hot and exhausted to do much, Elton John and Kiki Dee at number one with Don't Go Breaking My Heart, sunburn, and day after day on the beach.

But the main headline was the severe water shortage. The seeds of the shortage were sown in 1975, another good summer and below average rainfall.

So as '76 arrived, water stocks were already depressed and as the dry and sunny weather extended into the summer, drought was declared, supplies cut off and standpipes set up in thousands of streets.

But Anglian Water, which supplies 1,200 million litres of water a day to homes and businesses, is confident the same would not happen again.

It is more than ten years since there was a hosepipe ban and no shortages are envisaged this summer – even if the heatwave goes on as long as 1976.

A spokeswoman for AW said: "Our forward planning today is very detailed and we have long-term strategies for tapping underground sources and for reservoirs – very necessary as East Anglia has only half the national average rainfall.

"But we have also taken other steps, including reducing leakage from pipes to the lowest level possible, and working with our customers to help them become more environmentally-friendly and conscious about water use and the ways they could reduce the amount used."

One thing many forget about the summer of '76 though is that it came to an abrupt end at the end of August – when the heavens opened, with flooding reported in some parts of the country.

WEBLINKS: www.angliawater.co.uk

www.met-office.gov.uk

FACTFILE . . . Saving water

n Avoid leaving taps running when washing dishes, cleaning veg or brushing teeth – use a bowl and it could save ten litres of water.

n Shower instead of taking a bath – they can be more refreshing and use half as much water.

n Keep a jug of cold water in the fridge for drinks – better than running a tap until it's cold.

n Fix leaking taps – a dripping tap can lose up to 90 litres a day.

n Use a bucket and sponge to wash the car instead of a hosepipe.

n Sprinklers can use as much water in an hour as a family of four in 48 hours – check the forecast in case there is rain ahead, and use a watering can for flowers.

n Get a water butt to store water for the garden.

n Hoe regularly to help the soil retain water, and use mulch and bark chips to retain moisture.

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