I returned to the UK on Sunday, touching down at 5am to a cold and driech December morning in London.
The temperature was even lower by the time I reached Aberdeen, 10 - but at least the sun was out.
During my last day in Sydney I started thinking about the concept of healthy ageing and I was struck by the Australians love of exercise – I saw groups and individuals, of all ages, running, jogging, surfing, power-walking, doing bench presses and weights in a public square and then there were the three ladies practicing Tia Chi in the park. It also occurred to me that I hadn’t seen many individuals clearly overweight – a common sight in USA cities and increasingly back home in Scotland.
Indeed, life expectancy for Australian woman and men is about 3 years higher than here in Scotland (84.4 years for woman and 80.3 years for men compared with 81.2 and 77.1 years respectively). While there are undoubtedly multiple reasons for this - genetics and diet being two - I wonder about the positive effect of climate - namely waking up in the morning and knowing it’s going to be sunny and warm? I know in my short time there I felt the benefits of that - not that it made me want to go surfing or do anything more energetic than walking about - but you can see what I’m getting at.
Of course there is a downside to near constant sunshine - premature ageing of skin due to sun damage and the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, which is 2 and 6 times higher, respectively, in Australia than the UK.
So now it’s a case of looking out the winter coat, scarf, gloves and hat … and planning my next trip down under.