IT is a universally-accepted fact that the arrival of a prolonged spell of decent weather causes something to go a little haywire in the collective hive brain of Scotland. In short, a mood of giddy-joy-meets-gung-ho-recklessness descends.

It’s like that moment in a natural history documentary when rain begins to fall on a bone-dry desert and a carpet of brightly-coloured wildflowers springs forth from the sun-baked earth.

Except, in this case, the blooming pinks and reds and magentas are the result of peely-wally skin being scorched by UV rays as the factor 50 sunblock languishes in the back of a cupboard.

When Noel Coward wrote his 1931 song with its memorable line that suggests only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, he clearly hadn’t visited “Hamburger Hill” (aka “The Big Slope” and “The Beach”) at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow when temperatures nudge the mid-teens.

It is a scene replicated in myriad other locations – from beer gardens to back lawns and lochside picnic tables to promenades – all across Scotland.

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The snaking throngs winding their way up Conic Hill at Balmaha bears an uncanny resemblance to the queue for the Everest summit. And if you haven’t yet set your weekend alarm for the wee small hours to nab a spot in a Munro-adjacent car park, you are missing out (quite literally).

Perhaps most hilarious is the drastic U-turn in what our taste buds crave: for a start, ice lollies become universally accepted as a major food group.

The supermarket salad aisles look like they’ve taken a direct hit from a meteorite strike (although given recent shortages and supply chain issues the sight of empty fruit and veg shelves is no longer the shock to the system it once was).

Everyone has different ideas of what constitutes a decent salad. Some covet vats of hummus, oil-drizzled pastas, falafel and posh balsamic vinegar; others hanker after a hard-boiled egg, some slices of cold meat, crinkle-cut beetroot and a mountain of grated cheese.

The type of lettuce you choose is akin to a personality test: iceberg (old school and still reminisces fondly about the 1970s), romaine (an outdoorsy go-getter who sets their alarm for 4am to climb Munros), round (watches Bargain Hunt and likely has magnolia walls), frisée (a secret masochist).

I have always reckoned that there is a brilliant anthropological study begging to be done about how the shackles of stodgy fare are suddenly thrown off (although enjoying a buttery sausage roll on a sunny park bench is one of life’s simple pleasures that doesn’t get enough credit if I’m honest).

This is also a time when the inboxes of journalists fill with a deluge of tip-packed emails about how to beat the heat. Typical night-time suggestions include opting for lighter bedding, trying a “cold” hot water bottle, freezing a washcloth and so forth.

Most of us, though, will plump for tossing and turning, sticking a leg out from under the duvet and repeatedly flipping the pillows to find the cool side, before spending the next day mainlining coffee to stay awake and wondering why our heads throb with a constant dehydration headache.

Then there are the tan lines. Unless you are a proponent of “taps aff” or spend your days shaded under a parasol like a Victorian lady, then chances are you will have “caught the sun” in a somewhat uneven fashion.

My 2023 edition tan is already in the vein of the farmer/trucker/sailor variety thanks to an enthusiastic bout of cheering at the Edinburgh Marathon a fortnight ago. The weather forecast said it would be pleasantly overcast; the reality was that Musselburgh felt hotter than Marrakech.

At least the initial sunburn has faded from what one friend aptly described as “looking like a Drumstick lolly” to a less retina-searing hue. However, the striped effect still lingers, with the bottom half of my face distinctly more bronzed than the top. Isn’t summer the best?