Okay, I'll admit it. The sudden heatwave that's hit the UK has proved a bit too much for me. Given my love of winter, you'll probably not be too surprised to read that I'm not that much of a Sun Bunny. Don't get me wrong, I love the sunshine and appreciate a bit of warmth on my bones, but once the mercury rises past  what we used to call 75 degrees (about 23 in Celsius terms), I'm heading for the shade. 

But the thing is with this kind of weather, even when you're inside there's very little relief. Everywhere is so hot and sticky and humid that you end up moving from room to room to avoid the worst of the heat. Well, at least I do. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. Out and about this past fortnight, I've estimated that the population is divided pretty evenly into "It can never be too hot for me!" and "Where's the shadiest spot?". 

I should probably say right now, for those that might have missed it, that I'm not someone that ever complains about the weather being too cold in winter, but am most certainly one of those who often finds it too hot come summer. I am very pale, with light eyes and freckles and I don't tan. I suffer from nasty hayfever, I have asthma and am a magnet for every passing beastie in need of a snack. God, in all his (or her) wisdom, did not intend me to be a summer girl. 

When I was a child, and the hot weather hit, I would pretend that I lived in some far-off land, where the temperatures were supposed to be that high. Somewhere like Australia, or more often Kenya. A place where Joy and George Adamson met Elsa the lioness. Or where exotic animals might lurk in the bushes.  When I was a little older, I would spend hot afternoons resting in the shade of our garden, imagining it was really in the south of France. And it seemed to make it a lot easier. Half the battle seems to be that we know we are fighting someone unusual, something that really shouldn't be.

So, perhaps now I should revert to that technique.  The next time I'm over-heating - probably this afternoon – should I imagine that I am in a California beach house, with the rolling surf of the Pacific crashing into the rocks at the foot of my garden? Or that I am enjoying the heat of a New England summer and that our decking stands beside a harbourside seafood restaurant on Cape Cod? Or even that I am sitting in the shade of my apartment at Disneyworld, just waiting to go out and hit the parks? Okay, maybe it might be a stretch, but it's a nice thought.

So, in case my imagination lets me down on this one, I've been researching a few tried-and-tested ways to beat the heat - or at least to make it more pleasant. 

One trick used widely, apparently, in the North American deserts is to hang a wet towel in an open window. The water cools the air as it enters (something to do with the energy needed to evaporate the water drawing the heat from the air). I'm no scientist, so if my science is a bit off, let me know!.

The same process means that, if we spray ourselves with cool water, we will cool down as the water evaporates. If we concentrate on the pulse points - where blood vessels are nearer the surface of the skin, we can cool the blood as it flows through our bodies. So spray those ankles, wrists and temples, or dunk them in water.

By closing curtains, blinds and windows on the side of the house where the sun comes in, we can prevent over-heating. Once the sun has moved, open the curtains , blinds and windows to allow cool air in and warm air out and close those on the sunny side of the house. I can vouch for the effectiveness of this having spent the best part of a fortnight in a village in the South of France in the only residence in the village to use the blinds like curtains (opening them in the morning and closing them at night), before realising while out walking one morning that the locals did precisely the opposite. How I wish I'd worked that one out earlier on!

Obviously, using a fan is a great idea. But you can make it even more effective by placing either a shallow bowl of ice, or a frozen bottle of water in front of the fan.The ice will melt and evaporate thus cooling the air around it.

Wearing the right clothing is vital. For years I've assumed that white is more cooling than, say, black, but I've since read that while white is the best at reflecting the sun, black is better at conducting it. So it's really more to do with the materials (natural cottons, linens and silks, or special sweat-wicking modern synthetics like those used for sports gear) and style of clothing. It not about wearing as little as possible (as tempting as this is), it's about wearing clothes that are as loose and flowing as possible because these create a cooling movement of air around the body.

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential. While water's the simplest option, it's perfectly sensible to drink fruit juice, cordials and even soda-based drinks. Hydration is the key, so avoid anything with alcohol, lots of sugar and caffeine.

Instead of sweets, why not try frozen fruit? Frozen banana lollies (there are lots of recipes for this sweet treat on the web) are both healthy and delicious. You can also freeze grapes and suck them like a boiled sweet. Less calories, lots of vitamins and good hydration too.

Eating spicy food might seem like a bad idea, but consider the hottest countries and the food they eat - pretty much every one of those hot-weather cuisines features chillies and spices. There's science behind it too. Chilli peppers contain a chemical compound called capsaicin, which helps us perspire more effectively.

While technology that operates air conditioning and fans and the likes is a tremendous boon, there are plenty of appliances we can do without. And which not only pointlessly consume  energy when we're not using them, they generate heat. If you're not using that computer, that television, that light, turn it off. At least until it cools down.

Cars can generate heat even while they're not in motion. You only have to return to a parked car on a hot afternoon to know that all that metal and all that leather upholstery, leaves climbing into a motor vehicle on a sunny day a painful and stifling experience. The Japanese, it seems, have a clever trick to cool things down a tad. They open two parallel doors, then open and close one of them repeatedly several times. This forces the warm air out and allows cool air back in. It's pretty simple and it works.

And there are many other methods for taking the worst of the heat out of the day. Now, if someone can help me take it out of those sleep-robbing stuffy nights, I might actually begin to enjoy it.