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London summer rain
© Lindsey Suddaby

Umbrella hire is coming to London

You won't be able to fly like Mary Poppins but you’ll soon be able to hire a brolly for rainy days

Written by
Annette Richardson

In a welcome move that could be described as ‘inevitable, surely?’ and ‘a long time coming’ we learn that you will soon be able to rent a brolly in London on a rainy day, if you are caught short without the obligatory London summer kit of waterproofs, along with your sunnies and mozzie repellent.

The Rentbrella app promises to ‘make your relationship with the weather and the city easier’ which is a polite way of saying that it allows you not to get too pissed off when it’s pissing down.

Bizarrely, the app didn’t come straight to London but opened in São Paulo and New York first. We’re guessing they were building up to working somewhere with a properly dismal climate.

There are four steps to the process. You look for the closest station that runs the scheme on the app map, scan the QR code to take out a brolly, use it, and return it to any station that has Rentbrella, all pretty much like the London bike hire. The app handily even tracks how many brollies are held there in real time so you don’t traipse to your nearest station in a downpour only to discover that there’s an umbrella drought.

The best news is that currently day one of the hire is free, then it’s just £2 on days two and three. Be warned, you’ll be charged £16 if the brolly isn’t returned, but then you do get to keep it. The umbrellas themselves are made from recycled plastic bottles and offer UV protection. 

Now, before you panic about the fact that we are discussing wet weather in London shortly before we are about to enjoy a four-day June bank-holiday weekend, aka ‘midsummer’ apparently, let us reassure you. That’s not how the rain gods work in this city. The capital’s deities of drizzle despise the overconfident Londoner who plans a barbecue because it’s summer. Or the one who heads to work wearing shorts, sandals and a sleeveless top. The gods will deliver a sodding great downpour on those people (and you will get caught in it). They’re perverse, like many London types, and derive great joy from us being in thrall to our rainwear, so if we dwell on the likelihood of sogginess now, we might (whisper it) just get decent weather.

Sign up for the the Rentbrella app.

Need a reason to walk to work? Some London bus routes could be axed.

Don’t head underground, though, as there might be a tube strike over the Jubilee weekend.

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