Phew! It's a scorcher

Temperatures in East Anglia are expected to outstrip holiday hotspots such as Ibiza, Benidorm, Crete, Malta and Nice today, with forecasters predicting near record levels.

Temperatures in East Anglia are expected to outstrip holiday hotspots such as Ibiza, Benidorm, Crete, Malta and Nice today, with forecasters predicting near record levels.

But while cloudless blue sky and blazing sunshine might be enjoyable for some, it is not such good news for everyone - with road users, train passengers and workers left sweating it out.

Councils across the country used gritting lorries more familiar in winter to cover melting roads with dust to create a non-stick surface yesterday.

In Norfolk, the A140 was one of the worst affected, particularly between Wood Lane, in Long Stratton, and the Dickleburgh bypass, near Diss.

Norfolk County Council spokesman Steven Reilly said: "We have been out since early yesterday morning laying down a dust layering on roads which have experienced problems with the surface melting or becoming sticky. Road surface temperatures have been as high as 55 degrees, and in this kind of heat we are left having to do what we can to limit the problems of melting roads rather than being able to instantly solve them."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said they had been dusting down roads in various areas, but particularly in Halesworth.

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While some trains times were affected, school children taking part in end-of-term sports were also finding it hot-going.

North Walsham High School, Worstead Primary and Suffield Park Infants at Cromer were among those held yesterday with suitable precautions to keep children cool. Employers have also been urged to relax office dress codes to enable workers to wear casual clothes or leave off tights and ties.

But spare a thought for chefs working in kitchens across the county such as Richard Hughes of the Lavender House in Brundall.

"It can be tough. We are lucky in that we have a nice kitchen and can at least open the windows but some are stuck in basements or windowless spaces," he said.

In Beccles, the sunshine led many shopkeepers to empty their window displays, while work on building sites around the town slowed.

Charities for the elderly have also expressed concern about the effects of the heatwave, advising those at risk to take basic precautions such as staying indoors or in the shade.

The hot weather is also troubling animals with increased disturbance from sunseekers flocking to North Norfolk's beaches causing seal pups to be abandoned.

Three pups have had to be taken into care at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary in the space of four days, after their mothers were frightened off by people.

"In all three of these cases the people who rescued or found the pups appear to have acted very responsibly . . . only taking action once it was very clear the pups had been abandoned," said seal care curator Kieran Copeland.

Mr Copeland said anyone spotting a seemingly abandoned pup is to watch from as far away as possible and try to keep other people, especially dogs, from approaching for at least two hours.

If, after that time, there is still no sign of mum, they should telephone the sanctuary on 01485 533576.

Forestry Commission officials will be taking extra fire precautions at the weekend when Thetford Forest hosts the Pet Shop Boys and Jamie Cullum on Friday and Saturday.

Peter Rawlinson, High Lodge attractions manager, said there would be additional signs warning of an "extreme" fire risk, regular announcements on the PA system, and a 10,000 litre water tank to tackle hotspots.