Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

January 9, 2010

To anyone who denies that climate change is happening, I present exhibit A: the fact that it has actually snowed in England every year for the last three years.

I’m not going to whinge about climate change because, no matter what the advertising campaigns say, I don’t have the power to change it (after all, me turning the light off every time I leave the room is not going to combat the fact that every shop on every high street in the country leaves all its lights on 24/7 for no readily apparent reason). 

What I am going to whinge about, however, is the way that everywhere south of the Scottish border is completely incapacitated by the presence of the tiniest amount of snow.  To provide some contrast, my family lives in the Scottish Highlands, very close to Loch Ness.  They have had around eight inches of snow for around a month now – and yet somehow, with only one car between them, both of my parents have managed to get to work every day, one of them around 8 miles from home and the other around 25 miles.  They don’t have some special kind of car, they are not astoundingly dedicated to their jobs.  It’s just that in Scotland, when it snows, they treat the fucking roads properly, and people know how to drive safely in icy conditions.


On the other hand, here in Southampton, we had two days warning that we were going to be ‘severely’ hit by snow.  Were the roads gritted?  Was it explained to any bus drivers that if you just drive slowly, and carefully, you aren’t necessarily going to die in a gigantic fireball?  No.  Apparently not.  So despite having the luxury of two days advance warning, when we wake up to find that glorious blanket of white over the world, we ALSO find that we can’t get off of our drives and the buses aren’t running. 

I’ve also heard that in the totally ridiculous and unnecessary panic which has been started by this ‘severe’ weather, people are actually rushing out to bulk-buy food in case we are snowed in.  It is at this point that I feel I should step in and say, GET A FUCKING GRIP.  This is a couple of inches of snow.  It doesn’t come up to your ankles, let alone your damn doorstep.  You are not getting snowed in.  You are physically able to leave your house, it’s just that you think you’ve finally found an excuse not to.

So in conclusion, get back to work, quit your whingeing, find some news stories that don’t involve the ‘terrible weather’, STOP BULK BUYING BREAD AND MILK because other people still need it, and grit the fucking roads for the love of god.

Also just so you know, Scotland is laughing at you.


Winter survival tips

December 17, 2009

So as I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, winter is here again (arguably it has been here since around September, but let’s not get picky) and we Southerners have even had some snow in the last few days.
In light of this drastic event, I’d like to share my tips on surviving the winter chill.  Having lived through two particularly harsh winters in the Scottish Highlands, in a caravan with no running water, I happen to consider myself something of an expert on the subject.  Clearly I can’t teach you to build a fully-heated ice hotel (or, let’s be honest, even a basic igloo) but perhaps I can at least offer some guidance on remaining warm in your own home.  It might not sound that difficult, but there are several factors at work here.

The most prominent factor in keeping warm in your own home, is your partner (or whoever else you live with).  For some reason, there is a universal law dictating that everybody you live with, ever, will hold the exact opposite preferences to you on pretty much everything – but most importantly, central heating.

I like to be warm – very warm – at all times.  In the middle of winter, I like to be able to sit on my sofa in shorts and a tank top and still feel like I am on the verge of being too warm.  Chris, on the other hand, will open the windows ‘to let some air in’ no matter what the weather outside.  When I complain, I am told to ‘put a jumper on’, and my protests that I am in my own house and do not wish to wear outdoor clothing generally fall on selectively deaf ears.  Now I like the place to smell fresh as much as he does, but I don’t like said freshness enough to lose all sensation in my extremities in pursuit of it.

I don’t know any other couples who can agree on heating either.  This includes my earliest example of a cohabiting couple – my own parents.  My love of warmth is nothing compared to my mum’s.  She will happily lower herself into a bathful of water so hot that if I were to so much as get splashed with it, I’d rush to casualty to be treated for my burns.  My dad, on the other hand, would happily walk around in the aforementioned unheated caravan, in the middle of winter, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I used to think it was funny the way my mum would go out into the hall to turn the heating up, and five minutes later my dad would invent an excuse to go into the hall and sneakily turn it back down.  I certainly don’t think it’s funny now, when I myself am engaged in this endless war.

The current battle in my house (or flat, if we’re being pedantic) is over what should be done with the heating while we’re asleep.  My vote is for leaving it on, and I might concede to lower the setting a little.  Chris’ vote is for turning it off – and opening the bedroom window, to combat the damp on the windowsill.  I daren’t even mention the prospect of turning the electric blanket on, even if I tie it down to my side of the mattress.  But it doesn’t end there – if I take the initiative and wear pyjamas, I am berated for the lack of nudity. 

Luckily for me, Chris works away quite frequently (it is lucky for me only in this sense – clearly I am not thrilled with the arrangement in general) so I get to have my own way with the heating four nights out of seven.  But I appreciate some people are not so lucky.

So in light of all this, and to finally get to the point, here are my winter survival tips – gathered from years of experience:

  • Invest in a good pair of slippers – and don’t be ashamed to wear socks to bed.  If your feet are cold, the rest of your body will feel much colder than it otherwise would.  I’m sure there’s some scientific reason for this, but I won’t pretend I know what it is.
  • Try to reach a compromise with anyone you may happen to share your abode with.  Heating on for an hour, off for an hour?  In fact, a lot of modern boilers can actually be set to turn the heating on and off at preset times – ours can, but we can’t be bothered to dredge through the manual and figure out how to do it, so the endless war wages on. 
  • If you have to leave the house, it’s worth remembering that, although you may not be a five year old being dragged to the local firework display any more, it is still ok to wear tights under your jeans!  I mean who’s going to know, really?  Obviously, make sure you’re wearing a t-shirt long enough that it’s not going to ride up and reveal your secret.  While it’s not the most embarrassing thing you could possibly reveal at the office, it’s not exactly the sexiest either.  Not that you should be revealing sexy things at the office.  Ah, you knew what I meant.
  • Food makes a big difference to how warm you feel.  Make a point of eating hot, stodgy winter comfort foods to warm yourself up from the inside – casserole, lasagne, chilli, pasta bake.  Not exactly diet-friendly, but fuck it – ’tis the season, eat yourself stupid and blame it on Christmas.  Come on, everybody does it.  Just remember to dust off your gym membership card ready for spring.  Hey, this is called ‘winter survival tips’, not ‘how to get slim for Christmas’ – you certainly won’t find anything on that subject here, although I’ll probably have a bitch about internet weight-loss fads at some point.
  • Christmas shopping presents a tricky dilemma.  Most cities nowadays are equally divided between under-one-roof type shopping centres, and High Street areas, meaning you have to brave both ridiculously busy shops with central heating and no air conditioning, and the freezing conditions of the outside world.  Obviously you don’t want to go unprepared, but you also don’t want to lug your coat around for two hours, along with all your bags, while you shop inside.  Now, I have a particularly wonderful solution to this: DON’T EVEN LEAVE YOUR HOUSE.  That’s right, you heard me.  Folks, I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but you can do all your Christmas shopping, every last bit, from the comfort of your own house – if you have a laptop and wireless broadband, you could even do it from your own bed!  (I only discovered internet shopping this November, and clearly I have not gotten over the novelty yet.)  It is brilliant.  You don’t have to deal with Christmas-time traffic, or the fight to park, or the parking cost, or sweaty fat people, or parents with twin prams who for some reason think it is their god-given right to glide ever so slowly down the middle of every aisle with their two screaming brats steamrollering anyone who gets in their way… none of that.  You sit on your arse, click on some buttons, and hey presto – a couple of days later, your stuff is delivered TO YOUR DOOR.  It is magic.  Well, maybe not magic.  But I think it’s pretty neat.

My final tip for winter survival, although it has little to nothing to do with keeping warm, is RELAX – and by ‘relax’, I mean ‘do your Christmas shopping on the internet, in November’.  This may seem unrelated but look at it this way: you don’t have to leave the house, and while your partner is out doing their Christmas shopping in the cold, you’ll have complete control of the central heating.