Saturday, 17 July 2010

3/7 & 4/7

This one will not surprise many. It is perhaps one of the primary incentives for my push to the green and pleasant land: my preference for colder climes. As a child I yearned for that "rainy day" which almost never came. This is, in my mind, the most likely reason for my inability to save anything. Least of all  - nay, especially - money.

I adore a frosty morning, one so cold as to make the thought of leaving the bed quite abhorrent. To sit by the fire, pot of tea (or glass of sherry) and good book in hand. Or perhaps even a very good film to watch. My pleasures are generally the indoor pursuits. But equally too, I love Winter walks. Rugging up and stomping about in Wellington boots - such fun. The sunny Summers sadly do not suit me. I burn very easily, my hay fever is quite debilitating and I do not suit swim-wear. Or shorts. Not that I think they suit many people any way. But mostly, I dislike the heat. I cannot stay cool. In the Winter it's fine, one dresses appropriately - and rather more smartly - and there you are, quickly warmed up.

Not so in Summer, particularly when one lives without the luxury of air conditioning. At it's worst, I cannot sleep. This was rather brought home to me the previous week, on a Balinese sejour. A family holiday, all rather lovely in theory. Escaping the Wintry "depths" for heat and humidity, endless pools, food, cocktails and shopping, it sounded rather wonderful on paper. However I had forgotten how little much of the previous list suits me. I didn't even want to drink the cocktails, such was my misery. Oh dear that does sound oh so pathetic. A free holiday and such was my attitude. I hope my behaviour wasn't too ungrateful, especially as I insisted on cutting my time there short by a week. I simply couldn't have faced two weeks of the place, when all I wanted was my own warm bed, my protector from the winds and the rain. (Yes there was actual precipitation).

Some like it hot...

Linked, but quite worthy of being in its own category, is snow. I just adore snow. Cannot get enough of it. I may have mentioned I grew up in a warm climate, somewhere along the line. Shocking, I know. So I imagine my lack of experience with cold and precipitation has had some influence here. In fact I didn't see snow until I was fourteen. It was on a rather gormless school trip to the nation's capital - a city built by bureaucrats for bureaucrats, it is a civil servant's wet dream (do excuse the vulgarity). To encourage the students to engage with the historical and political bent of the tour, we were also treated to a spot of skiing, which is of course where the introduction to snow came in.

I could perhaps describe our meeting as something along the lines of falling in love. It was certainly an immediate infatuation, one which lingers to this day. There is something about snow's ability to transform a landscape entirely, to silence, to cleanse, to purify. It was also the source of a great deal of fun. A hopeless skier, I am nonetheless enthusiastic and devour the slopes rather like the cheese boards and mulled wine I enjoy afterwards. Perhaps not the mulled wine when I was fourteen, I think it was most likely a very strong hot chocolate.

The mere sight of snow will reduce me to a level of giddiness, silliness and frivolity not known since nursery. It is like seeing a long lost friend, and much like all good friends, one can pick things up exactly where they were left off. I was blessed to experience some of the snowiest English Winters known for years, for which I'm too grateful. Of course, I pretended to tire of the disruption it would always cause. But secretly I was always very amused and rather pleased. The Christmas I spent in Sweden was something else, in terms of the volume of snow, the level of cold and a remarkable ability for a long-suffering population to soldier on. A myth Mr Fry once debunked, was the nonsense that the Swedes suicide abnormally more than anybody else. If you cross the Baltic to Lithuania, well then yes, it is unusually high, but I rather hope my good friend the snow is not a contributing factor.

So there you are; the cold and the snow are two things I like. Good.


  1. I was very enchanted throughout this post and was glad that someone liked the snow as much as you do. I know there are tons of others who do and who snow-board with enthusiasm or just like the cold.

    When I see the first flakes of snow fall each winter it's a wondrous sight, but I'm also filled with intense dread, because I have to drive on the ice--very scary.

    Lovely post--thank you!

  2. So many things to say about this. I agree that colder climes have much to recommend them, and you can't beat a bit of drizzle. But better still, you used one of the finest words there is, "gormless", which is well overdue a comeback.

  3. my my you have cracked on with your seven haven't you- I like the cold and the snow for dressing up like Julie Christie in Dr Zhivago and also for making snow balls! Snow is beautiful, snow makes the whole world seem more exciting.

    The cold is also lovely but only with the correct sweater- and not the cold and wet.