Thursday, 7 January 2010

Brrrr - but a warm feeling inside

I was listening to the radio this morning when somebody reflected on how you don't have to go that far back to remember a time when people wore balaclavas in bed and used drills to get parsnips out of the ground in the really cold weather - now there's invention for you!

Certainly in the UK we've got used to relatively mild winters. It came as a complete surpise to my 18 year-old daughter that an "adverse weather warning" meant, well, a warning of adverse weather. (The end result was she took a train to visit a friend out in the countryside and was trapped there for a couple of days.)

The lady on the radio was harking back to the winter of 1947, a bit too far back for me personally. But I remember the cold of  1963-64; giant icicles glinting like daggers on the trees, frost on the insides of windows and the smell of slightly warm milk in my junior school cloakroom as staff valiantly tried to defrost crates of frozen-solid, half pint bottles of milk on the radiators. They had only  been delivered earlier that morning.

Now, inside our centrally heated cocoons, we lead rather charmed and warm existences.

But the recent periods of harsh winter weather have also bought out the best in people. Complete strangers stopping to help you get your car out of the ice. Neighbours digging routes down frozen pathways for older residents. Now that gives you a really warm feeling - on the inside.

Here at MIAMI Towers, Hilary emailed to say it had taken 4 people an hour and a half to dig a path to the top of her drive, but in the process they'd met new neighbours and lots of people walking down the main road. "It was a real Blitz spirit."

I've also noticed a lot of smiling faces. We Brits love to discuss the weather and we've taken to new ways of describing degrees of cold with enthusiasm.

Yet, under it all, there is a thoughtfulness. Suddenly Mother Nature's reminding us who has the upper hand - central heating or no central heating.

Chances are you all have stories to tell and tips to share. Anybody got a knitting pattern for bedsocks? And what should we do about frost blighted vegetables?

In the meantime we've got some cold and flu remedies, tips for keeping your home warm and fuel bills down and if the fridge is looking a little bare because you can't get to the shops, now is the time to start cooking with leftovers.

I've got to go. I've just heard my daughter's key in the lock and I haven't seen her for a while.


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