It's still kinda winter here...
During most of the winter, the UK weather report often includes snow for most of England and Scotland, except London. With the River Thames flowing and keeping us nice and “warm”, we don’t get as much snow as the rest of the country. Before COVID, my January and February bus tours to Oxford usually included a nice dusting of white snow on the countryside that was a delight to see from the warm bus. It would be nice if we could get a little more snow in London than we do. But sometimes, we are in for a treat and snow in London happens. That is what happened this week - in April! We had a little heatwave, and then bam! A dusting of snow.
A few years ago, there was a TV show called “Very British Problems” and one of the topics they analysed was the obsession with the weather. Complaining about the weather is a very “British” thing to do. One thing I have learned while living here is that the weather is THE topic of choice for most Brits, and complaining about it is a high-crafted hobby. The British are very proud that they complain about the weather, as it is the perfect topic for small talk and can always be relied on when you are stuck in an awkward situation.
I don’t often complain about the weather. When I moved here from Texas, I noticed that the weather was much milder than the oppressive humidity that Houston had to offer. It makes sense if you look at a globe and see how far away the UK is from the equator. It didn’t bother me that there was more choice other than “melt” or “boil”. The mild weather here was a refreshing change. Speaking of refreshing, I love the rain. I know, it is strange. But when it is hot in Houston, and then the rain falls, you get this steam that sets in like a sauna. I don’t miss the steam baths of the Bayou. However, I do miss the amazing thunderstorms that Texas offers. We don’t seem to get thunder here. Isn’t that weird?
The other thing to notice is the change of seasons. All my life, I grew up looking at scarves and gloves, wondering who wore them. In Texas, these were not in my wardrobe. Here, scarves and gloves take you from one season to the next, depending on thickness. I now own a plethora of scarves and gloves in a variety of materials for whatever the weather may bring. The seasons of change also indicate the season of scarves and gloves.
Last month, we were definitely in winter. End of March/early April usually means we will go into Spring. I say that with a bit of caution, because in my last blog I boasted about the warm burst of weather and then we saw snow! Going into Spring doesn’t mean that Spring will arrive with a bang. It will gradually arrive, like awakening from a deep sleep. It might hit the snooze button a few times, leaving us to keep our winter coats on a little longer than planned. The season is three months, but it doesn’t guarantee three months of warmer weather. Spring in the UK does not take its orders from the Pennsylvanian groundhog that Americans look to for accurate forecasts.
As winter is still in fashion, one item of clothing that I cannot do without is thermals. When I first moved to London, I froze all the time. I hated it. Over the years, and especially as I spend most of my time outdoors, I have become a master of layering. Thermals are my best friends. My motto is “why be cold when thermals exist.”
But the cold can easily be accepted because we have the sun! Once the UK set their clocks forward again, we were able to rejoin the rest of the world on our normal timetable. I know that many people don’t like the time change, but we have more sunshine during the day! This is really important. If it is freezing outside and the clouds are grey, it really can be depressing. But if the sun is shining and beaming off the buildings, the cold can be tolerated.
Spring sunshine in London is by far one of my favourite things. The city sparkles, as if it has been hidden under a pile of gloom and has been rediscovered. The beams of light bounce off the statues and structures as if to say “Look at me, I’m shining!”
This morning my phone reported the temperature at 4 degrees celsius with a high of 10. However, it also says that thanks to the wind, it will feel like 3. In fahrenheit, that is 36 degrees. That’s cold. But the sun is expected to shine most of the day, and that should lift the spirits. And with the right pair of thermals and a nice mug of Earl Grey tea with a splash of milk and a zest of lemon peel, I think I will be able to manage another day of indoor activities. After all, I have three virtual history classes to teach. I’m off to travel through time and save the world!