They warned us as far back as last August. This was going to be one of the harshest winters Britain has faced in years. Temperatures were to plummet to as low as -20C in early December and we could all expect a white Christmas. Instead, we got wind and rain. Lots of both. You just never know what that tricky Atlantic Ocean is going to conjure up. Totally unpredictable. Throw in a couple of El Ninos or El Ninas and who could possibly predict the outcome? Then in the New Year, the British press had headlines like ‘Britain Braces for ice, snow and -18 Temperatures’. They love to sensationalise everything. Of course, they’re only talking about the far north of Scotland. Here in the balmy south, we reached dizzying heights in centigrade….for January anyway. It may have still been wet….floods from the midlands upward, but it was altogether mild. Until this past week.
As Jon Snow, from Game of Thrones, said in both TV episodes and a parody of the show on Late Night with Seth Meyers, ‘Winter is Coomin’.
In his case, it truly did come (or coom, depending on the English accent you use). And this past week, Britain actually did dip below zero degrees centigrade (apologies….but not really…. to American readers who still use fahreheit). As I write this, the thermometer is about to plunge to -3 tonight, quite cold for we Brits. Now….I have to put this in perspective for my Canadian readers who, at this time of year, think -3 is a heatwave. We’re not used to it. Freaks us out. We don’t have all the insulation that most countries that experience cold winters have. Don’t need it most of the time. Very expensive for the few days that hit the zero mark.
The same goes for snow (not Jon Snow, the white stuff). We don’t get that much. They do in Scotland, but that’s a different world to the English. British it may be, though it doesn’t want to be, but let’s not get political here. The point is, the south of England and London in particular escape most of the worst that winter can throw at countries in the northern hemisphere. When we do get snow in the south, everything stops. Once again, we don’t get enough of the white stuff to warrant spending lots of money on snow removal equipment.
So imagine our surprise to wake up this past Sunday morning to at least an inch of snow on the ground. Good thing it was a Sunday. If it had been the next day, London would have shut down. This may be a slight exaggeration since the snow had melted by noon. A few flakes continued to waft down from on high throughout the day, but nothing settled. For a brief moment, we had before us a winter wonderland. Some of the more ambitious among those who live outside the marina even used what snow there was to make a snowman or two. They tended to be small but mighty.
Actually, most of us, except maybe school children, were relieved that our only snowfall to date was on a Sunday. It probably wouldn’t bugger up the rest of the week. And because most of us are around, it gives us something else to talk about other than the incessant rain and wind. Everyone seemed to be about. Whole familis took earlier than usual walks along the towpath to take in the white and frosty scene before them.
We’d rather have a snapshot of beauty over here than the prolonged months and months of deep freeze and deep snow. Besides, it truly was a welcomed change fom the wet and wind we have experienced so far.
The other thing is we have had to keep the fire going continuously this past week. People think that because we live on a boat, it must get incredibly cold. Not so. Our little Bubble solid fuel stove keeps things very toasty. Just have to keep stoking it to keep it alive. The only drawback is having to get up in the wee hours to put on more fuel. That’s my job….naturally. But, I don’t mind as long as we’re warm and dry. Every morning for the last week, plumes of smoke rise from all the inhabited boats in the marina. The smell of burning wood and coal is in the air.
It’ll all be over soon. By the end of the week, the temperatures are going back up to double digits in the daytime and this past week will be but a faded memory….until the winds swing around from the east. That usually brings some cold and nasty weather, maybe even a bit more snow. Hopefully, we escape that fate altogether. The Atlantic seems to be holding sway this winter. Oh the choices mother nature has to keep us all guessing.
For the moment, we hunker down in our narrowboat and wait for Spring. Can’t be too far away now. Let’s be positive. Spring is coomin’.