Sunday, January 04, 2009

Whether the weather

For all non-English speakers that must be quite a tricky title - in fact it reminds me of when I went to visit my dad in his retirement home and we both sat down to have some lunch there. 'Would you like some custard with your roast beef?' the young lady asked me. No, she didn't go on to offer me some mustard with the dessert - in a book it might have happened but not in a real life blog. Look - I'm off at a tangent before I've even begun.

It's so cold; well I thought so until I read some blogs today that came from bloggers suffering at temperatures of -15.* Here it is registering just 2 degrees and I'm bloody freezing. The radiators are blasting out hot air, I'm dressed in clothes that should make me feel warm, I'm clutching a hot water bottle, drinking tea non-stop and yet I'm still cold.

I don't know how people who sleep rough cope in the winter. Where I used to work we had a guy that slept in the doorway of our building and whoever arrived first for work (believe it or not it was often me) would make him a hot drink and try and get him sorted and away before more people started arriving. He would sometimes be blue with the cold and I felt so sorry for him. Yet every big city has this problem and money is running too short for councils to designate more shelter for the homeless. Maybe as more and more middle-class types fall off the prosperity treadmill and end up in similar situations then something might be done but I think I'll stop being serious now because I'm too cold.

The thing is that in the summer I often think that I prefer the winter. I'm not someone who enjoys wearing just shorts and a vest - I suit clothes better -( or should that be better clothes) and never bare acres of flesh. I try to keep still for days during July and August, quite easy to do now that I don't work but travelling on the London tube used to be sheer hell. I think where I live suits the summer though -we've taken off quite a few of our doors which is probably why it has become so drafty. The thing is that doors get on my nerves. They don't enhance a room and I know they are practical but the way we have laid things out it is better without them.

We must have been mad.

*Except for Cynthia who is in Puerto Rico where it is currently 70 degrees.


Jennysmith said...

Gosh FF, i can't live without doors! You are brave! Anything vaguely open-plan makes me cold - probably physcological.

Despite the cold, i do love winter. Went to Gunnersbury park today to meet a mate and our boys played football in the frost while we hugged a takeaway cup of tea. I'm now at home still shivering but there's something about those short dark afternoons somehow and lights on in distant flats. Mad isn't it.

wrap yourself up or something.

Veggie Carrie said...

I have just returned from Montreal, it was about -30 on Friday when I left! Brrr. You have to stay indoors really.. there is a large underground shopping centre. If you go out, you have to wear leggings under your trousers, and something over your face but the cold air really still really stings your face. I felt really bad for the homeless people having to survive in that climate.

Frankofile said...

We too live in open plan but YAY!! the heating works!! It wasn't last month, but two plumbers' visits and we're now toasting. (But sshh thank goodness oil is temporarily cheaper).

I recently read Robb's 'Discovery of France' which claimed that the peasants went to bed for the winter...

Lulu LaBonne said...

In the old days one slathered oneself in turkey fat then your mum sewed you into a brown paper bodice that didn't come off until spring.

There is such a whistling draught coming through the living-room door that the foam draught excluder partly suck on the door edge is blown into the room and flies horizontally like a windsock. I nailed a blanket over the whole door but then the chimney started smoking.

Cynthia said...

Oh Gosh, now I feel really bad about complaining about the cold! I admitted that I was in a subjective self-indulgent state! I know this fault about myself because I'm from the weathering the weather. I hope you warm up quickly!

Dumdad said...

I mentioned the weather on my blog too as it's so damn cold. Every winter dead tramps are found throughout Paris, just like all major cities. The Bois de Vincennes, where I cycle, has its fair share of homeless fatalities when it freezes.

French Fancy said...

Jen, I vaguely mentioned to Mr FF that we might be better with the doors back on but he is in the middle of a lot of crucial work and the look he gave me said it all. It was my idea to take the doors off, they were heavy and difficult for him to cart down to the basement and I think they'll be staying down there somehow.

Carrie - welcome back to your first proper home. I bet it seems mild and gentle after the temperatures you suffered.

Frankie - thanks for the reminder to get the fuel topped up. It does go down quickly, doesn't it. Glad you're both toasty.

Lulu - your first para made me laugh. Imagine being seduced by someone - they'd slide off you. Let's hope it warms up soon although I read our bit is meant to drop to -8 on Thursday night. Mind you I am daft - I've just been out with the dogs to the garden and didn't put a coat on. My teeth are still chattering.

Cynthia - if you were here now it would probably be a toss up between what would kill you first - the cold or the shock of being so cold. Your blood must have been well and truly thinned.

Dumdad-this is a subject that makes me so cross. There are so many disused buildings boarded up surely something could be done for over the winter.

At least in this civilised country in which we've chosen to live people can't be evicted from properties during the winter months. I know it's a pain for landlords that get stuck with perhaps no rent from their tenants but at least it is the humane approach. (would I be so charitable if it were me not getting rent and being forced to let tenants stay in my property - umm, pass).

Blu said...

I know what you mean about doors, but sadly we would be frozen without them, since we only have heating on one floor. Frost on the inside of the windows this morning too. Can you imagine trying to volunteer to serve soup to homeless people in France, my French is so bad I could end up in a lot of trouble.

With regards to acres of naked flseh, I agree with you I prefer to see floaty and mysterious these days.

nikkicrumpet said...

I'm not a big fan of a brutally hot summer...but I'll take that over a cold winter anyday! I hate the cold...and it's brrrrrr outside here too..but not as cold as you are. I think we're going to hit 30 so we should all be toasty warm in comparison!

GoneBackSouth said...

It must be the most miserable thing, being without anywhere to shelter when the weather is dreadful. Even homeless people with 30 layers on still look frozen through.

willow said...

I'm so with you on preferring winter over summer. Except for one spot of extreme cold just before Christmas, it has been very mild here. I think it's 50 degrees right and and raining.

laurie said...

'twas a beautiful 7 degrees and sunny when i walked the dogs this afternoon. with no wind, it's not bad at all.

but the coldest i've been, i think, was the january-february i spent in north carolina. the buildings aren't made for cold weather there, and the walls are thin and non-insulated, and the windows are just single-pane glass, and the heater kept blowing a fuse, and it was just so darned COLD. here, at least, our houses are built like tanks. they are warm and cozy. as long as we don't have to go outside....

lady jicky said...

I like a "open" looking place too but doors sure come in handy to block off a area and heat it up!
Could you put just a few back on I wonder?

DJ Kirkby said...

We are mnostly open plan here too and not many curtains. A choice I now regret as this winter is proving to be very cold indeed!

French Fancy said...

I think I've misled everyone with our temperature. When I said it was 2 degrees (how do you do the little symbol btw?) that was of course Fahrenheit. Centigrade we're something like - well today it is a bit milder - it's around 40 degrees.So we're not like in Arctic conditions here - although yesterday I was in that state of being unable to get warm at all.

Blu - Until last week I have seldom turned our bedroom rad on but I've got it on a low background setting. Re the volunteering - I bet immersion like that would work out quite well. We watched the final episode of the fantastic series The Wire last night and it deals a lot with the homeless - it's made my social conscience prick a lot.

nikki - I think, given how I've confused everyone with the F/C weather situation that our weather is about the same as yours. Oh why isn't there a universal everything?

GBS - hello there - I just cannot imagine being homeless. Being without a haven to retreat into (I can't bear it when people say 'safe haven'- of course it's safe;it's a bloody haven-John Major, chief culprit)

willow - today it is raining for the first time in ages. Cue for all the miserable Brit expats here to say 'oh, it's always raining in Brittany'.I don't mind the rain because I've got a colourful range of waterproof boots.

laurie -gosh,I can tell you are a writer. that description made me feel so cold. I'm glad I didn't read it on My Cold Sunday.

Ladyj - I bet you are nice and warm down under (that sounds full of innuendo and I didn't mean that at all - hehehe). We've not removed all the doors - just the ones to the dining room and the library (it's not a posh place, it's our second bathroom that we turned into a place for all the bookshelves and we've stuck one chair in a corner and it's a little retreat). The other rooms still have their doors.

DJ - see, it's a great look in spring and summer but the likes of you and me are suffering a bit now. We also don't have curtains - French houses have those shutters (ours are hyacinth blue) and we've also got venetian blinds, instead of those ghastly net curtains favoured by - it seems - almost all French.

Henry the Dog said...

I've no idea how I missed this post, perhaps it didn't update on my blogsite. Down in the Dordogne it was -7 Sunday morning and has been well below zero in the morning for the past couple of weeks. Mum uses it as an excuse to eat more sweet stuff. Mum doesn't like too hot either. In fact, mum's favourite weather is cold, blue skies and sunshine. Me too.

dottie said...

Cures for being cold:
1) knit something really huge, like a blanket, then you can sit still, be warm and also look productive.
2) do the ironing (use a steam iron, you end up with nice rosy face and a curly hair-do)
3) vacuum the house. I hate this with a passion unbounded, but it makes me warm. And if I'm that cold, I'm in a bad mood anyway!

LadyFi said...

I was one of those complaining about minus 15 C... dang it if the temps didn't then go down to minus 21 C just to annoy me!

My thoughts were the same as yours FF: how on earth do the homeless survive in these temperatures? I donate quite a bit of money to a large organisation that helps the homeless as they really really need shelter in the winters.

Desert said...

I love cold weather too but only get that here for 4 months of the year..........very fresh at the moment.

Also don't like doors or cluttered design. :)

Larry M. Brow said...

As a young man in Wisconsin I once had a winter where it didn't get above 0 Centigrade for over two months. It didn't get savagely cold, it just remained steady for two months. I found that in checking the thermometer on the way to the bus stop I had stopped thinking of zero as the "freezing point." It had become "the melting point," since frozen had become normal. Melting was also going to be a bit of a problem, too, because traveling gets messier and more slippery. Ever since, in my mind, the measure of a true winter culture is how you relate to that zero point. Is it the ceiling or the floor?

Oh, and my wife claims to have been a sled dog in a former life. She positively hates the heat of summer. Me, I just wish I could adapt more quickly. Just as my body has adjusted to summer heat, it's autumn, adjusted to winter, and it's spring.

p.s. Advice on feeling warm -- wear a loose-fitting woolly hat around the house, and always thick socks.

Anonymous said...

I too prefer the winter because,I love a roaring fire,
there are no flies, or spiders or wasps.
Because I can close the shutters against the night and take really hot baths.
Because the smell of woodsmoke reminds me of France.
Because I can go without a Bra. under my layers of sweaters.
Because you can't see the dust so easily.
Because homemade soups and casseroles taste so much better in the winter.
Because of Christmas.
And Strictly Come Dancing.

justme said...

Tis very freezy cold here today.....luckily, my house is warm and toasty, and although I did have to venture out in the snow this morning, to go to work, I am home now and using the inclement weather as a reason ( NOT an excuse!) not to go to the gym! Well......the roads are icy, and not safe. I am being sensible!

French Fancy said...

Henry - sometimes blogger updates in a very odd way. I see entries in my sidebar that say they are e.g. an hour old and when I then get to them and leave a comment it's sometimes a few hours, not the one.

I love cold crisp days with sunshine and then lots of starry nights. Mr FF has a huge telescope (blimey, just like with ladyj it all sounds so mucky to me today) and those nights are a boon for him. the downside is that it is on wheels and makes a lot of noise being wheeled out of the garage and down the path. The neighbours definitely think we are barmy English.Who stands in a garden in freezing conditions at 3am unless they are indeed barmy?

dottie - I began knitting a jacket last year and would you believe all I've got left to do is to sew the band around the front and then put a toggle of some sort on. But no - it's just left in one of my many carrier bags that fill the cupboards we have here. Re vacuuming - we don't have any carpets - we've got floorboards and lino with a few rugs hither and thither (I love that phrase)

LadyFi - minus 21. Just typing it makes me colder. I've never been anywhere like that.

Hello Desert - I must pop over and find out if your name reflects where you live. I do love finding bloggers from far-flung places (actually I like bloggers from everywhere, I'm not fussy)

Larry - if you knew me you would know there is no way, absolutely no way, I would wear a woolly hat around the house. Even in the name of warmth. I have lots of very curly hair - all natural - and curls do not look good squashed.I have a few hard hats but beanies are out. Thick socks are fine though :)

Oo Moannie - I liked your list.Although the winter sun streaming in does show up the dirty marks here and there. (we don't have a real fire here - our chimney is blocked in and we use the wall it is on as a projector screen - that's much more important :)

justme - it sounds very sensible to snuggle indoors and relax. Hope work is not too arduous.

Mama said...

Hi FF, I have started to "sort out" we had lot's of guests staying over this holiday and we basically put our home in plastic boxes in the garage to make room for the guests, so now I am going through the boxes and I am afraid to start blogging again until it is done, I also have a pile of books to read and my Interior Design course to catch up with and on top of that we are thinking of renovating the kitchen and getting the westie (I have longed for) all this and I am in the middle of peri-menopause-ism and a new diet.

I cannot think of anything worse than being homeless in the winter, it really makes me feel so bad for the people who find themselves in that situation, just too wretched.

It has been very cold here in SF this year, when we first arrived we would wear "summer clothes" right through and tell all the complaining Californians that they did not know 'what cold was', but this year we are in jumpers and I do not think I have taken my scarf off in two months.

off to your next post now, hugs, Kathy.

French Fancy said...

Kath - I bet your heart sinks when you first get up on a sorting-boxes-out day. Things like that are fine once they are begun but the thought of them is daunting.

Glad to hear you might get a little Westie - I love little white dogs. I'm at the same peri whatsit stage as you but found some lady pills that seem to help - Macafem. Mr FF told me I was becoming a bit of a grouch but since taking these for a few months now I am much more calm.

cheshire wife said...

Our boiler is in the garage. Because of this we have a 'frost stat' attached to it which brings the boiler on when the temperature drops to +5C, so that the boiler does not freeze. The boiler has been on non stop for several days now and still the house is cold!

Desert said...

FF-would never be able to get you a visa to come and visit!!

Trust me, it's desert here and tiled floors give me 'coldfeet'. :))

French Fancy said...

cheshire wife - Yes,we've begun running ours through the night now. Not very eco-warrier of us but better that than the pipes freezing. The country is so much colder than the city, isn't it?

Desert - when I talked about 'popping over' it was purely metaphorical, honest. Although if you could pick me up at the airport on Saturday afternoon I would appreciate it :)