Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 149: Weathering an English Winter

Weathering an English Winter

One of my husband's business school professors told him that there is never inclement weather; only inadequate gear.

I have learned this object lesson the hard way this winter, which has been, so I've been told uncharacteristically snowy and cold. The lack of central heat and that the American library, where many of my books are located, is incapable of being heated properly, means I have had almost a constant battle with the cold. As the marginal increase in temperatures, the sunshine (this week has been beautiful!) and the longer days attest the waning of winter and the coming of spring, I think I can claim English winter veteran status, and share here a couple of lessons learned:

1.Hats. It's all about the hats. Not only are they quite fashionable here (see past post), but it keeps in a significant amount of warmth, and counteracts the affects of “sputtering” (what misty rain that flies everywhere and doesn't keep outside an umbrella is called).
2.Warm fabrics. From wool and cashmere, fur and even some acrylics, warm fabrics make a huge difference. My life here changed the day I purchased a warm (really warm) coat and footwear. Stylish is much less comfortable than actual warmth.
3.Layers. I wear up to five layers on both top and bottom, which always includes a warm-fabric sweater.
4.Keep healthy. Since the cold is everywhere – inside and out – it is very important to stay healthy, because sickness is difficult to overcome. Lots of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and exercising, even in the rain, is important to keep up through the cold months.
5.Potatoes. I've been told one reason they serve so many potatoes here (in the form of “chips,” “jacket potato,” “hash,” and “mash”) is because it helps keep people warm.
6.Footwear. Uggs and Hunter brand wellies (galoshes) are all the rage here for a reason – Uggs keep your feet warm, and Hunter wellies keep your feet dry. Eventually, they will figure out a shoe that does both. I also recommend long wool men's socks (which can only be found, after many hours of searching, at Sheppard and Woodword in Oxford).
7.Hot water bottles. With fabric covers for insulation. Transportable and, due to the proliferation of tea kettles, very easy to refill.

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