Although there were cold snaps and chilly days throughout November, winter arrived in earnest in early December. Until this point, I usually wore just a thin shirt and shorts as I worked at my computer, and this was sufficient. Although the central heating came on most mornings, throughout the day, I would leave it switched off.
Then one morning, my concentration was constantly interrupted by the fact that I was subconsciously shivering quite uncontrollably. Focused on my work, at first, I fought it and tied to ignore it. However, today was different, and it wasn’t warming up, and soon I was shaking worse than jelly on a plate.
The time had come to switch the central heating to automatic all of the time and ten minutes later, and as the room warmed my shivering subsided. However, there is a big difference between natural ambient heat and the warmth generated by circulating hot water through radiators. Now my feet and legs were still cold, and my shoulders felt a little exposed and in need of an additional layer.
This ritual was one which I went through every year, however, usually far earlier than this. I hunted down my warm socks that hadn’t seen service since last April, and a hoodie my daughter had given me for my birthday. To warm my lower body, I quickly pulled on my fleece-lined sports trousers, but I still didn’t feel as warm as I would like. So, I promptly added a woolly scarf to my costume, and I soon felt comfortable enough to start focusing on my work again, and everything was fine for a few days anyway. Outside, the temperature and the almost constant wind we get living on the cost had other ideas, and my internal home temperatures dropped even further, and within a few days, I had to put on my coat.
Anyone who works at a desk will already know the big problem with working at a computer, is that for most of your working day you’re stationary and immobile and not generating heat. This is the way it was going to be for the next four months. Every day I would dress up in outside clothing for inside use. I had never felt the cold as severely as this winter before, and I seriously considered if my age (63) was playing a part in this new and uncomfortable experience?
Day after day it was the same thing, and I never seemed to get warm enough, even though I was now wearing a daily average of four-layer just to sit in my home, and specifically at my computer. For the first time, I began to appreciate the use of a hat. Although I had heard it said many times that most of our body heat is lost through the top of our head, I had never been a hat person. This was something which was about to change and I in my car I kept a pair of warm gloves and a lovely woolly hat which I wore of trip and journeys. Yes, a cap could undoubtedly make a big difference, so in my office, I now kept a lighter but still warm woollen hat and often I would wear this while working for a little while and until I had warmed up sufficiently to remove it. If I became colder as I went through the day, I would put it back on again for a while. I still don’t like wearing headwear of any type unless I have too.
I soon became fed up with the cold damp, and very grey winter period. If I had the opportunity to do so, I am confident I would have hibernated until the return of the spring sun and warmth that usually accompanies it. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to experience another winter like this one, and plans to stay winter free were already in motion.
At the same time that the temperature plummeted, I started to feel cold in bed also. For the majority of the year, we sleep with a summer 2tog quilt and quilt overlay on our bed, which was sufficient. However, now it was time to bring out the big guns and throw on the winter 15 tog quilt on the bed. At first, it was too hot, and we sweated or threw back the thick and heavy quilt. As the temperature fell, however, we appreciated the warmth that wrapped us and the depth of comfortable sleep on offer.
Although I felt cold, I don’t think it is the cold that is to blame for my discomfort, but the damp, England is such a small and wet island. Often the temperature can be 10c outside although I am still feeling cold! It’s a contradiction in terms to say today is a warm 10c, and yesterday was a cold one. So, the perception of being cold comes primarily down to just how damp it is. I was recently conversing with a Canadian airman who shared that he had experienced temperatures of -30c that don’t feel as cold as +10c do here in the UK.
I think the hardest month of the year is generally November. Not so much because of the cold or the outside temperature, but because of the length of the decreasing daylight, up to 4 minutes a day. However, the autumn colours can be quite beautiful. By the time we reach December, and the start of the Christmas festivity countdown and accompanying interests, we are just a few short weeks from the winter solstice. To me, this is the highpoint of winter and the start of a new season full of future warmth, potential and promise. Speaking for myself, I approach each day with optimism and start to take serious note of the sunrise and set times on each lengthening day. Yes, now we are on the right side of the year, and if we are patient, we start to notice improvements and the first signs of the approaching spring. Slowly at first, but then you experience a day where the sun has real warmth in it, and the hight of daffodils all exploding upward in their race to be the first to bloom. Days like this are what makes the spring such a wonderful time of the year. Suddenly, the days are staying light to 6 PM and then quite quickly, nearly 7 PM and life seems to become so much easier.
Today, with the equinox a few days behind me and the introduction of summer daylight saving adjustments this coming weekend it’s so much warmer. The outside temperature is still 10c, but it’s not damp, and the sun is shining in a cloudless sky. No longer am I wearing a coat or scarf, but just a shirt, although it will need to get a little warmer before I can be persuaded to go back into summer shorts or abandon my socks. I love the summer months.
As for the arrangements for avoiding the cold next winter! We have a house in the final stages of preparation in Cebu in the Philippines which enjoys an average daily daytime temperature of 30c all of the year-round. Let hope the coronavirus will be compliant.