The Cold 


The iPhone weather app is not very clever. It shows the present temperature at 30° – with the day’s high at 43° and the day’s low at 37°.

Back in the fall when I was still comfortably walking home from the school in a t-shirt, my friend Nicole told me that London gets really cold in the winter.  Bone-chilling cold, she said.  This made no sense to me at all, especially because Nicole is from Wisconsin.  I chalked it up to hyperbole and counted my blessings that London is a “temperate oceanic climate” with mild winters.  

With January behind me, I want to give Nicole her credit, and apologize for underestimating her experience.  London is cold.  Both Richard and I have had days this winter where we just could not get warm; a bath or shower would be required to reach the level of cold, we felt as it were, in our bones.  This baffled me, because we come from Idaho, where temperatures are consistently below freezing.  Temperatures in London rarely get below freezing, or subzero if you’re speaking in Celsius.  So why? Why are we so cold all the time?  

I’ve come up with a few satisfactory answers to that question, but ultimately I think it is related to lifestyle. 

One is that the humidity makes it feel colder.  Which I think is true, and I read various scientific explanations for that but it comes down to a damp cold being more chilly than a dry cold. 

Another reason is that London is so cloudy and foggy.  Which is true, London is cloudy nearly every single day.  But the funny thing about London, is that it is also sunny nearly every single day.  The sunshine is often short-lived and in a large city surrounded by tall buildings it is sometimes to difficult to access it’s rays, but I’ve paid particular attention and London has offered me more sun in January than Boise ever does.  (Inversion. Am I right?) The days are also very short in London in the winter, which probably also contributes to the chill.  

Additionally, London is cold because the buildings are old, and often poorly insulated.  I can personally vouch for this. Our house is old, with original windows, and I can literally feel the cold air coming through the glass.  I love our old windows, they are full of charm, but they make it very difficult to keep the house warm.  Also, our house is heated via radiators, that don’t BLOW air, they just get hot, and the heat emanates into the room, This works fine in small rooms, but downstairs in our kitchen-dining area, the kids all bring their blankets to breakfast because it is SO cold.  When at home,  you will usually find me wearing a puffy vest or scarf or fleece or blanket or all of the above.  The same is true in the kid’s school. It is a really old building and the kids are required to wear their fleece/jumper in the winter. 
So combining all of the aforementioned reasons, with the following comparison, I’ve concluded why I am so cold in London. 

In Boise, when the outdoor temperature is 30° F, this is what I do.  I put on a jacket or coat.  I go into my garage and get into my car, which is a little chilly but only takes a few  minutes to warm up.  I drive my kids to their school, where I remain comfortably seated in my warm car while they run into the playground.  I drive home, get out of my car in my garage and walk into my house, having never actually had to go outside.  When I need to run an errand, I repeat the process, spending approximately 38 seconds walking from my warm car that I’ve parked in the parking lot, into the grocery store/office/home I’ve driven to.  

In London, when the outdoor temperature is -1° C (30° F), this is what I do.  I put a coat and gloves and a scarf and a hat on myself and my four children.  We walk out the door and walk eight minutes to the bus stop.  We wait at the bus stop for 2-5 minutes.  We get in the bus (warm! yay!) for about 10 minutes.  We get off the bus and walk five minutes to the school. We wait outside in the schoolyard for five minutes until the children line up and the teachers escort them into the building.  Then I walk home, about a 20 minute walk.  In the last hour, I’ve spent 50 of the 60 minutes, outside.  Then if I have any errands to run, it involves a similar process, either walking to the destination, or walking and waiting outside for buses and trains.  I spend a lot of time outside.  

I LOVE this about London. I love spending so much time outside.  But it gets COLD.  And then when I come home into my drafty house, it is really hard to get warm.  

For that reason, I am quite ready for spring.  Bring back that “temperate oceanic climate” please. 

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