Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's A Bit Parky




She looks cute, but she's actually frozen solid.














One of the first things people ask when you return from a trip to the UK is 'how was the weather?'. I usually reply, 'there was plenty of it'.

California doesn't have weather, it has a climate. Not so the north of England!! What a difference a few weeks make. Last year we went home in early May, and England was at her sun-dappled green and leafy best. This time we went home and the phrase 'it's grim oop North' certainly seemed more appropriate. You know how people returning from Las Vegas always say 'but it's a dry heat'. Well in North Yorkshire 'it's a damp cold'. A malevolent cold that penetrates your core and refuses to leave, like someone's stuck a wet facecloth down your woollens never to be seen again. If you leave a damp towel on the floor it will not dry over time, in fact it will suck up more moisture, like a giant clammy sponge. It took me two weeks to remember to leave our towels over the radiators, and then it was time to leave. I think Anna first realized she wasn't in Kansas anymore when she sat on her first UK toilet seat and said 'Mummy, my butt is cold!'. British bums are made of sterner stuff.

I'll be the first to admit that my memories of the weather in North Yorkshire have become a little hazy with time. I didn't bring capri trousers in my suitcase like I did last year. *Moron*. The phrase 'ne'er cast a clout til May is out' is time-worn for a reason. You know that facial expression when somebody first dips a delicate toe into the frigid Californian Pacific? That was our facial expression for the entire trip. I began to rethink that halter-neck dress I'd bought for my brother's wedding, and started wondering if I could fashion a pashmina out of a goose-down duvet (tasteful darling, but I can't walk through doors).

Surprisingly LK loves British weather. He works outdoors, so the chance to escape the never-ending sun is a real holiday for him. I was worried about Anna though, whether her delicate Californian constitution would hold up to the wuthering of THE NORTH. I couldn't have been more wrong, because Anna had arrived in the Land of Puddles and was having the time of her life. It took us fifteen minutes to go a hundred yards, but hey, she was happy. This is 'stock footage' of her reveling in a puddle after a brief rainstorm in SB in February. See how happy?













She even got to make a snowball, and was so thrilled with the idea that she asks me at least once a day since we got back if it's snowing. Err, no, it's not snowing, it's 97ยบ in the shade sweet-pea. That's why Mummy's blogging with no clothes on (apologies for that visual).

Basically it didn't rain that much, it just looked like it was going to all the time. It would go from hail to sleet to rain to sun then back to hail in a dizzying five minutes that would have us racing to the washing line four times an hour to retrieve the laundry.

People hang their washing out to dry in England, always have done. If anything embodies a spirit of absurd optimism in the face of reality, it's hanging your washing out to dry in North Yorkshire. Now it's the cool and eco-friendly thing to do of course, but it's mainly done out of thrift. I once asked some friends in SB why nobody does that here. I mean it seems far more sensible to hang your washing out in California, land of perma-sun, than in Manchester, every Atlantic raindrop's first port of call. Someone replied 'oh, we have tumble dryers here'. Ah yes thankyou! The industrial revolution. We Brits must get on that. I think thriftiness/tightness has to be the only answer because there is nothing as soul-destroying as hanging cold, wet washing out under a leaden sky.(For the record my Mum and Dad do have a tumble dryer, used for monsoon-like conditions). But why don't people hang their clothes out to dry in the States? Are you embarrassed people will think you can't afford a tumble dryer? Is it laziness? My excuse it that I'd be worried our tenants would nick our clothes, but we don't all live in ghettos. What's your excuse?

18 comments:

Law Student Hot Mama said...

Why can't I get away with wearing a kickass hat like that?

Lucia's Mom said...

I think it's just what we're used to. I dry my laundry in the dryer because my mom does. When I was in Oxford (4 years), we mostly dried things on a clothes rack in our room or the little water heater cupboard in the bathroom. But you can't really buy good, efficient clothes drying racks here in the US. It was better for my jeans and clothes (less wear and tear and less wrinkly mostly), but crunchy towels get old real fast.

And I like folding my laundry when it's warm. It's the only nice thing about doing laundry.

Anonymous said...

I love the feel of air dried laundry! Unfortunately though, I have a crazed puppy who would chew the clothes right off the line.

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious. I particularly like the visual of you in a goose-down duvet pashmina over what I'm sure was a lovely dress. As for the drying, in my case it's laziness and lack of space. I hardly think seeing my undies strung up across our communal parking lot is going to make anyones day. ~Chilly

American Mum said...

You know, before I came to the UK I told my husband we MUST have a tuble dryer because I wasn't buying into the whole hang your washing out nonsense. It only took me a few weeks before people started looking at me funny for not hanging i out. I hope this is a pattern I take home with me. In NC, it would take about 15 minutes to dry! Of course, I don't know of anyone who does it back home..

ExpatKat said...

I hang my laundry on an airer because it's green, saves money and doesn't ruin your clothes.
Over here I think they're too afraid of the neighbours seeing their panties. Let's face it, there's nothing 'small' or 'brief' about American underwear!

bohemianbailie said...

My mom and I always hang our clothes out to dry but she puts my dads and brothers in the dryer. We do it because it keeps our clothes nicer longer but boys clothes... really not that important!!

Sugarplum's Mom said...

We have a tiny lot so I don't have the yard space for a clothes line.. I would do it in summer though when it's hot enough up here in northern california. But.. I also use my dryer to get out any wrinkles intead of ironing.

Almost American said...

I had a washing line at the old house (4 years ago.) I'm still waiting for DH to install the tube in the ground needed to set the washing line up here at the 'new' house. I wouldn't mind a fence installed first as our backyard is so open it feels rather like a football field - there's no privacy at all. One of the things I did check before we bought the house was that the residents' association does in fact allow washing lines. Some places don't, or limit their use to certain hours, which is just ridiculous.

I have a drying rack that I leave permanently set up in the master bathroom. (Yes, it is possible to buy good drying racks here in the US - but I do live in a rather earthy-crunchy-save-the-earth-type town!) Unfortunately, while it was adequate when I was on my own, with DH and 2 kids, there's too much laundry so now I only put the clothing marked 'line dry' on the drying rack. Everything else goes in the dryer on low. It's very frustrating though when we have 'good drying days' like we did for most of last week.

enidd said...

enidd's excuse is laziness. all her neighbours hang their washing out, on lines that stretch over their back yards. enidd really needs to get one herself.

Daffodilly said...

I always air dry. You can get a good washing maiden from Ikea. There is nothing better than getting into freshly air dried sheets smelling of the fresh air.

My daughter cringes at seeing the washing on the line...fyi it is not cool!

AliBlahBlah said...

I think you're all brilliant - especially those of you who line-dry, (Daffodilly, American Mum, ExpatKat, Bailie, Almost American ) but I have to give a special shout-out to enidd for copping to laziness! I have to admit that I have an enclosed upstairs patio/lanai that I could use a clothes rack on, but laziness has always prevented me. Now I know I should look at Ikea for one!

Sarah D said...

having never hung anything out to dry ever before moving here it was all a new sensation! The reason I never line dried in Cali was that things dried too quickly and if you didn't use a ton of fabric softner everything was crunchy. We do a bit of both... undies, socks, sheets, towels, husbands work clothes all tumble dried.... everything else hung out.

Expatmum said...

My kids' abiding memory of England at grandma's is hanging out the washing. I have photos of them through the ages hanging out the washing (and doing a luvverly job I might add.)
Chicago has two climates, both of which forbid hanging out - frozen solid and hot and humid. However, when you think about it - it's not that green to hang washing out because everything then needs ironing doesn't it? I think Americans put everything in the dryer because many don't possess an iron. While I love the smell of line dried clothes, you can't take it down and wear it.
And I'm with Almost American on the restrictions - I live in an area that won't even let me paint my front foor if it doesn't fit in with the Historical landmark thing, so gawd knows what they would say about a washing line.

jenny said...

i just can't get past the first lines 'she looks cute but she's frozen solid' - hahaha!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

sorry, completely lost concentration after you said you're blogging in the nude.
Pigx

Janet Brett said...

LOL. This post brought back "fond" memories of Northern weather. 363 days of rain, snow, sleet, or hail, and where 2 consecutive days of sunshine constitutes a heat wave.

Cheers, Jan, a Lancashire lass.

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