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 97º 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?