Things I have learned in Negative Temperatures

Growing up in Brisvegas Australia-land means that I have only very rarely experienced any type of cold weather.  Normal wintry temperatures hover in the low teens during the day and might, on the rare occassion, drop into single digits if I stayed up really late or went up a mountain or something.

I have been in cold temperatures.  We hiked the Overland Track in Tasmania during December, and when we went up and over Cradle Mountain on the first day we were chased by a blizzard and the remnants of recent snowfall lay near the summit that I did not climb.  The blizzard caught up with us on the other side of the mountain, but if we’d unwisely tried to summit, it would have got us up there.  In the photos from that trip, I am wearing only thermal tights, over which I wore a pair knee length shorts, and a thermal top, over which I wore a blouse.  I should complete this wordy picture for you by saying that my thermal tights were in red and blue horizontal stripes, my shorts were white but my tops – both thermal and blouse were boring sky blue.  When the storm hit, I put on waterproof overtrousers (black) and a rain jacket (red). I was quite comfortable.

In the UK, every day that I cycle to work I wear a pair of tights, warm liner socks, warm outer socks, thick cord trousers, occassionally my over trousers, a vest, a jersey or wool top, a fleece jacket and a rain/wind – proof coat, two pairs of gloves, a neck buff, a wrap and a beanie.  And I still arrive at work with my toe-sies and my fingies cold.  When I went for a ramble (walk, hike, tramp; well, actually I don’t think a ramble in a UK forest can ever be a hike or tramp – too sedate), I wore thermal tights, thick trousers, thick knee-high wool socks, thermal vest, thermal long sleeve top, fleece vest, fleece jacket, windproof jacket, beanie, scarf and only one pair of gloves.  I was comfortable when walking, but when we paused to eat our sandwiches for lunch, I was very, very cold.  Bonus, however, was that we managed to get the closest we have ever got to some deer because they could see us but not smell us, so they looked at us for a long nervous while trying to work out what we were before dashing away.

The last few weeks have been exceptionally cold, unusually so for the UK (or so the meteorologists and news media tell me).  For a whole week the temperatures did not get above 0 degrees celsius (that’s 32 farenheit to you non-celsius folk out there). It snowed last Tuesday evening and that snow has not fully melted away yet, freezing over night into ice, melting during the day to slush and then the slush freezes again over night.  I still find the cold, snow and ice novel and I’m not overly bothered by any of it, though I must say that the greyness of it all rather drains me of energy and spirit.  Clear and cold = yay!; grey and cold = boo!

Frost on the Common, on my way to work one morning.

Here are a few snippets of things that I learned due to below freezing temperatures:

1. Condensation on the inside of window panes can freeze, forming quite lovely icicle patterns.

2. The lid of my wheelie bins froze shut.  It did not matter anyway because our bins did not get collected for about 2 weeks.  This is fine for us as we only make about one small plastic bag of waste a week, but my goodness, lots of other people really have a lot of rubbish.  Piles and piles of it, tumbling all over the place.  At least the cold means none of it smells, like it would in Brissie.

3.  I can’t take the compost out because our back yard is rather icy and I don’t fancy slipping and falling while carrying a whole lotta veg etc scraps.  That’s all happily gathering on our kitchen countertop until such time as I deem it safe to go out to our backyard again.

4. Bicycle brake cables can freeze.

5.  I like the sound of slush as I cycle on it.

6. I need a lot of food when it is cold, preferably chocolate.

7.  If having a party, you can keep the beer outside and it will actually be colder than if you had kept them in the ‘fridge.

8.  A fresh fall of snow brings peace and quiet to the world.

9. If you’re going to shake snow out of trees, put your hood up first, otherwise that falling snow will wind up down your neck. Brr.

10. Snow is really hard to photograph.  As is ice. Slush is ugly and not worth photographing.

11. Wintry sunsets are gentle and lovely.



  1. I’m exhausted reading the list of things you must don for every outside venture. But you must be fine with it because you do it nearly every day! And thank you for the list of things you learned about the very cold. I think I can safely remove it from my life goals to find out.


    1. I barely even think about my layers, except every now and then marvelling that I have one more or one less, depending on what the temps are doing!


    1. nikkipolani
      Actually, I’m v. lazy with shoelaces too… I tend to tie my shoes loose so I can step in and out of them. Oh, how I wish for the velcro ‘zip-zap’ shoes of my youth!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s