With all our grumbling about the weather this March, as compared to last year’s semi-tropical temperatures, as I did my mandatory 30-minute brisk walk with only a jersey and jacket rather than furs and an ice-pick, I got to recalling weather I’ve experienced here and there.
Driving off in clear weather from Edinburgh in the 1970s, heading for Biggar, I quite suddenly ran into blowing, blinding snow; a real white out with no bearings, no points of reference. Stopping and (with a silent prayer nobody else was on the road) I managed to turn round and, almost like driving out of snow-bound Narnia, found the road outside the white envelope both dry and black. I returned home in 15 minutes and nobody could quite understand what I was complaining about and why I hadn’t simply pressed on.
Driving back in 1957 from the airfield on on Christmas Island where I had been taken on a tour of the Vulcan bomber that would drop Britain’s new H-Bomb, I was enjoying the fun of a tropical sun and an open topped Jeep. Out of a clear sky, it started to rain so heavily that within three minutes the inside of the Jeep was so full of water my posterior was below the surface. I stopped and opened the door to let the water out and then sat for a quarter of an hour in torrential rain until it eased off. Once again, when I reached Port of London, as the little bay was called, I was ready to tell everyone my troubles but since I had dried off in the sun and the Jeep was dry I was hard pressed to get anyone’s attention.
In Tuscany in the 1980s, I was struck a nasty blow by a monster hailstone but, as ever, I was told I had been daft to be outside at the time. On the same trip, I had to stop at the road side until the deluge stopped as the windscreen wipers could not clear the rainwater off the screen enough to see outside.
In the really cold winter and spring of 1963, I had to take the overnight sleeper train from Galashiels to St Pancras. The train arrived from Edinburgh and such was the sheet of ice that overflowing water tanks in the roof had created over the usual entrance door to the sleeping car, we had to board at the other end. The sleeper was like a fridge and the bed like a marble slab. I put my pyjamas on over my clothes and put my overcoat back on before lying down and shivering all night.
Visiting Rotorua in New Zealand, I enjoyed bathing in the naturally heated pool; just like lying in a warm bath without ever needing to try and turn on the hot tap with my toes. When my skin was wrinkly and it was nearly time to go, I climbed out and was heading for the cubicle when it started to rain. Like everyone else, to shelter from the cold rain I climbed back into the pool.
Today, I’m looking out of the window waiting on my graddaughters coming to visit. To cover all eventualities, I have made two different ice creams and a hot rice pudding. Welcome to my busy world.