dogs in the park in winter

I realise that, as I sit down to write this retirement blog, that there is one subject that I haven’t written about that’s an obvious topic for the retired person. Namely the weather. Surely a favourite subject for the gossiping classes. And yet, until now (after 500 blogs), it hasn’t figured. So why now? Well again it’s obvious or at least it is if you live in the UK. We’ve had a lot of snow this last few days and worse still, and perhaps even more unusual, it’s been bitterly cold. I know that other countries will scoff at our minus 10 degrees and more when the wind chill is factored in. But, I say again, it’s bloody cold.

The thing is we’re not used to it and certainly these last few years we’ve had hardly any snow at all just our more typical mild, wet winters. And as for the wind, well I’d say that’s practically unique. Not the wind itself, we get plenty of that, but the bitterly cold sort blowing, so we are told, directly from Siberia, that’s new. Most of our weather comes from the west, off the Atlantic, hence the mild wetness.

So no matter how many times the weatherman warns about what’s coming, even to the point of issuing a ‘red alert’ which means there is a threat to life and we should not go out, what do we do? Yep, we go out and so far 9 of us have died, or so they say. Thing is we don’t believe the weatherman, probably something to do with the time the weatherman, famously or infamously, one Michael Fish, who said on air, you may have heard there’s a hurricane on the way, well I can tell you that’s not going to happen. He actually said, “earlier on today a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way … well if you’re watching, don’t worry there isn’t!” Next day the mother of all hurricanes ripped up half the trees in England and killed 19 people. Whoops, and to be fair predicting the weather is not an entirely exact science but for whatever reason we don’t take it seriously so we go out and, at best, get trapped in our cars on the motorway or, at worst, we’re found buried under a pile of snow, quite dead, as one poor old lady was yesterday.

But you know what makes me smile about all this? Not the old lady obviously but the fact that, before we retired, we talked about retiring to a cold country. I am on record as saying I’d rather be too cold than too hot. True, I may have said that while living in Western Australia with summer temperatures of 40+C. Either way, not for us the el classico retirement to Spain along with the million other Brits, nope, we thought about Scandinavia somewhere. I mean why else would you buy three acres of Rocky Mountain hillside, 7,000 feet up and almost unreachable in winter? And that’s if you’re lucky, inescapable if you’re unlucky. The whole area, near Durango in Colorado, looks fabulous in our photos but I don’t remember the cold.

It’s the same with all those train rides I admitted to recently looking out of the cab of a Norwegian train speeding through the snow-clad mountains, the flat parts anyway. Looks marvelous – from inside. Of course you can have too much ‘inside’. You hear a lot about cabin-fever and not just from old movies and this week we’ve had a bit of that. Many old people have been on the news complaining that they’re lonely because the weather has prevented their usual visitors getting through. And fair enough. Because we’ve taken the advice not to travel, we’ve been resident in just one of our houses. And I do get a bit antsy. How would I have coped with being snowed in for weeks, 7,000 feet up in The Rockies?

It’s not that we are totally stuck inside because whatever the weather there are the pups to be walked – locally of course (as you can see above). And after an hour of being blasted by the, literally Siberian, wind, whipping up the lying snow and plastering it all over one’s face, if only the small part we leave exposed, we are quite glad to get back to our ‘’cabin’, fever and all. Why are we so fragile? Just old I guess and it’s all true then, our blood has got thinner. I always thought this was just an old wives tale, seems not.

We did worry about whether it was too cold for the doggies, turned out we need not have worried, they took to it like … a dog taking to the snow, didn’t seem to bother them one bit. Admittedly they’re not quite as adaptable as the dog (a collie) in a bit of video clip a friend sent to us who was shown pulling the sledge up the hill with his / her teeth and then sledging back down the hill and then taking it back up. Would your dogs do this, our friend enquired? I said that I thought Millie would negotiate with another dog to take the sledge up the hill then ride down herself whereas Archie would lie in the snow saying let me know when it’s sorted and I’ll be ready to go. One super bright and the other a tad lazy.

Their only concern seems to be the additional time it takes us to coat up with all the extra layers we need to keep our thinning blood moving round our ageing systems. Still it’s nearly spring and therefore not too long before we’ll be complaining about it being too hot. Tossing and turning at night, kicking off the covers and wishing for those cold nights when, snuggled down, we slept so much better than in the summer time.

So there we are, retirement and the weather, too cold, too hot, never quite right, blimey I’m starting to sound like my mother, I must be getting old, thin blood and all.


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