Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow

Our UK winter adventure started this week with the promise of SNOW. This has been combined with the trickling through of social network statements from friends in Berlin, Amsterdam, Bristol, all decrying this to be SNOW TIME!

And the excitement! Truly, people are losing their shit over the snow. They’re also losing their shit when promised snow and said snow is a no show (how awesome is language).  What is it about this white rainfall? A friend on facebook wondered, “Am I the only one who finds the fact that frozen water falls from the sky exciting and weird?” No Kizza, you’re not alone. In fact, it seems everyone is in awe of the whiteness. Just look at the ways we get so heavily involved during a snow day.

SNOWMEN. Hilarious. We decide the best ode to this natural wonder is to build something from it vaguely resembling the human form. Oh, people. So predictable.

Look how happy he is!!

SNOW FIGHT. Throwing anything else shaped into a ball at someone (read mud, rocks, faeces) and you’d be banished from the fun times friendship group. But with snow? You’re the FUNNEST GUY EVER! Snowball fight!

SNOW ANGELS. Living in Canada as a kid, we would do this on the walk home from school. The snow fight rule pretty much applies here, mum would be none too happy if we came home after making dirt angels.  But in snow? Photo moment!

This isn't me, nor do i know the small children in this photo

SNOW CAVES. Another childhood moment, because I have yet to do this as an adult (the day is still young…) We used to carve snow caves from the mass of snow outside our house and my sister would determine the strength of the structure by asking me to lie in the cave while she ‘tested’ the roof. With her boots. She was no engineer so this inevitably led to tears. Mine.

So snow = fun, excitement and immaturity. But there’s another side, when snow = cosy winter times with the fire, soft smiles and forgotten arguments. For some reason the delivery of snow, even though it’s a result of freezing temperatures, is the weather phenomenon that represents hope, joy, calm, rebirth. How many Christmas movie moments showcase an argument dissolving into swelling orchestral music and snowfall? In that surreal, engrossing weather moment, all is forgiven.

Maybe it’s the gentle way it falls from the sky, the soft pillows it forms on tree branches, the white purity which covers the mundane everyday, but snow is the warmest, most joyful weather hug on a grey day. And its hands are freezing. 

London tomorrow, cold and sunny blah blah. But lets not talk about tomorrow. Lets talk about TUESDAY! Highest potential for actual snow this week. Let it snow!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday, celebrate

A co worker came back to our grey, overheated London office this week sporting the tan of a Brazilian parade dancer. Golden, even and envy inspiring (clearly admired for the healthy glow, not the cancer potential). This one look defined where she had been on her holiday (clearly not to take curling lessons) and also implied she had THE BEST TIME EVER. Why? Because the weather was amazing. So amazing it had tattooed it's joy on her skin in a golden hue.

We wear our holiday weather marks with pride. The tan lines we just couldn't avoid, the racoon like goggle mark after the best ever ski trip. These markings from the environment are proof that we are open-minded world travellers, with the body to pull off a bikini.

The tan wasn't always a look you wore inappropriately low clothing to show off, or tried to have someone replicate whilst wearing a plastic see through g string. Back in the day (not used in the common sense, like back in the day last week, but much more literally, meaning back in the day 1800s) the tan was considered the fashion choice of the lower classes. You were tanned because you were out working the fields like a schmuck, not sitting in the parlour learning languages you would never use (thanks Jane Austen). Social climbing women of this day even went as far as to use lead-based makeup to appear super pale (and therefore clearly unversed in the ways of the plough). Wiki sums up the risks of this pale trend perfectly by telling us “these cosmetics slowly caused their death through lead poisoning.”

Come 1903 the Noble Prize for medicine was awarded to Niels Finsen after he discovered his light therapy cured diseases such as rickets. All of a sudden a tan was healthy, if not also representative of a now dormant contagious disease. With tanning needing a severe PR lift in steps the lady herself, Coco Chanel (what look didn’t she pioneer???) Coco spent a little too long enjoying the rays in the French Riviera, therefore creating a legion of women who wanted the crisp, sunburnt look too. The holiday tan (along with it’s high end lifestyle implications) was born.

Nowadays, despite numerous sun smart campaigns (slip, slop, slap being my favourite), we still rejoice when someone says 'you look SO brown.' Sub text: I am overwrought with the jealousy I'm feeling as a result of your freedom to spend numerous days in a row bathing in blazing sun. The amazing weather of our holiday is written all over our skin, in a glowing tribute to it’s carefree days.

Holiday, celebrate hey?

Paris tomorrow (where I shall be working up a storm – weather metaphor!), looks a little on the chilly front. With no hint of peaking Autumn sun (it’s not even winter proper yet!!), get your gloves out. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why are we always talking smack about the weather?

First up I WISH I had come up with that title. I didn't, it wasn't me, but I join its indignant chorus. Why are we always talking smack about the weather?

I came across an outstanding, possibly written solely for me, article on NPR. 
Entitled the above it delves into the reasons why our approach to describing the weather is unfair, mean and almost downright uncool.

We speak of attacking tornadoes, deadly winds, killing frosts, sinister clouds. We treat heat waves like crime waves, storm threats like terrorist threats.
How often have you felt in peril when faced with a ‘severe weather system’? It IS severe! You're right! Words are powerful persuaders and Linton Weeks (hello amazing name) discusses how we use them willy nilly when describing the weather. 
The article goes into the reasons why our own trusted weather reporters feel the need to sensationalise the weather, "A Weather Channel forecaster speaks of an October storm front as a "disturbance moving its way through the Ohio Valley ... even sneaking toward Pittsburgh.""  The sensationalist approach works for every great story. Exaggeration, drama, gratuitous use of adjectives, all helps us tell a much more engaging tale. It just might be time the weather stopped playing our villain and became our heroine.

We can fix this travesty with a little spin, another great tool of sensationalist journalism. Rain on your wedding day, an awesome way to incorporate umbrella fashion into otherwise boring group photos! Scorching sun when you're playing bowls, unreal opportunity to whip your top off and tie it around your head, Arabian nights style. Spin it right and there’s a positive side to even the most threatening of clouds.
Use the back chick as your inspiration. Front is just rather ambitious with only a bowls uniform to play with. 

Remember the last flooded outdoor festival you went to? How you were bitching and moaning about not wanting to get amongst it and that your favourite “musical group” would now have to play for you in your hotel bathroom because there was no freaking way you were getting out in THAT to see them? And then remember seeing 20 year old shirtless guys being absolute jerks and diving (literally) into a round of mud wrestling? Look at them just not giving a shit about their shirts (they’re off anyway) or the fact that this is the only year they forgot to bring gum boots. Hows them just throwing caution to the screaming wind and getting knee deep in the sludgy, smelly, thick mud pits? Possibly having the best time ever? Those 20 year olds on a footy high could teach you something,* they were having a lot more fun than you.
In the end we’re not going to change the weather by bitching about it. In fact, we’re just causing ourselves grief over something well beyond our skill set. Yes the weather can contribute to a shitty day and YES the weather can kill, in uber dramatic circumstances, but the weather is generally not out to get YOU. It’s just doing it’s thing.  
So how about instead of talking smack about the weather you let it join your homeboys? Then she’s always got your back…rain or shine.

London tomorrow,
a delightful “brisk” morning, perfect for starting the day with the longest, hottest shower you can squeeze in. On the walk to work fog patches will dot the atmosphere like a non contagious miasma. It will be terrifically dry later on, with the possible odd shower, especially near coasts. You lucky sea folk!

*These boys may be able to teach you things, but the lesson on when a motionless, drunk waitress is most definitely up for having sex with you and four of your mates is probably worth skipping.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

There's a chill in the air...

So I've spent these past few days in complete weather awe. Iceland is possibly the only place I've visited where the weather not only affects the day to day, but is completely linked to people's lives. From their fashion styles to food, to literature, this whole place is one big, earthy pot of weather soup.

On arrival, snow!! Look, it's snow! And a feeling that it actually wasn't as cold as we thought it would be, despite it being 2 degrees. Night proved I'd gotten slightly cocky, with icy streets having it out with London weather boots. Pleased to report though, that the winter coat so snuggly packed away until now is totally doing it's job.

Day two
is a different story, and the weather completely kicks my ass. About 3 degrees, possibly colder, with a piercing Arctic wind and just a smattering of rain. A bit damp, a bit chilly and a bit uncomfortable.

Then today,
full 'back to nature' mode. The outdoors here in Iceland are stunning, breathtaking and brutal. A picturesque day with a beaming sun and I don't think I've actually ever been colder. This is the kind of weather that really showcases your inadequacies. Tomorrow I plan on warming these limbs back up with some geothermal soaking... 

So with the extreme chill factor the best example of Icelandic fusion with the weather is that
ALL the cool kids are in knits. Grandma knits! These are patterned and possibly sport a hood. Amazing. Found out there is a national knitting association of Iceland which not only has it's own shop, but advertises in cool kids mags. The need to dress for the weather has affected the entire culture of fashion, and for the better, considering how snug I am. (Did you think I wasn't going to purchase a knit?)

With the daylight hours fading into a seemingly never ending winter darkness, first timers here can apparently get the winter sads*. Having a cheeky tea break (from the weather) I discovered an article on, yep, surviving the winter. The very quaint and definitely sensible tips were all for making your apartment the cosiest it can be, taking up winter sports and eating. 

With the weather friendly dressing, embracing of the elements and a smart attitude to making the weather work FOR you, this is my kind of town!

Tomorrow in Reykjavik, a beautiful day to end seeing the Northern Lights! About 2 degrees, crystal clear and brutal. Just the way Iceland likes it.  

* this I am not making up. There is a diagnosis called SAD (not yet generally accepted, but out there), Seasonal Affective Disorder. 
Take that, says the weather. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bright Sunshiny Day

Today in London was pure weather joy. Stepping out into the morning you just wanted to gulp in the air and sunshine and digest it for eternity. It was mild, calm and oh, so bright. A seriously perfect Autumn day.

Just look at what was peeking out over Portobello Road this morning!

I know it’s slightly weird to bring digestion and weather together, but in the time of the year when you know, you can SMELL, how close winter is, it seems like everyone needs to store a little sunshine SOMEWHERE for the coming months.

But how do you really do it? How can you feel the summer in the dead of winter?

FREEZE BERRIES. I have a freezer full of rosy red and blue goodness. If there’s something that spells summer fun more than berry compote, I haven’t found it.

PLAY VOLLEYBALL. Inside. How summery is volleyball? It’s like you’re on summer camp. In the 50s. With Patrick Swayze. (Sigh…)

HEAT YOUR HOUSE TO 28 AND ONLY WEAR SINGLETS. Not very environmental and only recommended in times of desperation.

WATCH MOVIES ABOUT THE BEACH. Wearing swimmers. (See aforementioned need to heat). Not Beaches though. Too sad. Or The Beach. Too scary. National Lampoon's Summer Vacation?

LISTEN TO THE BEACH BOYS. In particular anything from Surfin’ Safari, and Kokomo.

What about keeping the cosy winter vibe through summer? Sometimes you just want to hike up to the Blue Mountains and drink red wine in front of an open fire. But it’s 38 degrees c. How to reconnect?

FAKE SNOW. My mum once bought a whole two cans of this stuff for our xmas tree. It doesn’t look anything like snow, but it’s white. And white on green looks cold. Get spraying!

GO ICESKATING. Inside. A Mount Thebarton used to be near my house in Adelaide. They always used to play Spaceman by Babylon Zoo. 

AIR CON. See aforementioned heating suggestion, but reverse it.

WATCH ANY MOVIE. As long as it's in a cinema. Why is it always so cold in there??

LISTEN TO BING CROSBY. In particular Winter Wonderland.

Ultimately we love the change of seasons, but those last few weeks before the change are the hardest. Who says you can't save a little of your favourite for a rainy day?

Tomorrow in London is full of more joyous temperatures and perfect, Autumn sun kisses. Embrace while you can! I have a feeling this won't last...