White Christmas

Snowed in looks pretty but may not be so nice if you can't get warmIs it my imagination or were there more white Christmases in the Seventies? Let’s look at wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge. Well what a disappointment, it looks like it was my imagination after all. Apparently in Birmingham there was snow at Christmas in 1970 which I would be too young to remember, and in London snow in 1976 which I would only have seen on TV. Then the next snow at Christmas was in 1981.

The Met office have a fact sheet outlining the instances of White Christmases, where they demonstrate that there is harsher weather now than in past years. “In fact, in terms of widespread sleet/snow falling across the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, between 1971 and 1992 there was only one year (1980), whereas in the years 1993 to 2003 there were five such occasions.”

The reason that a white Christmas is so ingrained in the British culture is due to the extremely cold ‘Little Ice Age’ between 1550 and 1850 when the River Thames would freeze every year. Our romanticising of the harsh weather may be linked to our romanticising generally of the pre-industrial age. When an elderly or infant relative dies through lack of a well-heated house (which happened quite often in 1550-1850), then snow at Christmas may not seem so picturesque.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Seventies Bank Holiday

Me on my bike aged 7Apart from the staycation (which is when you stay at home on holiday, except that we didn’t know that this was what it was called then), on a seventies Bank Holiday it became traditional to go off somewhere to explore. Pack some sandwiches and a flask of squash, squeeze ourselves into wellies and raincoats, and off we would go on our bikes. Posh people had cars and could go further.

Inevitably we ended up wet and miserable, cursing the Bank Holiday weather and wishing we’d stayed at home after all, but occasionally there were fabulous sunny adventures and these are the ones that I try to cling to.

Dad would push me to ride the bike back home when all I wanted to do was collapse in a heap. Then we’d get home and Mum (who’d sensibly stayed there and had a lie-in) made us tea and we’d all watch the Bank Holiday film together.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Long Hot Summer

Wearing that damn coat even in the blistering heat1976 was the hottest summer on record in England and Wales since records began in 1727. I was five at the time and wearing my duffle coat. Apparently I had been wearing this coat throughout the previous summer, which according to the Met Office was also long and hot.

There was a hosepipe ban and some places had their water cut off. Pictures of people having to fetch water from standpipes were on the news. I don’t remember having to fetch water but I remember the cracks in the dirt and tarmac melting on the road. Soft tar under your feet is a very odd feeling when you’re five years old.

The BBC compiled a load of memories when they thought that 2006 might surpass 1976. It didn’t. No matter how much we complain about the heat these days, there still hasn’t been another 1976. Though I heard today that the first ten days of May have been the hottest in 200 years. So we’ll see. Eventually it started raining around my sixth birthday. And I was still wearing that damn duffle coat.

I’m going to write a lot more on this in time, but today it’s too hot for me to bother.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room