Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Winter is coming?

You know that winter is really coming when people start wrapping up their VW camper vans against the frost. This is a step further than just an insulated windscreen cover to avoid having to scrape frost off at seven in the morning to go to work. This is serious coverage. No more weekend jaunts to faraway places until next year for these people. 

 Mind you, there are still one or two tents in the campsite – caravan park not far from here. Those must be hardy souls, the sort who go for long hikes even when the rain is lashing down. They will need good warm sleeping bags at the moment; the nights have been very cold. Sleeping out at this time of year is not my idea of fun. 

I think the coldest camping I have ever done was over 35 years ago. A friend and I were supervising a group of 14 year olds doing a practice overnight camp as part of the Duke of Edinburg’s Award Scheme. We camped next to Hollingworth Lake, a local reservoir and beauty pot. It was April. The day had been bright and clear, even warm. Because it was so clear the any warmth there was just disappeared when night fell. I have never felt so cold. My friend and I zipped our sleeping bags together, got in and piled all our clothes on top to keep warm. Happy days! 

I’ve had wet and even stormy camping nights in Brittany but never one so cold as that. It’s a long time since I’ve been under canvas though. These days I prefer to do my camping in hotels and the only stars I need to see are the one by the hotel’s name. 

Another group of people fighting off the cold are the dog owners. Dogs of all shapes and sizes seem to have coats to keep them warm – and I don’t mean their own fur coats. Their owners feel the need to make sure their dogs are well wrapped up in warm coats which seem to come in a range of colours. OK, I exaggerate; I have yet to see some of the larger breeds of dogs in winter coats or raincoats for the wet days. I wonder how the dogs of my childhood kept warm. You didn’t see such a range of doggy haute couture in those days. 

It isn’t just the dogs either. I read that keen knitter, Katie Bradley from Vancouver, Canada makes woolly suits for pet tortoises. Two points: I didn’t know they had tortoises in Canada and surely tortoises come equipped with a shell that they withdraw into when they need to hibernate to avoid the cold. 

As I said, winter is obviously coming. Maybe it’s already here.

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