Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The freezing north, the boiling south

‘Yesterday Catherine bought me a pair of long-johns,’ my father wrote in his most recent email from Holland. ‘Makes having a pee a bit of a production but it’s worth the wrestle. In 3 degrees below – and forecast today of 20 cm of snow tonight and tomorrow – they’re just the job. I never would have thought I’d spend any time in Europe’s worst winter in 20 years, let alone a couple of months. Another first – and indeed a last as far as I’m concerned.’

Simultaneously, here in the southern hemisphere, the summer finally roared in like a lion, with temperatures so hot in a nearby town on Sunday (they peaked at 50 degrees) that a bike race was called off. My cousin Steven, who lives in Manchester, is here to ride the Argus cycle race, and was so stunned by the heat in the valley that I did the decent thing and took him to Yzerfontein on the west coast on Saturday, to take advantage of the cool onshore breezes that always blow there.

Well, almost always. Although the Atlantic Ocean waters on that coast are so cold that you can sometimes get an ice-cream headache if you just put your feet in, it was so hot that I actually had a swim in the sea. Sure, the breath was knocked out of my body as I plunged under, but it was worth every gasp.

(Steven, an Englishman to his ankles, declined even to remove his takkies for a walk on the beach; there was absolutely no way he was going to get in the water.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: