Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our last winter in the UK

When I wrote the post about the Tooth Fairies, we were just heading into our last winter in the UK.  What a winter it turned out to be – bitterly cold with more persistent snow on the ground than I could remember for decades.

We were all trapped indoors for long periods of time.  Jocey decided that our flat needed some redecoration; I found this on our tumble drier one evening!

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I think they knew something was happening, or perhaps they sensed the enormous stress Jase and I were going through in order to pull off the move to Australia.  They were often unsettled at night and sometimes demanded to sleep in our bed.  The lack of sleep for us made things pretty tough, and poor Jase developed high blood pressure as a result.

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It started to snow on December 16th.  No-one was that excited at first because it didn’t look too impressive to start with.  Little did we realise what was to come!

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It just didn’t stop.  And when it melted, fresh snow fell and we went back to square one.  We had a white Christmas for the first time in years, and it was bitterly cold, regularly falling to several degrees below zero during the day and at night.  However, it always felt colder because of the constant northerly winds, making the wind chill factor really unpleasant.

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Our paths, parks and gardens were turned into a winter wonderland.  Wrapped up against the cold, we braved the conditions because the girls were going stir crazy in the house.  The girls wouldn’t stay out longer than 15 minutes before asking to go indoors.

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On top of this, when the snows came, we lost power in our flat for 5 days (fortunately not in a row).  The cold took out some circuit in our local substation, depriving part of our block and several nearby buildings of electricity.  The nights were especially hard; cooking by candle and torchlight on a (luckily) gas hob and snuggling under our duvets in the living room because it was so cold without heating and hot water.  The ambient temperature was so low that our fridge and freezer stuff remained chilled despite the power being off – I guess this was something to be thankful for.

We did end up eating out and getting takeaways from our local Chinese Restaurant in Richmond quite a bit as a result – this was one positive thing to come out of the cold snap.  Escaping to a brightly lit and warm restaurant was just so lovely; strange how a power cut makes you appreciate these things!

One weekend when the weather was a little bit warmer, we ventured out to the Science Museum and Natural History museums, aware that it might be our last opportunity for some time.

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The girls loved looking around the exhibits and doing all the interactive things.  Unfortunately, quite a large section suitable for the girls’ age group was closed for renovation.  Despite this we had a really good time and enjoyed our lunch in the funky cafe, even if we couldn’t see the food properly due to the underlit tables!

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At the end of the afternoon, we walked over to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs.  Lauren was particularly impressed with the T Rex (bizarrely – I thought she would be scared!) and came home with a cuddly version from the museum shop.

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It was all too much for some others though…

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During this time, every weekend we were trying to get ourselves ready for the big move in one way or another, whether this was to pack or to get rid of 8 years of accumulated junk.  So when the day for the move finally came in mid February, we were ready for them and everything went smoothly.

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In some ways, we were sad to say goodbye to the little flat in Richmond.  Apart from the power cuts and the problems with the electricity points in the kitchen, we had a happy time there.  When everything was packed in boxes on the final night, it was strange to see it so bare.

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We were finally ready for a long string of goodbyes to our family and friends.

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