“What do you think makes the English the way they are?” mused Lady Rosamund in the final episode of Downton Abbey. “I blame the weather,” drawled the Dowager Countess of Grantham.
It’s early January, the beginning of our second full year at Foxtwist and I am surrounded by soggy fields and swollen rivers. Our local parish Lengthsman has cut additional gullies through the laneway verges to allow the rain to slither off the road into the ditches which line the hedgerows. From my kitchen door I can hear the gush and gurgle of our normally trickling creek. “Mild” and wet December (the parentheses are purely for Australasian audiences – the English are an impressively hardy lot) has flipped the calendar page and decided to continue into the new year. All sorts of records were broken during the Christmas month – not only the wettest December but the wettest month since record keeping began in 1910. And the “mild” moniker is justifiably permitted because the average temperature was 7.9 (4.1 degrees above), similar to the averages experienced last April and May (bet you’re rethinking that spring holiday to the Old Dart now ….) As a lass from the Black Country moaned to me at our local pub, “It were worm, so worm, it dae feel like Christmas!”
I just want it to snow – because why else would I be hunkered down in Britain over winter?
… preferably on the weekend, so on Monday I can get to my “Stretch and Strengthen with a Smile” class, Tuesday my voluntary post and Wednesday Waitrose (29 miles / 46 km round trip) for the “big shop” (30 quid more expensive per 100 pounds spent than its competitors but the cheese counter is oh so nice). I’d like to spend a Sunday prancing in crisp, sparkly, woolly sheep strewn fields wearing wellies before popping three Cabernets and a roast pheasant.
Wellies. British Must Haves. Forget the “15 Fashion Heels Girls Can Wear in the Snow“, Elle, January 2016. Elle obviously doesn’t live in rural west by north-west Worcestershire during the wettest month ever in recorded British history. Most of the Royal Family, its nobles, landed and unlanded gentry boot up in Hunters (90 ish pounds – I will track down the elusive “pound” symbol on my metric key board soon ). President Obama’s daughters were given lipstick editions (pink / purple) during Prime Minister Cameron’s official visit in 2010. Hunters, particularly in green are an English institution (despite slipping on a administrative banana peel in 2006 and bought out by a Swedish company). Only Kate The Duchess has rebelled, pulling on a pair of “Vierzonord Le Chameau” at £300 quid (found it).
I have tried them all (except the V le C’s which I think make your bum look big) and now muck about in a pair of Mucks. Solid, stolid, wouldn’t-be-seen-dead-on-Elle’s-(or Kate’s)-legs-in-Knightsbridge and a bargain at £80 because, with a thick, spongy, neoprene (wetsuit) fabric “leg” they are the least awkward to get off when transformed by ubiquitous December mud into a platform wedge.