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spires from Carfax

a cold winter

Oxford — November 2010

It's not going to impress those of you living in Stockholm, Uppsala, or Berlin, or who spent two winters in Basel, but it's got rather chilly here in Oxford: temperatures as low as -6 overnight and days - possibly a whole week - where it doesn't rise above 0. (Scotland has copped the worst of it so far, and a record -18 was recorded in Wales - Guardian updates.)


snow in our backyard

Our terrace lacks double-glazing and has cracks in floorboards and around doors, so when it's 0 outside the central heating only manages to keep the temperature at 14. But I've acclimatised enough that that seems quite comfortable - and wearing a scarf inside perfectly normal.

I haven't got a proper coat and seem to be doing ok without, just wearing a lot of layers: up to five on top, two on my legs, plus a scarf, mittens and a beanie. I am, however, going to have to get some proper shoes, as my beloved Dunlop Volleys don't really cut it for warmth (especially with the extra ventilation holes they acquire if you do much scrub-bashing in them) or traction on ice.


SS Mary and John churchyard

SS Mary and John church

When people have asked me how I like Oxford, I've been saying "great, but I want to live through a winter before making a judgement". So far it's been ok.


  1. Danny---

    I hope all those temperature readings are in centigrade.

    If your living room at 14F, then you really should have a word with the landlord.


    John Reilly

    Comment by John Reilly — December 2010
  2. Centigrade, definitely - I know it gets a lot colder in many parts of the US, but hopefully no one is dealing with 14 Fahrenheit (about -10 C) inside!

    I'm starting to understand how heating fuel supplies can be such an issue for people in the northern United States, and why the UK has a separate heating allowance for pensioners.

    Comment by danny — December 2010
  3. I never experienced a big chill, the closest I got to was in Feb. 2008, in Beijing. It was cold, real brass monkey weather when the cold desert wind was blowing. I had no thermal undies or long johns, just polyester trousers. However, a pair of corduroy trousers would made all the difference.

    I am keen to find out for myself one day just what -40 plus windchill is like in any one of the three far eastern provinces ( also called Manchuria ) of China. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchuria. Love to sleep in one of these beds : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_bed-stove

    An uncle of mine was sent to Heilongjiang, to a labour reform camp, China's gulag, in the early '50s. He survived.

    Comment by DL — December 2010
  4. Yes, it's one thing facing the cold when you're free, but winter is a real terror in those memoirs of the gulag, concentration camps, and forced-labour reeducation.

    Of course as well as being free it helps to be wealthy enough not to have to worry about the gas bill. Or to be forced to burn one's books to keep warm, as people did in the siege of Leningrad.

    Comment by danny — December 2010
  5. This is totally unrelated to your travels.

    We all know Julian Assange is now in custody in London awaiting extradition to Switzerland to face questionable sex crime charge. Wikileaks is now starved of funds because the US Govt. is making it hard for Visa and Mastercard not to comply. We can't blame them for that.

    But there is something all of you can do to the Swiss justice (?) depart. Hack into their computers, and give them heaps. C'mon all you sleek geeks, ( I am sure you all are ),don't just sit there and stare at the monitor. Do something.

    This is beyond me because my level of PC skill stays at opening my email account, sign on to proboards. copy and paste, and that is just about all.


    Comment by DL — December 2010

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