Londoners Suck at Snow: Do Winter Like a Geordie

Written by: Violet Myers

National newspapers are now frantically declaring that we’re on SEVERE alert of HEAVY snow (batten down the hatches good people of London!) Yet early last year a mere dusting of snow brought White Walker style chaos.

Trains, planes and other automobiles came to a standstill, the elderly took to frantically throwing themselves from pavements, boyfriends were forced to hand over their hoodies to bare legged women, and an air of unnecessary panic hung in the air.

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The internet was ablaze with photos, as worried Londoners collectively lost their shit over almost half a centimeter of snow, while the rest of the country took note of our weakness in preparation for the great North/South civil war of the future.

It’s become a running joke that London can’t deal with even the lightest Tipex-ing of snow, that’s right people in Newcastle are laughing at us, Newcastle! Have you heard how those people speak? So, although we are blessed with a climate an entire degree higher than our Northern neighbours (thank you air pollution), it’s time the capital got to grips with the grit and learnt how to survive the next time someone spills a sachet of sugar and all the trains get cancelled – especially as we face the reality of an actual snow storm?

Here is some solid advice from the people who live in real ‘Day After Tomorrow’ types of places, each giving us their hints on how to do winter like a Geordie.

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“Keeping warm is easy” says Peter Gransfor, from Vaasa, Finland, lowest temperature: -28c “you just have to wear appropriate clothing. In Finland we say ‘it’s not cold you’re just not wearing the right clothes’.”

“I have a basic rule, don’t be weak” adds Lochaline born Hannah Sampson, in true Scottish fashion. Lochaline has been known to plummet to -10c in December. The trick apparently is to wear many many layers, three vest tops are better than one jumper, according to both Hannah and Johann from Akershus, Norway, Lowest Temperature: -17c who insists that we should “have a thin layer of wool on first, in Norwegian we call it ‘stilongs and pologenser’”, which roughly translates as put some bleeding clothes on you absolute plonker.

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“Easily the best thing you can do for yourself in times of snow, is invest in a pair of well made winter boots” says Gabrielle Haag from Colorado, where temperatures reach as low as -20c. “Also, lining your feet with sandwich bags can help keep them dry during snow.” Just take those bacon sarnies out first yeah?

“Even in Finland people will slip on black ice or ice patches under snow cover, don’t wear shoes with a flat sole and avoid heels altogether” says Finnish Peter. While Norweigen Johann adds that “if snow gets really deep it’s best to throw on a pair of cross country skis and glide your way to work.” Good luck getting them down an overpacked escalator at rush hour…

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Useful Tools:

“Spreading a layer of rock salt on walkways will melt stubborn ice and make your sidewalk walkable again” says Gabrielle, who deals with an average of 43 inches of snow during her winter. Pretty handy really, especially if you live in one of those big Victorian houses with stairs of ICY DOOM leading to the front door.

Scotch Guard is also a shining beacon of hope, it’s a sprayable barrier which basically makes your clothes waterproof. We wonder, as the third ‘not in service’ bus flies past, leaving us to share the pavement with 300 other bitter commuters, if it works on tears?

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Getting Around:

If you drive you’ll need a good scraper for your windshield, that and winter tyres. “A Finnish paper ran a story on how to get around in winter; it suggested spreading arms and legs and sort of walking like a penguin to stop people from falling” proposes Peter, who’s home in Vaasa only gets 2 hours of sunlight a day and an average of 20 snow days in January.

“I suggest avoiding buses altogether, they just get stuck in the snow” adds Hannah, or you could just make the most of London’s foolishness by beating the rush and ‘working from home’.

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Enjoy it:

Snow is great and skiing is fun” says Johann “you should just enjoy it when you can.” American Gabrielle agrees, saying; “pop a drop of peppermint Schnapps in your hot chocolate and turn on Cool Runnings winter is a great time to spend time with the people you love.”

It’s easy to moan when you’ve been reduced to stepping down the high street as cautiously as Val Kilmer’s dietician, but why not give in to the child-like wonder that snow brings? So, you can’t get to work, your car won’t start and your neighbour’s grubby kid threw a rock encrusted snowball at you, just go with it, ’tis the season!


Photos by Michael Barry.

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