October 20, 2004

Winters in England are cold.... and wet!

Well, just to have a break in my stories about Shanghai.
Winter has set in here in the UK. Ofcourse I noticed this on the evening I landed at Heathrow. It was bitterly cold. In honesty I have to admit that the temperature today isn’t too bad really. But it is wet! Its been raining all night and all morning. I was surprised to find it brought up some nostalgic feelings. It kind of makes me homesick to a time a and place in my youth. At the time I was living in Arnhem and I had a very good childhood there (with some exceptions ofcourse). That combined with the photos I see of trees changing colours. You may wonder why I said ‘photos’ rather than the real thing. That’s because the weather in England doesn’t really allow an opportunity to watch autumns colours unfortunately.
I remember when in Arnhem there was a big park just north of the central station. We always had excursions to this park with the school, especially in the autumn. We would be picking up leaves and all kinds of tree seeds, like acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts, etc. We would examine them back in school.
I remember there was a little waterfall in the park, and you could walk underneath it, and it was small enough to cross through on the top, without fear of being swept away.
Back then it could rain just like it is now. Only back then we would still get real winters in Holland, unlike nowadays. In Arnhem we would even get snow! Knee high! (ofcourse I was only 10 back then, so knee high back then is now ankle high…) We could ride our snow sledges from the dykes or some of the few hills we have in Holland. Normally we first would get snow in winter, and later we would get ice. Sometimes, if they didn’t put any salt on the streets, the snow would freeze up and one of the neighbours would tie all the sledges to the towing hook of his car and tow us through the streets in the area. The joy we had…
First snow fall was always amazing. My brother and I would be playing outside and you could smell the snow building up in the clouds, and suddenly at the end of the afternoon, just after twilight, big fat snow flakes would tumble down from the skies. My brother and I would immediately grab our shovels and start asking people if we could clear their paths for them (for a small fee ofcourse). You may think why as it just started. But within half an hour there would be 10 cm of snow! So if we start early, we can come back an hour later and do it again for them, again for a small fee ofcourse ^_-
It makes me somewhat homesick thinking back to those days. I will make sure to go back during Christmas and New years eve. Though I might spend new years eve with friends. It is more convenient if I have to go back to the UK the next day. Last year we actually got to see some snow when we were on the train back to the airport. That was quite a delight! And the atmosphere was soo nice in Holland, during those festivities. I hope that recent government plans to cut budget on, well, everything, haven’t made people too bitter.Recently I found some photos made in Japan, showing the golden temple covered in snow. It was absolutely gorgeous! This is why I would very much like to go there. At least Japan still knows real seasons!

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