Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bilin' Up

A bright, brilliant day, but v.v. cold.

What to wear? The temperature was -3 C. as I set off. The sun was blazing down, not having much effect on the air temperature, but I would be climbing nearly 400 metres and the sun would be on my back, making all my molecules sing and dance, bubble and boil. Once over the top, I would be in a cold, dark, sunless canyon where the sun never shines at this time of the year and the temperature, even on my back, would be down to -3 C. again.

I knew I couldn't win. Settled for a Helly-Hansen lookalike long sleeved thermal, over that a thin fleece, then my waterproof jacket, too much for the climbing and possibly not enough for the flat, especially if the wind was coming from Mr Putin's direction. Woolly hat and gloves the ideal accessories.

I was only a hundred metres into the climb when I started getting warm. Off came the gloves, then the hat. Before I reached the top, I was, as Huckleberry Finn would say, bilin'. I removed the jacket and carried it for a while. The inside was sodden.

Through the woods and out onto the carpark at the Col du Portel. A man in a BMW drove into the carpark and asked me if I had seen a girl on the road. I told him I had not come up the road, but on the walking track. He drove off. What was that all about? Is he just looking for a girl, any old girl? Is his inamorato a runner, to be picked up after she has run for an hour or something? Was there a lovers' tiff, did she go off on her own and now remorse is making him seek her? All these questions, and I will never know the answers.

As suspected, as soon as I started walking along the sunless road, my hot body rebelled against the drop in temperature and I had to put the clammy coat back on. From there until home, it was alternating cold, hot, cold and windy, and one sheltered spot of about 5 metres which felt like summer. But I kept the coat on-if it was wet inside, at least it was warm wet, until I stopped walking.

Fortunately, doing VBW from May to July I should not need to worry too much about clothing. Not heavy clothing, anyway. Or not much of the time. I have seen the temperture fall to 11 degrees here in May (after 36 degrees the day before) and I have seen it snow in UK in July. But hopefully this will not become the norm in the next 18 months.

A couple of days ago, just after my rant about weather forecasting, we were in temperatures of minus 15 C., only 12 miles or 20 kms from this house. I mentioned this to our very lovely friends Margaret and Jim Gregson in Edmonton, Alberta - a city where winters are so cold they open the shopping mall (largest in the world) an hour before the shops open, so that people can go in for a jog or a walk. I expected them to say, in the time-honoured Monty Python fashion "You were lucky, we have had ..." But Margaret told me that so far this winter, they have not had a temperature below freezing, or even any snow on the ground.

I feel another rant about the weather coming on!

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