The last time we were in London (Aug 2005), it was 80-85ish degrees and sunny. We wandered Hyde Park, visited important buildings, museums, and sights. We thought it was wonderful. (Yes, I even thought it might be nice to move to the UK one day.)
This time went a bit differently. London rained on us, Cardiff was chilly, and Oxford? Well, it pretty much looked like this:
Art by Eva Czarniecka
The artist captures the weather better than I could ever do with a camera.
The frequent rain left us with wet shoes, wet socks, wet pants. Added to that, our clothes wouldn’t dry out when washed due to the cold and humidity. Drip-dry travel clothing hung in our London hotel room for days without drying. We didn’t even bother to try drip-dry while we were in Oxford–we just found a laundrette with dryers. But our clothes were never completely dry. When we dressed in the mornings, it was chilly enough that we could no longer be sure if we were putting on cold garments or damp ones. It was uncomfortable; even with umbrellas and rain ponchos, you just can’t stay dry.
I was finally seeing the misty, rainy England that I read about in books.
Now, I suspect that if I lived in England, I would have ways to deal with the rain. I would have spare shoes and wellies and better umbrellas. I would be able to change clothes and get warm. But as a tourist, I had only two pair of shoes with me and three pair of socks. Three pair of pants, the hems of which were all soaked. When we reported to Heathrow, it was with luggage filled with damp clothing. Ick.
I’m a girl from the desert. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like being wet.
But from a writer’s perspective, it -was- a helpful experience.
Soldiers on the move have to endure this for weeks or months. Travelers have to live with being wet. As a person who lives in a house in Oklahoma, I don’t ever have to put up with continually being soggy, worrying about whether I’ll rub a heel raw, or develop blisters and sores. I just got a tiny taste of that on this trip, and hated it.
So perhaps I learned from it. I would hope so.
(One of the things that was funny about this was that I was reading the “Captain Lacey” mysteries by Ashley Gardner wherein Lacey HATES the weather in England, and I completely sympathised with the man. Ugh!)