Life in the Freezer

>> Tuesday, 19 January 2010

(with apologies to David Attenborough for appropriating the title of his tv series, but it seemed... appropriate...)

What to tell you about our two weeks in Moscow so far? There's so much that I almost feel as if there's too much. Every day something happens and I think 'I must write / blog about that', and add it to my ever-growing mental list, where it slips to the bottom and invariably gets mislaid. So I think what I'm going to do is take it one subject at a time, and I imagine that from the title of this post you've probably guessed what today's is.

I've never been too good with extremes of temperature. As a wimpy girl I once collapsed weeping on the kitchen floor when informed that Iwould have to go back out into the cold (cold as in, oh, a paltry -4 degC) to catch the school bus that was finally on it's way after having kept us waiting for 40 minutes whilst the driver defrosted it. And when in Holland over Christmas once and I experienced -10 degC, I thought that was probably the most I could take.

When, 15 years ago, Husband was working over here after we first met and regaled me with tales of minus 25, I thought he was crazy. I mean, what kind of idiot would willingly subject themselves to a country that dishes out a climate like that, for chrissake? (Possibly the same kind of idiot who would move to said country in the depths of the coldest winter for 4 years, but let's not go there). Never mind that he always assured me that -10 degC in Moscow doesn't feel any colder than minus 2 in London due to the much greater humidity in the UK (that lovely raw, damp cold that comes in straight off the Channel, in other words), I just thought he was trying to soften me up and get me to move there. Which I never would. Obviously.

But now? I have moved here, and guess what; minus 10?

Minus 10 is for wimps. I laugh in the face of minus 10 nowadays... Pretty much like Husband did in my face this morning when, on discovering that it was minus 21 degC as we walked Boy #1 to school this morning, I remarked that it did feel a little chilly.

God, I hate it when he's right.

Obviously, when it's this cold, you do have treat the weather with respect. And that includes staying inside as much as possible and when you do have to go out, poncing about in some of the ugliest snow boots known to woman, but when it comes to keeping my toes I take no fashion prisoners. Luckily, it seems that neither does anyone else (with the exception of the fur-clad mummies at the school gate, next to whom I feel very dingy in my North Face quilted coat and Monsoon wool hat), and if you make mistake of going out not wearing anything on your head, you can expect to be stopped and harangued by strangers in the street for your stupidity.

As for the children, well they get bundled up in skipants over their trousers, with snow boots, thermal tops, jumpers, ski jackets, hats, scarves, and - in the case of Boy #2 who at 4 is finding this especially hard to handle - two lots of gloves. Let me tell you, getting that lot onto a recalcitrant child at 8am tends to slow you down somewhat. And even bundled up like that, the cold still affects them. What should be a 10 minute walk to school is currently a 20 minute crawl when my youngest is with us, due to the cold slowing him down.

I thought I'd beaten that by buying a sledge so I could pull him along in double quick time (practical and picturesque, how stylish!), but yesterday - dammit - Moscow's road sweepers did what they do best and got rid of all the snow. One day it was there, the next, gone to the great snow pile in the sky at the edge of the city somewhere. So, no snow means no sledge. I must be the only person in the city praying for more of the white stuff in the hope we make it to school on time.

However, I'm determinedly looking on the bright side. It's going to warm up tomorrow; the weather forecast is for cloud and only -12 degC; that's practically tropical compared to today.

I may hang some washing out.

16 comments:

TheMadHouse 19 January 2010 at 20:25  

Wow, put the cold in the UK to shame. I totally agree in dressing for the cold, I think we have forgotten how to do it here. My boys wear thermals, as do we, but then I married a farmers son and he doesnt like the heatin on during the day

Muddling Along Mummy 19 January 2010 at 20:37  

Wow ! That really puts -2 to shame

Am going to steal your two pairs of gloves trick with Toddlergirl - hopefully it'll mean she keeps them on that way - thank you !

planb 19 January 2010 at 20:41  

Welcome back and welcome to Moscow! Hope you love it as much as I did. Totally agree with your husband though - it just doesn't feel as cold somehow. And once it gets below about -10, it doesn't seem to feel any colder. You just get more tired - which means - halleluljah - you get to eat more... What's not to like!

You're making me feel very nostalgic!

nappy valley girl 19 January 2010 at 20:43  

Minus 21 sounds fiendish - it's been down to Minus 10 here (with wind chills making it lower) and that's pretty unbearable. I have to wear two pairs of gloves myself on those days (or ski gloves, which is a good plan for the children too). Today it hit the balmy heights of Plus 3 and I am walking around hat and gloveless feeling as if summer has returned.

I'm assuming your apartment is warm and toasty though?

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 19 January 2010 at 20:58  

Chilly! I totally sympathise with you in trying to get everyone adequately clothed to get out the door. We are pretty toasty here at the moment, barely any snow, above freezing and everything, but when it gets cold I have to factor in about an hour to get everyone ready. And then I always need a wee.

Longing to hear tales of Moscow. How are the boys finding it?

Heather 19 January 2010 at 21:12  

welcome back! Lovely to hear that someone else is as stupid as me moving somewhere so cold. I don't feel quite so bad anymore ;) and -10C really isn't that cold, is it?

Hope you are settling okay.

Pig in the Kitchen 19 January 2010 at 22:20  

vodka dahling. That's what the boys need to perk them up in the morning. You've got to start living like the locals Potty, that's the key. I'm appalled that you're walking to school, you need a big fuck-off
4x4, fake tits, fur everywhere (apart from THERE where less is more ;-) and then you drive the two minutes down the road. Should you join the mafia? Seasoned expats always say 'don't say 'no' to anything at the beginning', so if you're offered an Uzi don't hold back.

I hope that advice is useful to you in your time of turmoil.
Pigx

Anonymous,  19 January 2010 at 22:39  

My god I take my hat off to you....however when you have lovely warm temp in our inevitable 'bbq summer' will it not all have been worth it. Hoping to hear how the boys are getting on in school....its the teacher in me. Chris

sharon 20 January 2010 at 07:36  

Brrrr! Gloves first and then mittens may help Boy#2 as that should trap more warmth around his little hands.

So, when does Spring begin?

PS I think Pig in the Kitchen has some good ideas in her comment, maybe you should try some of them out ;-)

Footballers Knees 20 January 2010 at 12:50  

Sounds brutal. My boy was in tears after a chair lift ride for 10 minutes in minus 18. Putting 2 pairs of gloves on Boy #2 first thing in the morning sounds like such fun. Would rather be doing my Hannah Waterman workout at 5.30 a.m. than that.

Nicola 20 January 2010 at 16:32  

If I was a good friend I would be totally sympathetic. But no. I have struggled with insanely low temps in Chicago for 10 years and I still cannot come to terms with it. For 4-5 months the only fashion options which give you the vaguest chance of not freezing off a vital appendage leave you looking as attractive as a pillsbury dough boy. And let's not talk about the permanent hat hair.

SO glad you have arrived - and really looking forward to hearing more about your experiences.

Love and warm hugs

xxxx

Potty Mummy 20 January 2010 at 18:10  

MH, sounds like when I grew up. Although I do think he might change his mind if -4 was the high...

MaM - did the trick work?

PlanB, I didn't realise you lived here at one time. It's even more of a shame we never got to have that coffee.

NVG, +3? Now you're just showing off. And see today's post for the answer to the heat in the apartment...

Brit, yes, you just described our morning rush EXACTLY!

Heather, -10 isn't that cold, you're right. God, I wish it was that warm here.

Pig, what would I do without your advice? Can't stop; I'm off the plastic surgeon for a consultation. Anything to fit in...

Chris, I'm just hoping that the warm summer does actually materialise.

Sharon, the gloves and mittens idea does seem to have helped - even it was a little tricky to execute.

FK - please tell me you're joking on the HW video at 5.30am? Please? Because otherwise I'm going to wonder where my sister's gone and who this stepford wife is who's replaced her.

Nicola, that's it! I knew I reminded myself of somebody when I looked in the mirror before I went out earlier... And as for the hat hair - well, as a shorthaired brunette yourself I'm sure you'll understand when I say that I'm considering if it's time to actually grow my hair simply so I can put it up and not be bothered with the whole hat hair dilemma...

Jo Beaufoix 21 January 2010 at 17:39  

Blimey, my two would hate it. They whinged so much when we couldn't visit friends because of the weather here that I nearly locked them in a cupboard. Tsk. Sounds like you're doing admirably my dear. Hope you're all settling well. Hug.

Vero Pepperrell 22 January 2010 at 14:44  

Yup, as a Canadian, I can vouch for British freezing temperatures feeling painfully worse than in drier climates like Canada (or Russia seemingly).

Good luck with getting the kids used to their snow clothes - I vaguely remember my mum trying to make us compete to see who would get fully dressed first! Maybe that could work?

Have a great time in your new home,

Vero

Iota 22 January 2010 at 17:07  

Great to hear from you in your new location!

Yes, washing is DEFINITELY the thing that expats do. It's like nailing your colours to the mast. It's a statement. "I'm British and I hang out washing".

Then you can iron it to defrost it.

Sparx 25 January 2010 at 22:49  

Oh, I remember that weather. One of the best reasons for leaving Canada it turns out. When it gets that cold (or perhaps a bit colder?) and you breathe, in your nostrils freeze shut. I hate that. I love, however, seeing tiny kids so bundled up that they can't put their arms down. Makes me laugh. Makes them cry though... poor #2 son.

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