Dedication to the cause

Nothing says commitment to a cause like enduring adverse weather conditions for the sake of a passion/obsession – especially in Britain. Rain is a common enough occurrence that to stay at home in the hope of avoiding it would mean missing out on a heck of a lot.

Take Saturday, for example. Miserable weather was forecast, but our plan for the day (fixed up at least two months ago) was to enjoy West End Live in Trafalgar Square, possibly attend a barbecue and then watch Legally Blonde (again) – two out of the three activities required being open to the elements. Thing was, the day dawned bright and sunny, so it was hard work persuading our minds to be sensible and to don practical clothing that would also be suitable for a night at the theatre. Tantrums were thrown in the Met Office’s direction and arguments were had over the reliability of different weather iPhone apps.

The forecast didn’t keep the musicals fans from Trafalgar Square – they were there in droves, ready for all possibilities. In the space of half an hour I must have removed and replaced my cardigan four times; opened and closed my brolly twice; and spent a significant amount of time shielding my eyes from fierce sunshine (couldn’t see the performers properly sans glasses, so sunglasses would’ve hampered my enjoyment). Looking down towards Big Ben, we could see the clouds moving towards us at speed so were at least assured that whatever the weather threw at us wouldn’t last for long.

The showers were annoying – not least because the unfurling of umbrellas obscured our view of the stage somewhat (and a member of our party revealed that he had a paranoid fear of being poked in the eye by one, so found the whole thing rather traumatic), but it certainly wasn’t enough to send us under cover. We had come for free musicals and free musicals were what we were going to see! Then came a true test of our resolve – the Jersey Boys set began (ok, yes, so the jukebox musical is a test for all our resolves…) and as they did so the heavens opened and rain poured down…

…And down, and down. There was a brief pause, then it began again. The water level in the square began to rise (they may need to look at its drainage), and I began to search for higher ground. But the crowd stood firm, determined to stay put and enjoy themselves. Then the rain turned to hail – and still we stood firm. Sure, it was uncomfortable and unpleasant, but while we could see a spot of blue in the sky, we believed that hope was not lost.

See, Morv was not happy.

The crowd standing firm – but damp.

Eventually it stopped – I say eventually, the sun returned before the Jersey Boys had finished their set and we happily watched Mamma Mia excerpts while drying out in the sun and deciding where to go for lunch. As a result of the experience, I think we learned a few valuable lessons:
  • Sandals are appropriate footwear in such circumstances. Yes, I may have looked (and felt a bit cold) but my feet dried super quickly and I did not have to spend the rest of the day in damp shoes.
  • If you’re carrying extra, warm clothing with you, it’s best not to keep it in a fabric bag – in torrential rain it won’t necessarily stay dry. 
  • Shorts & leggings were a good idea – again, because leggings dry quickly. Denim shorts on the other hand, not so sensible – like jeans, once damp it takes forever to get dry (and there’s little worse than an afternoon with a soggy bottom). 
  • Shaking yourself dry may look ridiculous, but can be effective…

Bruce & Morv ably demonstrate the shaking technique.

Oh, and the ultimate post torrential rain warmer-upper is this beauty:
That would be a dark chocolate & rum milkshake with added Oreo bits.
It’s practically an entire meal – and a cocktail, in a glass.

Inappropriate footwear

I should have known it was mistake to go straight for the radio when I woke up this morning. In doing so I missed the London news bulletin at 7.30 that usually gives me the latest on both London Transport and the weather – key information to have prior to getting dressed and leaving for work. Instead, all I had was Radio 1 weather, which is sketchy to say the least. All I knew was that it would be wet in Scotland (surprising) and that it would be cooler than yesterday (when London hit a balmy 25c).

As a result, I found my feet rather inappropriately dressed when I emerged from Baker Street station into rain that stubbornly persisted all morning. By lunch it was torrential, yet I still ventured out for a jaunt to Oxford Street. Within minutes my legs (clad in purple tights) and feet (nestled in the beautiful red shoes) were soaked.

Then someone in a pair of Hunters passed me and I could have kicked myself (had that not simply made my legs wetter and dirtied my tights). I own the most fantastic wellies and yet didn’t have them with me in perfect wellie conditions. Idiot!

[Additionally, had I known it was going to rain I wouldn’t have bothered spending 40 minutes blow-drying my hair – despite ‘moisture barrier’ hairspray I still bore a more than passing resemblance to Hermione Granger when I got back to the office.]

My resolution for this autumn/winter is therefore to think practically and not to be afraid to get the Hunters out of their (rather awesome) shoe-box when it’s wet outside. They go perfectly with most of my expanding collection of tights and – most importantly – will keep both toes and calves warm and dry.

I may or may not try one of the interesting tights/wellies combos currently on display at Selfridges:

While on the subject of the fabulous wellies, the photo below (taken when a tad bored during a Greenbelt seminar) is now my most popular Flickr picture – want to get lots of photostream views, comments and favourites? Simply take photos of shoes…


In a little over an hour I’m going to head out and jump in some puddles wearing the fabulous wellies – I’m super excited. I’m just hoping that the very heavy rucksack I’ll be carrying won’t hinder my jumping ability.

Yes, I’m off camping again and this time the weather’s not playing ball. It’s raining in London and has been for days – with awesome vigour. However, my sister rang earlier (a lot earlier – it woke me up) to inform me that the sun’s shining in the shire and all will be well. But, the rain does at least mean I’ll look slightly less foolish wearing my wellies to travel in. [Golden rule of packing: wear your heaviest shoes to travel in.]

I’m not given to wearing practical clothing, as I think I’ve mentioned before. To be honest, I consider anoraks dorky clothing to wear in the city – best left to tourists and the middle aged – and prefer an umbrella to a hood. For some reason, manly men can pull off the ‘I’m just off on a hike’ look in an urban context, but women can’t. But in a field, amongst tents, I’m all for practicality – so the kag in a bag is packed, although as I write, I realise that its red hue clashes with my purple footwear. Ho hum…

It’s been practically autumnal the last couple of days, thanks to the rain and near gale-force winds – so much so that I resorted to tights and boots yesterday (in August!!). However, it made me happy because the tights in question are very special and provide me with a Friday Fun tip for you. (Though I realise that only certain readers will be interested in attractive, cosy tights, unless you’re of a male persuasion and find hosiery a little kinky…)

Aubin & Wills is a ridiculous store. It’s the upmarket brother of ‘university outfitters’ Jack Wills (beloved of teenagers in the Home Counties) and a place where I can ill-afford to shop, even in the sales. However, it’s one of C’s favourite places to window shop and there’s one near work, so I pop in sporadically to stroke cashmere sweaters.

On a recent trip I discovered something I could afford – tights, reduced from £29 to £7, a total bargain. [To explain to the men-folk: good tights are costly – though I draw the line at paying £29 for them.] I purchased one attractive purple pair which were worn yesterday and were so lovely that I went out at lunch to buy more. The good news is that there are still plenty of them online, should you not exist in the vicinity of a store. Colourful tights? What’s not to like?

Oh, you might be struggling to see the fun in this, well…colours are fun, autumn’s fun, shopping’s fun – see?

Il fait pleut

Or, more accurately J’espère qu’il ne pleut pas, and specifically, that I hope it doesn’t rain next weekend because I’ll be under canvas (again).

In preparation for my annual weekend of fun, frolics and friends in the green fields of Cheltenham, I’ve spent the evening doing a little bit of baking – not cupcakes because they don’t transport well – lemon biscuits, to be precise.

It’s a recipe from my mother’s Be-Ro cookbook (c. 1965) that I have scribbled onto a scrap of paper and is super-simple, given as it’s in the letting children loose in the kitchen bit of the book. It reads as follows, but I’ve included some expansions on the directions:

Lemon Biscuits

200g SR Flour
100g Caster Sugar
100g Margarine
1 egg (beaten)
Grated rind & juice of half a lemon

Mix flour and sugar together. Rub in fat [till it looks like fine breadcrumbs].
Add in lemon and enough egg to make a stiff dough.
[Do this gradually, sticky dough’s a nightmare. You won’t need all the egg.]
Roll out thinly and cut. [Obviously, use a floured surface & rolling pin.]
Place on a greased baking tray and place in oven at 180c for 15 minutes.

And what of the rain reference (other than the obvious camping link)? Well, months ago I purchased a few new cookie cutters, which I’ve not got round to using till today. My favourite’s the umbrella, which may be appropriate – but to wish us luck with the weather I’ve also made some four-leaf clovers.

Then I got a little musical and pretentious with my quaver cutter, deciding to create some semi-quavers and a semi-demi quaver too. (I tried some triplets, but that turned out to be a little over ambitious, as was the hemi-demi-semi quaver.)

And finally, with the last of the dough, I wrote my name – because when you’re using a recipe designed for 6 year olds, you act like a 6 year old.

They’re so yummy it’s a good job I’m intending to shove them in the freezer till Friday, otherwise there’s a high chance they would have all been consumed by then!

Blame it on the weatherman?

It’s not been a good day, weather-wise. Grey skies all day, and a sudden rainstorm just after I left the office for lunch which reminded me (yet again) of the holes in my office shoes. These shoes (old favourites) have now been consigned to shoe heaven.
With impeccable timing, at 4.55pm, the sky went black and an ominous rumble of thunder echoed round the building, then the rain started…
By 5.10pm I was contemplating my journey home, trying to decide if I should spend more time at the office (God forbid) or risk it. Bearing in mind I had unsuitable footwear, no coat or waterpoof and a flimsy brolly, I made the possibly foolish decision to make a dash for it. However, having my trusty camera in my bag, I decided to have some fun with the possible nightmare by documenting it for your (ok, mostly my) amusement…
From my office window, things did not look good:

The view as I opened the door – flooding!
The beautiful thing about Bermondsey station’s architecture is that it’s glass roof shows you what the weather’s like as you travel up the escalator. In this case, the noise of the rain was a pretty good indication of what to expect.
This is what I got:
Within minutes it got worse (I was surprised that was even possible).
Hail fell from the sky in large lumps.
This is hail on my (soaking wet) cardi – just to prove it was there!
Home and trying to be amused by the 20min walk through walls of rain.
You’ll note my hair is wet, this is owing to my fear that my umbrella could become a lightning conductor. I don’t think that was paranoia, I’m very safety-conscious!
Brolly and my very wet shoes.
I was super excited to put these on this morning – I’d rediscovered them in the back of my wardrobe. They were Monsoon bargains, but sadly, did not cope well with monsoon conditions. My feet were dirty, cold and generally unhappy.

The perfect antidote:
(In an appropriate ‘storm in a teacup’ mug.)