Monday, October 17, 2011

Memories - seasons, different hemispheres, droughts and Devon.....

Autumn is definitely here, people - blustery winds and a little rain, and me chasing things round the garden, like watering cans which took flight. On TV, the energy coasts are high on the news agenda. The government's solution? Shop around. NO! Why don't companies reward loyal customers (the ones who look at shopping around with horror) (like me) with the lowest rates in town? Groan.

Autumn. Oh how I love living in a country where there are 4 real seasons. In South Africa, it seemed as if there were just two - winter and summer. Long summers and equally long winters. That is, if you remember that there is no central heating in SA. And no double glazing. Just fireplaces and heaters. No gas either, so all heating is electric. Or at least it was when I lived there. Thankfully, there were days in winter when the temps were reaching the 20s C so that would qualify as the height of summer by UK standards.

I think I was tougher then. I was used to the cold homes, and we wore layers, even when the temps were around 0 C. Pipes didn't freeze. There was no real snow either - unless you count the tops of the mountain ranges. That was SO exciting - the news that there was snow anywhere close by. My blood must have thinned living here in the UK, and having heating in the house. I feel the cold much more now. And do not remind me that age may have anything to do with it!

When I got married, at the end of March in 1976, it was so hot. The temperature reached high 30s C and yet, technically, it was autumn. And I remember going back on a visit in the late 1990s, and I actually went into the sea for a swim in June. Mid winter. I was not the only one in the water that time - there were many swimmers. Probably all English tourists who thought it was summer after all.

The weather there is different. it is Africa, after all. The clocks stay put there. There is no changing time zones, even though the country spanned 3 I think, and no summer and winter times either. Sensible place. Summer means it still gets dark early, so children don't go to bed when the sun is still shining, which makes bed-times so much easier!
Photo courtesy of Google images
In 1976, here in the UK, though, we had a drought. I could not believe how hot it was, and then came the water restrictions. Stand pipes in the road. I thought I was back in Darkest Africa.
Queue for water at a stand pipe in Devon - photo courtesy of Google Images. No, I am NOT in this photo, and no I do not know any of these women! But picture me there at the end of the queue. With bucket. Every day. 3 or 4 times a day.

After we got married, we stayed with my mother-in-law in Plymouth Devon while we were not at sea - or when I was not touring the countryside with my mother and grandmother while Geoff was away on naval exercises. And the drought was so bad that all water supplies were switched off, and we had to walk to a stand pipe at the end of the road with a bucket, and get water for the day. You have no idea. Baths were out of the question. Washing machines could not work. Toilets...... well. Recycling water became an art form.

For light relief, every Sunday we would drive up onto the moors to check the level of Burrator - the huge reservoir, along with the rest of the city. And every week it kept dropping. It was a really appalling drought. And I have never learned to appreciate running water faster.

I loved the moors. Dartmoor. Geoff and I used to spend a lot of time "getting lost" deliberately on the moors, and discovered so many wonderful places. Little streams , beautiful quiet villages, wonderful rolling hills, great pubs which served delicious lunches. We would take turns - "Take the 3rd road on the right then the 2nd on the left then the 6th on the right" and so on. Oh how we used to laugh when we ended up in a field, but then we would hop out and go for a walk and explore. These are memories which really make me grin, you know. Magical times.

My mother-in-law was very old fashioned. So when I arrived from Africa, complete with maxi dresses which were high fashion, she was horrified, and told me that I could not possibly go out of the front door wearing one. People would talk. I tried to point out that maxi dresses were the best thing to wear - cool and perfect for the blazing heat. Like the Arabs wear in very hot climates. Hah. She did not buy that one. So I didn't wear them. It was bad enough that I loved twisting scarves round my head back then. I was very different.

But she loved my baking. I was asked to bake whenever she had friends to tea. That I could do. How on earth have we moved from seasons to drought to cakes? Hmmm. That is what memories do - they keep taking detours.........


Vee said...

It is just like a real conversation, which is why I love visiting and reading and commenting here.

The Bookworm said...

I took my O levels in 1976. I'm sure the heatwave improved my grades - revising was so much more appealing when we could sunbathe while we studied!

Edith said...

I am laughing...especially at the maxi dresses. I remember them...and still think they are most practical! But I don't wear dresses now-a-days.

boysmum2 said...

New Zealand changes its clocks and I am glad for it, I love the summer hours. But then I love the winter here as it is not really really cold like UK, w ecan have some days in winter where the sun is so bright and inviting you can get through any bad weather that follows. definitely no SAD syndrome in this country