Ah the temperature

It’s been cold here in the UK, at least cold by my current standards (having physiologically adapted to a location where crocuses are in full bloom in the first week of Feb.) which are not the standards of my native land. It’s been actually cold in Minnesota. In northern Minnesota in the last week it’s been forty below F, which coverts to forty below C–it’s the magical convergence number for those of us that can’t do this in our heads. Regardless of which system of units you use, -40 is cold. It used to be that I’d laugh at that, but I’ve gotten soft living in England. Here in England “cold” means that I cannot walk to work in just a long-sleeved t-shirt and sweater, at least not if I will be returning home after dark.

So I wear two sweaters, the “sweater coat” being something I never had in the US but love here. Not really a jacket proper, just another, longer, sweater with a fashion sensibility that allows for accompanying scarves and mittens. This I love. I have a great winter coat, from Anthropologie, that I pretty much don’t wear much here–although it’s what I brought home on my US trip in December. For the record, my sweater coats here are from my favorite stores in the UK, Monsoon and Next (I’d also put East on that list of favorite UK stores, but only sometimes, they can have great stuff or very matronly stuff. Not unlike M&S where sometimes you find something brilliant and sometimes you age 20 years by just walking in the door and looking around). I almost never wear a proper jacket here in England, and in the summer I almost never dress as I would in a Minnesota summer and wear nothing but shorts and a tank top.  I wear my long-sleeved t-shirts and cardigan sweaters year-round here and think very little about the seasons.

Perhaps amusingly, there’s a strange mental block that I have here, I still, after eighteen months in residence in the UK, where I cannot convert temperature units properly. I have a few benchmarks: 25C is room temperature and thus not unlike 75F (actually more like 77); body temperature is 98.6F or 37C. But I seem to have no concept of other temperatures. I still cook everything at 200C in my oven; I got it into my head that this was a good generic temperature. It’s not bad, it’s 392F which is not far off from the ubiquitous 375F. But it’s not my educated self that thinks this in a rational sense, I essentially have a binary oven due to my own ineptitude. It’s off or it’s on at 200C. I convert the BBC forecast into F but still find that because it does not change much–in stark contrast to the mood-swing temperature cascades in Minnesota–that I don’t really think much about the weather. It’s very un-English to not be obsessed with the weather, but I guess that reveals something about me and my process of getting used to the UK.

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2 responses to “Ah the temperature

  1. NFAH: Interesting observation re temperatures! I came from a metric country via 2 metric countries to the UK. It took me 5 years to start using miles AND kilometres, pounds AND kilograms, celsius AND fahrenheit. Now I convert things on the fly esp in a mixed (FPS-SI) group.

    PS: Saw your note on my blog. Your blog makes more sense now that I know your location. I am there every week and in the w/c 25th Feb, am there all week since my viva is on the 29th. I shall sure look you up. 🙂

  2. Well, for the record, I felt as cold in Cambridge, England last US Memorial Day (end of May) when it was about 35 F and raining like crazy as I was outside this morning doing 4 miles in 1 degree F temps (obviously, I am able to dress for it in the US).

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