Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ann Shaw ( nee Rumsey) -1953: Snow on the balcony

The tarpaulins are in place, rigged up over the three remaining beds on the balcony for the rest of the girls have been moved indoors

The thermometer, hung over the railings, hovers around 29F.

My bed look like a little igloo. But getting to it is the difficult bit. I’ve got to paddle through a couple of inches of snow in my slippers. I get wet feet.

I climb into my little “tent” and put the slippers to dry in the locker. Or will they freeze?

All day I had been feeling a bit peculiar, bit feverish. So I do not complain about the weather, just glad to get into bed.

That night I vomit in the snow. It freezes. ( And I remember feeling puzzled and a bit indignant that nobody cleared the mess up.)

The following day I have a temperature and I am given two big white tablets to swallow.
But it has stopped snowing and the sun is shining.

I am faced with a choice: either stay in bed, alone and cold all day or venture outside.

So I go for a walk in the snow.

( Nothing is said. Or done. Eventually the snow thaws and the vomit melts away.)

Postscript : The “Craig-y-nos experience” and the Outer Hebrides

Many years later I am on an assignment with a photographer to a remote island in the Outer Hebrides in midwinter.

We stay in the one and only place that offers accommodation which optimistically called itself an hotel, though in reality it's a rambling old house with a couple of spare bedrooms which the owner, always eager to make a few pounds, lets out to unsuspecting visitors who happen to stray this far off the UK coastline. ( Next stop America.)

The photographer and I ( separate bedrooms) woke the following morning to find ice on the inside of our windows and our breath visible.
We have three hours to wait for our flight back to the mainland so I suggest we walk briskly along the beach.

The photographer, more at home in snug Glasgow bars, is appalled at the idea .
But he quickly sees my reasoning. The alternative is to sit and freeze indoors.

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