From tropical Queensland to Parisian winter

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I hate it when the leaves fall off the trees and the temperatures go down and the days grow shorter. I’m not made for the Parisian winter. I was born and bred in the tropics.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having to wear shoes every day for months on end instead of going barefoot. And I can remember knitting and wearing my first pair of gloves when I was at uni in North Queensland. It certainly wasn’t cold enough for the thick pullover I knitted to go with them. Or even for the gloves for that matter. It’s so funny when I go back there during the winter and everybody complains that it’s “freezing”. But it’s really only because they leave the windows open all the time, even when it’s 10°C outside. Not that it oftens gets that cold. So I suggest, “how about you close the windows?” “Close the windows? We’ll suffocate! You have to have fresh air mate!” You can’t close a lot of the windows anyway. Most of them seem to be stuck open.

Now, that’s not what happens in Paris, I can tell you. I have to make this big effort during winter to open the windows for a quarter of an hour every day to let the fresh air in. But to do so, you have to turn the heating off because otherwise the thermostat goes crazy trying to increase the temperature to make up for the genuinely freezing air that pours in. If I forget to do it after I first get up, I have to find a strategic moment during the day when I don’t mind being cold for an hour afterwards. That is one of the reasons why I don’t like winter.

The next one is having to get up when it’s still pitch black outside. It means having the light on half the day because not only does it get light late, forcing you to stay in bed in the morning, but it gets dark again by 5 o’clock. You read about these people who get depressed if you don’t have enough light. Well, I think I’m one of them. I don’t ever remember getting up in the dark at home in Townsville and I certainly didn’t come home from school in the dark. I used to feel so sorry for my kids when they were at school here.

But the worst is having to get dressed and undressed every time you set foot outside. You have to put on  your socks and boots and a jumper or a jacket, then a coat and a scarf and a hat and your rabbit-lined gloves because they’re the only ones that stop your fingers going numb with the cold. I was so pleased when I found my first pair. They are soft and silky and WARM.  Of course, there is no way you can keep them for more than a couple of winters. One inevitably escapes when you’re on the metro or in a restaurant or even sometimes in the street because you can’t use an iPhone with gloves on. Well, I can’t anyway. And then the only shops that sell them in Paris must have millionnaires for customers. But I finally found an Italian website that keeps me stocked.

I have Australian friends that actually LIKE coming here in the winter. They say it’s “welcome relief from the heat”. I do not understand them.

It’s amazing how you can’t even remember what being hot is like in the dead of winter.

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