Before I start, thought I'd let you know how my beef goulash turned out. We had enough for us both for tea plus I was able to freeze another two double portions. DB had peas with his!
On Saturday evening, we settled down to view Winterwatch – Winter of 62-63 (or a title similar to this!)
It had Chris Packham doing the introduction and final part with a 45 minute documentary included.
As a child, I remember this winter but not how it was portrayed in this. I had no idea of how desperate things were around different parts of the countryside/towns/cities. It was amazing to see how much snow fell in such a short time. This combined with a slight thaw and even more snow must have made life very uncomfortable.
What I remember was loads of us children, cutting igloo style blocks of snow to make walls to hide behind whilst have prolonged snowball fights. Our feet were wet and cold and our hands red raw but we seemed to do this for hours. We had no special clothing to wear. Hand knitted mittens soon got wet and were dispensed with, likewise bobbly hats and scarves.
Not many of us had wellingtons and in such cold weather, other than keeping your feet dry, they didn't help with keeping the cold out. We got told off for getting our things wet and had to fill our shoes with newspaper to help them keep their shape as they dried in front of the fire. The steam rose off them and the clothes and we were wishing them dry so we could get back outside and start all over again.
Those were my only memories of that winter. Other winters though, are well remembered. We had no carpets in the bedroom to stand on first thing in the morning. You had to use your fingernails to scrape the ice off the inside of the window panes.
You became very adept at getting dressed whilst still in bed. Going to bed was a little different, you undressed as quickly as possible then put on your pyjama's, leapt into an ice cold bed where you did one of two things. Either you curled into a tight ball, slowly unfurling as each bit of the bed became warm, or you did the bed time jiggle, quickly moving your limbs backwards and forwards to warm as much as the bed as possible.
No one knew about quilts instead we had sheets and blankets, a counterpane and eiderdown.
We had porridge for breakfast then walked to school (usually up to 2-3 miles away). I presume this didn't happen in that winter but I don't remember it not happening. The toilets at school were usually frozen so couldn't be flushed. The janitor could be seen taking kettles of boiling water to try and unfreeze the pipes. We played out in the snow every break, even if it was snowing hard, getting wet yet again. Huge slides would be created from one corner to another of the playground. No one ever put salt on them. It was considered character forming and once you learnt to slide, it was great fun.
The bell would be rung and in we would go. If you were lucky, the heating was working, if not, you envied those sitting close to the temporary heaters. Condensation quickly formed on the windows from all us wet bodies, slowing freezing and forming intricate patterns. Frozen bottles of milk had been brought indoors for early morning but it was often afternoon before they had thawed. Each had a 1 inch or so, risen icicle where it had come above the rim as it froze. The silver foil tops sitting astride at a topsy turvy angle.
Eventually it was home time and off we trudged. It was barely still light before we got home. Something nice and hot was served for tea, and if you were lucky, it wasn't bath night. Whilst we had got past the stage of tin baths in front of the fire (although some of my school mates still used these), the bathrooms were freezing places with barely warm water. After supper (a glass of milk and a biscuit if you were lucky), off you traipsed to bed to begin the cycle once more.