How do you deal with the cold?

Jeff and me – all wrapped up at Windsor. Photo by Rose Morro.

I knew that I had been shut up in the apartment for too long when a trip to the dentist sounded like a fun day out!  Jeff and I had both been sick with the flu for about 2 weeks but were feeling better when our long ago scheduled dental checkups rolled around.  Jeff kept asking “Do you think we should cancel?”  But, I wouldn’t hear of it, I was looking forward to a day in London and getting out of the apartment.  The weatherperson was predicting snow and freezing temperatures but even that didn’t scare me.  When we finished up at the dentist’s office around 11.30 it was indeed snowing – snow mixed with freezing rain and COLD temperatures.

When I go out in the cold, I dress for it – some might say I even overdo it a bit, wearing at least 3 layers of clothing under a long down coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots.  The only exposed skin is around my eyes and nose and I would happily cover that if I could figure out how to do it and still be able to see and breathe.  So, I am always amazed at the number of people that we see on the streets in freezing temperatures either with a very light coat or none at all.  And I am not talking about the homeless or those who are too poor to buy a coat.  I am talking about the “tough” British person who can go out in 0 degrees with a t-shirt on and maybe a scarf around the neck.  And no matter how cold it is, it seems that there is always at least one man out in shorts, his bare legs braving the weather.

The most notorious winter short-wearers are the British postmen.  It seems that there are competitions to see who can wear their shorts the longest into winter and some postmen have actually gone years without ever bringing out the long trousers.  They give many reasons for this:  Some say that it is refreshing and some say that bare legs are more comfortable than water-soaked trousers, but I think it might be just for the round of drinks they could win and the “admiration” of the public for their hardiness.

But I guess the barelegged postmen aren’t really so surprising when you consider British school uniform history.  Up until about the 1960s, it was fairly common for boys up to age 13 to be required to wear shorts all year round.  Today, there are still some schools that require shorts in winter and others where it is optional.  So my theory is that the men wearing shorts in winter must have been little boys who were forced to trudge bare-legged through the snow on their way to school, their poor little legs must have frozen and lost all feeling, and now they just aren’t bothered by the cold.  Brrrr!  I think I will pull up my woolly socks, sit by the radiator and have a hot chocolate.

Hardy? Or foolhardy?
Future postmen???

Follow Me – If you would like to keep up with my articles, you can receive an email every time I post (every other week or so). Just enter your email below and click the Follow the Curious Rambler button.

Margo Lestz


  1. Margo has such a great sense of humour! What amazes me about the UK is it can be freezing but the sunshine comes out for an hour and someone will be driving around in a convertible with the top down and they are dressed up like an eskimo!

  2. I have noticed a trend in the US, as well. I see adults and children wearing short sleeved t-shirts in freezing weather with sandals on their feet. Brrrrr. Bundling up has its merits and comforts. Give me comfort any day.

    Perhaps future postmen are foolhardy.

    Good photo at Windsor!

  3. When I was growing up as boy in the beginning of the Sixties in the south of Germany it was still the case that boys from conservative and religious oriented families, like mine were forced to wear short leathershorts from the infant days on. On cold days and in winter you had to wear woolen kneesocks, but knees and thighs had to be bare. This was part of the education, trousers were only allowed as exception.
    I went with my brother to a private school. It was no school uniform required, but we went there with shorts on the year round, up to the age of fourteen as well at the scouts.
    When you had to stand the biting cold and the stinging of your bare tighs and knees in freezing temeratures with wind and snow for several month the year at your childhood and early youth, you get toughened and don’t feel the cold any more.
    No one at that time was really concerned seeing schoolboys going to school in winter with shorts on, having goose pimpled bare legs and bluished knees in the cold.

    1. Thanks for adding a voice of experience. So this practice seems to be for getting the boys toughened up and used to the cold. I think people really do adapt to their environment. Now that I spend most winters in the south of France where it is “relatively warm”, I feel very cold if I go anywhere else. So maybe I should start wearing shorts in winter? Or does it only work when you’re young? 🙂

  4. I think it is possible to train your resistance to cold, but of course it works quite better when you are very young and get in touch with the cold.
    Locking back from the todays point of view it might be strange for many, that we as boys in our childhood and youth, had to wear shorts in winter. It was not questioned at this time, but seems strange today.
    Going to kindergarden or school in winter, I was given a coat, woolen cap, a scarve and gloves but had to wear very short lederhosen with halters and kneesocks leaving as much as possible of the thighs and the knees bare.
    When I was playing in the snow, bulding a snowman or went tobogganing with my elder brother, we stood in shorts, because my father did not allow longs. This in my early teens often lead to discussions with my parents.
    In the our private school boys had to wear shorts all time. But I realized that boys at other schools could be in longs and that classmates changed from longs to shorts after arriving the school.
    I think this education measure at our school also had to do with the aim, to instill docility and humility by keeping boys in shorts, in order to tame them, by having access to bare skinn for cp purpose. The sting from slaps to the leg hurt even more when you were cold.
    In my childhood and early youth you had to cope with cold legs most of the time. On freezing winter days you could had purple legs often cold like ice, but without any feelings.

  5. Well, coming from a culture where we bundle children up from head to toe in winter, it does seem a strange custom to me. But apparently it works for some. I think, at my age, I’ll just stick to my long trousers, boots, etc.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience on this topic.
    All the best!

  6. I can’t stand being cold so when it comes to bundling up I go all out. On an average winter day I wear a sweater with a fleece jacket over it, then a long down coat. Over all of that I put on a very thick and warm down parka.

  7. Great post!

    I’m a teacher in Minnesota and I have to spend at least 45 minutes standing outside for recess. In the winter when I have to go out there I wear two, not one but two, winter coats. Both are calf length and down filled and have hoods. I also don a pair of thick snow pants. People make fun but at least I’m warm.

      1. The winters here are certainly rough, I’m usually dressed warmer than every else and still I easily get cold. I have two teenage kids and I always have to battle with them to get them to wear snow pants and winter coats to school. According to them being bundled up isn’t cool.

        1. I’m convinced that some people feel the cold more than others. I’m like you and I’m always bundled up. Sometimes I’m wearing 3 or 4 layers and see others who are wearing hardly anything. I don’t know how they do it.

  8. I live with my grandmother and in the winter she bundled me up so much that I can barely move. She makes me wear snow pants, winter boots, two winter coats, and a giant arctic parka. I also have to wear gloves under my mittens, a balaclava, a fur cap, a couple scarves, and all of my hoods pulled up.

      1. Oh no! I absolutely hate dressing like that! When I walk to school that’s what she makes me wear. I sweat so much and get made fun of for my winter clothes.

  9. I’m a big believer in layers. I start with thermal under wear, tights and shirt. Then I put on a sweater and jeans. Over the sweater I wear a fleece jacket and over the jeans I put on ski pants. On my feet I wear knee high winter boots. Then I put on my down jacket followed by my giant marshmallow parka. On my head I put on a ski mask and a hat before pulling my hoods up. Then I wrap my scarf and put on my mittens.

    1. Wow! Where do you live? I also wear layers, but not quite as many as you do. I’m guessing that our winters in the UK are much milder than yours.
      Thanks for commenting and hope you manage to stay warm this winter.

      1. I live in the US. Most days now the windchill is below freezing so I’m glad for all my layers. My rule is 5 layers on top and four on the bottom. The only down side is that it takes forever to get dressed and just as long to get undressed!

Leave a Comment