Friday, April 21, 2006

It's been a long, cold, lonely winter

I"M SURE I'm not the only person in Derry who has started to think that Spring is actually a mythical season which exists only in the mind of chocolate companies desperate to sell copious amounts of eggs for Easter.

As the rain has battered down around my ears with ridiculous frequency last weekend I was starting to worry that my funky black mules and T-shirts were destined to remain in the cupboard forever more and that my trusty winter coat may in fact just have become a regular all year round coat instead.
Living in Northern Ireland I'm wasn't expecting a tropical heatwave. I'm not deluded enough to live in hope of a long hot summer, but I was of the opinion that by the latter stages of April, I could at least have managed to get through an entire night without having to switch on the oil heating to stop the icicles forming on the end of our noses.
In a desperate attempt not to put our lives on hold in the hope of a sunny day, myself, himself and the short, curly haired one have tried to encourage the changing of the seasons by setting out in the car, like a proper family, with proper packed lunches and everything- in the vain hope God would smile down on our good intentions and let the sun shine through.
Despite the ominous grey clouds that filled the sky on Easter Sunday, I strapped the wee man into his car seat and ordered himself into the passenger seat (oh, the power of having my 'R' plates!). Setting out on the highways and by-ways of the North West at the requisite 45 miles an hour (himself is so not impressed with this wee rule) we determinedly headed for the most scenic sites in the hope of having a proper family day out.
Our first stop was the Roe Valley Country Park. Like any typical toddler Joseph has a fascination with the ducks and luckily the country park has a quaint little duck pond with about 20 of the blighters. I proudly looked on as my son starting playing with them (okay, harassing them) with squeals of "Quack Quack" at the top of his lungs.
Sadly, much as I tried to ignore the gloomy weather, the rain meant the heels of my fancy boots sank into the mud and even the wee man's designer wellie boots could not handle the mud pools and mahoosive puddles.

Things proceeded to take a dramatic turn for the worse when he managed to kick one of his froggy boots off in the vague direction of the ducks- nearly braining one and leading my unimpressed hubby with the unenviable task of having to have to climb into the pond to retrieve the errant boot. (They were an expensive present and match his coat, scarf and hat- I was not letting them float off into the sunset).
We then did the rain and sunshine hokey cokey for an hour (jumping in and out of the car in time with the frequent bursts of rain) until even I was convinced to admit defeat and head back home.

High on chocolate
Later that day, however, the clouds had cleared and my sense of adventure returned. With a child off his head on chocolate and sugar following his Easter feasting, we decided a walk on the beach might be a good idea.
Again taking the wheel (after much discussion on the merits of female drivers compared with our male counterparts) we headed to Faughan (or is it called Lisfannon these days? The names are all changed since I was a wain).
As we pulled up on the sodden golden shores of Inishowen the rain came again- followed by a healthy gust of gale strength wind. Ever the explorers we ventured out anyway and wrapped up in our winter woolies (in April! For the love of God! Why?) and played a game of chase the tide for half an hour before I realised I could no longer feel my ears, nose of fingers.
With the danger of frostbite increasingly imminent we retired to the car, complete with screaming toddler who "wanted the beeeeeacccchhh!". There was no chance for soggy tomato sandwiches or a cool drink to bring down our temperatures- instead it was heating on full blast in the car all the way down the road and as soon as we got home it was hot drinks and a quick dive under the duvet to stop hypothermia kicking in.
I'll admit I'm not the most outdoorsy of people, but my inclination to be at one with nature just fades to nothing in the face of adverse weather. When the sun is shining I love getting out and about- it makes me feel happy, healthy and full of life. Usually that feeling comes around the middle of March, but this year I'm still waiting.
As I write this, I'm staring out of our office window and the sun is shining brightly. Dare I say, there is even an air of warmth about the place- and this morning, for the first time, I left my coat in the car and enjoyed a brief bask in the sun.
I'm trying not to get my hopes up that this means spring has finally sprung, because I know there is a fair chance that with the weekend rapidly approaching and Sod's Law being exceptionally evident in my life right now that come tomorrow it will be raining, sleeting or snowing.
It's about time though that we got to shake off the shackles of a miserable winter and enjoy letting some sun shine into our lives.

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