We've just returned to Norway after two weeks in Ireland where the weather was the coldest in 28 years making snow and ice front page news. The media bandied about phrases such as 'bitterly cold', 'a cold snap', 'arctic conditions' and my personal favourite, 'gardai are advising motorists to stay at home' with abandon. Nothing like miserable weather to distract a nation from a miserable recession and rising unemployment. As we drove to the airport, I saw Irish snow-covered mountains for the first time - very pretty - and snow flying horizontally towards the car windscreen for the first time - strangely pretty. It may be cold back in Oslo, I thought, but at least they won't run out of grit over there. I've also got four pairs of snow boots in Oslo and a car with winter tyres on. They do help.
Then we sit ourselves in the car at Oslo Gardemoen airport and the reality of being back in real arctic conditions, as opposed to the damper Irish version, is obvious. Sitting in the car are a tube of skin creme and tube of Blistex. Frozen. Rock hard. In this kind of dry cold (-16 degrees C) these items, defrosted and regularly applied, are as essential as food and water.
In the car, my husband remarked on the fact that it was so cold his ears were stinging. I could hardly hear him through my new ridiculous deer stalker hat (seen above on a model who looks 1000 times better in it than I), but at least my ears were warm. Unlike my nose. There was a time I wouldn't have contemplated placing such an item on my head but now practicality wins; better look stupid now for a short time, than stupid forever with frost-bitten ears.
So we're back for our last winter in Norway (again) wondering if in another six months we'll get to move somewhere warmer. In one of the Christmas cards awaiting us on our return a friend tells us of their upcoming move to Singapore. Lucky buggers. No chance we'll get to relocate back there in 2010 but I'll settle for somewhere else in the region, for a place where I don't have to wear ridiculous headgear, and where my car doesn't double as a deep freeze.