Tuesday, January 6

How cold is it?

The last few weeks of my outdoor activity all seem to have started with a common ritual. That of checking the car thermometer for the brrrr factor before leaving the warm(ish) car interior.

This morning, unlocking the car ready for another workday, I anticipated another ritual - de-icing the windscreen. Surprisingly, despite a forecast of a Very Cold Night this proved to be a quick task, with minimal use of the rapidly dwindling de-icer stockpile. But the lack of frost proved to be a false indicator as the car temperature gauge flashed -5°C.

Now that's cold around these parts. OK - I know that for many of you this may seem a balmy day. But for us southern folk a few miles away from the sea, and its micro climate, beguiled by a series of mild winters to expect an occasional frost (and never a sight of snow) that is cold. Very cold.

So it wasn't a surprise, as I joined in the headlong commuter rush on the main roads, to spot a number of Muppet's gaily motoring along apparently oblivious to the conditions.

As normal it was bumper to bumper. But today some individuals were squinting through small post box sized clearings on their otherwise frosted up windscreens. Their speed slowing down like a clockwork motor unwinding with the realisation that forward visibility is of very little assistance to safe driving when other traffic can join in the general rush hour chaos from a variety of directions. Other than straight ahead.

Will they ever learn? Probably not. Despite living in this area for nearly thirty years the general lack of seasonal preparedness and sometimes sheer recklessness of many Southern drivers can still astound.

Its more a case of 'I always travel this road, at this speed, at this time of day, so why alter my driving behaviour just because its a bit cold/wet/dark/lethal'.

Well that's something many will be explaining on their insurance claim forms over the coming days. As the local radio travel bulletins carried numerous incident reports of spin-offs & minor bumps from drivers just not prepared for proper winter conditions, and the due care required of them.

Which should bring me to a rant on risk assessment, personal responsibility, and just how out of touch many folk are with the natural world around them; More specifically the inevitable effect of low temperature on safe road travel.

'If you always do, what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got'. Quite so.

But instead let's turn to happier things - my latest gadget, a outcome of the current weather conditions.

Uncertain as to the real temperature whilst out wandering my New Forest trails, and partly as a result of a local conversation with someone reporting -7°C in their frost hollow home, despite +1.5°C temperature a little over 5 miles away, I'd decided to pick up a small digital thermometer. Something to play with and accurately assess just how variable temperature can be during my wanderings.

A bit of almost mandatory Googling turned up a number of keyring sized offerings, mostly of limited or pointless design (my opinion based on prior experimentation) Finally I spotted a small and robust digital offering, the PenTemp. Simple enough to use and promising the sort of accuracy I was demanding. Tiny and lightweight enough (18g) to slip into my backpack on future outings to provide another piece of the outdoor conditions jigsaw that I collect at day's end. My habitual recording of route, conditions, ideas and thoughts that form my personal walking diary.

Even better - a sale item for under £9 inc p&p, and including a handy fold-out probe for testing food heat or following various medical and veterinary practices. Then there is that potential to double as an Offensive Weapon in a tight corner (Don't mess with me, or I'll take your temperature in a cruel and unusual manner matey!) Bargain.


So tonight I can factually report, that despite certain rooms in the house feeling decidedly colder than others, the temperature range only varies by a minuscule 0.2°C. A warning perhaps to look into better draught exclusion measures?

Meanwhile as I write this the temperature outside (8pm) is already registering a balmy -2.8°C. Another cold one is on the way. More chaos on the roads tomorrow no doubt.

Meanwhile I'll draw this to a close. There's a couple of brass monkeys on the doorstep, carrying something spherical in their paws, enquiring after an emergency welding service.

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Comments:
LOL! that was a good post John. Forecast is for milder air to come in - boo!
 
How about minus 12 and below? Fantastic conditions and awesome scenery in North Wales. Write up over on my blog. Dawn
 
Hi John, read your post and immediately ordered one. That was yesterday (Wednesday07/01/09). It arrived today (Thursday 08/01/09). How good is that service?.
I have blogged the event and referred to your page - hope you don't mind.
 
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