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30 June 2010 @ 11:35 pm
Tips for dealing with mad weather!  
Most of my flist seems to be very very cold, or very very hot at the moment. And dealing with crazy weather is one of my few areas of expertise, so here is the benefit of my experience. For which read, my many cock-ups. pingrid  had to wrap my head up in my scarf and double-up my gloves when my alpaca cap and silk-lined gloves were shown up as woefully inadequate in the face of a blizzard in Paris. Similarly, feralcheryl  and friends spent an evening throwing ice down my cleavage in a bid to keep me from passing out when I wore a formal frock with far too much fabric in it to a 40+ degree evening do in Newcastle, NSW (it was light fabric, I thought I'd be fine!).

So if you are currently freezing or melting, go to the right list below and see if there are any tips you can use. And feel free to comment with your own -- together we can be clement!

For the really, really cold
* Layer! Most of the cold comes from wind rather than still air, so the more you can keep the wind out, the warmer you are. And layer in unexpected areas: two or three pairs of tights are toasty, and if you have a variety of colours and textures, you can create great effects! Black sheer over red opaque is gorgeous.

* Have a dense outer coat. It's not just for show dogs: having a coat, hat and gloves that stop the wind is the difference between shivering and being toasty. Knits and soft weaves are sadly not much chop, while waxed or oiled cotton or silk, dense wools and hiking jackets are bloody brilliant. Lined caps are terrific -- my Barbour hat is unbelievably good for keeping out the cold, shame it makes me look like the Duchess of Cornwall. But it's worth popping something a bit tragic on top of your flash fash outfit on the way to work or uni, as no one cares what you look like at the moment, they're too busy trying to keep the blood flowing to their noses.

* Two pairs of gloves. Seriously. Even a really thin set inside your normal woollies will make all the difference. And add a scarf and hat.

* Wool! Just a woolly vest, spencer or other undergarment will make a massive difference. Check out the nanna sections of department stores and camping shops for good size ranges at reasonable prices.

* If you're sitting at home freezing, the fastest and simplest ways to warm up are to either rug up and go for a brisk walk, or grab a novel and your jammies and go to bed. Either is an honourable choice!

* Hot drinks! If you've had it with tea, coffee, cocoa and hot chocolate, try mulled wine, or adding some glögg concentrate to your red wine (you can buy it in bottles from Nordic delis, or Ikea, or here's a recipe), or go completely wild with spiced cider, just check the alcohol rating on your cider, it can be much higher than you were expecting!

* To toasty up your home, which is probably as uninsulated as mine, all those old nanna tips regarding draught excluders (door snakes) are true! Most of the heat is lost through windows and gaps around your doors. If you can stop the draughts, you can both keep out the cold breezes and hold in the heat. So close up gaps around doors, pull all those curtains and blinds shut, and throw a towel across the top of the curtain rod if you don't have a pelmet (apparently that's a 30% difference in the warmth in a room right there!)

* Towels and masking tape are good sluggy versions of proper weather-proofing. Toss the towel across the base of a door to seal the gap, use it as a fake pelmet, or wedge a small one across any gaps at the halfway point in old sash windows. If you have windows you hardly ever open, run some of the blue painter's tape around all the joins and gaps. It will come away in spring without taking the paint with it. It's not cheap, about $10, but 1 roll goes a long way.

* If your house is like ours and has a long hall and very few doors, break up the spaces. We hung thick curtains across the open doorways in and out of the living room and across the arch halfway down the hall. If you have somewhere like Reverse Garbage locally, you can find cheap thick material, or re-used street flags from public festivals that make decorative curtains. Smaller spaces are easier to heat, and mean that you can create warm zones within the house.

* When choosing which zones to warm, take advantage of areas that are already toastier: studies with a big computer, the kitchen if you're cooking, a living room that has several people and a telly or laptops: all are going to start at a higher ambient temperature than the sitting room that has no electronics and is at the other end of the house from the oven. Get everyone together (and then resist the urge for a singsong).

ETA* penguin474  reminds me of the importance of lipbalm. It's true! Apply regularly to keep your lips from cracking, and on the inside of your nose if it is really cold. Lucas' Pawpaw Ointment is the greatest balm that I have ever used and costs $5 for a big tube.

* Also: THICK SHOES AND SOCKS! Keep the freezing ground from creeping in through your soles. If you only have thin-soled shoes, add some innersoles, especially the wool type, or any other strongly insulating ones.

For the really, really hot
* This may sound crazy, but close up your house and pull all of your blinds and curtains closed during the hot part of the day. The trick is to stop the heat from coming in. Then, when the temperature dips outside as evening rolls in, fling everything open and let the cooler fresh air flood through. Having the windows open for a breeze in the middle of the day can raise the house temp by several degrees, and it's not really cold enough at night to drop it all the way back. Just remember to make sure you're secure before you go to sleep, or constantly if you're in an urban area.

* Again, possible crazy, but I cannot speak highly enough of the parasol. I was a hat wearer for many years, but on a stinking day they can be little more than sweat collectors and heat traps. The parasol keeps the sun off much of your body while leaving your head free, and you can use it to clear some personal space. Use a flouncy umbrella and it will stand up when the skies open, too! It takes a bit more bravado to carry off if you're a chap, but with attitude, anything is possible! Also, they furl up small and you can poke muggers with them if you need to.

* Clothes should be light, in weight at least. You're better off with two lightweight layers than one thick layer, and keep your neck, wrists and ankles as open as possible: wide cuffs at least. Raglan sleeves are fabbo for keeping a bit of room around your armpits. You want air to be able to move through your clothes. All of those swirly Arabic garments make sense! And if you're a lady of a certain age, look for twist-pleated fabrics that give a bit of shape to a garment without being clingy and too hot. If you're a chap in a suit, stick to the classic tailors as they will have natural fabrics all the way through the lining and interlinings, keeping you far cooler than the cheaper synthetic options. Buy vintage if you're on a tight budget (pre-1965 linings and interlinings are commonly natural fibres), and tell everyone your new partner is a fashion stylist.

* Have something around your waist. Granny knickers, cycle shorts, a twisted cloth belt -- the feeling of sweat running the length of your body is rarely appealing, and wandering around the city is not one of the times it's fun.

* Sunblock, everywhere that is exposed, including where the neckline of your clothes will move around. Reapply it EVERY TWO HOURS if you are going to be outside. Seriously, it sweats off just as easily walking around as it does when running or swimming. And you don't just need it for outdoor days: on a high UV day you can get a burn in 15 minutes, that's a walk to work. (High is UV 7-9, which is rare in England, but even there, at 6 of late in London, that's a burn in half an hour, which is sitting in the park for lunch.)

* Drink loads of water. Dehydration causes everything from headaches to heatstroke. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice if you want some more taste, or tear up some mint or borage leaves and add them to the jug. For that matter, keep a jug of water in your fridge so that you have something cold when you get in. And steer clear of most fizz and the sugary cordials, try the healthier lemon and lime cordials, or good barley water, or half and half pomegranate or orange juice with soda water, or pick up some rose or pomegranate cordial from a Persian or Arabic deli -- they usually have more taste for less sugar, so you save on calories and keep the water going into hydration, not digesting sugars. If you make up a jug of flavoured water and can't drink it all, freeze the rest into ice cubes and pop them out later as a treat to suck on.

* Create breezes. If you have draught excluders on the doors, hook them into the up position at night so air can move through the house. Leave windows open where it's safe to, and use fans. And you know that tray of ice and water in front of the fan thing that symbolises poor folk in American films? It completely works, and at a fraction of the electricity, space and cost of an airconditioner. Add some floating rose blooms or gardenias if you're worried it looks trashy, and call it a spa feature.

ETA * maevemist  lives up to her name and suggests spritzers: you can buy the cosmetic variety, or a spray bottle of water with a spot of rosewater or similar added if you want. Give yourself a few squirts and catch any breeze if you can. As azurelunatic  rightly points out, these tricks with water and fans work best in low humidity, but in sweltering Sydney, they're still better than nothing. In the actual tropics during the wet season, I would suggest hanging out in high-quality hotels or the freezer aisle of the local supermarket -- they're the only things that have ever worked for me!
Shezanshezan on June 30th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
Absolutely EXCELLENT advice! *adds to Memories*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
If someone benefits from my previous mistakes, it will make me look slightly less stupid in retrospect ;-)

I left out my three biggest tips, as they seemed over specialised -- if you find yourself travelling in the desert, take lots of muslin wraps, because they are great for everything from keeping the dust out of your eyes and mouth to throwing a few on when you need to look modest quickly, and they pack up small.

If my Uncle Alec takes you on a boat trip on the North Sea in the middle of winter, do not trust him to hold onto you as you look over the edge.

And if you go camping on the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania, and find yourself in a tent with no landmass between you and Antarctica, build a little windbreak in your tent and you will go from near hypothermia to snug as a bug in an instant!
(no subject) - shezan on June 30th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Penguin: Babypenguin474 on June 30th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
As for cold: don't forget your chapstick. It doesn't make you warmer, but definitely happier!
Mmm, glögg. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
Ooh yes! If you ever see Lucas's Pawpaw Ointment, grab it, as it is the best thing ever for lips and the inside of your nose in cold! (In fact, I will send you a tube if you want to try it, I love it that much.)

It lasts longer than the otherwise equally good Malin + Goetz lip moisturiser, and costs about a tenth as much.

I drank the last of our glögg mix last week, and am regretting that now. Visit to the spice shop, I think!
la_marianela_mariane on June 30th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
We are so hot right now I feel like I'm melting... And we had a big thunderstorm yesterday, so I went outside with my big Gay Pride umbrella. And then it was very sunny again : I decided to throw dignity to the dogs and use the umbrella as a parasol. Most people smiled at me (in a friendly way) and a man even bowed to me and let me pass first on a narrow footbridge! I may make the parasol a permanent part of my equipement on summer :D

Other tips for the very hot weather : use a survival blanket on you doors and windows. The trick is to use it to reflect the heat, not keep it inside!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Ooh! That's a good one! I cheated this year and let a privet forest grow outside our sunniest window: which was fantastic in the hot weather, but I am having a hard time killing it and digging it out in time to plant some clumping bamboo before next summer ;-)

Parasols! They make life better! I started with one about 10 years ago, and now I have a collection. People stop me in the street to chat about them and little girls grin as they realise they can get away with far wackier behaviour as adults than they were expecting. Around here, they're quite commonplace now. I like to think that I was a part of setting the trend, along with all the Chinese grandmothers ;-)
(no subject) - azurelunatic on June 30th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Casaella_irene on June 30th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Parasols! Yes! I have been sitting around thinking: "I need a hat! And yet I look best in three twists of fabric and a tiny veil, which will not protect me from the sun!" A parasol is perfect.

Now I need to find out if my employer sells them.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
They are becoming more commonplace, so fingers crossed! The best thing is that you can share your shade with others if you stop to have a chat with someone ;-)
(no subject) - aella_irene on June 30th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kieranfilmatleven on June 30th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Also, they furl up small and you can poke muggers with them if you need to. THIS IS TRUE
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
It's very embarrassing for the mugger, like being taken out by a granny ;-)
ladyjanevaladyjaneva on June 30th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
I'm very very very hot
We're expecting to hit the 36 degrees at the weekend, and that will be outside. I live in a flat under the roof of an ooold building. Meaning: old windows, thin glass, oddly shaped, no possibility to keep the sun outside from the 'outside', only through curtains on the inside. Which is not so very effective. I expect a solid 40 degrees in my room in the next couple of days. Worst: no breezes. All windows, everything, opens onto the same side. We've tried everything to create a breeze, but it's impossible.
I can deal much better with the bitter colds: my heating system is great!, and I've tons of warm clothes.

This heat, however....ughhh.

Thanks anyway for your post, all your advices are true :-)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm very very very hot
Oh you poor things! I'd say it's worth slapping up some towels or a blanket through the day to keep the sun out a bit. Aside from that, I can only suggest cool baths! And yes, cold is comparatively easier: you can always put more clothes on!
Jenn Van Den Boomgracilejenn on June 30th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
I wish I had read this 2 weeks ago! I just went to Florida, where I nearly died from heatstroke, and now I'm currently home freezing. It's incredible!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Florida is insane at the best of times! I am glad you survived, and hope the freezing passes soon!
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on June 30th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
A caveat about the icewater cooler: works best in dry climates.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
It does, but we still use it in Sydney even though the humidity is already disgusting, because the little bit of cool is worth it. It's so usual to feel as though you are walking in soup for most of the year here that anything that tilts the balance towards gazpacho is welcomed ;-)
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on June 30th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
auntpurl: dressed up rabbitsauntpurl on June 30th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
I am going to purchase myself a folding fan and carry it around London. Yes I am. Also, love the ice cubes in front of the fan idea!

Also, this is tommybarbarella. I changed my name. LOVE ME ANYWAY. xoxo
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
OF COURSE I LOVE YOU! And Yippee! knitting name!

And yes! fan! Sandalwood fans smell great and make a terrific snap when you open them, or a feather fan looks fab (though you can moult with those buggers, still, the effect is great!), but for sheer convenience, those old paper fans that fold out into a circle from their handles and sometimes have tragic Great Travel Scenes of the Seventies on them can't be beaten ;-)
(no subject) - auntpurl on June 30th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - inamac on June 30th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
winstonmomwinstonmom on June 30th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
We have a whole house fan and it is the best thing in the world!
It creates the necessary flow of air to cool off the house. We just wait until the outside is cooler than the inside, then we open a couple of window and turn the whole house fan on. We usually let it run for the night and turn it off early in the morning. It works on the basis of pulling cool air in and letting the hot air in the house and attic go out from a thingy on the roof. It is important to remember to open the windows before the fan turns on because it will try to bring cool air from whenever is possible and what happen to me was that it tried pulling the air from the chimeney, needless to say the chimeney was full of ashes and I spent a good couple of hours cleaning the ashes from pretty much every where in my house. It isn't too expensive to buy and install.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
I need to investigate this solution! It sounds brilliant! We have a house that is slow to heat and slow to cool once it heats up, so something that switches the air over when it's cooler outside would be perfect! Thank you!
(no subject) - winstonmom on June 30th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
maevemistmaevemist on June 30th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I was nodding my head vigorously at all of your Winter tips. My main one is to just stay inside as often as possible but that is not technically a very healthy choice. Hat's and socks are also very important because most we lose most of our body heat from those two places.
I am loving your red tights with sheer back ones over the top idea. I am so very disappointed that the fabulous opaque patterned ones from my youth have not made a come back.

I have another one to add to your summer tips for those who have only a fan to cool them off. Buy yourself a water spray bottle like the ones your hairdressers uses. Sit in front of your fan and spray your face and neck with it. The cool breeze it produces is divine and helps to rehydrate your skin. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
ooh! That's a good one! And you reminded me about thick shoes! I need to update!

And don't mention the house thing, I was such a slug today after being so good yesterday. Tomorrow I must take at least an hour to walk about, in case my legs fall off (it would not surprise me, given their history of Extreme Evil).
FEELS TERRORIST!: FOB Patrick argylemomebie on June 30th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
I like your fashion suggestions for hot weather. ♥
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
There is no excuse for looking slovenly just because you are about to melt!
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on June 30th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Keeper of the Superfluous Es!: HarryDraco/TBB/LegoMyMalfoythemostepotente on June 30th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
What happened to hole up in your house and crank up the AC? LOL! I have never been hotter in a summer before. I hope I am not having hot flashes :P
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
That's how we all got into this CO2 fuelled mess! Unless you have green power, in which case, go crazy ;-)
(no subject) - inamac on June 30th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shezan on June 30th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rainien on June 30th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Hueyphoenixacid on June 30th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
Usually I just wear as little clothing as possible - but that won't work if you're outdoors. :P
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Mr Brammers and I looked at each other during one grand prix telecast last year. Both of us were in our underwear, and he was balancing a beer on his leg, while I had a bowl of iced melon in my lap. We agreed that we were all class. And that if anyone knocked on the door, we would have to pretend we could not hear them over the roar of the cars ;-)
(no subject) - winstonmom on June 30th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Catscatsintheattic on June 30th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Another anti-heat tip for those who don't deal well with water from the fridge: drink warm or hot water - like tea, or at least like cooling down tea. Ice-cold water might cause headaches or stomach cramps in sensitive people, and it also can result in the body heating up to balance the cold intake.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
That's a good point: I am such a lifelong cold water drinker that I forget some people don't tolerate it as well.

You made me smile, because you sound like my old tutor from Mauritius. She would insist I should eat curry and drink hot tea to cool down in Tanzania, and she would offer to share her (delicious) curries with me. I could do exactly one mouthful before I hit my hot food limit for the day: anything over 30 degrees and it's cold water, fruit and salad for me!
(no subject) - catsintheattic on July 1st, 2010 06:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on June 30th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - catsintheattic on July 1st, 2010 06:56 am (UTC) (Expand)