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I feel like a person in a Jaws movie. You know the scenario. There is a person quietly sitting in a boat. The water is tranquil and calm and the person is happily going about their business. And then the music starts and the camera pans down to an underwater shot where a ferocious shark with rows of gleaming white teeth is circling and getting closer.

Well that is kind of like how it is for me right now.

Only I am not worried about any sharks. I am worried about winter.

Now for those of you from cold climes you can stop reading now as you will just be laughing your head off at my wimpy attitude. Others can keep reading.

The fact is that I come from a warmer weather place. Stick me in Hong Kong or Delhi and I barely break a sweat. I spent three weeks in Spain where the temperature hovered around the high 30's and low 40's and I lived in jeans…comfortably! All around me, other people were turning tomato faced with heat and were red and shiny.

Stick me in a UK winter though and I suffer.

Lack of sun, lack of warmth and even a lack of light all makes me feel profoundly chilled.

Last winter I struggled through with an understanding boss who let me huddle besides the small heater that she brought in for me despite the centrally heated office heating system.

I wore spencers, singlets, vests and thermals. I experimented with thermal sock liners, with possum wool socks and with cashmere socks.

Leather shoes, boots, thinsulate boots.

Nope. Still cold.

My boss and work colleagues got used to seeing me sitting in the office in my overcoat and hat … all day.

So right now, I look at the weather man with utter foreboding. I am hoping that things may have improved this year as I have had time to acclimatise but who knows.

And it is not just the weather which is worrying. It is also the rhythm of life when it is cold. When the weather is balmy, people go out. They linger in cafes, stroll along the roads and amble down country lanes. When it is cold though everyone huddles at home. It is kind of like living in a country of bears. Everyone pulls up stumps and hibernates over the winter. No one goes out and here, where I live, even the restaurants close down for the winter as many of the smarter and more astute restaurateurs pack up and head for sunnier climes.

One of the women at the school that my children go to hates the winters here so much that she leaves the country for three months every year. Now this is fine if you are rolling in cash but for the majority of us, this is a luxury we can't even contemplate, so I will be sitting tight and suffering on my own. I will be eating low glycaemic food (as apparently it keeps you warm as well as being very good for people who live in low light areas). Instead of enjoying fresh fruit, I'll be tucking into a bowl of hot porridge each morning.

I have ordered my sheepskin boots and stocked up on things that I can happily hibernate with - I am teaching myself chain mail, I have bought a kit on tapestry and can now knit and crochet. I will do all my photo albums, organise my cupboards and write Christmas cards. I will study my French language books and practice calligraphy. I am thinking about soldering something but if it entails going to the garage I'll have to give it a miss.

Winter might be lurking out there but I am armed and ready!

Bring it on!

Dr Amanda O has been a trailing spouse for the last eight years.

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Posted 14Oct05