It’s all relative, I know, but it really is quite chilly in the desert right now. And for the few weeks each year that this happens (Winter light, as I call it), it’s as though my children think we’re living in Alaska.
“I’m cold,” is the first whine of the day, followed by a big song and dance over putting their clothes on and exposing their bare skin to the bracing air (15 degrees this morning, and that is, erm, centigrade). “Still cold,” pipes up Son 2 on the school run, despite the heater – or “heat machine” as he calls it – being turned on in the car.
“You have no idea what cold is,” I try to explain to them (where we lived before, in Minneapolis in the Midwest of America, it’s been -45 with the windchill recently and the schools had to close for a few days).
I’ve tried to tell them that if we still lived there, they wouldn’t be able to leave the house without bundling up in layers of clothing, and donning fur-lined boots and bobble hats. They’d have to pick their way over ice, there would be snow-ploughs clearing the snowdrifts, and frostbite warnings.
“Honestly, it’s not that cold,” I repeat, as we put jumpers on and head out the house, unencumbered by coats and other weighty items (my sweater dating back to about 2006 as, since moving to the UAE, I’ve entered a winter fashion time warp due to only buying summer clothes).
Our Filipino nanny, too, seems to think it’s biting cold and has taken to swaddling herself in a hoody, scarf and socks round the house. I’m thinking I’d better buy her a hot-water bottle quick, or the snuggle blanket with sleeves on sale in New Look.
And spare a thought for the camels in leg warmers (joke).
I do wonder if living in a desert climate for the past five years might have thinned our blood, although to be fair, the fact that our homes have no heating, are draughty and have floors made from marble does mean you feel it when the temperature plunges from the 35 degrees or so that we’re used to.
So, there you have it: a few years of desert living and you’ll find your family becoming quite reptilian, minus the dry, scaly skin. Not only that, but you’ll also take great delight in sipping steaming hot chocolate and wearing tights (even if, by midday, it’s on the warm-side again).