Tag Archives: weather

Two Types of Snow

Did you know there are two types of snow? Swedish snow and snowman-building snow. (That’s what we reckon anyway)

In the UK the snow tends to be wet. It is rain that has fallen and frozen as it falls. When it melts, which it does in the warmer days, it forms slush which then freezes at night when it gets cold again. This gives you that horrible slush and ice that is just a nightmare. Roads and pavements quickly become treacherous, black ice is common and the whole system grinds to a halt.

In Sweden, however, there is another type of snow – rarely seen in the UK (in my experience – yours may differ). Because the air temperature is so cold in the winter *any* moisture in the air is frozen. What this does is gives you the weird experience of sunny days, blue skies and snow falling. That is any moisture instantly freezing and falling as snow. The texture of the snow is weird to us Brits. It is dry snow. Think of a powder between icing sugar and caster sugar. It is super-dry. This means that it does not really stick and is really easy to deal with. It is simply swept to the side of the road by the snow ploughs. Any snow left on the road has the consistency of sand. It really is strange. It is also useless for making snowmen with as it has no moisture so won’t stick together – look – here is me showing you…

Oh how I hate hearing my own voice. Did you notice the ice-skater behind me on the lake? That is Lake Mälaren, which I think we have mentioned before. They were testing the thickness of the ice. We suspect that as a result of these tests the annual race was cancelled.

The Viking Race (Vikingarännet), the largest skating race in the world, was scheduled to take place on February 16th, but organizers pulled the plug after forecasts of more mild weather and temperatures above zero.

“This means that solid ice along the track will thin out and the surface will soften. This could result in conditions that put the skaters at risk, resulting in falls and injuries. In addition, the snow ploughs cannot move freely on the ice,” they said.

Around 3,000 ice skaters take to Lake Mälaren each year for the race, which follows an old Viking transportation route southwards from Uppsala to Stockholm, a distance of roughly 80 kilometres.

It has been interesting seeing how the Swedish deal with the snow. Admittedly we happen to have moved in a very mild winter. Everyone has been telling us how unusual it is. I found an interesting site showing averages of weather – this is Stockholm.

Probability of Snow Fall Being Reported in a Given Day
Probability of Snow Fall Being Reported in a Given Day

The cold season lasts from December 3 to March 6 with an average daily high temperature below 3°C. The coldest day of the year is February 14, with an average low of -8°C and high of -1°C.

Firstly the Swedish deal with the snow. The snow ploughs and gritters are out throughout the day. School paths are gritted, footpaths are gritted, the roads are gritted. You can frequently see piles of grit in residential areas that you can help yourself to to grit your path/drive.

Fresh snow fallen on the garden
Fresh snow fallen on the garden

Everyone owns a snow shovel and deals with their own snow.

On our street there is this sign:

Move yourcar on Fridays or your car will be ploughed...
Or your car will be ploughed…

Basically it means do not park on the road on a Friday during the Winter months. Why? Because the whole road is going to be ploughed. Any car left on the road will end up covered with/surrounded by snow. Like this one which had been left on the road just round the corner from our house. Whoops!

Looks like the snow plough team wanted to make a point
Looks like the snow plough team wanted to make a point
Someone didn't move their car for snow ploughing
Someone didn’t move their car for snow ploughing

Secondly the Swedish dress for the snow. Children are dressed head to toe in warm, waterproof clothes. We are talking boots, gloves/mittens, coat, hat, goggles, over-trousers – the works. At school they strip off and get on with their day. There is a wet area at school where they take their boots off. No mess inside thank-you. Then they strip the other layers off near their classroom. There is plenty of space to hang everything. When 3-4 months of the year are under snow you have to be prepared. I can only imagine what it is like further north. It is just a part of life here. No panic.


The chances of getting all 3 of ours out in snow in Scotland: limited. Here, though...
The chances of getting all 3 of ours out in snow in Scotland: limited. Here, though…

Adults wear boots, warm clothes, hats, gloves, big coats and gently steam on the T-Bana. The elderly can be seen using Nordic Poles. Everyone has good boots. Solid boots. If not then there are over-shoes you can use – not the rubber crampons I have seen in the UK but an actual rubber grippy shoe thing.

Finally, and most importantly, the Swedish are damn good at warming up. And no, I don’t mean like that… I mean like this…

Raspberry Baked Cheesecake and Hot Chocolate
Raspberry Baked Cheesecake and Hot Chocolate

Unpacking At Last

At last! Our removals have arrived!

The van with 2 guys pitched up last Saturday evening. Now our house is set a wee bit back from the road, with a drive. This caused a fair amount of teeth sucking about how they were to get the stuff up to us, as the 2 trailer lorry (of which we were about 1/4) wasn’t going to get reversed up or down the drive. Fortunately, we didn’t really bring any furniture as most of ours was IKEA, and what’s the point of paying to ship IKEA furniture here? Unless you’re planning to take it to the forest and return it to the wild. So 90%+ of our delivery was boxes, which they could carry one at a time up the drive.

Sunday was a mandatory rest day for the guys, so they parked up just along the road for the day – to the bemusement of the neighbours. And at 8am on Monday morning, they started carting boxes and dumping them in the garage. Since then, we’ve been progressively carting them out of the garage and unpacking them, and finding homes for the content.

Continue reading Unpacking At Last

Bad Footwear: Sorted

Moving our lives here has been in 2 stages:

  1. Moving us as people, along with what fits in our small car and/or hand-luggage
  2. Everything Else. This is coming in a shipping container some time in the next month.

So the clothing and personal items we have are very much minimal, but just enough to last us for up to 6 weeks.

Vacuum Packed clothes - coats I think
Vacuum Packed clothes – coats I think

Fitting stuff into the car was helped by vacuum packing a lot of fabric items, including clothing and bedding, but was still limited. In my case, it included exactly two pairs of shoes, only one of which is appropriate for office wear. This pair of shoes therefore has been undergoing very hard wear, and was getting on a bit anyway.

The outcome has been a number of problems:

  1. I’m slipping all the time, unless I’ve got shoe-spikes (effectively elasticated crampons) fitted. Fine when on a lakeside walk but no use on snow-clear city streets or indoors/on public transport. I’ve only fallen once, but it’s been pretty hairy a few times on slopes, including the one down to the bus stop.
  2. The shoes are getting rapidly trashed. I already have holes in the heels, and the salted gravel used as anti-slip cover on roads and pavements have got in and make a lovely rattling sound. And yesterday as I got home, I felt an annoying lump in my right sole which turned out to be a hole into which two stones had forced entry. A hole in the sole in snow sounds like a recipe for a wet foot to me.
Dr Marten 2976 Chelsea Boots

So it was with some relief and not a little joy that I picked up a parcel from the post office this morning containing a brand new pair of Dr Marten 2976 Chelsea Boots.

As our Swedish friends tell us:

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

They’ll need breaking in a little, but bad footwear: Sorted.
Continue reading Bad Footwear: Sorted