The one thing that surprised me the most about Perth is that the winters here can get cold. Very cold.
When I arrived in June last year, I was completely unprepared for what the following months would be like. Thinking I was heading for 365 days of sunshine a year, before leaving the UK I sold off the majority of our winter clothing on Ebay and stocked up instead on shorts, swimwear and all things summery. A bad move as I was to later find out.
Within weeks of arriving the temperatures dropped considerably. A few weeks on from that and we decided that there was no way we were tough enough to withstand the Arctic conditions in our damp and depressing rental property. So out to the shops we went, to stock up on more winter clothes, furry lined slippers, portable radiators for each bedroom and a (hideously expensive) gas heater.
Of course many people aren’t bothered by this weather and will be thinking what sort of a lightweight are you. A cold one, would be the answer to that. In my defense, I think that as a result of having lived in hot countries most of my life, my blood obviously now runs thinner than green tea and I simply don’t cope well under 25 degrees.
While it luckily never gets cold enough here for frost or snow, this is the 3rd windiest city in the world. And this wind, whilst cooling in the summer can freeze through to your bones in the winter. Judging by the amount of rainfall last year, it can also be very wet for days on end. This is of course great for the garden and the Australian countryside as a whole, but not so great if you have a dog to walk, washing to dry or small children climbing up your walls.
In addition to Mother Nature, houses here just aren’t built to deal with cold weather. Well, if the truth be told houses here just aren’t built well, full stop. The walls are thin, there is little or no insulation and the windows are of a quality even the ‘3 Little Pigs’ wouldn’t have settled for. While this questionable style of build may keep you cool in the summer, it does bugger all to warm you up in the winter.
Mornings and night time are the coldest. Taking a shower can become something you only brave when absolutely necessary – once in, you find you would rather par boil yourself and lose a layer of skin, rather than bring yourself to leave the hot water. During the course of a day you can both put on and shed multiple layers of clothing. I’ve worn a thermal vest, 3 tops and scarf to brave the morning school run, and then had to peel myself like an onion when out in heat of the midday sun.
Evenings are spent under a blanket, in front of the log fire and with my feet so firmly tucked under the dog that I’m practically wearing him as a slipper. Last night was particularly chilly. I got into bed wearing my PJ’s, fleece (with the hood up around my ears), dressing gown and socks. At this point I was told in no uncertain terms that this was taking it one step too far and I was to at least put the hood down. I of course appreciate that having your wife dressed as a rapper in the bedroom may not scream ‘sexy’, but if it’s a choice between that or frostbite, then I’m afraid keeping all of my limbs intact will win hands down every time.
So a word to the wise. If you are heading to Perth to live, make sure you stick all your woolies, boots and your electric fires into your container. Also accept that for a good 4 months of the year it is a tad on the cool side. If you are renting a house over the winter, don’t waste your money paying for a pool, heated or otherwise. It will be about as practical as an ice pick in Africa, and no matter how ‘tough’ you reckon you are, the likelihood of you ever taking a dip is on a par with that of me removing my UGG’s – it’s just never going to happen.