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The impact of snow on the English

This post is a little bit different than the others. The reason being, that I could not resist sharing this week’s observations. However, let me emphasize these observations and conclusions are not representative and I only wanted to represent this week through a Hungarian perspective.

I think, the English feel the same about snow, just like us: it is great to have it at Christmas, but other than that rather not! We know the English love talking about the weather, especially about rain. The snow is different. The snow is a sensation.

Although the climate has changed a lot since my childhood and winters are milder with less snow (not this year though), a Hungarian, Central European, German, French or Scandinavian person would certainly not panic if the weather forecast said snow is to be expected. We are all used to change to winter tyres if the temperature is constantly below 7C, we may as well buy snow chains, we put on big coats, scarves, gloves, hats and put the heating on at home. Building caretakers prepare their snow shovels, salt and sand, road maintenance companies start the engines of winter service vehicles.

The English do it in a different way!

I have been watching the English for days and sharpening my ears. If I remember well, the weather forecast mentioned snow and cold weather to be expected on Sunday for the first time this year. I said, I believe it if I see it because during my almost 2.5 years I have been in the UK snow was forecasted a few times, but it never snowed except on Sunday 10th December 2017, when my Partner woke me up at 8 in the morning and suggested me looking out of the window. I was literally jumping of pure excitement and immediately we got in to the car and went on a snow-watching tour, to make some photos of this rare, but beautiful phenomenon in this country. All in all, I was not worried about the snow and was rather skeptical, so I did not really take any notice of the prospect of having big snow in Berkshire.


My English colleagues were watching the weather all day in the office and I tell you, a meteorologist could not have done a better job. They were waiting for the big snow to reach us and were all excited when the first news appeared on TV saying Kent was covered in snow already.

I’ve git it! I’ve seen it!

“I’ve got it! I’ve seen it”, said one of my managers, suddenly and announced proudly the fact he has seen the first snowflake and it started to snow within a few minutes. As the past few days were really cold, there was a good chance the snow could settle and indeed it did on the top of the cars. Two colleagues of mine were standing in front of the window and were shaking their heads and thinking whether they should go home or not. It was difficult to hold back my laugh. Although the traffic can be a nightmare in this country without snow, or extreme weather conditions, I would not think about leaving the office because of few snowflakes. They stayed in the end as it was snowing for a couple of minutes then the sun was shining and this changed in every 5 minutes. My manager started to sing a Eurythmics song with a variation of the words:

Here comes the snow again…


By Wednesday Scotland, the North West, Yorkshire, East Anglia and Kent struggled because of the snow. Of course, my manager sent out an email to all of us the day before, saying, not to take any risks, if weather conditions do not allow to get on the roads, stay at home – here we go again with the importance of Health and Safety, the English are so keen on. At the same time, it IS the right approach, not like in Hungary when people get on the roads even if there is sleet because they are worried to lose their jobs. As for the English, I hope it is clear I am saying this with a pinch of salt, as there is no extreme weather to talk about.


Do you remember when we hoped lessons would be cancelled and teachers allow us going to the school grounds to play snowball? My English colleagues were all hoping for some similar magic to happen and it made me smile actually, what a sensation snow here means. Alright, alright… I can understand that the Gulf-stream cools this country in the summer and warms it up in the winter. Therefore, I can understand this country is not really prepared for snow and extremely cold weather (however, I would guess in Scotland, Wales and North they are). Cars do not have winter tyres, roads are not cleared from snow, public transportation collapses and schools are closed even in areas with less snow. Therefore, my colleagues found every way and excuse to go home to avoid the big snow. At the same time, something interesting and incredible happened: the snow brought out the child in them. Suddenly they became creative and I was amazed. One of them edited a photo of a snowy motorway by adding an Imperial Walker (AT-AT) from Star Wars to it whilst driving (that’s all about Health & Safety!), another one made a video and a third one broadcast his situation by sending us photos of his car which was covered in 10cm snow making him unable to get on the road. (The snow could have been swept from the car, that is all that would have been needed…) Anyway, this case reminded me, which I have recently read about, the productivity of the UK, namely declining in the last few years… As far as we are concerned, we were sitting in the office waiting for the snow to arrive to Berkshire. But it did not. Suddenly the words of my colleague hit my ears:

Berkshire is too posh for snow. The Queen won’t allow snow in Berkshire.

I had to smile, I was amazed how creative the English became because of the snow. By Wednesday evening many areas struggled because of the snow and Berkshire had an amber warning, therefore the General Manager sent out an email before end of business allowing us to work from home.



The big snow arrived to Berkshire as well: 2-3cm – the Queen must have allowed snow in the end… I worked from home as nobody bothered going to the office. My colleagues in the field, however, had a cracking performance and flew like rockets. (I do appreciate there were regions where snow did cause massive disturbance. Here in the South it was not too bad. The point I am trying to make is how the English I work with reacted to snow.)

Although this is my third winter in this country only and I am sure it can be really cold in winter, I often wondered why big brands are pushing people to buy fur coats (albeit false fur) and hats, thick jumpers as they are almost unnecessary (unless you live in the North), however, now it is really handy to have them. The stores probably make extra revenues during these days. I also often wonder how many sleighs/sledges are sold in the UK, considering the average British family can not afford to go skiing on the continent and having snow in Britain once in a blue moon. Now the sleighs/sledges are used, hats, scarves, fur coats are used. However, even in this cold I saw schoolgirls wearing skirts, but no tights and some women were wearing ballerinas without socks … (ouch…!)

On this note…

I looked up the coldest winters of the UK in the history:

  • 1739/40 It snowed for 39 days in London. The Great Frost was tough in Ireland where 38% of the population died in the famine. Interestingly it is not known what the reason for this frost was.
    1947. from 22 January until 19th March it snowed every day in some areas. The snow reached 150cm.
  • 1962/63 England was covered in snow for 3 months. In Wales farmers could not get to their livestock because of the snow and the majority of the livestock died. The average temperature was -2C, in some places the coldest measured temperature reached -19C.
  • The English would not be English if they did not make note of what sporting games were cancelled or postponed but they do. 🙂



I think, the snow makes the English creative, it does not matter in what form they chose: whether it is making videos, singing, photo editing or sharing deep thoughts. And of course they help those who get stuck in the extreme weather (Handing out food and drink and looking after their neighbours etc). As for me I like snow and it always cheers me up.


How do you react to snow?
(No, I do not accept swearing.) 🙂


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