I have memories, clouded by sorrow

Of a time in life when blood ran through my veins

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Winter is coming
It's cold outside. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year, and being outdoors for a while on this relatively chilly evening reminded me of this.

I hate it, because I like the summer. I have fond memories as a child making the most of the six-week summer holiday, playing football, building dens, exploring the local area, pretending to be Robin Hood with bows and arrows we made ourselves, going on long bike rides, and more. As I got older the archery and harmless trespassing gave way to evenings sat outside pubs with a pint of cider or days spent in fields watching bands at a festival, but summer stayed entertaining.

Recent years have had disappointing summers. Obviously the UK is not known for its consistent or pleasant weather but even so, the last half decade or so has seemed to be especially bad. The amount of sunshine has been below average every year from 2008 to today except for 2009. This summer was the wettest in 100 years and that's saying something, with rain also significantly above average in 2011, 2009, 2008, and 2007 too. So in recent times people like myself have noticed the end of August approaching and start feeling disappointed that yet again there was little in the way of prolonged sunshine, the long and dry summers of our youth seeming like an illusion.

And yet, looking out over the Nottingham skyline and breathing in the autumnal air, I also remember some of what I love about this time of year. Ever since I turned 16, the end of summer has brought with it a sense of promise. To begin with, that was leaving school and starting at college, and two years later I moved here to begin university. Each academic year would bring new people. Most of my friends, and indeed girlfriends, I met for the first time in the autumn. Most years I'd just have moved into a new house too, and any problems with the old house and its inhabitants were banished (and new problems, though a certainty, would be yet to arise).

Some of this has faded now, of course. Acquainting myself with the latest bunch of eighteen-year-old new students doesn't interest me as much as it did 5 or 10 years ago, for example. And I have not moved house for about six years. But still, that sense of possibility lingers: the feeling that there are new things to do, new people to meet, new places to go. I guess I'll see over the next couple of months whether that's true or not.

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I've never been a big fan of summer - I find it very difficult to function in hot temperatures - but even I have to admit, this year has been pretty lousy. All I seem to have done is dry clothes and shoes. The thing I like about the changing seasons is contrast, which seems to have been lacking for the last few years. With a mild, wet winter and a mild, wet summer, it all feels a bit dull.

Still, autumn and winter are typically my favourite times of year. There are pragmatic reasons for this (less biting and stinging insects, less chavvy torsos proudly on display, less over-excited drinkers on the streets) but also the cooler months just appeal to me on an aesthetic level. I also rather like the cold, dark nights (so long as I have a house to stay warm in, obviously) and I like Halloween and - shock - Xmas quite a lot. The colder months just resonate with me, and although the feeling of possibility you mention probably doesn't, I just feel a lot more in tune.

I like the idea of the contrast. I just don't like being cold, or slipping around on the ice. Still, I can cope!

One thing I didn't mention in the post is that I don't really enjoy Christmas. As a child they were all disappointing past the age of 12 or so, especially when gifts were 'combined' with my December birthday (ie. I only got 1 when others would get 2). In later years I've usually found myself alone at Christmas and associated my birthday with the unpleasant business of getting older so a sense of disappointment in December has continued!

Obviously on a personal level I'm not a fan of summer, but I'm aware from an environmental point of view that our recent wet summers and warmer winters are bad for our wildlife, and that worries me.

Interestingly, almost all of my relationships have started in May/June/July and ended in the Autumn, usually October. Not in the same year, thankfully, but still, it's an interesting trend.

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