English idiom

Just imagine those damp British winters, chill and bitter. Imagine returning from a stomp across hill and dale, perhaps with your breath curling away in the bitter air. Visualise that cold (or remember it, if you will) penetrating to your very bones, even to their centres, where lies the life of the bone, the marrow. Think of how it would make you feel - you literally hunger for warmth and comfort. In fact, in many parts of the isles, people talk about being "starved with cold".

Particularly high up on the Yorkshire Moors, or in the peaks of the Lake District, the wind has the uncanny ability to penetrate whatever clothing you don, piercing your skin, flesh, heart and bones. Nothing is sacred, it eats into the heart of your whole being, until you feel that the very life in your bones is giving out. That, my dear friends, is cold.

You shiver with little reward, your joints are stiff, your poor, numb fingers cannot flex, you worry that your ears have become so brittle as to break, and the snot thickens uncomfortably. Even though there are colder winters in other parts of the world (in the American midwest and Canada, for instance), many people have told me that no other winter can reduce them to quivering wrecks like the misty, moisty climes here.

The only respite is to hie thee to a pub with a warm fire and an inglenook, there to imbibe mulled ale to warm the cockles of your heart and soul once more.

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