Blog: A winter's tale
Simon Warburton | 17 December 2010
Sitting here in wintry Britain as the country braces itself for yet another weekend onslaught of heavy snow, it comes as small comfort to know other countries are experiencing similar challenges.
We Brits love a weather story - and equally love to bash our government for its total lack of preparedness/grit/salt/snowploughs - take your pick.
You can't move at the moment for TV and newspaper stories of people being stranded in their homes as 1cm of snow 'drifts' against the kerb, while reporters are dispatched to bravely stand by freezing roads and denounce the government of the day's woeful lack of planning.
Never mind the fact that normally the UK is a temperate climate more used to grey, damp days than an Arctic blasts, but nonetheless it gives us a good excuse for a weather moan.
But what's this? Last week saw airports in Germany - of all places - reportedly disrupted due to lack of de-icer, while their French counterparts have more than 500 people on stand-by to deal with exceptional winter weather this weekend.
In the auto world, even Michigan and South Canada - two places where our weather in the UK would probably merit no more than putting on a jumper - have succumbed to scenes normally reminiscent of those closer to here.
Ford and GM reported supply problems as the mercury dived to -13C - or 9F in old money - and Canada's emergency services were mobilised to rescue stranded drivers.
Just-in-time operations will inevitably come under greater strain when the temperature falls, but it was surprising to see so much disruption in areas that are so used to weather.
Britain is an island in the North Sea, it's not Florida, so we'll get weather, albeit usually wet and mild. South Canada, well that's another story.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...