As a girl in my early thirties I often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think I’ve seen my mum. It might be the staple mother-in-law joke, but for me it’s certainly true that if you look at my mother you’ll see what you’ll be getting in a few decades’ time.
However, as a proud thirty-something I’ve always tried to resist the mother comparison, not least because she has three decades on me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with my mum. I love her dearly, but no one likes to think that we look like someone thirty years older, do they?
However, I have taken one inexorable step closer in the last couple of weeks by giving in. I gave in to the fact that thermals would probably be the only thing to keep my warm during a day spent watching others climb poles and trees in the Lake District when the weather forecast said it would be a maximum of 3 degrees.
This isn’t the first year I’ve been on the activity (I won’t bore you with the details about why I was there and why I didn’t get to climb any trees) and I already had a good selection of jumpers, some lined and waterproof walking trousers, and a good-quality coat. But I remembered getting pretty cold towards the end of the day and knew that this year the temperatures were likely to be lower than I’d ever seen at that location.
Cold is something I’ve never been very good with, which is perhaps why my mum never had to implore me to take a coat when I was going out on a Friday night. I had a varied selection of leather, suede and velvet (!) jackets which I happily took with me and then refused to lend to my shivering friends as we waited for a taxi in the early hours.
I don’t have anything against thermals. I bought both of the Tinies a pair when we first started camping. They don’t think they’re thermals though. We just call them camping pyjamas. And even though it was May they certainly came in useful! If I’m honest I had a vague notion that I’d be warmer if I had some of my own to sleep in, but seeing as Husband is like a human hot water bottle I hadn’t got as far as buying any.
This trip provided a new imperative however, so off I toddled that fateful day, looking for a full set of thermals and hoping I’d be able to get some from a camping shop. I think my sub-conscious had already admitted defeat though. My mum is known for her almost-year-round attachment to her M&S thermal tops and I was edging ever-closer to doing the same.
On I ploughed, searching well-known outdoor gear shops for a suitable set that wouldn’t break the bank. I even briefly considered a children’s set in bright pink which, the sales lady assured me, would fit fine given my lack of stature. In the end I ruled these out as I wanted to be able to wear them under lighter-coloured clothes if necessary. See, another element of my mother – her infinite practicality – was already ruling my decision-making process!
And suddenly there I was. Stood in front of a big green sign and watching middle-aged men troop round after their wives like sulky teenagers. Marks and Spencers. The place I was certain to complete my mission.
I wasn’t disappointed, even though it was an outlet store. There among the big cotton pants and 100 denier tights was a stand of thermals. I even had a choice of long or short-sleeved tops and could get long johns and a top for the grand sum of £15.
I have to say, I don’t regret my decision. They are fleece-lined and very comfy to wear. Not the sexiest attire in the world, I’ll grant you, but I was certainly toasty-warm the whole day, so they did the job. I’ll be adding them to my camping gear from now on too. There’s nothing worse than being cold in the night is there?
I was even big enough to give my mum the pleasure of being right for all those years when she donned her thermal vest and declared that things are better when you’re warm. As you can see, she was most gracious.