Whilst Britons are enjoying days off frolicking in the snow, our Australian counterparts are suffering in the oppressive heat. Although the weather down under has eased off in the past couple of days, the country has seen its longest heat wave since records began. Areas such as Melbourne in the South-East, normally known for their rapidly changing cooler weather, have been particularly badly hit with temperatures of over forty degrees centigrade during the last week.
Cameron Jackson, a student from Melbourne says that these temperatures have been unbearable, even for someone who has lived their entire life in Australia. He claims that "It's ok for people with air- conditioning; it's when you don't have it that even walking across the room can make you break out in a sweat."
The only way to cope it seems is to find cooler places to rest whenever possible. Mr Jackson and his friends took a trip down to the local Yarra River which runs through the city and beyond in an attempt to evade the heat. "We stayed in the water for a couple of hours just swimming, sitting and mucking around because it was just so hot."
Although the majority of the student community has the time to relax before the university term resumes, for those who have to commute to work in the city by train it is much worse, as many services have been disrupted or broken down entirely due to the heat buckling the train tracks. This has left thousands of workers stranded at train stations waiting to get to work or home. Connex, the owners of the Melbourne train service, have been providing free icy poles and water bottles to those who have been forced to wait on platforms across the city's suburbs and have also offered free train services to all. However, since most train lines continue to be gridlocked this offer has not been overwhelmingly helpful.
In the Victorian countryside life is even harder. South-Eastern regions of the state such as Gippsland are among the worst affected as members of the voluntary fire service the CFA are fainting whilst trying to control the flames and local residents have returned to find their homes reduced to ash.
Mr Jackson and his family have been building a home in the country just north of Melbourne at Howqua Point. For the past three years they have been building their second home piece by piece, travelling up state whenever they could. However, if bushfires were to sweep the region, as has almost been the case in recent years, they would not only lose all that time and commitment they have put in, they would also have lost 100,000 AUD in construction costs and would need a further 50,000 AUD to start again.
In complete contrast here in the United Kingdom and particularly in the South-East there has been more snow since the weekend than for the last eighteen years. Train services in and out of London have been disrupted, the majority of bus services have grinded to a halt and major motorways such as the A2 and the M20 have been closed in parts due to dangerous driving conditions. Motorists have been warned to avoid driving wherever possible, especially on country roads which are unable to be gritted.
With utter chaos on the roads meaning that people cannot reach work, schools and businesses all over the country have been closed, leaving the British people with a sense of festivity and community spirit being likened to the spirit of the Blitz where citizens rallied together in tough times.
Snow ball fights, building a snow man and snow angels are par for the course with children in this weather, yet gazing through a frost covered window it appears that people of all ages are enjoying the time off. Whether it is students and children playfully walloping each other with snow balls or adults spending time with their children in the park, the British will enjoy this time while they can, although hopefully sparing a thought for our friends in the Commonwealth down under.