Britain is missing out on one of the joys of winter

Carefree moments are rare things – especially in the middle of winter. That’s why I don’t get why more Brits aren’t keen to embrace the cold, and enjoy the past-times winter can offer.

A CRISP, winter morning has a special quality to it. There is something wonderful about walking outside to see grass covered in frost and your breath in the air.

These kind of moments are pretty rare in the UK, with winter characterised more by rain than by chilly weather.

Dancing in snow

Just because the weather is frosty doesn't mean you should stay inside.

But there is a way to re-create that kind of atmosphere – all it takes is an ice rink.

It’s just a shame that there aren’t more of them around in Britain – especially in Wales and southern England.

Swansea, with a population estimated at 232,500, has no ice rink.

Compare that with small towns in Canada, like my hometown of Smithers; its population is less than 6,000 and the full-size ice rink is always in use – there is even a strong campaign to build a second ice rink.

The nearest rink to Swansea is 34 miles away in Cardiff. Yet this is only a temporary rink, and plans for a £5million new Cardiff arena appear to be in tatters.

Meanwhile, a bit further down the M4, Bristol’s ice rink – which serves a population of well over half a million people – is due to be destroyed to make way for student flats – even though it will mean the loss of the city’s ice hockey team. There’s a petition to save it, but it appears that the decision has already been made.

I realise that winter sports like ice skating and ice hockey are not particularly popular in Wales. But it does seem a shame that the UK has had ice skating Olympic gold medallists in Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean as well as the television show Dancing on Ice, which attracts a big audience, but nowhere for people to go to actually see what it’s like to skate.

Elite League Ice Hockey is really popular in Cardiff. But all the players tend to come from North America or Eastern Europe. How is Wales meant to get its own home-grown talent if children are only given the chance to skate once in a while on temporary rinks?

In Swansea, skating is available for about five weeks out of the year on temporary rinks. I visited Waterfront Winterland, an annual fair at Museum Green, before Christmas and the two make-shift ice skating rinks on site were really popular.

I watched the ice skating for a while, and the one thing that struck me was that I hadn’t seen so many happy faces in such a small area in a really long time.

It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not – joy was written all over the skaters’ faces. There is just nothing else that compares with it.


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