Published 15th October 2015, 20:54

    WELL, we can’t say we haven’t been warned. The coldest winter for 50 years is on the way.

    It must be true. The Daily Express wouldn't have made it front page news otherwise. No, if the paper decided to relegate its usual targets of miracle cures, immigrant swarms and benefits cheats to the inside pages it must be the real deal.

    But look on the bright side - we will be able to dine out for months on many of the 421 words and expressions we Scots have to describe snow.

    This figure was revealed during a project to compile the first Historical Thesaurus of Scots, which is being published online. And that tally may rise even further as the team behind the study have appealed for the public to contribute their own words.

    It’s long been said the Inuit have around 50 words for snow but let’s face it, when it comes to describing the weather they are rank amateurs compared to us Scots.

    Rain, wind, mist, cloud, you name the conditions, we have words aplenty. And if we don’t, well, we just make up a few more. Except sunshine. We don’t have a lot of words for that.

    Our four-seasons-in-one-day conditions have made us climatically world famous, and it’s about time we stopped moaning and embraced the situation. After all, it’s a big selling point for tourism.

    I’ve lost count of the times I have been told by visitors from the likes of Spain and Italy that they are here to feel the cold and see snow.

    During our recent Indian summer, I mentioned to a German woman she had struck it lucky with the weather. The reply? “Yes, but I’m a bit disappointed - I wanted to see the mist and rain.” And a Danish lady told me that she had wanted to see some of our famous “wild weather” not all this sunshine. It just wasn’t the real Scottish experience.

    I even witnessed what seemed to be some kind of bizarre Eurovision Thong Contest when two Belgians who had obviously not expected warm conditions in the Hebrides at this time of year were wandering about the communal area of a hostel wearing only the skimpiest undies.

    Bloody foreigners. Come over here and try to deny us a drop of sun. Next thing there will be some French chappie wanting an EU law banning sunshine here (sorry, that brief sighting of the Daily Express must have had a deeper impact than I thought).

    It is true that coming to Scotland and not seeing rain and mist is like going to the Serengeti but not catching a glimpse of a lion. Or going to Rome and seeing the locals driving courteously. But give us a break, guys. We deserve a bit of sun a couple of days each year. Especially as the worst winter for 50 years is just around the corner.

    Apologies to anyone who suffers from chionophobia - since we’re bandying big words about like a Robert Macfarlane festival, that’s the one for a fear of snow - but personally I can’t wait for winter to kick in and the snows starting to fall in a few hundred different, descriptive ways.

    Our mountains are at their best in these conditions. The wildness factor is suddenly multiplied tenfold, as the temperature plummets and the number of day-raid insurgents thin out. There’s a clarity in the air, the colours of the landscape are starker, yet brighter. The hazy, faded shades of July and August are consigned to the dustbin.

    It’s the season when everything begins afresh. And the season when newspapers start screaming: Coming soon - the wettest summer for 500 years.