So we’ve finally said cheerio to BST and said hello again to GMT… in my case, a reluctant hello. I have to confess, I really find the winter months difficult at times. I was explaining this to someone the other day and when they asked me why I rattled off a whole list of things I dislike about the winter and their response was…”you’re turning into your parents, you know that?!” The funniest thing is, they don’t even know my parents… and it got me thinking I’m not even sure how they feel about the winter anyway!
One thing’s for sure, my poor daughter got the blunt end of my winter woes the night clocks went back. I am a light and fresh air kind of person… I really do like having the windows open and the sounds of spring and summer filtering through the house. But when child No1 quizzed me on what I disliked most, she just kept laughing at me and told me to stop being so miserable! She also asked me to think about the things that I like about the winter season and focus on those… so in an attempt to be balanced and ultimately more positive, here goes:
The things I don’t like:
- The dark – I mean… it’s not like I’m afraid of it or anything, but it just gets so dark so early!
- Pulling the curtains in the afternoon – maybe I’m just nosey – but I don’t like closing the house up early!
- Going to work in the dark and then coming home in the dark
- Dampness… everywhere. I mean, if it has to be winter, I’d rather it was crisp, bright and cold. Not damp and mushy underfoot!
- Driving in the dark all the time.
- British winters – which are always wet and then when it does snow (normally about 2cm), everyone goes into panic mode and the entire country shuts down.
- Muddy footprints in the house, wet shoes that need cleaning and drying all the time.
- Having cold feet…. because I refuse to wear old lady slippers. (But the kids did buy me some lush thermal thick slipper/socks last year which do a great job!)
- Christmas in the shops before we’ve even had Halloween… please don’t get me started on Christmas, only a shrink will be able to unravel my feelings about the festive season (which incidentally I love, but dread at the same time!)
- Christmas songs on the radio before the start of December – even then I try to avoid them until as close to Dec 25th as I can!!
In contrast, I have spent some time trying to reflect on the things about autumn and winter that I do like:
- Wearing winter woolies and jeans ALL the time! I mean, who cares if you’ve put on a few pounds… winter woolies are designed to hide those comfort food excesses, right?! And I love my winter boots! Forget beach body ready… I am winter body ready in August!! Oh and winter coats… the Hub just bought me a new one this weekend and I can’t wait for the temperature to drop – he’s hidden it until then!! (Git!)
- Comfort food…. stews, casseroles, roast chicken dinners. All made for the winter and all welcome in our house at this time of year. This one, from the hairy bikers is amazing and if left in the slow cooker, is just divine after a Sunday afternoon walk with the kids/dogs/parents/friends* (*delete as applicable!) http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/our_special_cassoulet_05208
- Fireworks night. [OK, let me qualify this before responsible pet owners shout me down. I love organised displays, where it allows communities come together and have a lovely evening. I am (as an animal lover) unhappy about firework being freely available for anyone to buy and then being let off pretty much anywhere.] I love it when it’s a cold, crisp November 5th, when you can enjoy a hot chocolate and burger and warm yourself by the mahooosive bonfire!
- Log fires…. It doesn’t matter where they are – in a pub, at someone’s house, in a hotel, at a rented cottage. If you have the capacity to have an open fire indoors, then use it. I think for me, that’s one of the best things about winter. In fact, if the weather isn’t quite cold enough, I almost feel a bit cheated if the fire can’t be lit! Our Christmas holiday cottage last year had a lovely log burning stove in the massive dining room. Trouble was, there was underfloor heating and the cottage was lovely and cosy warm all the time, so lighting the fire was overkill… but we did anyway!!
- Mulled wine. Yup… the one tipple that signals the start of the festive season. Best enjoyed outside, when it’s cold, or after an evening outside. A bit like the log fire.. if the weather isn’t playing ball, it does feel a bit cheated if you’re not really cold enough to enjoy the mulled wine. And we have been known to stand in the garden without coats and look at the stars by way of trying to enjoy the drink a little more!!!
- January. For many people January is a nothing month. Christmas has been and gone, Spring seems so far away, there’s no money left in the bank, the weather doesn’t know what it wants to do. But I LOVE IT!! Not least because it’s my birthday month! Shallow… maybe, but do I care?! As a child, I hated having my birthday a month after Christmas and one day after my sister… yes, our parents had fantastic timing! That’s a whole different blog post… the one about joint presents! But actually, I love having something to look forward to in what is otherwise a dreary month! And this coming January will be party central, as my lovely sister celebrates a big birthday!
- Christmas… at the right time! Not in November, or October, but in December… and not too early!! (Bah humbug?!) It’s great seeing the family all together. I’ve loved carrying over the traditions from my childhood… silly little things, but they’re important. Mince pies and wrapping to the Christmas Eve carol concert. We try to go away every other year, in bring something really special to the festivities and also by way of actually stopping for a few days. With the Hub being self-employed, unless we’re away, he never really switches off for longer than 24 hrs. We’ve had amazing breaks in North Wales, the Peak District, Pembrokeshire, the New Forest….
- Snow days…. I may live to regret this one. But in my working life I can only count 4 proper snow days. That is, when work officially closed, because we couldn’t operate effectively and the students needed to be sent home on service buses that would soon stop running because they couldn’t get through. Never a problem when work was a 5 minute drive from home…. Since changing career direction, I have a suspicion that there are few things that will stop the BBC from functioning, not least a few flakes of snow! And now with a longer – albeit enjoyable drive to work – I’m going to need to think ahead about how we overcome the white stuff!
- The changing colours. My recent drives to Oxford, along the A420 have provided me with a delightful show of autumn colours and really, is there anywhere more beautiful than the British countryside at this time of year?!
So… there we have it….I’ve tried to be balanced. I will try very hard not to moan about the winter. I mean, we can’t change it and despite saying I’d love to live somewhere where the sun always shines, I know I’d miss the seasons. Each season brings its own delights in terms of sights, sounds and smells and if you look carefully, the signs of the changing seasons are always there. So… it’s only a few weeks and the Winter Solstice will be here, when the days will get longer again. Then we’ll start to see the tips of the snowdrops and the daffodils starting to poke through. Christmas will soon come and go and we’ll be moaning the Easter Eggs are on the shelves in the supermarkets too early and bikinis will appear in the clothes shops and winter body will have to give way to beach body once more! …. Just don’t get me started on that notion!
Right, I’m off to dig out my Christmas cake recipe. Fruit will need soaking, so the cake can be baked at the weekend, then it’s 4 weeks of feeding it brandy before it gets iced! Happy days!
Take care and stay warm you lovely lot!