Summer has scarpered, and a couple of days of waking to steely-grey dullness and feeling a little like this:
has alerted me to the approach of autumn. This means getting winter boots road-worthy, digging out the ol’ dad jumper (I have an absolute beauty) and putting in the effort now, so that by the time winter rolls round (and then just stays, for months, like some belligerent drunken guest that nobody invited) I’ll be ready. Ready with soup, and mittens. We have to get fiesty with this weather, otherwise it will sink us. Here are some ways to take it on… because yeah, Christmas and snow is lovely, and so are presents, and cake, and fairy-lights, but then suddenly it’s the shabby tail-end of January, and nothing is good then. Be ready.
1. Eat the food of hot sunny countries.
Or just eat, really, as much as possible, and plenty of healthy stuff, and this will see you through the dreary sludge of winter. I’ve been inspired recently by my friend Kate’s wonderful foodie blog, which is full of fantastic (and comforting) dishes, as well as the joy of chickpeas and feminist cookbooks. It’s led me on a quest to start eating more than just toast for tea. There’s a Morrocan dish I found today called ‘Seven Vegetables and Couscous’. This must be a good thing. Coconut, ginger, cinnamon, tumeric and cumin should be added to everything. Tumeric, incidentally, is anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and a very powerful anti-oxidant, and it colours everything gold. MAGICAL.
2. The Dad jumper: vital. (It doesn’t necessarily have to come from a father. Any amazingly toasty, indestructible item of clothing will do).
This was knitted for my dad by one of his aunties, and was therefore constructed to withstand island weather. It could withstand anything. It’s so warm that it’s probably only really appropriate for the Arctic, and even then I might get a little hot and flustered. And it has a snowflake pattern! (Definitely an embarrassing auntie-knitted jumper. I love it so much).
3. Green and Black’s Ginger chocolate.
I had to sheepishly say to someone a while back that, unfortunately, I couldn’t buy the ginger Green and Black’s chocoate, even though it was the only chocolate in the shop I actually liked. I just couldn’t handle it. This doesn’t make any sense he (probably) thought, and bought me it anyway, as a nice present, like a good friend. To his dismay, I proceeded to go full Cookie Monster, ate the whole thing in one go, and then felt really unwell.
Anyway, try it, it’s amazing.
Books about being on holiday, living somewhere warm, having a big love affair, that sort of thing. Don’t be afraid to break out the Mills & Boon on the bus to work. Here’s a little trip to another world in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (not in any way a fluffy romance, more of a terrifying dystopian horror, but also, amazing) :
“A Tennyson garden, heavy with scent, languid […] Light pours down upon it from the sun, true, but also heat rises, from the flowers themselves, you can feel it: like holding your hand an inch above an arm, a shoulder. It breathes, in the warmth, breathes itself in. To walk through it in these days, of peonies, carnations, makes my head swim”.
5. Go to the Botanical Gardens (if you have one near you) and annoy the staff by just hanging out there all day. Pretend you’re David Attenborough. Take a puzzle with you. Have a picnic. Refuse to leave until closing time. Those places are so warm.