So the weather this week has been properly crap. Crap even for the North of England, which is saying something because lets face it, we do get some pretty awful weather here… It is always around this time of year that I start to really start to deeply long for spring – I know everyone else in the UK must be feeling the same right now. March just always feels like a step too far. Like, come on winter?? Haven’t we been punished enough?! Spring is coming, and you can see it in the tiny daffodils that have sprung up, and the little flashes of blossom on trees, but it is still not quite here yet. As a teacher I always measure my year in school ‘terms’ – it’s almost impossible not to, when that is generally when all your trips and adventures are. But I always find that this term is the hardest, because in the winter term you have Christmas and the promise that that brings, and in the summer term you have six weeks of holiday and sunshine stretching out in front of you. The Spring term, despite being called ‘spring’, which as we all know is the greatest season, is by far and a way the worst term. Three months of grim weather, dark mornings and lethargy. This week, once again, my garden plans have been foiled by winter’s iron grip, so I have decided to write a winter’s survival guide. A few of the things that have helped me through these frosty few months….
Firstly, if possible, maintain a constant close proximity to a wood burner. As my lovely husband Jonny will confirm, ever since moving to Blackthorn Cottage, I have spent almost all of my ‘down time’ curled up in a chair next to the fire. Getting the fire blazing is generally the first thing we do when we come downstairs in the morning, and the first place we gravitate to when we get home from work. I am sure, those of you who have fires know exactly what I am talking about. We are incredibly fortunate to have two wood burners in our cottage (this fact made me ridiculously happy when we first moved in!) The one pictured above is a Morso ‘Squirrel’, and is the one we spend our time gathered around. While the one in the sitting room is larger, and is responsible for heating our house and water. Keeping these both in is quite a challenge, as I am sure you can imagine. Especially because we love the squirrel more (sorry large wood burner!) and therefore tend to focus our attention on this one, and forget about the bigger, and arguably more important one…. Oh well! It is definitely an interesting process, and a very different way of living to our old cottages, where we had wood burners, but also at the flip of a switch, we could have hot water and a warm house. My wise mother in law Kate put it quite well when we moved in. She said it’s like a living beast… Which is something I often think about when I am struggling to get the fires going in the morning.
Whilst hibernating next to our fire this winter, I have also discovered the joy of fancy scented candles. After lusting after them for most of last year, I was very lucky to receive two Diptyque candles for Christmas. I told myself I would only use them on special occasions, but they smell so damn good, I often just burn them while I am curled up with a book, or watching The Bachelor (please don’t judge me!) I have Figuier which is supposed to smell like you are in the Mediterranean, walking romantically through a fig grove, and Baies, which really is just the more glorious smell you will ever smell. It supposedly smells like blackcurrant leaves and Bulgarian rose, which I can’t confirm, because I don’t think I have smelt either of those things, but my god, it is just the most beautiful scent. Very natural, but also quite masculine. I recently discovered that you can buy this in perfume form, so I know what will be on my birthday wish list…
Another thing that I have been making good use of is cosy blankets! We were lucky enough to walk the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal last year, and my present to myself at the end was two cashmere blankets. This is something that I would never be able to justify for myself in the UK, as cashmere is crazy expensive, but it was very easy to justify in a small shop run by a really friendly chap, in the busy centre of Kathmandu. I have been combining all of these things with reading some good books (I am currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, which is absolutely wonderful!) And watching some good tv – I am re-watching six feet under, which has to be the best tv show ever made?! Such interesting character developments, and the most beautiful cinematography. All of these little things have made these house-bound snowy days much more manageable. What have you been doing to say sane in these chilly times?