Don’t get me wrong, there are many things about winter that I embrace wholeheartedly. Take my early-morning walk to work, for example. At this time of year, there are far fewer irritating people to get in my way – over-enthusiastic and early-rising borrowers of Reading’s Boris bikes, for example. What they lack in proficiency, they more than make up for in enthusiasm – but thankfully not during the winter months… There is also a distinct lack of wannabe runners – those individuals who don their running gear and then bounce up and down under the pretence of jogging, but whom I actually overtake as I walk to my destination. I, on the other hand, am able to walk as speedily as I wish during winter. I needn’t worry about arriving at work and being asked if I ran all the way there (such is the sweaty mess that the stroll results in during the summer season). Dogs, too, are less of an irritant from November onwards – jumping in the river then vigorously shaking themselves off at the very moment I walk past, seems to hold slightly less of an appeal when the temperature falls below zero.
I took this photograph on my commute last week when the temperature fell. Note the pleasing lack of humans and canines both. The same thing goes for the swimming pool at this time of year – soft Southerners don’t like getting their hair wet in winter so the lanes are lovely and empty. That might have read like the pool is devoid of humans and dogs. “Well, how obvious” I hear you say… But you may be surprised. Only last month did I hear on the radio a very disturbing programme about a swimming pool which held sessions for dogs and their owners It might have been this one (but I’m not sure as I changed the station before they started talking about how they stopped the dogs weeing – or worse – in the pool):
All kinds of wrong.
Radio programming aside, there are many other winter-related pastimes that I actively enjoy. As a Scot living down South, I often find myself talking about cold weather in a mildly disparaging manner:
- “No, we don’t need the heating on, it’s only December! Put another jumper on.”
- “It’s ridiculous! A tiny wee bit of snow and this place has come to a standstill! Where I come from this would just be a flurry. A light flurry. We probably wouldn’t even have noticed it, never mind talked about it all day.”
- “Radiators? Upstairs? Don’t be silly! Everyone knows heat rises!”
- “There’s no such thing as bad weather; merely impractical clothing.”
It is my experience that people fully expect and enjoy a good snow-related anecdote and are actually mildly disappointed if us Scots don’t indulge them in a little my-weather-is-worse-than-yours banter. (This was perfectly demonstrated during the recent floods: “Rain? This isn’t rain! I know the river’s pretty high, but you’ve not experienced real rain until you’ve spent a fortnight in the summer on the West coast of Scotland….”) It provides hours of entertainment for all concerned.
Apologies, I appear to have gone off on a tangent. I was meant to be discussing things I like about winter and one of my very favourite aspects of the season is the fact that various mildly unfashionable (pensioner-associated) drinks I enjoy are suddenly socially acceptable: hot toddies, sherry, port, Whisky Macs, to name just a few. And let’s not forget the seasonal emergence of all things mulled. So far this year, I have indulged in mulled wine, mulled cider and – wait for it – mulled VODKA. Look! I even took a photo:
In retrospect, I think it must have been rather potent: I usually fall well within that category of folks who drink their drinks and don’t photograph them, but the inspiration must have come from somewhere on this occasion. For the record, it was in a nasty plastic cup – hence not very photogenic – and I believe this may have been the reason for the vaguely drunken ‘arty photo from above’ attempt…
So, as established, I like winter drinks. I also like winter foodstuffs. At long last, it is time to resurrect the slow cooker and I am excited and nervous… Alas, I have to stow away my lovely food processor (the BF invented a rule stating that I am only allowed one large non-essential kitchen appliance living on the work-surface at any one time. Ridiculous rule, but one must pick one’s battles wisely…) I am excited as I fully intend to try lots of exciting new recipes. I am nervous because I hate leaving the slow cooker on all day. If I’m being honest, I have never actually left it unattended except to daringly nip to the corner shop for a vital ingredient, so real is my fear of it spontaneously catching fire. Will this be the year I overcome my irrational worries and come home from work to the smells of slowly cooked delights? (My money’s on it being the year I finally persuade the BF to take it to work and let it simmer away under his desk, constantly attended; what was that I was saying about choosing my battles?!)
I suppose it’s about time I got around to those things I dislike about the season – this being a blog about my grievances ‘n’all. Well, my main grievances revolve around being ill. I’m not sure if I am less frequently ill in summer, or if being ill in winter is simply infinitely worse. Either way, it’s rubbish being ill when it’s cold outside (though obviously Scotland is colder, and therefore an even rubbisher place to be ill in).
Rubbish things about being ill as an adult (I’m sure it was way more fun as a child):
- Having to buy your own Lucozade.
- Not being the recipient of endless sympathy (and, what’s more, being expected to bestow sympathy on anyone else in the household who has the audacity to be ill at the same time).
- Daytime TV – when did it get this bad?
- Feeling irrationally guilty about missing work, and dreading the catch-up exercise that returning to the office will involve.
- People ‘informing’ you that you are definitely ill as a result of getting your feet wet/going out with wet hair. COLDS ARE NOT TRANSMITTED THROUGH WET HAIR!
Winter is also rubbish because it is dark most of the time (but not as dark, obviously, as it is in Scotland in winter), and because people talk about Christmas constantly. And because your hands get really cold but it’s really hard to eat a packet of crisps whilst wearing gloves. And because lots of people talk about having SAD (which is a little like wheat-intolerance, in my opinion – ten years ago nobody knew what it was and now every second person and their dog claims to suffer from it). And because the ground gets really slippy. And because on balance, these are relatively minor gripes and it would appear that I actually quite like winter after all!
Well, I shall end here on that unusually positive note and spend the remainder of my evening working out how to turn the heating down and doing some slow cooker recipe research.