The clocks have changed, it’s dark at five o’clock and temperatures no longer allow for short sleeves. I love this time of year.
If you’ve ever heard the question of favourite seasons being discussed, most will say spring or summer for obvious reasons. As someone who spends a lot of time outside and is at one with the land so to speak, I appreciate and enjoy all of the seasons for different reasons (hey, that rhymes).
I like this time of year best though. Not Autumn, but the period from the clocks changing until Christmas. Let’s call it Auter. Or Wintumn?
Anyway, I know this is a time of year that many dread – dark nights, cold weather. Getting up when it’s dark, leaving work when it’s dark…Apparently us Scots go into an automatic hibernation mode – when the clocks change we go out socializing less, we spend less time going shopping and generally hole up in our jim-jams.
Interestingly, I find the perpetual light of the summer months quite invasive, as if I can’t get away from it. I think I feel more at home in the dark. It’s quite disturbing getting up for a morning milking at half three and it’s broad daylight. I also hate ‘big’ lights in rooms. I always have lamps on. Years ago after some surgery on my hand, I was taking a wild cocktail of drugs that made me photophobic and I’ve preferred soft lighting ever since.
So what I’m trying to do is cheer everyone up. I’m here to help those of you who get the early winter blues. Not usually the optimist, but for once I have plenty of positive things to sat about Wintumn.
The temperature is just right. For hotties like me who internally combust running in temperatures over 16 degrees celsius, the prolonged mild-but-chillier weather allows for optimum running without feeling the need to shed clothes to the bare bum as the miles increase. It’s also still pleasant enough to haul ass out of bed in the morning for a walk.
I hate jackets. Well, no, not true. I just hate long sleeves/cuffs. At this time of year I can meander about in jumpers/bodywarmers/gilets and still have my sleeves rolled up without getting cold.
No ‘proper’ shitty winter weather. Thanks to global warming, our winters are getting later and later. We’re not really seeing ‘proper’ bad weather until well into the new year, allowing for minimal ice/drenching/howling winds episodes. This year on the east coast it snowed on the 28th of April. And it was proper snow. Yes, it’s colder just now but considerably more pleasant. Get outside and do stuff, it’s lovely out there. If you work inside, get out on your lunch break and bang in some vitamin D supplements. A well-documented fact is that Brits don’t get enough sunlight in the darker months, so take what you can.
Building a ‘den’ – the expression my partner uses in relation to getting cosy. This can be anything from cuddling up on the couch to full-on blanket forts or camping out in bed. As it’s getting dark early, take full advantage. Get a pair of cosy socks, shut all the blinds and get some candles and soft lighting on, and top with some chilled-out music. Grab a book (or an iPad if you’re one of the cool kids) and snuggle down with a blanket and turn off your mobile. This is one of my favourite things to do. Chill the freak out. I’m one of those people that loves curling up with tea, a book and a blanket and listening to the rain battering off the window. It’s great.
Proper food. Oh yes. No more salads or grilled chicken. Soup. Stews. Roasts with all the trimmings. I reserve the pleasure of soup purely for the darker months, and get great satisfaction out of eating it because of that. I’ve dusted off my special soup-pot and I’m good to go. (I have a ‘special pot’ for just about everything.) On a dreary Sunday, one of my favourite things to do is make batches of soup. Allow me to share one of my simplest recipes: Tomato and Basil.
1 tin tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, crushed, small carton of passata, 1 large onion roughly chopped, handful of fresh basil torn, 1 pt ham stock , pinch of sugar and salt & pepper to taste.
- Sweat onion and garlic in a lidded pot with a squirt of low-cal oil.
- Once soft, bung in tinned tomatoes, passata and stock. Boil 20 minutes.
- Buzz down with a hand blender. Return to heat, adding sugar, seasoning and basil.
- Simmer 10 minutes uncovered to thicken.
- Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan and a sprig of basil to make it pretty.
Night Checks. By far the best thing. All of our cows are brought inside from grazing at the end of October into straw-bedded sheds. Last thing at night we don our wellies and hats and walk through the barns to make sure everyone is okay and the farm is secure. Most of the animals have settled down for the night and it’s an atmosphere I find incredibly calming. The smell of straw and the heat from the cows as you pick your way through them is very unique. I always talk to them in whispers (I’ve no idea why) and pet the tame ones on the way past. Again, if the rain is drumming on the roof of the sheds it seems all the more pleasurable. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Now I have that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, I’m off to wrap myself in a fleecy blanket and dig in to a bit of Dickens. What does everyone else love about wintumn? I’d love to hear what else I can add to my love-in list for this time of year!