Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Key to Winter Reading

Step One: Find a cosy corner. The armchair, the bed, your favourite spot in the library. Anywhere really that’s warm, quiet and comfortable. Extra points if you have a lovely wintry view to gaze on.

Step Two: Choose a book. The most important stage, of course. Winter is the time for comfort so it’s no surprise if you find yourself returning to old favourites that never let you down. I tend to go for festive reads. One absolute favourite is Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford – country house shenanigans, satirical swipes abound.  At the moment I’m reading The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle. This is particularly recommended for those who are anxiously counting down the days to the Sherlock special - I know I am.

Step Three: Select a snack and drink. My personal winter beverage of choice is Whittard’s white hot chocolate because it’s the colour of snow and I can imagine myself drinking it in a cosy log cabin. I tend not to eat and read (crumbs in pages, chocolate smears obscuring page numbers etc.) but there is always something tasty up for grabs in my house at this time of year so who am I to refuse?

Step Four: Optional Extras. Now, it’s time to make it yours. Add candles, hot water bottles, bolster yourself with plump cushions. Be comfy and enjoy.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Six Ways to Enjoy Winter

Winter is the time that we hibernate into a cocoon of Quality Streets and Chocolate Oranges. Winter is the time we wrap up in scarves and gloves and embrace the chill on walks across frosty landscapes. Winter is the time for celebration, friends, family, food and festivity. Here are my six ways to get the most out of this magical season.

1. My favourite way to embrace the changing seasons is to go for a long walk in the midst of it all. Reflect on the passing year and dream about brighter days as you trudge along in boots. Take pictures of bare branches, blue white skies and red berries. Catch up with your companion and pack a little pick me up to warm you through!

2. One of the best things about having a little one in my life is the way I’ve begun to see things through a child’s eyes. Winter is transformed when you look at things this way; puddles are for jumping in, leaves are there to be collected and everything is worth a closer inspection. You notice the little robin you might have passed by or a statue overgrown with ivy. Be observant, be curious and be imaginative.

3. With Christmas just around the corner, it’s this time of year we are at our most generous. I love taking time to pick out things that will make my loved ones happy. Tell people how grateful you are for them and prove that cheesy sentimentality isn’t just a make believe thing from Christmas adverts.

4. Christmas can be a stressful season for some. Even I, who floats through advent to new year in a sugar induced joy bubble, sometimes need to take some time out to relax and cut off from frantic preparations and festive expectations. Treat yourself to a bath treat (Lush always have the best Christmas selection) and evaporate tension in a tub.

5. Fill your house with all the natural beauty you encounter outside. A Christmas tree, faux or no, is a good starting place. Mistletoe, pinecones and sprigs of holly are good ones too. Buy some scented candles with earthy notes. And make sure you look out the window to see if Mr. Robin has come to call.

6. The cosy feel of being surrounded by a fluffy blanket; The smell of cinnamon and cloves when rolling out biscuit dough; The taste of a little chocolate in the Advent calendar; The sound of brass bands and choirs when you’re out Christmas shopping. The most enduring Christmas memories are infused with sensory detail. This December relish those evocative smells, sights, tastes, sounds and textures you associate with all things festive.

What are your favourite ways to enjoy Winter? 

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