Winter is coming.
As a Northerner, this season is marked with seven days a week of rain, instead of six, and a reduction in average daylight hours from three to two. Or that’s how it feels, at any rate.
But truth be told I love winter. It’s the season of big family meals, catching up with long-lost friends, and on a semi-spiritual level, it’s a time of year when I want to slow down, and focus on new projects and beginnings.
Here are my top five reasons to love winter. What are yours?
1. Comfort Meals
Flea’s typical school lunch is sandwiches and fruit, so making a hot dinner is a priority during the week – and when it’s cold, you need comfort food, right? Surely one of the best mid-week suppers ever invented is sausages and mash – served with gravy, of course. I would normally make onion gravy but Flea considers this to be a crime against sausages. So plain gravy it is.
We discovered a new range of sausages from celeb chef Paul Rankin on special offer at the supermarket and they were very tasty – Rankin has put his name to a few different sausage ranges over the years, so he knows a thing or two about bangers. These are pretty good – especially if they’re fried in a good quality oil, getting them nice and brown and crispy before you cook them through. It’s not health food, but it’s very, very comforting.
If there’s anything better than sitting down to a major carb-fest with friends and family, I’m not sure it’s legal. This weekend, I made a massive lasagne for the family, and we sat around the table, candles glowing, catching up on everyone’s news.
Of course garlic bread is an essential element of any Italian comfort meal, right? We make ours in the oven, just a sliced fresh baguette and a few spoonfuls of Clover, mixed with garlic and chopped herbs. Clover is made with buttermilk and has nothing artificial added, as well as being lower in fat – meaning you are perfectly justified in eating that enormous tiramisu for pudding.
2. Cosy Armchairs and New Books
Reading on the beach is over-rated, I reckon. The sun gets in your eyes, the pages get crispy with sea and sand, and it’s all just a bit too much work to be truly relaxing. But reading is made for winter – we’ve just splashed out on a HUGE new armchair from Ikea, and sitting there, with a cup of tea and a new book? Perfection.
Although someone needs to tell the dog that the new chair isn’t actually her new throne.
3. Crackling Fires
Whether it’s real or not, there’s nothing quite like warming your toes in front of a winter fire. During the winter, we often turn off the TV and sprawl in front of the fire, listening to music and chatting until way after bedtime. Toasted teacakes (topped with Clover, natch) optional.
4. Crafting and Baking
I am not a crafter. Or a cook. Domestic arts are so not my thing. But at Christmas, enthusiasm gets the best of me, and I find myself embarking on our annual crafting and baking projects, in an attempt to create magical festive memories for my offspring.
This year we have baked our own gingerbread house and we’ll be decorating it this weekend. And there’s the small matter of our home-made fingerprint Christmas baubles – no, they’re not perfect, but we had a lot of fun making them.
I’m a big fan of Christmas. I like to draw it out as much as possible though – we kick off on Dec 1 with our advent calendar, then Flea gets to almost explode by the time the tree goes up a week before the big day. For us, it’s all about seeing family, watching Christmas movies, going to church and – naturally – eating our way through as many mince pies as is humanly possible.
Those are my reasons to love winter. What are yours?