We have discovered the joys of ‘wintering’. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. Winter is here. It’s real. There’s no avoiding it. So, we may as well enjoy it while it lasts.
I stole the term, wintering.
It was in a recent Sunday Times article (indulging in the spread of weekend papers is one of the many joys of wintering, but I’ll get to that). The argument is that we spend all winter longing for summer, and all summer dreading the onset of winter. When really, we should enjoy both with equal measure.
So what, exactly, does winter in England have to offer?
In the tropics, our bed was large, but sparse. Our comfort came from the quality of the mattress and bedding below us and the efficacy of the air conditioning system above us. There wasn’t much else to it. In winter we sometimes added a top sheet or cotton blanket if the outside temperature plunged below 20 degrees overnight.
In Suffolk, we have created a wintering sanctuary.
A wonderland of pillows, cushions, duvets, linen sheets, quilted throws, mattress toppers, electric blankets, woolly bed socks, and long-sleeved pyjamas.
Somewhere, sandwiched between the soft, heated base and puffy clouds of toppings, you’ll find us enveloped in its warmth, like a couple of hibernating bears.
Our bed has become more than somewhere to retire at night. It is Russell’s music practice room, my occasional office, our place to drink morning (and sometimes afternoon) tea, with toast and jam. It’s our winter retreat.
“Why should we rise because t’is light? Did we lie down because t’was night?”
John Donne wrote that, sometime in the 17th century. It makes so much sense.
Hands up (or paws up) who doesn’t love a crackling log fire on a winter’s evening?
The log burner will become a cold and lonely feature in the summer, but right now it’s our favourite spot in the house. Apart from our bed.
The slightly more roaring log fire at our local pub is also one of our favourite spots, especially on those really blustery winter evenings when undertaking the one minute walk from our front door to theirs could be described as an act of bravery.
My wardrobe in Cairns consisted of T-shirts and shorts, with the odd flouncy blouse and more business-like skirt thrown in for good measure. Getting dressed was very quick and easy, but I sometimes longed for a bit more variety. And weight.
While wintering in the UK, we have acquired drawers full of thick, heavy jumpers, socks, leggings, thermal underwear, overcoats, boots, and scarves. I bought a vintage woolen coat that has a fur collar and sheepskin lining. I’ve bought more jumpers in the past three months than in the previous 30 years. And my feet permanently reside in fleece-lined suede ankle boots or brightly coloured gumboots.
Winter clothes are such a fun novelty. I will miss all those layers in the summer.
Ask any Australian to describe a winter’s day in England, and you’ll hear words like bleak, dark, wet, miserable. Certainly not sunshine. We never imagined we’d get so many bright, sunshiney days in the middle of winter. It makes throwing open your curtains on a cold February morning almost a pleasure.
Although throwing open your curtains does require you to get out of bed.
Hours of guilt-free pleasure
This is the real joy of wintering.
At the peak of winter in the UK, we get precisely 7 hours 49 minutes, and 42 seconds of daylight. That’s almost 9 hours less daylight than at the peak of summer.
It sounds pretty grim when you put it like that. But think of it another way. At the peak of winter, we have almost 9 hours more time to indulge in guilt-free pursuits like:
- Taking as much time as you want to read the spread of weekend papers on a Sunday afternoon because it’s too dark to take the dog for a walk.
- Finishing work an hour or so earlier than you would in summer because your brain’s telling you it’s time to down tools.
- Having your first drink of the day when the sun’s over the yardarm.
- Allowing yourself to fall asleep in front of the TV instead of deadheading the rose bushes.
- Staying in bed.
Oh yes. Winter has been a surprising pleasure.
But in the past week or so we’ve started to notice the primroses and snowdrops pushing their way through the layers of winter leaves. I bought a bunch of bright yellow daffodils at the market last weekend, and found myself opening the curtains to greet another sunny morning, at 6.15.
I think Sping is on its way.
As I looked out onto yet another pouring wet day in Canada’s west coast, I definitely can relate to what you have written about winter. I have a similar wardrobe, plus five umbrellas and six rain jackets and raincoats! However, when the sun does shine it’s such a gift and we soon forget the sogginess.
Winter has been very kind to us on our first year here. We’ve hardly had any rain and we don’t own any raincoats. But I shouldn’t speak too soon. It’s only March after all!
Mel, always thought that toast was a no, no in bed, but perhaps with layers of jimjams you can’t feel the crumbs. best p.
Our rule is, we only have toast in bed the day we were going to strip the sheets anyway. That way we can indulge and still be crumb-free!
Dear Mel—Cindy and I really enjoyed the time in your bed! Loved the walk to the Pub in our Woolies ..and of course no Winter without the welcoming fires!!! We were just about to take a bite of our scotch egg!!….. when i had to turn the airconditioning back on and discard the jarmies and swat the mozzies!!! a good dream ruined!!!! Roll on Winter!!! Love Jono and Cindyxxxxxx
Love it! And Melbourne is one of the best places in Australia for wintering.
When referring to your footwear, are these uggies you are talking about?
Ha ha! No, Dale. Proper fur lined suede boots with a zip up one side. Not that Uggies aren’t proper, of course.
As we get older Mel that comfy bed takes on a new world of its own. You have described yours with such warmth and affection that we all wanted to jump in there too!
You seemed to enjoy that retreat from the heat of north Qld for a pleasant change. Let me tell you it has been relentless and stinking hot here for weeks. We have had the air con going not stop.
So you wouldn’t be missing that. The rain has finally given us some relief. I felt cooler just reading your blog.
Big hug from the Happy House!❤️
Glad to hear the rain has finally arrived. Missing you guys and looking forward to your visit.
Dearest Mel, one of your most endearing qualities is that you are such a glass half full girl and make everything you write about special – just like this. Well done you! xxxx from us all, Jen.
P.S. Love the photos, too!
After our recent Summer in Cairns Mel – we are totally ready to embrace Winter anywhere – hopefully we’ll get a chance to come over and experience it with you before much longer.
Come on up! Can’t wait to see you.
You guys are just having tooooo much fun……enjoy
J & L
Jack says you can make going to the guillotine sound like fun
Ha ha, although I like to keep my head on!
Love getting your emails Mel. Your words are so clear, I can almost smell the woodsmoke and feel the chill on my face as you open the door.
How is Russell?
Russell’s well. He’s doing his choir practice, in bed
Beautiful, so evocative…… makes me actually feel homesick for a nice winters day, especially if snow’s involved.
Love your work!!
No snow this year, Mike, except for a very brief flurry before Christmas. Actually, I think winter was quite kind to us for our first time round.
Your adventures in England bring so much joy, as old fashioned as that may sound your tales take me back to a time when feeling joyful was a given.
I can feel every imagery, right down to your big bed with its abundance of weight.
For once, feeling happy we’re moving into wintering ( love that word too, a little steal)
Absolutely love reading about your time away Mel, best tonic to start the day.
I’m going to print this out, as a reminder winter can be so much fun, thank you heaps.
Safe travels XX
Hang on to that thought as the temperatures drop in Sydney, although I don’t think they’ll drop as far as Suffolk!
Totally agree Mel , all the seasons have their benefits. Although , getting dressed for your winter must take a long time 🤣.
It does! Takes us at least 10 minutes to get rugged up to go out. Even Molly has a coat to put on.