14th November 2011 - Ben Sweeney
With the clocks turned back, temperatures falling and Christmas lights being turned on everywhere, winter is clearly on its way. But while some of us lament the loss of warm sunshine for another year, Ben Sweeney from our Charing Cross shop and others welcome the ice and snow: it's the season of the season of woolly jumpers and curling up with a good book.
The temperature plummets. The green begins to go, and the grey comes out. Insects drop like, well, flies, and small mammeloids try to invade human property. Daylight all but becomes a flash in the pan, and getting out of bed each morning becomes harder and harder... and colder. Winter is coming!
For me, the first real sign of winter is when my chilli plants go pale and limp like Mina Harker under Dracula's gaze. A sad start to a season.
But I like the winter. It's not like the transient English summer. Whereas the heat of summer can remain an expectation, the cold of winter almost always comes, without fail.
I like the constrictiveness of winter. My favourite thing is dredging the wardrobe for all those thick comfy clothes: woollen scarves, heavy Scandinavian jumpers, and pillowy hats. The moment the cold comes I whip out my slightly-too-large duffle-jacket. It's the one time of year you can get away with wearing something as thick and snug as a duvet.
It's also the real time for heart-warming hobbies.
My number one hobby is probably reading (of course, I work in a bookshop). Next to my bed is a small, but gradually mounting, pile of recent releases that just haven't had the time to be read. 11.22.63 by Stephen King. Snuff by Terry Pratchett. Charles Dickens: A Life, not by Charles Dickens. Come the freezing months of January or February the reluctance to climb out of bed will become quality time with these tomes and a hot water bottle.
Watching away the icy months with all those DVDs that I bought up on paydays during the sunny months is also another quality reason to enjoy the winter from bed.
Knitting and crochet seem to be popular past-times, but not necessarily always from bed. In the winter I often see groups of people in cafes knitting. A 'Stitch 'n Bitch' as many of the sessions seem to be called. I don't knit, or crochet, and the way to a lack of success in this craft has been paved with the good intentions of learning how to. This winter I have no intentions of trying to learn, so hopefully I will.
It's as the leaves fall with the temperature, about this time of year, that is the best time to begin slow cooking things. The perfect excuse to put on a few pounds. To lessen the blow of heating bill my housemates and myself start roasting all our food and making jams. It's time to try out all those recipes that felt like a bit too much in the summer. The fruit of my chilli plants are going to experience a chilli jam recipe first hand. The Hummingbird Bakery's pumpkin, cheese and chive muffins and Whimsical Bakehouse's peanut butter cheesecake are also on the list of cooking experiments to try.
And then as soon as the boredom of cooking begins to kick in it's suddenly time to start planting things.
My housemate spends all summer joking about any drop in temperature, "That's it, it's here. Here's winter." He never complains about the winter once it's here. And I'm with him on that one. Winter is coming whether it's wanted or not, and it's best to make the cosiest of it while it's here.
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Kaye Hansen; Liv Hansen