Winter isn't so bad

Most people hate the next couple of months. I can understand. If I weren’t about to write a column detailing the reasons I actually quite like this time of year, I might say I hated them too. But as I said, I’m about to write a column detailing all the reasons I actually quite like this time of year.

Yes, it’s arsing cold, the streets resemble the aftermath of a Christmas tree massacre and everybody feels quite fat. Yes, we’re all broke, and sober and tired and fed up of not seeing the light of day. Those things are all true, indisputable facts. But still, I think January and February get an unnecessarily bad rap.

After the excitement and flurry of the festive period – the crowds, the tinsel, the Christmas tree needles in socks and the incessant buying of things – this month arrives as a much-needed pause. A sigh of relief. No forced fun, no five gold rings, no mulled wine or mince pies (I’ll be happy if I never so much as look at another mince pie again).

I can run around the park without having to do battle with the swathes of tourists lost on their way to Winter Wonderland and walk to John Lewis without wanting to kill myself, or anyone else. I can actually get things done because I’m not constantly scouring the internet searching for ethically sourced gifts or working out how to make marzipan or attempting to direct myself to a sodding candle-lit carol service in some Islington back street. 

Yes, going back to work is difficult and waking up in what feels like the middle of the night is hard. But the early part of the year, for me, represents a period of renewal. A bit of quiet time before chaos ensues in the spring. Yes, 1st January is always a rather unwelcome crash back to reality – the ultimate come-down after the joviality of Christmas. Yes, a bit of acclimatization is required – but actually, a couple of months of monotony are exactly what I need.

I’m grateful for the cold, dark evenings – it’s as if they were made for curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a packet of hobnobs and a brooding Scandinavian thriller. As far as I'm concerned, a rainy Saturday is an invitation to stay in bed. From now until March, my free time is reserved for reading the books that have been on my bedside table for the best part of a year, cleansing cupboards and decluttering my life a bit. Yes, I am aware how incredibly middle-aged I sound, but this is a time to crack on with things until more exciting distractions ensue in the spring.

No, these next few months might not be as lively as the summer – when we’re all tanned and gorgeous and can spend every waking minute in the park drinking prosecco from paper cups. But actually, I have enough excitement in my life (and paper cups are v. wasteful, guys), so every now and then, a decidedly dull period is a welcome revelation.

Nature too, is enjoying a much-needed break. Colours are muted and trees are bare. But, if you do manage to drag yourself away from Season II of The Crown (yeah, good luck with that), pull on your jumper and venture out to the park, you’ll see snowdrops are beginning to break through the undergrowth – the first sign spring is on its way.

Soon daffodils will be swaying in the breeze and delicate cherry blossom will adorn all the trees. Soon the sun will sit higher in the sky and days will be longer. Soon you’ll barely be able to walk through the streets of Soho without rubbing shoulders with beer swigging suits enjoying after-work drinks in the sun. Soon the leaves will start to crisp up again, turn amber and fall from the branches. Soon blackberries will bejewel the hedgerows and the air will turn crisp. Soon it will be Christmas once more and the chaos will ensue again. But now nature rests – and so should we.

Sarah Barratt