This time last year we were getting really excited as we were about to spend a week holed up in a Scottish castle with the family for a cosy Christmas. It was to be a time of roaring log fires, long country rambles and communal cooking around the Aga with festive tunes jingling away in the background, and the kiddies running up and down the spiral stairs on the best treasure hunt ever. There was mulled wine, piles of presents under the tree and Father Christmas and his reindeer pals even paid a visit, swapping stockings for a glass of whisky and a mince pie or two. All the elements for a perfect Christmas.
The festive period this year is going to be rather different. Thanks to a certain pandemic and associated lockdown rules here in the UK, many families won’t be able to meet up to celebrate together this year. It’s going to be tough for a lot of people, and although restrictions on meeting will be slightly eased, they still mean large gatherings of several households just won’t be on the cards. Our families are spread out across the country over multiple houses, which means we’ll be staying put here in the Lakes for the big day. We’re sad we can’t see our loved ones, but we’re going to make the best of it. And now we’re starting to plan I think it’s going to be fun – just the two of us spending time together, all cosy in our own house.
We’ve been reading up on ideas of how to create that cosy feeling over winter, and came across Regatta’s #AFrostyDebate – a fun survey looking at creative ways to keep warm and how different regions have different words to describe the cold! Did you know that in Scotland the most common phrase is ‘it’s Baltic’, whilst in London ‘it’s taters’ and up here in North West England apparently it’s ‘brass monkeys’. I’d never heard of the latter (despite having lived here for 16 years) so asked Hubbie what it meant. Apparently the phrase comes from the navy, and the saying ‘it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey‘ refers to the brass frame which would be used to store cannon balls. When it got really cold, the frame would contract, thereby spilling the balls. I don’t know how Hubbie knew that, he’s an Essex boy so should be saying ‘it’s crisp’!
If you’re planning the same sort of Christmas at home, you might like to think about some of the things we’re doing to stay warm and snug over winter, and turn what could be a potentially gloomy period into one that’s full of fun and laughter.
A really easy way to warm up after going for a frosty afternoon walk is with a hot drink, and you could even take one with you on your ramble with a thermos flask and mugs. It might be too chilly for a picnic, but a hot drink on top of a hill is really what winter is all about, certainly up here in the Lake District. If you’re a coffee lover, ditch the everyday jar of instant granules and treat yourself to a luxurious frothy beverage with extra cream. It is Christmas after all.
Mulled wine is the tipple of choice for many people over the festive period, but personally I can’t stand the stuff. For me it’s hot chocolate all the way, perhaps with a few glasses of Moroccan mint tea thrown in for a bit of variety. Unsurprisingly, Regatta’s survey found that 39% of Brits would choose coffee, and 38% will be opting for tea, once again sparking that age old tea versus coffee debate.
An obvious way to warm up indoors is to hunker down by a roaring fire, and whilst central heating does a great job of warming up the house, there’s nothing that beats watching the dancing flames of a log burner to get you all nice and toasty. It’s a visual as well as a physical thing. Of course burning fuel isn’t cheap, and according to the survey, the majority of Brits would prefer to layer up or cuddle a hot water bottle to try and save a few pennies. It’s not quite the same, but at least it means there might be more money available to spend on Christmas treats and presents for the family.
Wrap Up Outside
You might think going outdoors is an odd way to warm up, but actually by wrapping up in thick coats, hats and scarves and going for a walk you will get the blood pumping in no time. 56% of survey respondents agreed, so it looks like there will be a lot of walkers out there this winter. Just make sure you don’t forget the gloves so your fingers don’t freeze. The survey suggests most people enjoy a bit of hiking, with the next most popular activity being running. That’ll certainly keep you warm! As for us, we’ll be heading to the beach to blow away some cobwebs, fly the kite and walk along the sand. Probably with a flask of hot chocolate and a sneaky slice of cake in tow.
A lot of people hate cooking, but over Christmas it’s a great way to spend quality time with those you live with, experimenting with festive creations as jingle bells tinkles away merrily on the radio. Plus it gets lovely and toasty in the kitchen, so it’s a great place to spend your time inside. We’ll be cooking Christmas dinner together this year, and although it’s just the two of us, it means we can do exactly what we want rather than trying to meet the diverse needs of a large group of people. So we’re ditching the turkey (which we always think is quite dry) and instead will be doing a bog standard roast chicken. Or we might even cook a tagine, just because we can! And there won’t be any Christmas pudding because I hate it, and Hubbie can’t be bothered, so it’ll be cheesecake and chocolate instead, with no feelings of guilt!
Fairy Lights All The Way
Christmas is a time for sparkles and lights, and there’s nothing more cosy than sitting in the living room at night with the tree glowing and twinkling. Being cosy is in the mind as well as the body! We’ll be heading out to our local Christmas tree farm in a couple of weeks so we can choose the perfect tree – it has to be symmetrical, about 5ft tall and smell amazing! Even though we’ll have no visitors this year, we think it’s important to keep up the tradition and bring a bit of festive cheer to the four walls that have at times felt like a bit of a prison over this last year. There’s nothing better than a merry Christmas tree to lift the mood for a warm snug feeling.
So although we’re not spending Christmas in a Scottish castle this year, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen with our families and watching the kiddies open their presents, we’ll still be having a cosy time together. There are so many things you can do to lift the spirits, and it’s the small things that can really make a difference. Like walks, hot chocolate and woolly hats.