January is a gloomy month. Once the gluttonous, exuberant, over-consumption of Christmas and New Year is over there is little to recommend it. TV channels have exhausted their supply of money and ideas. It is long, cold, dark, often penurious…in the aftermath of all the spending…, and frequently marked by periods of nasty weather. Many are prompted to comment, ‘We are always caught out in this country’, ‘why aren’t we prepared?’ etc when airport runways and motorways are unusable, or ‘look at Norway’, ‘look at Canada’; ‘they don’t get caught out’! They don’t. But the reason we aren’t prepared in the way that they are, is that our climate has always been unpredictable, and getting more so.
In January we are bombarded with alluring offers: ‘Two for one on main courses for dining between 11 am and 12.30pm, choosing from the 2 for 1 menu’ [ie ponyburger and chips with garlic bread].
‘One extra night free during weekdays’ [at the Travel Inn Express, Uttoxeter motorway services…on the M6…you might be lucky and get a 2 for 1 at Little Chef [see above]].
‘Ryanair’s £8 winter seat sale’; [fly from Stansted, Luton or Manchester on a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 5.20am to an obscure airport fifty miles from eg Barcelona, Alicante or Marbella].
‘Cruise in the Med’ [I’ve made my feelings clear about cruising in the previous post], ‘from £199 [for two nights] or upgrade to an ‘exterior’ cabin for just an additional £50 each’. This extra £50 each is for a window. For two nights!
No, I’m not tempted by any of this. When I venture out into my back garden and scrape away some of the grey slush that is covering it I can detect some new, green spikes of growth where bulbs are beginning to show. There are fat buds on the camellia bush. It is all there, waiting in the wings of winter. In a couple of weeks the snowdrops will be up. I come back in and warm up with the wood burner. I make vast pots of soup. Curl up. Read.
At this time of year there is nowhere in Europe that is truly warm. So I prefer to wait, accept the vagaries of the weather and plan what we will do when the weather does, finally come out of hibernation. And be glad…because despite the miserable, cold, dark and wet conditions this is winter, doing what it is supposed to do. With any luck, then it will be spring. These are the seasons and we are fortunate to have them!