Here in the UK, January is a dismal month; to my mind, the most dreary month of the year. And this, 2023’s January is worst than most, because added to the woes of the relentless wet or freezing weather are sky-high fuel prices, rampant inflation, impossible grocery price hikes, frightening scenes in our health service and a whole raft of strikes driven by working peoples’ rightful indignation at their inadequate salaries. Oh, and on top of it all, brutal war rages in Europe, where Ukraine slogs it out with Russia on our behalf.
Outside the rear boundary of our house lies a footpath and beyond that, water meadows. They are aptly named, currently under water from the seasonal flooding. In the early days of our occupancy I was anxious over the proximity of the freshwater sea which seems perilously close, but after six years have grown used to our watery outlook during the winter, which is partially tidal due to our nearness to the estuary where the river ends its journey. The views were a useful stimulus for writing The Conways at Earthsend [see footnote].
To drag ourselves from the trough of gloom we’ve cast around for some cultural distractions, last week to a meal, an evening of Cream and Hendrix music, a night away and a British breakfast [an indulgence seldom taken]. In my late teens I was very familiar with Cream’s music, as I was with so many bands of the late 60s, so to hear classics like ‘White Room’, ‘Badge’ and the iconic version of ‘Crossroads’ played [in whatever fashion] was a transport to my youth- a tiny [and loud] morsel of escapism alongside the excellent braised beef and creme brulee of the meal.
On an occasional day when it hasn’t rained I’ve ventured into the garden to make some sense of the ravages of winter. We’ve also walked when the weather allowed, rewarding ourselves with scooting into cafes on the return.
I’ve reserved seats at our local, regional theatre to see a couple of things, including pantomime, to which I’m dragging Offspring and Grandoffspring and to a broadcast screening of the National Theatre’s offering of The Crucible.
And then, having dithered and procrastinated our way through the last few weeks we did, at last get around to seeking some winter sun and booking it [about which- more later].
It’s tempting during these winter months to climb under a thick blanket and hunker down with all manner of TV offerings [which, let’s face it are not universally of top quality] but while the occasional session of television is fine, catching up on anything worth watching, constant binging becomes mind-numbing.
Winter, then is a time for cultural visits and pursuits, of which there are more than in the summer, which is full of festivals. Hooray for the arts!
Grace is the alter ego of novelist and short story writer, Jane Deans. To date I have two published novels to my name: The Conways at Earthsend [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conways-at-Earthsend-Jane-Deans-ebook/dp/B08VNQT5YC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ZHXO7687MYXE&keywords=the+conways+at+earthsend&qid=1673350649&sprefix=the+conways+at+earthsend%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-1 and The Year of Familiar Strangers [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Familiar-Strangers-Jane-Deans-ebook/dp/B00EWNXIFA/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2EQHJGCF8DSSL&keywords=The+year+of+familiar+strangers&qid=1673350789&sprefix=the+year+of+familiar+strangers%2Caps%2C82&sr=8-1 Visit my writer Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=jane%20deans%2C%20novellist%2C%20short%20fiction%20and%20blog or my website: https://www.janedeans.com/