Thursday, 8 December 2011

Jessica’s Column by Jessica Davies

Jessica Davies from Duffield has been a regular columnist for All Things Local for the past 3 years. Jessica is now at Cambridge University studying French and Spanish. With such an intense workload, Jessica has decided to step down from her role as regular columnist for All Things Local and this is her final contribution:

Welcome Winter
This is the time of year that Dad likes to play his thrifty heating game. It’s a game of endurance and pushing the boundaries. And shivering. He likes to sneakily knock the thermostat down one degree at a time and reduce the hours that the radiators thaw; with an adamance that 18oC is a healthy room temperature. How cold can a house get before the family turns into icicles? 

There’s probably some secret league table for fathers everywhere. “I got it down to 15.5o today,” They boast, “Only had it on for two hours!” Cue impressed hand-shaking and blokey congratulations. We just huddle together resignedly.

I can forgive winter for making me sleep in a cocoon of dressing gown, fleecy blankets and duvet, surrounded by hot water bottles. I can even put up with the depressingly grey mornings when it’s terrifying to set a toe out of bed, because the sub-zero temperatures make way for exciting novelties that have been forgotten about amid the tedium of t-shirts and boring in-between weather.

I want drama from my sky. I want heat wave or snowfall, fierce wind or mysterious fog. Much of the time, England’s weather is indecisive – autumn is all showers and breeze and short spells and frosty edges, whereas winter here is executed thoroughly. An everyday family walk could be dull - plodding along, drearily uphill and aimlessly downhill. Winter throws a bit of spice into the mix. She strips the trees to leave hauntingly beautiful skeleton silhouettes and stiffens the grass to give a satisfying creak when we tread. A brisk winter hike gives you a fairytale rosy flush and gets the circulation going. Plus I can gleefully dust off my pea green coat and retrieve my beautiful rainbow scarf and gloves, glad for zero threat of a bizarre socks-and-shorts tan.

When my legs have entirely forgotten the golden brown sunshine feeling of summer, a hot drink is medicine, an antidote to the frost that presses threateningly against the windows. The steam floods my glasses, rendering them opaque, and I sigh with happy anticipation. I am permanently in the mood for a cup of tea and often scarcely have I drained the dregs before the kettle is put on afresh. Winter is a time of banding together, of laughing and of passing around scorching mugs. Hot chocolate anyone?

As the world outside grows darker and colder, the lights inside glow brighter. Ice tightens around the visitors’ cars on the drive whilst indoors songs are sung, food is gobbled and spirits remain high. Everyone’s clothes become more colourful and jolly despite the plummeting temperatures on the streets. We have the ideal excuse to wear ridiculous woolly socks and gorge on casserole and crumble.

When the flurry of red and green festive sparkle dies down, the Christmas presents are thoroughly investigated and the doors are locked – an established custom at home known as the hibernation period. It’s the rest between the relatives, and a brief respite from celebrating the cheer when we can sleep until late and generally indulge.

Winter is my favourite time of year. Last year the snow was so special – and so unusual. Because, lovely as it would be, the weather isn’t always that spectacular. It’s sometimes just an inundation of chilly muddy rain. Hopefully this winter the delicate drifting flakes will be a frequent sight and we’ll get towering mounds of snow again. Then I can wear my wellies and scruffy navy jumper and enjoy snowball fights and snowy sculptures, as well as the other joys that winter brings – glistening turkey, early nights and friends home for the holidays. Oh, and did I mention my birthday is in January?


Note from Editor: Congratulations on securing your place at Cambridge University Jessica, thank you for providing an excellent and well-articulated range of articles over the past 3 years. Good luck with your course and I wish you every success for the future. Karyn x

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