It’s harder to appreciate winter in the UK, isn’t it? Especially if you aren’t lucky enough to work from home. I remember it being dark when I got up in the morning, dark when I left the house for work, dark for the last hour of working in the office, dark on the train station platform waiting for the (inevitably delayed) Southern train home, dark for the rest of the day. Dark, dark, dark. And while the cold has never bothered me, I hate wet and windy weather. Which is a problem in the UK, where it’s wet and windy from November until, oh I don’t know, July? It just all feels like a big of a slog.
So one of the best things about coming to Bulgaria was rediscovering that I actually quite like winter. I like the cold weather. The chunky knitwear. The smell of woodsmoke and the glow of the woodburning stove. The long break from gardening. The heartier food. The fact that our village empties of Sofian second-homers and grows still for a few months. The slower pace of life in general. The comfort food. Even the dark mornings, which we embrace by having our morning pot of coffee by candlelight, like a pair of Dickensian old men. (With our bumpy lime-plastered walls and abundance of houseplants, candles throw some interesting shadows on our walls. Embracing candles and shadows is a winter trick I picked up from Nigel Slater, who always writes so enthusiastically about the season.) Did I mention the food?
And, of course, there’s the snow. We were surprised and delighted last week to wake up to a good dumping of snow, something that’s not so common before Christmas. (We might get the odd dusting, but usually nothing significant until New year.) Being from the south of England, we never had much snow back home, and I can only remember maybe two or three winters where we had more than a few centimetres. Ten years into our Bulgarian adventure and I still get that childlike excitement watching fat snowflakes fall in the beam of the streetlight outside our house.
Plus I look excellent in hats. Come to think of it, everyone looks great in a hat. So that’s another reason to celebrate winter.
How do you feel about winter? If you enjoy it, or want to enjoy it, I highly recommend reading The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater. Not to be confused with the series of Kurt-Russell-does-sexy-Santa Netflix films by the same name, it’s a book that celebrates the many pleasures of wintertime – not just Christmas, although there is a hefty dose of Christmassiness in there.
That tip aside, I’ll leave you with some pictures of last week’s snow. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a white Christmas, but it never happens. There’s usually a teaser of cold weather and snow the week or two before, which always has us thinking ‘This year, this year, we’re in for a white Christmas.’ Then it inexplicably warms up two days before Christmas and we end up sweating our balls off cooking Christmas dinner over a woodburning stove, while it’s 17°C outside. Every damn year.
Then it snows for New Year, I breathe a sigh of satisfaction and sink happily into winter hermit mode.