The salt and pepper months; when the sun puts her hat on and the moon ushers in, taking a high path through the sky and pouring silver nectar into the last remaining pockets of darkness. There’s a lighting of the beacons in our neighbourhoods, as window candles glow from house to house; this is how we share the light with one another. As we knuckle down to hibernation, compassion becomes our winter elixir.

These times are made for the bravehearts and believers, for the wind and snow’s no contest for hallways lined with wellies and snoods, not when there’s wintering to be done. Scarves flutter on a zephyr as young’uns go about their yuletide rituals; carrots become noses, stones become smiles, branches become arms that might’ve been drawn by the baby with an ink pen. Their buffoonery is the soundtrack that heralds in the magic. (Did that snowman just wave? I do think it did.) These are blustery days, but by gum, they’re the days when memories are made.

‘Tis the season for shortbread stockpiling and yelling “snap!” like a choir. For the caramelising of parsnips, and letting dust gather on the assorted nuts. We play whereaboutery with the advent calendar chocolates and spoon dollops of cream on the cocoa, never minding what’s left for the pie. And white-bearded pups with impish souls root through the parcels under the tree; they’ll be the first to tear the paper come Christmas Day. We huddle around the tellybox for historic broadcasts come three in the afternoon, and honour the empty seat at our dinner table with bittersweet tales of toffees and silly faces pulled from the armchair. Later, we’ll tête-à-tête with a familiar-looking robin on the windowsill, and reward his kinship with a cherry from the gateau.

Wrapped in a cocoon of excitement that no number of lines on our faces can fade, we make hopeful offerings of mince pies and milk. Our ears still twitch to jingling bells. We squeeze into cars wedged tight with packages and mashed potatoes, and hurtle cross-country in tooting railway carriages, all on a mission to gather, together, for Christmas. Let us go then, youngest to oldest, and gather at the feeding table, just so we can say: with cobblers and cakes and marmalade, we squeezed the cosmos into a ball, and wasn’t it worth it after all?


Find a homestay for the winter season.