Hello there! We are so glad you're back here with the odd lifers in 2023! We really hope 2023 is being kind to you wherever you are! I can't be more grateful to be another year older surrounded by the people I love dearly.
Here in our little village (oh yes we found out our area is considered a village and that makes us villagers HAHA!), we've been finding our footing in a very different environment and climate. We talked about the shocking truths of living in the UK here in our last post but I think we are only starting to grasp the power of nature and its ability to shape our lives.
We've spent most of our lives along the equator of the planet on a geographically sheltered island (Singapore). Nothing really happens in terms of weather because it is either rain or shine. Shorts, T-shirt and slippers works 365 days a year. Occasionally, the temperature dips to about 21-22 celcius and you'll see people flooding social media with pictures of being all wrapped up and feeling "cold". The past month has redefined the word "cold" for all of us.
Winter is not a season, it is an occupation
- Sinclair Lewis
I think Sinclair Lewis is quite right in saying that it is an occupation because winters are to be endured and there's a lot to do if you want to live well in winter.
Winters are to be endured
A short nice ski/winter holiday may actually sound exciting but living through the entirety of winter is a completely different ball game. I know I run the risk of sounding like a wimp because there are many who live further north in Scotland, Canada, Russia and the Nordic countries who experience far more brutal winters than we are getting here in the UK. To survive winters, you've got to endure the biting cold, the constant darkness, being stuck indoors, spending way more money on energy bills.
When we do get a break in the weather (e.g. the sun comes out and it isn't raining, sleeting, hailing and snowing), we try our best head outside. It can be frustrating being stuck inside all the time. It can also be miserable shaking in the cold. I do my best to head to places that have the great outdoors and a heated indoor space to take refuge when it gets too cold.
The kids are showing a lot less stamina in the cold and would complaint about wanting to go home. The ironic thing is, the only way to overcome the cold is to go into the cold. Our bodies need time to adjust the way it responds to the cold and if we simply stay home all day, we'll never adjust. If you'd really want to survive the winter, you must endure the cold and head outside.
Days are very short in winter and it can be very disorientating when you've got only 6-7 hours of daylight. Perpetual darkness can make you very lethargic because the absence of light tells your body it is time to sleep/rest. Lack of vitamin D also puts you at a way higher risk of serious health problems and depression. Cabin fever can also set in when you are stuck indoors too much. We try to take in as much fresh air and sunlight as we possibly can to keep ourselves sane.
There's a lot to do if you want to live well in winter
Here's how we get an outing done in the winter.
-Check Meteorological office for adverse warnings
-Watch BBC weather report
-Check road closures
-Check winter operating hours
-Slap a lot of cream on your skin
-Pack the snack pack and prepare water/warm flask
-Dress up (Tee, sweater, coat, gloves, beanie, jeans/stockings, warm socks, boots, scarf)
-Repeat dress up 2 more times for the kids
-Scrape the ice off the windscreen, windows and mirrors
-Some people have to first shovel snow away to get moving
-Turn on the car window defoggers and wait for the condensation to go away before you can see well enough to get going.
In Singapore, we'd get out of bed and walk out of the house in pyjamas (tee shirt and running shorts). Call Grab or just pick food up at a 24hr eatery. It will always be fast and convenient. You would expect nothing less than that.
Winters don't give you that luxury. It is messy, uncomfortable and hard work. Winters bring ice that make roads extremely dangerous and difficult to drive on. There will be no deliveries, people can't get to work, businesses shut, all forms of transport halts and life comes to a standstill. You'd really need to be very aware of weather developments and prepare for disruptions. If you don't stock your food/fuel ahead of an adverse weather warning, you are going to be cold, hungry and miserable.
Such disruptions don't happen on a daily basis but there's always a possibility and it takes effort to be prepared. We are looking at temperatures hovering around -5 to 5 over the next two weeks. It is going to be colder than the milder 8-12 degrees we've been getting. There's a possibility we will get frost, snow and ice. We have put fuel into the car and stocked our fridge twice this week in anticipation for that freeze that's on its way!
Just 6 more weeks before spring
As much as we are looking forward to the next season, we do our best to enjoy the winter. I think that is one of the most effective way to survive winter - enjoy it!
As we steadied ourselves the strong wind around Foxton Locks along the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire last weekend, I reminded everyone that we are not soaking our clothes wet with sweat while enjoying the great outdoors. We are not bloated nor feeling sticky. We are still enjoying the beautiful sights!
We are really grateful that after any good long walk, we will be absolutely ravenous. That means our food tastes better and gives us more satisfaction!
Yes it is disruptive, uncomfortable, a lot of work and dangerous at times but like any occupation, we are grateful for what it gives us. Winters can and do bring great satisfaction as well as enjoyment.
You can't get rainbows without the rain. You can't have the amazing four seasons without winter.
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
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