This week, the first snow has fallen, Cambridge is resting beneath a powdery blanket of snow, and I am officially in wintery mode.
I always think there is something so magical about this time of year; the peacefulness of the English countryside frosted in white, the sound of the Cambridge college chapel bells ringing out against the lamplit cobbled streets, bundling up against the chill in snuggly layers, and the excuse to spent cold, dark evenings hibernating indoors in style. These are a few of my favourite ways to spend the season:
1. Indulging in all the most wonderful festive traditions. Deck the halls (or at least your own living room), go ice skating at an outdoor rink, listen to carollers singing outdoor, drink mulled wine, bake gingerbread, and snuggle indoors with hot chocolate and the most wonderfully cheesy holiday movies you can find.
2. Spending chilly evenings at a wonderfully grand old theatre or concert hall. Each year since moving to England, I look forward to the English National Ballet performing The Nutcracker (my very favourite ballet) at the London Coliseum, and this year is no different. My favourite Christmas tradition (I feel like an excited small child being read the most wonderful bed time fairy tale as I watch the ballerinas leap and twirl around the stage).
3. Play in the snow. If the snow falls where you live, make the most of it; build a snowman, have a snowball fight, take pictures of your favourite spots beneath a fluffy white blanket and wear your sparkliest jewels and snuggliest layers (but don’t forget the sensible footwear!).
4. Spend an entire weekend blissfully hibernating. When the weather is too cold and grizzly to fathom venturing outdoors, practice the art of blissful hibernation instead. Light your favourite scented candles, put on your favourite tunes, take a bubble bath, drink champagne and watch back-to-back Audrey Hepburn movies.
5. Throw a fantabulous soiree. Host a small but darling dinner party (complete with whimsical party favours), a movie marathon (with a popcorn bar), a board game night (with retro snacks and scrabble boards) or an afternoon tea party for your girlfriends.
6. Try a new recipe. I love putting my stove to good use on cold evenings (all part of the blissful hibernation) and have been baking homemade bread, pears poached in red wine and goats cheese tartlets. Delicious smells make a house feel like a home!
7. Indulge in decadent small pleasures. In winter, when hidden beneath thick, wooly layers, the temptation can be to hop out of bed and into the nearest warm clothes. But in my book, there is something so luxurious about slathering on a layer of decadent body lotion and slipping into the most gorgeous, silky lingerie I own (it’s all the more special because only I know it’s there).
8. Upgrade everyday essentials. As with the above, there is something wonderful about your everyday essentials having a touch of the fabulous about them. I’m gradually replacing all my tights, tshirts, sweaters, nightwear and other ‘ordinary’ wardrobe essentials with beautifully silky versions that feel a little more indulgent (hello, cashmere socks on icy days!).
9. Send a flurry of snail mail to friends near and far. Who doesn’t love getting post that isn’t a bill? Make your dear friends around the world smile with some delightful post in the mailbox. Hand-write a letter, make a list of all the things you love about them, spray it with your favourite perfume, pop in a few things you know they will adore and pop it in the post.
10. Do one thing in your own city you’ve always meant to try. It might be a wonderful museum you’ve always meant to visit, or a restaurant you’ve longed to try, or a neighbourhood you’ve never visited. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to go to the annual Carols from Kings service with the Clever Boyfriend (who is now a fellow at Kings College) – a beloved Cambridge tradition that I would watch on the BBC every year on Christmas Day with my family – and it was even more magical and moving in person and reminded me to always play tourist in your own city.
And with that, I’m off to put on my Ratpack Christmas album!
What are some of your favourite wintery adventures? I’d love to hear!
Love, Miss B xx