I’m not going to talk about how wet and cold it has been in London the past month. Or how dark it is now that the sun is setting at 4.30pm. I wrote about these same things in 2012 when we were excitedly awaiting our first Northern Hemisphere winter, in 2013 when we were counting down the number of weeks until our working visas ended, and (again) in November 2014 after we (unexpectedly) returned to London and had to prepare for our third Christmas in Europe.
Winter is coming… lets not moan about it.
As we creep into November 2015, I am traipsing down pathways littered with gold (leaves) and reminiscing about how much fun our last few winters have been.
Don’t be surprised when I tell you that autumn and winter are a great time of year to travel throughout Europe. There are plenty of beautiful and festive destinations to visit, as long as you are prepared for the cold, the dark, and a little rain – nothing an umbrella, a warm coat and a spare pair of socks can’t fix!
In January 2013, we had a weekend in the French Alps with my family. And, in November of the same year we spent five golden days driving around the Scottish Highlands with Steve and Ala , before spending a couple of weeks in December flying around Europe to see Krakow, explore Stockholm, and count down the new year in Berlin.
Last year we missed all of the drama winter usually brings to London (rain, tube delays, no sun, miserable people) because we decided to make the most of the down season to: see the northern lights in Trondheim, spend Christmas in Munich, Count down the new year in Austria, celebrate Tina’s birthday in Bristol, eat our way around Madrid and explore the Cotswolds in the UK.
For something a little different this year, we are flying (very far) south for the winter and looking forward to spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Australia – Brisbane, here we come!
Other than our two week dash to sunny Australia, we will be spending most of the 2015-2016 winter in London town.
Winter in London, for many people, can be unbearable. The long nights and wet days can be somewhat depressing and gloomy. So, how do we survive?
On a recent weekend trip to Copenhagen, I was introduced to the idea of hygge (“heu-gah”).
It is possible that hygge is the reason why the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Denmark took the top spot on the United Nation’s World Happiness Report, 2013 & 2014 and came in third in the 2015 report, following closely behind Switzerland and Iceland.
They maintain a great work-life balance, benefit from family-friendly workplace practices, enjoy a 37 hour work week, and receive extensive government support (for higher taxes), but I think hygge also has a lot to do with why inhabitants are so happy and why they can survive the potentially depressing winter months.
There is no direct translation for hygge, but the closest word to describe it might be “cosy”. Hygge is to create well-being, connection and warmth. It’s: a feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other, celebrating the everyday, snuggling up on the couch with a good book, playing with puppies, and savouring a hot chocolate with marshmellows in front of a warm fire.
It’s such a beautiful way of living that I have decided to adopt it as my own.
This winter, we are going to create hygge in London. We are going to enjoy Christmas markets, ice skating, mulled wine, Christmas lights, a real Christmas tree, mulled cider, hot puddings, toffee vodka, flannelette sheets, hot water bottles, cups of tea, and candle-lit rooms. We will buy wellies so that we can jump and splash in big puddles, explore the cosy underground pubs scattered throughout the city, and (of course) enjoy the rides at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
I love the silly season in the Northern Hemisphere, and with the power of hygge, I’m going to make sure it extends all the way through to Spring!