It’s probably considered natural to not look forward to winter. Having hardly experienced a ‘winter’ for the better part of my life in Mumbai, it’s even more natural for me! The better the summer, as we had this year, the more one dreads winter perhaps. But…and I am myself surprised to have a ‘but’ here…this is my third winter in Lancaster, and I admit that I am rather warming up to the unique delights that only winter has to offer. Let me count the ways…
Clothing: I absolutely love summer clothes but there’s so much more creativity and activity involved in dressing up during winter. How to layer one thing over another is a question of keeping warm but it’s also a question of blending different elements harmoniously. The scarf, the jumper, the thin jacket, the thick coat, the boots…all of them have to come together to make the perfect ensemble. And if all this wasn’t complicated enough, the temperatures can dilly-dally between 10 and 1 so that till the minute you’re out of the door, you may still be in two minds about whether you need to put on more or less. I am usually the sort who decides what to wear the next day the previous evening—a hangover from my Mumbai days where the weather pretty much never changed its mind throughout the year—but this strategy seems rather ill-suited to this weather.
Fireworks: Am I the only one who thinks that there is something exciting about watching fireworks go off in sky while you are shivering in your boots? The various firework displays all across Lancaster including our University are a lovely start to the winter…making you catch that feeling of something ‘festive in the air’ that you can’t seem to shake off from that moment on, and don’t want to!
Christmas Markets: I have this theory that Christmas was invented for the sole purpose of making winters fun (I mean the whole merry-making part of it). Christmas markets as I discovered are the heart of all the fun, and every little town worth its name puts up a bright and bustling market sometime in November to last till December. I am really fond of the Manchester Christmas Market but then I am fond of all things Manchester. I also love taking the ‘Day Trips’ that we at Lancaster University are lucky to have. York is one of my favourite Day Trips as it combines a visit to the quaint little historical town with a detour to the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet around the area. I have booked myself onto the Durham Christmas Markets Day Trip in the first week of December; you might want to check out the Graduate College Day Trips section for that!
Delectables: This is the only time when ‘mince pies’ debut in the food aisles. While they are supposed to be a Christmas delicacy, I have noticed that they start showing up in November itself which is a good thing…because two months is too short a period of time to enjoy them. Buttery and softly crusted outside with juicy fruity filling inside, every store seems to stock a slightly different take on it—not that different and yet somehow different. So far my favourite is Greggs’ (though M&S comes quite close) and it’s not a small deal that they’re available right here on campus! Another typical item that makes an appearance only at this time is mulled wine. I am not an ardent fan of wines but there’s something so endearing about the idea of having ‘warm wine’ in the cold outdoors that I had to try! Every Christmas Market will have one and generally more mulled wine stalls.
Lights, Music, Action: Everywhere is so beautiful in winter what with lovely lighting on trees that shine in the early dark, the music wafting into the air, and various events like the Christmas Lights Switch On, Carol Concerts, and what not. Sometimes like around the Manchester Christmas Market you might even encounter a live carol singing and dancing group… their energy and joy is so infectious that though I am not one to dance I am about as close to doing a merry jig as I ever am.
Snow: Nature is probably the most magnificent magician of all but we are all so used to its wonders that it doesn’t capture us anymore. That is till we see a trick we haven’t seen before and that for me was snow. I look forward to catching some snow in winter.
Gifts and Giving: Last but not the least…Winter means Home to me because I visit my family for Christmas …to celebrate the joy of loving and giving! While I don’t need a reason to enjoy shopping, there is a certain delight to shopping in the winter when everyone else is shopping for gifts for near and dear ones … it makes me think of what gifts I will take home…and what memories I will bring back.