So here we are: February. It’s half-term here in Scotland and I’ve been finding it tricky. Work had been a welcome (hectic) distraction and all of a sudden I’ve got time to think and I’m reminded of everything we can’t currently do: this time last year, we went on our first holiday for years – a long-weekend in Paris. Little did we know it would be the last for another long while. This week we were meant to be returning to a snowy Guardswell Farm; alas – not to be. So my monthly slow living post is as much to remind myself of the positives of this time of year as anything, but if it helps just one other person I’ll be glad. How are you surviving Winter lockdown if you’re in isolation again in your country?
On days when the wind whistles down the chimney and the rain is horizontal, the thought of going for a walk might be your last priority but wrapping up and doing just that can be the best tonic. There’s nothing like a close encounter with nature to put things into perspective, whether a Winter walk in the woods or an invigorating trip to the beach. I always feel all the better for the fresh air – no matter how reluctant I am to go – and, even more importantly, I certainly appreciate my cosy home even more afterwards. Bring a flask of hot chocolate and be sure to dress for the weather. Thermals are your friend.
The branches are bare and, if we’re lucky, iced with frost – and indeed, this week a heavy layer of snow here in Edinburgh. By now the birds have eaten most of the berries, but if you look closely you will be able to spot the first wee signs of Spring in the not-so-distant future. The first tell-tale hint of Spring stirring is the catkins on the trees. Catkins are actually long, thin clusters of small flowers used by trees to reproduce. Hazel and alder catkins can be spotted at this time of year, particularly by rivers. A branch or two of pussy willow with its fluffy mink coloured catkins will bring much needed Winter interest to your home.
Tentatively, the first flower shoots and buds begin to appear, most notably the first snowdrops, gallanthus. Gallonthophiles – fans of the snowdrops – celebrate with festivals, snowdrop themed gatherings and nature trails. I’m very much missing my favourite garden, Combo, and their annual snowdrop festival. In the meantime I bought some Spring bulbs in vintage pots to bring inside (more details in my recent tablescape post). The delicate white, drooping bell-shaped flowers offer assurance to even the weariest nature lover that Spring will come again.
I love nothing more than an afternoon spent indoors crafting – and wet and windy weekends are the perfect excuse to get out the sewing machine or practise calligraphy, candle making or tending that sourdough starter! There seems something extra therapeutic about making something at this time of year and I often find I have several unfinished projects on the go at this time of year. Before I can start on something new I have to finish off current craft projects and the satisfaction of completing something in this way is a great mood-boosting tip.
A doctor once “prescribed” this to me. This was not what I needed to hear at the time, but actually she had a point. These repetitive lockdown days have shown the power to me of planning even the smallest treats. Fixing special moments in the diary – no matter how small – gives you a sense of forward momentum and purpose. This period is an ideal time for some gentle planning of things to look forward to when the days are lighter and longer and we have a little more freedom; it will be all the sweeter for it. Get creative in your daily walk and make a point of exploring somewhere new, even if it’s just taking an unfamiliar route to a familiar place, or support your local bakery or bookshop and get a treat delivered.
All images from my Instagram.