Whilst I love the change of seasons this time of year is by far my favourite of them all. Some fear the colder, darker and often wetter months but I believe they're missing out.
For me, the beach is a far more exciting place in the winter. It is wild, blustery and exhilarating: full of head-clearing freshness and loaded with mystery and romance. What better way to enjoy another's company than to wrap-up warm and stomp across a storm-churned beach, hunting for sea treasure and throwing stones into the waves?
The forest becomes beautifully haunting too. Winter blooms, moss and berries brighten the dark space. The deciduous trees look stark and are silent against the grey-white skies, yet in the stillness of this space nature speaks to me and I feel recharged and inspired.
Sleep, quiet, stillness and refuelling is all part of the cycle. Our bodies yearn for this too. Our appetite for comfort food, cosy nights in with close family and friends is a necessary contrast to the busy-ness of the warmer months when days can be so full of frantic activity. These stages have been observed and marked for thousands of years, with the Winter solstice (Yule) being one of the most well-known celebrations. The longest night and the shortest day, considered 'the dark night of our souls' offered hope where the cycle of the year would end and begin again, moving towards the lengthening of days and brighter months ahead.
Given my love of this time of year and all that it brings, I was so excited to discover that the Danes actually have a word for it and take it very seriously, to the extent that there is almost an art to it. 'Hygge', (pronounced hoo-ga) cannot be translated in one word. It's about finding and appreciating the beauty of the dark months, the natural world, comfort in connecting with friends and family and creating light and warmth in the home. What's not to love about that?!
In many ways the principle of Hygge is one to live by all year: appreciating the positives of where you're at, who you're with and what is around you. Embracing the natural world and all that it offers plus making your living space comfortable and inviting is something that can be done 365 days of the year. However, during the Autumn and Winter months they offer solace and warmth from the harshness of the elements, put joy in our hearts when life might seem grey and force us to take a well-deserved rest from the busy-ness of the brighter months.
Below are some ideas for bringing 'Hygge' into your A/W16. It's easy to do and it'd be great to hear about what you get up to.
*Adding some soft furnishings such as cosy cushions & blankets to your living rooms & bedrooms.
*Enjoying brisk coastal walks or wild feasts out in the fresh air (there are so many local spots to choose from but White Park Bay, Ballintoy & Murlough Bay here on the north coast are hard to beat).
*Getting cosy by the fire with warm drinks & candlelight, playing board games or reading books.
*Making seasonal, comforting food (adding chutneys or chilli jam to casseroles or stews is a quick way to add heat & seasonal depth of flavour to meals. Jam on hot buttered toast is the simplest comfort food going! I've a wide range of flavours so get in touch if you'd like to try some).
*Enjoying a hot bath scented & fortified with dried flowers, Epsom salts, oats & essential oils.
There are lots of fantastic books available if you're looking for further inspiration. My friend Ciara loaned me 'The art of Hygge' by Jonny Jackson & Elias Larsen. There are so many wonderful ideas in it to inspire you for a truly 'hyggelig' Wintertime.