Tag Archives: hibernation

In Praise of January

The daughter and I have a shared project of trying to lose a few pounds between now and Easter. Neither of us are natural athletes and both of us are fond of pastry and chocolate, so progress has been slow. I have an additional fondness for a good-sized glass of vino at the end of the day, which might explain why she’s doing rather better than I am. Dieting is always painful and working from home doesn’t help one bit; the biscuit tin is only too near at hand and it’s quite possible to avoid leaving house for days on end. Of course the ghastly weather has been a further disincentive – there’s nothing like a bone-numbing east wind to make you realise that maintaining a decent layer of subcutaneous fat is actually what nature intended. If human beings were hibernating animals, we could curl up in a cosy corner at the end of October and live off our fat reserves until spring. One would then emerge again in April, super slim and svelte, having missed the worst of the winter and without having to endure the agony of sustained and deliberate food deprivation. Sounds like a fantastic idea if you ask me.
Still, January does have some good things about it too. It’s a great month for making plans and organising a few treats for the year ahead. Now is the time to dream of the glorious summer to come (well, you never know; it might), filled with long, hot days, and balmy evenings at the beach with family and friends. We can’t resist scanning websites advertising holiday destinations, each of which features azure seas, acres of empty, unspoilt sand and not a hint of the seething hordes that will undoubtedly be there to share it with us if we do succumb to the temptation and book.
Some of the loveliest flowers bloom at this time of year too – snowdrops, of course, but also golden aconites, hellebores and Christmas box. We have a large bush right by the front door, and at the moment, its beautiful, unmistakeable perfume greets me every time I go outside.
January is also the month when we celebrate our Scottish roots with the annual Burns night supper. Burns night wouldn’t be Burns night without a freshly caught haggis (for more information about this mysterious and shy creature see http://www.robertburns.org.uk/Assets/Documents/haggisarticle.pdf), accompanied by buttery neeps and steaming tatties. Haggis has about two million calories per forkful, but come on, it’s only once a year… It never fails to remind me of the years when I was growing up in Glasgow. It was still a rough city in those days and for my mother, who was a Sassenach through and through, arriving there from the genteel Thames Valley town where we had hitherto lived was a huge culture shock. Being kids, me and my brother and sister soon adapted to the local ways and all of us made life-long friends there. It’s always a pleasure to return and even though it’s more than thirty years since I moved south, it still feels like home whenever I go there.


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