…as told by an un-wintery and slightly discouraged Australian living in London.
It’s official: a UK winter lasts approximately 10 months. This seems disproportionately unfair, but it’s one of the perils of living in a country which invites the wetter air from the Atlantic Ocean. Alas, the temperate and dry continental air from Eurasia bypasses the British Isles. The result? Wet, rain, drizzle and occasionally, snow – although, it has been rather sludgy of late.
But, it’s not merely the climate that’s disheartening – rather, it’s the shorter daylight hours. December is a slog, January is depressing and February is almost suicidal. Waking up and leaving for work in the dark only to then return home in said darkness is miserable at best. This is only heightened when you’re not a native. I didn’t grow up in the UK and I am not used to their odious winter’s and short summers, where sunshine is an anomaly and the darkness is all consuming.
So, how to counteract it? There are over 200,000 Aussies living in London alone, and I am willing to place a bet that they share in my commiseration with the London winter. Here’s my tips for surviving it:
It’s only instinctive – Rain? Let’s stay at home with a vat of tea and binge watch Netflix, all the while refusing to move from the confines of your snuggling, warm and delightful bed. But, if there’s one thing that I can’t stress enough, it is: don’t, under any circumstance, become a couch potato. Don’t naturally assume that because it’s wet, this warrants a day indoors.
One thing that the Brits are infamous for is their stamina, and the ability to ‘get out and about’ in near cataclysmic weather. Take note – you don’t want to spend 10 months of the year indoors and wallowing in a self-consuming ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’ bubble. Get a train, get a bus, get an uber – but go somewhere and embrace the wet!
….but don’t go to the pub, before 5pm
This brings me to my next point – darkness at 4? Let’s crack open a bottle of Cab Sav. One thing I have noticed about Londoners, is that they really can drink. Yes, Australians pride themselves on their ability to guzzle and hold their own – but do not underestimate your cousins from across the pond.
A country clouded in darkness by mid-afternoon unanimously has agreed that it warrants a trip to the pub at 3:30 for a pint. But, the result is that the pint turns into 3 and by 5pm your legless and off your face, sprouting forth to anyone who cares how you ‘long for the hot sand dunes of home’.
Shit weather doesn’t warrant a boozy day. Rather, enjoy the day and make it a boozy evening. Beware of the drink before 5 – it’s all just downhill from there. I love a pub as much as the next person, but I will never give into the temptation of a punchy glass of full bodied Rioja before 5.
I know right? Pissing with rain and you want me to run along the Thames oh-so nonchalantly and end up looking like a drowned rat with a substance abuse problem?
Run, cycle, walk or hike – but ensure you exercise outside. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of returning home, putting on my running shoes and setting off for the Thames. It’s pitch black and slightly ominous, but it gets me out-and-about. I come home feeling refreshed, slightly frozen but invigorated.
Embrace Cultural Pursuits
The great thing about shitty weather is that it’s a chance to catch up on all those cultural endorphin’s – art, museums, exhibitions, plays. London is a smorgasbord of cultural stimulation, so my advice? Don’t wallow in self-pity (‘I just can’t handle this weather/gloom/rain’), do what all Londoners do: embrace it.
Learn to love the changing of the seasons…it’s something that Aussies don’t really understand or get. Perpetual sunshine and a mild winter is nothing in comparison to four distinctive seasons. Summer, winter, spring and autumn have a purpose in London/UK – they are not just a follow on from one another.
Embrace the change in season, it’s somewhat magical. Sartorially, environmentally, culturally, socially, gastronomically – with every seasonal change there’s a complete and holistic transformation.
It’s something you wouldn’t have experienced back home, and while winter may not be your favourite month or time of the year – learn to accept it, you may actually come to like it.