How to survive the winter: the professional guide to staying warm, wholesome and satisfied | Life and style


If winter in Britain is characterised by something – other than train delays and novelty gourd-flavoured coffee – it is darkness. And cold. Oh yes, and rain. As autumn slides into winter, mist turns to drizzle and sunset is replaced by mid-afternoon gloom, it can be really hard to prepare for the months ahead. What to put on, how to warm up, even how to summon up the power to get by way of the season. We asked a variety of people today whose outside operate – from scaffolding to veterinary medicine – tends to make them professionals in winter survival for their suggestions.

The greatest hurdle to winter living is state of thoughts. To a higher or lesser extent, all of us will come across our mood impacted by alterations in climate, lowered daylight and a drop in temperature. The secret, says Graham Singer, a scaffolder functioning across Essex and London, is to give your self milestones. “I’ve been carrying out it considering the fact that I was 15, so I know it is coming,” he laughs. “Sometimes, you know as quickly as you step out of the car that everything’s going to be soaked in a couple of minutes, so you resign your self to that truth. Just hold in thoughts that in a couple of hours, you will be back in the warm. Take it hour by hour – do not consider about the complete day, but just the subsequent job. Tomorrow can not be any worse.”

Issa Robson: ‘If you’re in the right coat, you can do anything.’

Issa Robson: ‘If you are in the proper coat, you can do something.’ Photograph: Image supplied by Issa Robson

Issa Robson, a vet who functions in Northumberland with substantial animals, requires it a single step additional, saying that, with the proper protection in location, cold climate can make you really feel quite strong. “I do not consider: ‘Oh, it is raining,’” she says. “Once I’ve got all my kit on I truly really feel quite invincible. We lived on the west coast of Scotland so I discovered that, if you are in the proper coat, you can do something.” Cold, she says, can also be a query of attitude. “As extended as your core is warm – your neck and chest – you can be quite self-sustainable. Your fingers and feet may well be cold, but you do not really feel cold your self.”

Skilled dog walker Sheila Mathieson has maybe my favourite motto when it comes to functioning outdoors: you can only get wet when. “Once you are wet, you are wet – that is as undesirable as it is going to get. Practically nothing alterations. That is your lot,” she says. “You’ve just got to appear forward to obtaining back inside, jumping in the shower and obtaining dry. There’s no point pondering about what it is going to be like out there. Just bite the bullet and get out there. I inform myself I have no option the dogs come very first.”

When the temperature begins to drop, it is really hard to underestimate the significance of movement. Tim Wright, a postman from Oxford, says that if you can hold moving for a quarter of an hour, you can overcome what ever the climate is carrying out about you. “For the very first 10 or 15 minutes when you get started, almost everything is frozen. Minus 12C is quite intense but when there’s a really hard frost, as extended as you hold going for that very first 15 minutes, you are fine. We have to put on fingerless gloves simply because we require to really feel the letters, so the suggestions of our fingers are freezing. But, like I mentioned, just hold moving. Soon after that: bingo. The essential is to hold your physique pumping.”

When functioning as a lifeguard at the open-air pools on Hampstead Heath in London, I was advised to do as substantially exercising as I could for the duration of what small daylight we could come across. That may well imply a bike ride immediately after your shift or, for workplace workers, a jog for the duration of your lunch break. Having a hit of endorphins on a cold Tuesday in February can make all the distinction to your immune program and your mental well being.

As any person who has ever had to play netball in January in borrowed college shorts and a T-shirt can inform you clothes is crucial. Everyone I spoke to talked about base layers. When I was a kid, my father, a builder, would go off to operate on a roof or digging foundations with a pair of my mum’s tights beneath his operate trousers. These days, says Singer, everyone from scaffolders to footballers need to invest in a pair of thermal joggers and a couple of tops. “Start with as a lot of layers as you can. Then, as the day goes on – especially if it is a good, crisp winter day – you will be taking a single off each half-hour. Thoughts you, by the finish of the day, you will be placing them back on once again.”

For Robson, the proper gear begins from the bottom. “I’m a fan of large pants,” she says down the telephone from her unheated kitchen. “Pants that do not cover your waist are a waste of time. If you want to remain warm, you can not have that bit of your back exposed.” She also recommends thermal leggings and snow gear. “When I was functioning for extended stretches in minus 16C, I wore my snowboarding trousers. They’re insulated and really waterproof.” But her favourite bit of kit is Smartwool mountaineering socks. “It’s practically like getting a carpet in your sock.”

Hollie Newton: 'In the depths of winter, I wear bright yellow Dunlop wellies.'

Hollie Newton: ‘In the depths of winter, I put on vibrant yellow Dunlop wellies.’ Photograph: Image supplied by Hollie Newton

Hollie Newton, a writer and fisherwoman living in Dorset, tells me that what you hold in your coat pockets is just as crucial as the coat itself. “I generally have a couple of these glove warmers in my pockets, as nicely as a vacuum flask with a truly great hot chocolate.” On her feet? “On the boat I have a tendency to be barefoot – I truly do appreciate the cold – but in the actual depths of winter, I put on vibrant yellow Dunlop wellies. I truly consider if you attempt not to get wet, you have lost the game prior to you even get started.”

For agricultural workers, cold frosty mornings will typically coincide with fiddly outside jobs such as raising electric fences, filling drinking troughs or attending to livestock. “I place on a barrier cream each evening simply because when your hands get chapped, cracked or split – especially if you are functioning with water – it becomes quite unbearable,” says Charles Bennett, an organic farmer who functions close to Tiddington in Warwickshire. “Cowmen have this lanolin-sort stuff they place on the cows’ udders that also protects their hands.”

For Kelvin Markham, a builder and upkeep worker primarily based in Oxfordshire, an upbeat disposition and physically active job are all you require. “My wife says I’ve got rhino skin – all the rain, the cold, it just appears to slide off me. Dig in, throw your self into it and you will quickly get hot. Even in mid-winter, when it is beneath freezing, you will nevertheless see me in just a jumper immediately after a couple of hours.”

When cold winter days can be draining, they are hopefully balanced out by the guarantee of the extended warm days that will ultimately come round once again. “Sometimes, we’ll joke to every other what the hell are we carrying out right here? Standing out right here, in this climate, with our hands about freezing cold metal tubes, on scaffolding boards that are 3 inches thick with snow,” says Singer. “But I do take pleasure in what I do. Even for the duration of the winter I wouldn’t transform it.”


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