There’s no mistaking that winter is almost upon us and any hope of some last minute warm weather is gone. Carved pumpkins are still sitting out in gardens, muddy wellies are cluttering hallways and ‘trick or treat’ sweets have just been hastily hidden away. Perhaps the biggest clue is the clocks having gone back and the evenings now feeling like they’re getting underway before your lunch has even finished digesting.
Some people it has to be said have no problem dealing with the long, cold months ahead, while others are already busy dragging their SAD lamps from the loft and dusting off next year’s summer holiday brochures in a panic. At least on the bright side there are some positives to the impending gloom. Having a legitimate excuse to whack up the central heating for one, and being well within your right to start planning The Big Shop and Feast that is Christmas.
While I’m not a fan of the cold weather I do love this time of the year. Mainly, it has to be said, because autumn does for trees what London Fashion Week does for the world of over-priced outfits.
It’s a time when Mother Nature brings out her finest paint palette and really goes to town, with splashes of reds, oranges, yellows and gold everywhere that you look. It’s a time when trees can appear almost luminous in the late afternoon sun. A time when wooded walkways are piled high with mountains of fallen leaves and grey city pavements are awash with a carpet of riotous colours. A time when the ground is littered with gleaming conkers and the hedgerows decorated with shiny berries.
Now granted that even with all the pretty leaves in the world, this nip in the air can only mean one thing. Coughs and colds are making everyone feel down and the annual ‘Man Flu’ epidemic is once again sweeping the nation. It should hardly come as a shock of course (germs and viruses being rather partial to the cold weather) yet still we all mutter, splutter and moan in surprise, and complain about how rotten we feel.
There is one glimmer of hope this week however in the form of some rather clever scientist types in Cambridge, who, this week, have achieved a major medical breakthrough in their search for the Holy Grail. Or in other words, they have taken a large step closer to finding a cure for the common cold.
Oh yes, you can already hear those pharmaceutical companies clapping their hands in delight.
But drugs aren’t always the best cure when you’re feeling sick. There was a time – a decade or so back – when a cold was just a cold and a sniff just meant you were wrapped up that little bit warmer when being propelled out of the back door to play. Bad weather was rarely an excuse to stay inside and get under everyone’s feet, especially when ‘fresh air’ and ‘exercise’ were considered to be the answer to everything – from treating a headache and ‘holiday boredom’ to sorting out squabbling siblings and childish sulks.
And while those of us of a certain age may have some rather unpleasant memories of shuffling around the garden with pink ears and icicles threatening to grow from our nose, we’d probably have to admit that there might actually have been some method to this madness.
Children after all need to be active regardless of the time of year or the level of the thermometer. They need to be running around in the great outdoors burning off calories, using up energy and expelling excess noise. What they don’t need (although most of us are guilty of it for our own sanity’s sake) is to be holed up indoors breathing in the same germs and establishing roots in the sofa.
So how do you coax your reluctant children out of the warmth and into the garden this winter?