By: Blonde Two
Well done everybody. We’ve made it through a rather tricky autumn and are now staring what might well be a long winter firmly in the face. After counting up the days of November’s national lockdown, if you’re anything like me, you’ll now be counting down the days to the winter solstice. This year our day with the least daylight will be December 21st. After that our days will lengthen again but, as we all know, winter will still have a long way to go.
Of course, winter isn’t all bad. There’s a lot to be said for frosty mornings, cosy fires, and bowls of soup but by far the best way to make the most all of the dark months is to make sure we spend a little bit of time outside each day. Of course, that isn’t as easy as it is in the summer. Getting out of bed when it’s still dark takes a bit of commitment to the cause, and although rain on your face is a wonderful thing, most of us don’t like it as much as sunshine.
Take heart though. There are plenty of ways to get outside this winter that will give you that dose of fresh air and exercise, as well as the opportunity to more safely spend time with the people you love. We have three really simple ones below.
Go for a walk in the dark
Walking in the dark takes a bit of getting used to but can add an extra element of thrill to your outing. Mr B2 and I take regular after-tea walks around our block, and even in our urban area, it’s amazing what changes we spot in the environment. In town, nighttime is often the best time to spot wildlife, and we are sometimes treated to a viewing of the local bats, fox and even badgers.
It’s also easier than you think to head out for a night walk in less urban areas. Pick a route you know well from the daytime but expect it to look very different. Take a map but unless you are a competent navigator, stick to paths and lanes. A torch is obviously necessary but you might also want to think about hi-vis clothing to make sure you’re visible along any lanes or in an emergency.
Organise a winter picnic
Picnics became the new normal get together during lockdown one so why not continue these into the winter months? It’s a Blonde fact an outside lunch is far tastier than an inside one (we’ve done plenty of research on this). Including hot food in your feast will help you keep cosy so consider investing in food flasks (or plenty of tin foil) so you can pack baked potatoes (my outdoor favourite), homemade soup and even sausages. Hot drinks are also really warming.
You can make your picnic location warmer by bringing along a waterproof picnic rug and a few blankets. If the weather looks like it might be inclement, and you are in a remote spot and unlikely to spoil other people’s views, consider rigging a temporary tarp to sit under. Mr B2 and I saw several families enjoying snowy day camps on our campervan trip around Northern Norway, and it looked like a really lovely way to spend the day.
Unless you’re in your garden, one thing you shouldn’t do to keep warm during your picnic is light a fire. Fires can cause as much damage to outdoor environments in the winter as they can in the summer. It’s been scientifically proven, however (Blonde science) that your favourite warm hat is relatively environmentally friendly.
Keep moving to keep warm
Because I swim outdoors all year and am quite stingy about putting the heating on, I know a few things about keeping warm (cue photo of Mr B2 sitting at his home office desk in his sleeping bag). For example, I know that a brisk walk up a steep hill can add more warmth to my chilled body than a whole day sat next to a radiator. Quite often, if I am feeling chilly at home, a quick walk around the block will be the thing that succeeds in warming me up.
No matter what your level of fitness, on winter days you can take advantage of this heat effect. By planning a route that includes a few hills, you can make sure your body gets a good blast of heat (at the same time as burning off your picnic). Another thing you can do is include a section you know you can jog or run. If you are anything like me, you won’t need to do this for long before you warm up.
One thing to bear in mind if you are planning to get a bit hot and sweaty, is that sweat is designed to cool you down. You can counteract this by planning your breaks (obviously all walks have these) to be at the bottom of hills rather than the top, or by wearing moisture-wicking base layers (we recommend merino wool) next to your skin.
As you can see I haven’t suggested anything too ground-breaking in the list above. Quite often it is adapting your usual exercise to new circumstances that can keep you getting outside through the winter. Have fun, stay safe, and we promise, spring will come more quickly around the corner if you get outside and look for it.