So it’s your first winter in London. You’re not overly concerned – winter lasts around 3 months, temperatures rarely drop below 13 degrees and summer is just around the corner – right?
Turns out, London does this winter thing quite differently to Auckland. It’s rarely above 7 degrees (actually, that’s quite tropical here…), it’s dark all the time, you have to face it front on morning and night due to your
heavy complete reliance on public transport and the supposed three-month season goes on and on and on…and on. The sight of sunshine and blue skies and the feeling of warmth seem like a faint and distant memory that you think once happened but is so far out of your grasp it’s now more like a cruel torture method than a comforting memory.
If dealing with winter and all of his sidekicks wasn’t hard enough – trying to cope with your social media news feed is the real kick you in the crotch, spit on the neck fantastic.
While you’re sliding along the icy train station platforms, your friends are skim-boarding along arguably some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. While you’re running between the comforts of any four walls to avoid frostbite, your friends are complaining about the heat and posting photos of long sunny days that turn in to nights in the great outdoors. While you’re trying to squeeze in to yours jeans to make it to the pub for yet another warm, unhealthy comfort meal without arriving a drowned, blue lipped rat, your friends are bronzed, thin and look radiant and healthy while partying at Six60 or Shapeshifter in the vines.
The struggle is real.
You sigh, you hang your head, you consider removing yourself from all forms of social media and you scream “WHY DID I LEAVE NEW ZEALAND” more often than you ever thought you would. You even occasionally dream of quitting the Northern Hemisphere and venturing back down south. They say envy is green, but in these cold winter months in London, I’d say it’s more like a darker shade of blue.
So, how do you cope? How do you get through six (seven or eight) months of jealously and not become Eeyore’s cousin from the land of the long white, warm and sunny cloud?
- Invest. Never ever did I believe that I could honestly justify shopping as an investment (dad!), but thanks to the English winter I can now classify it as exactly that. A pre winter shop is absolutely essential. Invest in anything and everything that is going to keep you warm; a heater for your bedroom that your mum would never let you own let alone turn on because of their astronomical power consumption costs back home, a coat that you would sweat in even on the coldest of Auckland days, multiple jumpers each thick enough to make you look like your Heathrow injection is closer to the 10kg mark than 5kg, a hat so fluffy you get can’t pull it down far enough on your face it’s so cosy, gloves that can be used on a touch screen and scarves…so.many.scarves. Anything that will make you warm, buy it.
- Embrace the dark. Whether it be that you relish in the fact that we all look slightly prettier in dim lighting, or you revel in the idea that if it’s dark, that means it is perfectly acceptable to not go for a run (dark = danger in London right?). Whatever it may be – find your positive about the severe lack of day light hours. nb don’t find beauty in the dark only through the Christmas light lens. The lights are pulled down early January and your spirits are dimmed as quickly as the streets are – left bare and naked of their Christmas, winter wonderland beauty back to their bleak grey selves.
- Make it fun. There’s so much to do in London, you just need to combine the two points above and get out there! See a play, explore a new pop up, indulge at one of the many street feasts, sing along at a musical, make your way through a menu at a restaurant in Soho, listen to some jazz in Camden, visit a free exhibition at a Museum, take a brisk Sunday walk through one of the beautiful heaths. While Netflix and warmth feels more than appealing day or night, try to give something that doesn’t involve your couch a go at least once a week.
- Photos. Two can play at that game Southern Hemisphere! While your friends are posting photos at the beach five minutes down the road, just remember that you’re also posting photos of your amazing European adventures a world away that they could only dream of. A typical NZ January usually consists of road trips, beaches, sunbathing, swimming and festivals at vineyards – heavenly right?! So while this January has been nothing like that, it hasn’t exactly been tough either. I’ve travelled to Berlin, Amsterdam, Verona, Como and Milan all in the first three weeks of 2016 – time to look at your own photos and not just your friends ones basking in their summer glory back home.
- Harden up. I’m as much of a woos as the next expat experiencing her first English winter – but the one thing I have come to realise is that everyone is living in the same temperature as you are – you just need to deal with it. Wrap up warm, plan your outdoors excursions wisely and get over it. Moaning won’t change the temperature – it will only make life harder and more miserable (and make your more like the Brits!).
We may be used to a warmer, sunnier climate back home – but we did move here for a reason. Winter will end – eventually – it just takes a little longer for the season to thaw than it does down under.
I’ll be seeing you in my dreams Summer…