I love the winter. I love being able to succumb to that seasonally-driven instinct to slow down, eat comfort food, curl-up in front of a fire and hibernate. I’ve been lucky to experience winter in the northern and southern hemispheres. Both have their unique magic. Here are a few of my favourite places to retreat to in winter, on both sides of the world…
As the winter months in Australia (particularly NSW) can be so mild and fleeting, it’s always fun to hunt a more extreme version up in the Blue Mountains. The first time my kids saw snow was driving through Katoomba in August. I’ve spent time at the Varuna Writer’s House in winter and there is nothing like waking up there to a heavy frost and watching as the sun slowly melts it away, snowdrops and gum trees dripping and shining silver in the pale winter light.
Src: Australian Financial Review
Driving in the other direction from Sydney are the Southern Highlands. I love the small town of Burrawang with its quaint homesteads and friendly pub. If I’m in the Highlands for a winter weekend I love nothing more than browsing the local antiques stores and vintage shops for treasures, or visiting the Berkelouw Book Barn for coffee and new books.
My Dad lives on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. It’s a beautiful region of stunning farmland and beaches, peppered with wineries and small businesses making incredible produce. It’s always fun to head out and sample the local delicacies on offer, before taking a bottle (or six) back to Dad’s place where we light the fire and my sister and I cook up a storm.
This past winter has seen me living in Wiltshire in the UK. Here, by comparison to Australia, the winters are long and endlessly grey. That is, until a few magical days in March when the ‘Beast from the East’ hit and we woke to a landscape blanketed in thick snow. With the traffic halted, I walked out of the house and down a white-painted road. The air was still and strangely muffled – like entering Narnia, it was a world on pause - but in the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon I found a warm welcome and hot chocolate at the ready at the riverside inn, Timbrell’s Yard.
I have an Aunt who lives on the edge of the Sussex Downs in England. Her home is one of the most welcoming places I know, full of art and books and great cooking smells and warm hugs. Whenever I visit with my kids we take her dogs walking in the woods. In winter, the trees are leafless and the ground is muddy. We throw sticks and build dens, collect feathers and flints and always return with rosy cheeks and mud-splattered clothes. It’s a place that just feels so good for the soul.
It’s wonderful to get out and explore in the colder months. It feels good to stir the senses and breathe clean air, but there’s nothing like then retreating to your own sofa with a fire, a glass of wine and a good book. I think perhaps my favourite place in winter might just be my own home. In these busy, technology-filled days, it feels to me like the very best kind of indulgence.
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