November is the cruellest month for the owners of UK holiday businesses. After October half term, bang on 1 November, business more or less dies until New Year. We quite enjoy the ebb and flow and have finally learned to welcome the onset of a country winter.
Because we live in a sparsely populated rural location, once the tourists leave, everywhere is deserted as well as pitch black so you get in to a (not unpleasant) habit of never leaving the house after 4.00pm. It is part of the rhythm of life in the countryside that took me a while to get used to. For the first couple of winters we would steadfastly go out to dinner or for a drink on Friday and Saturday evenings to be met by draughty bars and empty (sometimes closed) dining rooms. (Incidentally, you will however struggle to find a table on Sunday lunchtimes as even the farmers and other country folk need to see people occasionally.)
Scandinavian countries welcome the winter for this very reason – a time to stay inside and be warm and cosy with friends. My sister lived in Denmark for a while where this phenomenon is known as ‘Hygge’. It is hard to translate but candles feature a lot – Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere else in Europe – as do good things to eat and drink, woolly jumpers, sheepskin throws and log fires. It is a time to nurture yourself and be nice to others.
Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country says ‘Hygge seems to me to be about being kind to yourself – indulging, having a nice time, not punishing or denying yourself anything. All very useful come January when in the UK everyone’s on diets or manically exercising or abstaining from alcohol.’
So here are few reasons for being excited about the onset of a long winter in rural North Yorkshire – also applicable to a short winter break at Dale Farm.
- We can’t offer skiing like the Norwegians but frosty winter walks on the moors can be breath taking especially when followed by a visit to a cosy pub. Ditto vast, empty beaches.
- 24/7 fires, fairy lights and candles and wearing sheepskin slippers all day.
- Catching up on TV – we are doing up to 3 episodes per night of Breaking Bad at the moment!
- Marvelling at the firmament when taking the dog out for his last stroll.
- Crunching over the grass to deliver breakfast picnics on a winter morning to the glampers
- Fully stocked wood piles…