Welcome to Winter, Weather Whines, Cold War & Turning Japanese

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 2nd December 2017 
Welcome to Winter

According to the calendar, the first day of winter isn’t until December 21. Yet for meteorologists and climatologists, yesterday – December 1 – was the start of Meteorological Winter.

Meteorological seasons are in three-month blocks, just like astronomical seasons, but they start on the 1st of the month. Therefore, Meteorological spring begins on March 1, summer on June 1, autumn on September 1 and winter on December 1. And fair play, working outdoors this week, it has felt like winter too!

Even Yogi has been glad to get in the truck to go home. (see pic)

Weather Whines

A new report last week stated that the average Briton spends the equivalent of almost five days a year complaining about the weather. Climate-obsessed Brits check the forecast an average of eight times a week and in the same time period we spend about 120 minutes complaining about our unpredictable weather — that’s almost five full days each year or 10 months over the course of an average life.

Trust me, if you are a gardener or work outdoors, it’s going to be far more than that.  I remember talking to Eden Project Creator, Tim Schmidt about the gardens and he told me, “Until I spent time working outdoors, I thought the weather forecast was just something tacked onto the end of the news.  I had no idea of its importance.”

And the weather doesn’t just fuel our conversations, as the survey showed there was a financial impact too: poor summer weather costs us an average £149 each over the summer months due to cancelled events, wasted food and clothes we never got to wear.

According to the poll by Tetley, the rain makes 14 per cent of us feel frustrated, while 10 per cent of us feel lethargic when the heavens open.

Psychologist, Honey Langcaster-James said: ‘A sunny day can boost the mood and lift the spirit. But after a summer deemed by 44 per cent of Brits as a “wash-out” it’s more important than ever to find those little things that evoke that summertime feeling looking ahead.

‘Getting regular exercise has been proven to help boost mood and reduce symptoms associated with depression, so it’s more important than ever during the winter months to make time for exercise.’

But even when the sun does make a rare appearance almost half of us complain about the weather being too humid, while 46 per cent moan about it being too hot.

Canopies UK conducted a study to find out what Brits really love about the weather and found the following:

  • 18/34 responses were food-related
  • 15/34 of responses were winter clothing-related
  • 15/34 responses were related to staying indoors
  • 9/34 responses were related to being outside
  • 13/34 responses were Christmas-related

Responses included:

“Getting to wear warm fluffy beanies, especially those with cute kitty ears. This the season to be not just jolly but a bit childlike – enjoying the frost and any flakes of snow that appear!”
(Sanna – vegancruiser.co.uk)

 “Getting inside from the cold and having nowhere to go. Putting on my PJS, candles and watching tv with a cuppa, or a red wine with all of the curtains shut. Ahhh. The ultimate obviously is Christmas and spending it with loved ones.”
(Lynne Bambi Blakelock – 

 “There is a particular type of winter day that makes me feel more alive than usual. The type of day when the icy cold hits the inside of your lungs as you draw breath. Or when you can’t see out of the window because of the gorgeous frosty patterns. My favourite type of winter day is when I don’t need to leave the house and I can curl up on the sofa with a blanket and an obliging warm cat. In front of a roaring fire of course!”
(Lisa Cole – 

 “A crisp winter’s day is perfect for a walk on the beach with my dog. It’s also the perfect excuse to make your home super cosy and make a fire. Lots of wool blankets, plump cushions, candles and warming hot chocolate (or maybe a cheeky groggy) tick so many boxes. A great excuse for hearty home cooking and shared family meals.”
(Mary Middleton – 


Cold War

I was a late arrival to Facebook and not a huge fan initially but, like most things, I have found that it can be useful if you use it properly and ask the right questions.  One question I asked last week was, ‘Can any outdoorsy friends recommend heated gloves and socks or other methods of keeping extremities warm in the winter?’ I absolutely froze last Tuesday and the winter hadn’t even started then (according to the Met Office).

I had some great responses. It seems that the Montane gloves are the most popular – not suitable for gardening but definitely for long winter dog walks; Sealskinz gloves and socks were also popular but I find they don’t work for me these days – funny as they used to! Feedback also included the importance of ‘proper’ boots.  I wear Magnums, which are great when new, but seem to lose their waterproofness quite quickly.  Thick soles are a must and although quite cumbersome for walking, chainsaw boots apparently keep toes toasty.

I was surprised to read that several people still use my Nan’s favoured method – a pair of good socks, then a plastic bread bag or good quality tinfoil and then another pair of thin socks!  It does work, but surely there in this age of technology, there is a more modern way of keeping toes (and fingers) warm?  Do you know what it is, do please let me know.  I will share the results. Thank you.

Turning Japanese

It’s that time of year when I’m always asked to recommend Christmas presents for keen gardeners.  This week I’m starting with the Hori Hori Knife.  Hori Hori means ‘diggy diggy’ which I think is fab! It’s a fabulously versatile hand tool from Japan that can be used for weeding and planting. I adore mine (it has a serrated blade edge) and it will make a useful and unusual present for the gardener who has everything.  Available from www.primrose.co.uk or pop into www.niwaki.com and have a look at other Japanese tools on the site too.  I also use the Okatsune secateurs, which are sharp and really comfy to use all day, and I have a folding saw too.  Japanese Saws are great. They cut on the pull stroke, not the push, which means the blade is under less pressure when cutting, and uses less energy, and resulting in a cleaner cut.  Once you start using these beautiful Japanese tools, you’ll be hooked; there’s still time to put a couple on your own Christmas list too!

1 Comment on Welcome to Winter, Weather Whines, Cold War & Turning Japanese

  1. I’m definitely warming to keeping warm in the warmth..and walking too, here in the Al-Gharb! 15 degreees C and stunningly clear, “winter” blue skies, though a very cool 6 degrees and wearing socks through the night! The nearest I’ll get to “turning Japanese” is a-near but beautiful Portuguese-style “karaoke” called Fado. (I do it a massive injustice but I’m creatively contriving with my mind-tool too, in contentment. I’m looking at the history of that, in the context of basic rural and coastal ‘near-to-nature’ living, mostly motivated by strong women and their culture-intensive words and expressive voice range, combined with intricate Mandolin (Portuguese Guitar) and acoustic guitar. Like the Miraculous beauty and peace of the land, sea, air and sky. You and your uniquely insightful column inspired me (again) to share. All is Perfectly well!

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