'It's freezing!' everyone seems to be crying in the UK as if we have never seen winter before. I was in need of something, or some things, to get me through these dark days. Why don't we all embrace the season and the Danish art of 'hygge', or cosiness?
I believe things should not just be functional, but also beautiful and pleasurable, and ideally have some kind of eco aspect. Otherwise it is 'just object collecting' as my father, an economist would say about present buying at Christmas. So, to get on this list, the items had to be delightful in several ways.
First up is one of my favourites. The teapot from Tearlyte was a real surprise. Who could get excited about a teapot? Well as I write this away from my desk sitting on a freezing train platform, I am yearning for this little pot of loveliness. Really. The design is so simple it is sublime but listen to this: this teapot doubles as a kettle, so it couldn't be more practical or space saving. I stick it on my ancient gas cooker and watch the purple flames lick around its see through base. Delighting at how my healthy brew of turmeric and cinnamon creates a warm orange glow against the lilac light of the flame, two of Monet's favourite colours, my pot takes pride of place in my log cabin office. I suggest you get a couple of the insulated glass mugs too, complete with lid, to keep your brew warm in these freezing days.
Sister to my hob teapot is my new hob kettle, by that good old favourite, Le Creuset . It's sleek, it's silver and it whistles in a way that reminds me of my granddad. He would have loved the practical, hard wearing and high quality steel enamel. He would also have approved of the way it is made to last; inbuilt obsolescence of objects was something he could hardly bear.
Next up is a YuYu. It's a long skinny hot water bottle dressed exquisitely in fine, soft grey cashmere. It arrived looking like a delicious, elongated bottle of champagne, complete with beautiful box and gold lettering that makes it wonderful wrapping for a gift. 'Give the gift of warmth this Christmas' it declares, sensibly, in a way that my father would be proud of.
'Keep your middle warm - your back and your kidneys' my mother would say sagely and this innovatively designed object is the perfect way to do this. I wrapped it around my middle as I set to work at my laptop, luxuriating in the essential heat it gave me just where I needed it, saving in vital energy (both mine and the planet's). I then lay the silvery soft snake along my spine as I lent back in my chair, which felt rather good too, before laying it in my hammock for some pre-lounging warming.
Another object came so beautifully boxed that I even hesitated before opening it for myself. This winter facial oil would make the most wonderful present with no need from any pimping in presentation from me. I am not a fan of perfume but this little bottle of rosehip, argan, evening primrose and blackcurrant seed, with flower essences is a mood enhancing fragrance as well as feeding your face with plumping nutrients. And, as you breathe in the oils in the lovingly suggested lovely morning ritual, I treated myself to an oh so important moment of London calm. Nourishing the skin, enriching the soul is how it felt.
I struggle, not so much with winter, but with its onset, with the feeling of the death of summer that comes with autumn. But, as silly as it may sound, it feels as if this magic phial of precious oils might help me get through. This bottle is something I want to always have around this time of year, as important as anything in my medicine cabinet.
Talk of slippers and thermal underwear is, I know, not sexy. But being cold isn't cool and if you pick fine, high quality, natural fabrics like those used by Lana Bambini there is no reason why these things shouldn't create all kinds of heat. There is something delicious about fine merino wool and silk next to the skin. These are nature's miracle materials in cases of cold, allowing your skin to breathe and not weighing you down like some of those traditional winter fabrics can do.
My house is Victorian, with wooden floorboards and plenty of drafts. To keep warm, I usually light a real fire, but it is lovely to slip on this felt like footwear in the morning along with the delicate but practical thermals. I chose grey for the slippers and black and cream for the underwear, but they come in an amazing array of bright, warming colours and it is going to take a lot to get me to take them off.
On to gin. I love gin. I agree with my godmother who calls it liquid anesthetic. My sister in Australia also loves gin and I have lovely memories of us drinking it this summer, which seems so far away. Silent Pool gin is a special liquid anesthetic, delicate yet punchy, with floral lavender and chamomile, fresh citrus, and sweet local honey.
It comes in the most beautiful blue bottle decorated in fine gold, along with two matching bowl like glasses, which I am sending across the world to my sister for Christmas to remind us of our happy summer days. When the bottle is finished - quickly in my case, the clever guys from Silent Pool showed me how to fill it with fairy lights (battery operated) to make a lovely light. I love this for its aesthetic but also for its eco value.
This little list of my favourite things for this winter would fill a lovely letter to Santa if you needed inspiration, but I suggest you, like me, treat yourself right now. Christmas has come early in my house in Hackney.