Dark evenings, cold days... and the end of silly summer dieting. Ooh, I just love this time of year

YUM. I waited until I had made a delicious winter casserole to warm the cockles (and the kids' tummies), before settling down to write a piece on that most delicious time of year between autumn and winter.

With Hallowe'en over and the before the early infestation of that Christmas malarkey, we're in that darkening, cold comfort time where we dig out the woollies, brush off the boots and light the fire.

We Irish were made for this time of year. Always surprised when we get a good summer, as if we were anticipating it for years but never really expecting it to come, the winter is always a guarantee. There's never been a year when it hasn't returned with the reliability of a boomerang. With the clocks gone back, getting up and coming home in the dark isn't far away.

Some people hate it. They get quite sad. Actually, SAD -- seasonal affective disorder -- sits on their shoulders until the pale spring light starts to come through. They don't know what they're missing. Or how much there is to celebrate.

The wonderful food we brilliantly produce at this time of year, for one. The warming soups and stews that we would cross a continent for; the dark greens and floury potatoes. The fruit crumbles and custard desserts. Is there anything actually nicer than opening a bottle of wine while a simmering pot of something is bubbling in the oven? How much more reliable than a finicky barbecue on decking made from expensive wood that only grows in the sub continent, shivering under umbrellas while we all pretend we live 20 degrees further south than we do.

Proper telly is another reason to rejoice. It seems our national broadcaster leaves us entirely to our own devices once the weather picks up; now we have the presenters we paid good money for, making the programmes we want to see and series that we left off last spring returning to our screens. It's like returning to a comfortable old chair.


There's a blessed end to all that dieting nonsense, not to mention shaving every second day (this applies to the ladies only, please note!) and generally having to pluck, preen and primp yourself within a hair's breath. When thoughts of a bikini body are well and truly trussed away with the offending bathing articles. No more 'beach ready' torsos or 'sun drenched' tans to worry about. Pale and interesting is such a more manageable look, don't you think?

We can spend our money on much better value jumpers and jeans, coats and jackets knowing they'll last a lot longer than the flimsy garments we were urged to buy during what passes for the sunny season.

There's an excuse to be slightly melancholy about life, which is, after all, our natural state. Happily this year, the State is living quite up to the mark, so we can all feel miserable together. It won't be long now before the itchy fingers start googling sun destinations, wishing our lives away until next summer and wistfully gazing on golden sandy beaches and Mediterranean seas -- all in the brochure, of course.


The energetic find time for learning -- pottery, yoga and drama classes abound in school halls all over the country. We'll arrive at spring with a new talent to show off. We'll moan and groan about getting ready for Christmas, while secretly loving it just being around the corner -- anticipation always being better than the reality.

The early nights, even the dreaded homework and hot water bottles, bring families together. It's crisp, cold and comforting.

And I think I hear the oven timer pinging. Bubbling meat and vegetables just waiting to be eaten. You're very welcome indeed, Mr Frost.