Monday 23 July 2018

Katie Byrne: Go full hygge and take a moment to stop and enjoy the show

Flake out: Have a hot chocolate and enjoy the snow with the kids. Stock Image
Flake out: Have a hot chocolate and enjoy the snow with the kids. Stock Image
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

The Beast from the East is here and, once again, Irish people are proving that there is no such thing as calm before a storm.

Weather emergencies bring out the survivalist spirit in all of us. Food shopping becomes 'supplies'. A quick spin to the local shop becomes 'unnecessary travel'. Meteorologists become sexy.

The hyperbole helps, of course. The Beast from the East sounds like a snarling Soviet wrestler or a Marvel behemoth. Take precautions? We're taming a wild animal!

Some people come into their own at times like this. Snow shovel: check. Hi-viz jackets: check. Iodine tablets in case of nuclear fallout. This is Snowmageddon, people.

The rest of us run around in circles, panic-buying enough food for a week, obsessively checking fuel supplies and predicting riots over bags of salt in the local Woodie's.

Granted, we all have to prepare for the Big Freeze but sometimes, in the rush to get everything right, we forget to take a moment to stop and enjoy the show.

There are few things that bring the always-on world to a standstill, and even fewer times when we allow ourselves to surrender to it.

Sure, heavy snow causes delays and thwarts travel plans, but it also provides a temporary reprieve from the tyranny of being busy.

Children's swimming class - scratch. The 6am spinning class? Forget about it. Dinner party that you're dreading? Take a snowcheck.

The Big Freeze puts an out-of-service sign over the weekly planner and provides a rare opportunity to enjoy some real, guilt-free downtime.

So long as we take precautions: in the rush to stock up on non-perishables, don't forget to buy some hot chocolate. In the dash to find anti-freeze, don't forget that you'll need a carrot or two for the snowman's nose.

The Beast from the East is only a mild inconvenience when you know how to enjoy being snowbound. Here's a few more ways to liven up the cold spell.

Dress the part

Being eternal weather optimists, the Irish aren't the best at dressing for the elements. We do, however, admit defeat when faced with bitter minus temperatures and blizzards. Forget about fashion: this kind of weather calls for thermals, padded jackets and thick woollen socks, or no-nonsense Dumb & Dumber-style ski suits. Up the ante with a Russian trapper hat, rock a pair of ear muffs and raise your head in defiance when you hear your neighbour tittering. He's only jealous.

Go full hygge

You don't have to live in a log cabin to embrace the Danish lifestyle concept of hygge. However, the quest for cosiness feels much more authentic when the great outdoors is covered in a thick blanket of snow. This is the ideal time to build a blazing fire, gather your sheepskin rugs and throws, and tell your boss you're dealing with a family emergency in Denmark...

Have a guilt-free duvet day

Type Bs can easily kick back at the weekends. They watch Netflix, drink tea and only leave the house for essentials. Type As, on the other hand, feel compelled to spend every minute of their weekend productively. They visit galleries, exhibitions and farmers' markets. And by hell or high water, they'll get at least one Pilates class in. If you're in the latter group, this is your opportunity to have an unashamedly indulgent duvet day. Your body will thank you for it.

Enjoy a belated Christmas

The hustle and bustle of the festive season can get in the way of a good time. If you spent Christmas chasing your tail, this could be the moment to raise your spirits with a glass of mulled wine and a black-and-white movie. The Beast from the East is a public holiday of sorts - only there are no presents to buy or people to meet. Okay, a turkey dinner might be pushing it, but you might as well enjoy the Christmassy weather in style.

Throw a 'Frozen' party

While adults are busy checking headlamps and brake lights, children are fixated on the idea of snowball fights and sleigh rides. Snow is magical for children so why not get into the spirit of adventure with a Frozen party? Dig out the Elsa costume, build a snowman and let the games begin.

Take a breather

In the midst of the hysteria, take a moment to look out the window and get lost in the gentle swirl of the snowflakes. The hypnotic beauty of snowfall seems to slow time down and should - for a few minutes at least - alleviate the snowpocalypse panic.

Irish Independent

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