The medicine bottles stretch along the edge of the counter.
Large and small. For larger and smaller people.
Damp tissues overflow everywhere. Sounds of coughing and sneezing and nose-blowing have filled the house to overflowing for some time.
Daughter has full-blown flu and has been in bed for 5 days - including her birthday. Her two little boys are streaming and coughing and spluttering. Her husband and I soldier on, the worst over for us (well, he had a flu shot last inter and actually hasn't succumbed). They are scheduled to fly home to the States tomorrow.
So far, 2014 has been a wash out for this household. And we haven't reached the so-called most depressing date of the year yet - January has yet to yield that up.
But it's only a date on a calendar, right?
Judging by comments from many people on social media, contentment and pleasure are proving somewhat elusive.
January is such a LONG month. Christmas is over. The days are short and dark and cold. The news is gloomy and we've all probably eaten too much over the past two weeks. Summer warmth and balmy days seem a distant promise.
How to stave off the annual bleak midwinter blues of January?
The trick is to prevent them before they have time to begin. To have a survival kit ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.
So, over the next few weeks, I’m putting together my suggestions for that survival kit.
First, I’m following another rather more famous cleric – the Rev Sydney Smith, who also suffered from low spirits in the winter and who wrote to a friend in 1820 offering ideas for winter solace.
“1st,” he wrote, “live as well as you dare.” I like that.
He then advocated cool showers, the avoidance of poetry, music and serious words, and not to expect too much from human life. Those I am not so keen on.
But what about some of his other suggestions:
- amusing books
- being as busy as you can
- attending to the effects coffee and tea produce upon you
- being as much as you can in the open air
- making the room ‘where you commonly sit gay and pleasant’
- don’t be too severe upon yourself
- keep good blazing fires
- ‘be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion’
- ‘short views of human life – not further than dinner or tea’
- see as much as you can of friends who like you – and of acquaintances who amuse you
Here's the view from where I am sitting as I write- the dog and I have just been out for an hour in the wind and the rain and now we are curled up in front of what the Revd Smith might call a good blazing fire; it feels wonderful!
My survival kit now has a few good things in it.
What might you add to the list?
Can you suggest some amusing books?
What have you done to make the room where you sit to be more pleasant? (I'll skip the other comment on it...)
But yet, it's not enough.... so come back weekly during January - why not sign up to have the posts delivered straight into your inbox? You'll also receive the latest updates on Retreats at The Vine with priority booking for newly released dates.
Check what's available already by clicking HERE for the calendar.
Because of course, coming on a winter retreat could be a very good way of alleviating those winter blues! The Vine has good blazing fires in the guests' sitting room and library, and the whole of the ground floor plus the chapel have underfloor heating - so you have toasty toes! Breakfast in bed means you don't even have to put a toe out of bed if you don't want to, until lunch time.
And in order to serve you better we have undertaken, at great personal cost, to test various recipes for you - so afternoon tea should be rather good too. Visualise your time on retreat, praying, resting, reading in front of the fire, partaking of tea and scones in front of the good blazing fire.
And if you would rather come with a group of friends, we can plan a weekend retreat especially for you! Several groups of women are considering having us run the Hotel de Chocolat Retreat Weekend just for them - why not think of bringing YOUR friends and enjoying it too! Let us know which dates you'd like and we can arrange it just for you.
Don't forget to add your survival kit suggestions - nor to sign up to have the posts delivered to your inbox (go to top tight hand corner to sign in; we promise not to share your details with anyone else and to send you updates weekly)
Looking forward to seeing you on retreat at The Vine at Mays Farm very soon!