Lynette Fay: Winter is coming – glory be to Netflix

"Bah candy apple". It may not be as popular a seasonal catchphrase as its Christmas counterpart denouncing humbug, but it's how I felt on Wednesday evening. As darkness fell on Halloween, I found myself in my living room, in the dark, writing this column...

For some, the dark days of winter mean it's far from a wonderland
Lynette Fay

THE street outside was alive with the cackle of trick or treaters. I hoped that they wouldn’t come near my door – they didn’t.

The evenings are drawing in, the temperature has dropped. I know that, meteorologically, winter doesn’t begin until December 1. But for me, as of Thursday November 1, winter is here. March 1 can't come quick enough.

The changing of the seasons takes a bit of getting used to. The clocks went back last week and we gained an hour. I should have felt the advantage of it, but I have been out of sorts all week.

This may have something to do with spending two nights in a row at U2's Belfast concerts and not being a teenager anymore. However, a quick survey of a group of friends on Wednesday night confirmed that they feel the same at this time of year, so thankfully it's not just me.

I used to be a fan of the dark mornings and evenings. However, as I get older, I find that when darkness closes in at this time of the year, it does so mentally as well. I can understand why Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) becomes more prominent during the winter months.

Sunrise at the minute is around 7:30 am, sunset at 4:45pm. If you work all day, it’s difficult to benefit from sunlight at the minute. Imagine living on the Shetland Islands where they get less than six hours of sunlight a day in winter!

On Halloween night when I was feeling the darkness of winter approaching, my friend texted out of the blue to invite me to a poetry reading. She told me that her way of beating the dark days of winter is to have lots of things planned. She has at least one thing a week to look forward to. I am taking a leaf out of her book this year.

Off we went to the John Hewitt to a poetry reading with Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon, hosted by the John Hewitt Literary Society. Gail McConnell from QUB provided a wonderfully ‘spangled’ introduction to the wordsmiths who need no introduction.

They in turn entertained and enthralled the gathering with tales of the other side, First World War Poetry, harmonicas, turkey buzzards and hedgehogs. No tricks, it was an absolute treat of a night.

You know you’ve hit middle age when buying a soup recipe book fills you with excitement. Winter is soup, stew and chicken and broccoli bake season.

In an effort to be a little more adventurous on the soup front, I'm going to try out curried parsnip and apple, carrot and ginger, and for the first time in my life, tackle the mighty French onion. Ooh la la. 'Tis the time of year for comfort food. Cooking should while away some of the winter hours.

Winter is the season to hibernate. The onesies are unpacked and the couch becomes a best friend. Bring on the telly binging. This weekend, the phone will be on silent and out of reach. I will be binge watching House of Cards. Glory be to Netflix.

Clare Underwood is now the first female President of the United States and I can’t wait to see how she misconducts herself. Narcos Season 4 will follow later this month.

Books and films should keep me busy the rest of the time, as will winter music festivals. I highly recommend the Armagh Piping Festival which starts on November 15.

While I have accepted that winter is here, I draw the line at the festive season beginning before Halloween. Come on people! While it’s great to see Belfast city centre buzzing with shoppers, it’s too early for Christmas decorations and certainly much too early to hear Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas.

I was tempted to follow the crowds and begin Christmas shopping the other day, but then, what would I do in December?

Here’s to a busy winter diary and the promise of the first snowdrops of spring.

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