“Stepping out in to the bleak, frozen darkness, a piercing Siberian wind chills the depths of my soul as my feet struggle timidly forward through the mounds of crisp, white, snow. A deep fear envelops me as I realize that I may not make it, the cold is too much, as my face loses all sensation. Please take me now God, make it stop.”
The recently discovered ‘real’ last words of doomed Arctic explorer captain Lawrence Oates. No, not really. Just me talking to myself during a two minute trip to my local corner shop to buy crisps last night. Let’s be honest winters over here in Eastern Europe are tough, seriously tough. Sometimes just going outside is a terrifying experience. But don’t give in because there’s a way to get through it. Here are my top 5 tips.
1. Drink alcohol
But what if I don’t drink? Well you must start. Immediately. You won’t make it out alive if you don’t. Over here in Poland the natives are known for their enthusiastic consumption of vodka and that certainly does have its medicinal benefits. But due to the inherent strength of your average shot, it’s a dangerous tipple that should only be handled with extreme care. Which is why for me the best bet is wina grzana or mulled wine as it’s more commonly known. Like a giant, warming cup of fruity alcoholic tea, it not only thaws you out but will also convince you that you’re better looking than you really are and that the girl in the corner is a lot nicer than she looked half an hour ago. Which brings us to the next point...
2. Lower your standards
Don’t fight with a power higher than you. Just accept that sometimes it’s better not to get out from under the duvet, especially if there are two people there. There’s no point, it’s still cold, and you won’t like it anymore than you did yesterday. But of course finding that special person to steal the covers from is easier said than done. That’s why in these dark times standards must be lowered. That geeky guy with the bad teeth who’s been pestering you for a date for the last three months. He’ll do. The girl from work who keeps winking at you with her one good eye. Yes, fine, invite her round to yours. As long as she’s human what do you care? For one you’ll be warmer, and secondly you’ll have something to do.
Admittedly I’m not a proponent of this noble art myself, but when in a snow covered land, needs must. We’ve all seen those happy faces of friends on Facebook feeds showing off about how great a time they are having with Hugo and Ralph in the Alps. And no doubt they are. But even if you haven’t got the time or money to rent out a chalet in France, fear not, all you need is a pair of old skis and a bit of flat snow-covered land. Cross-country skiing is all the rage over here in Poland’s capital and not only does it keep you warm while you’re out in the snow, it’s also jolly good fun. So I’ve heard anyway.
4. Write that book
Everyone has a book in them. Stop putting yours off. Come on no excuses, batten down the hatches, turn off the wireless, make yourself a strong coffee and get writing. It’ll be therapeutic, and you’ll learn lots of new words. Besides, some truly great books have come out of gloomy frozen situations. Stephen King wrote The Shining and Misery during cold Colorado winters, while Game of Thrones is built around one central theme (apart from dragons, nudity and swords) that “winter is coming”. So channel that anger, use the darkness and create something that will last forever. Before you know it summer will be here and you’ll be famous.
5. Become addicted
I’m not thinking the hard stuff, although in the short term it would probably help. No this particular drug comes in a box and usually says HBO on it. A couple of years ago I survived a very gruesome winter thanks to the late Tony Soprano and friends. But there are others suitable options to make staying in this winter the best option. There’s the sharp suited Don Draper over in Manhattan, our former hero Robb Stark (why did it have to be Robb) in Winterfell, or good old Walter and his work mate Jesse in New Mexico. It doesn’t really matter who you choose just kick back, close the curtains and chill out, work is tomorrow, and now it’s time to escape in to another world.