As I took the dogs out for their nightly walk at about 10.30pm last night – in temperatures of -4 – I suddenly realised that there are a number of things that I truly rely on for life in the countryside during the winter.
So I decided to put together a list of my winter essentials for life in the countryside. It’s certainly not exhaustive and I’m sure as soon as I’ve written it, I’ll think of more, but off the top of my head here goes:
- Wax jacket – Vital for keeping the wind and the brambles out and perfect for storing dog treats, tools and rabbits. Mine is a 10-year-old Barbour Beaufort. In truth, it’s probably one of the best items I’ve ever owned, it’s just so blooming practical! This particular jacket cost a mere £6 new (thanks to my Mum’s incredible ability to find bargains and Barbours in charity shops – she has managed to kit out nearly the whole family in a variety of Barbour jackets from wax to padded and fleece to waterproof). After a decade of constant use it’s now in a sorry state of disrepair and needs replacing with a sparkly new one.
- Fur hat – In the last week or so temperatures have plummeted and my fur hat with ear flaps has made the early morning and late night dog walks a bit more bearable. The hat, also a charity shop find for a couple of quid, has been with me for about the same time as the Barbour.
- Sturdy welly boots – When I moved to the countryside I quickly realised that the welly boots I used to wear on fishing boats in Cromer weren’t ideal for the mud and fields that surround me now. I was quickly gifted a pair of sturdy, thick-soled Hunters which have proved an absolute blessing. I just about live in them – wearing them for dog walks, feeding and strawing the cows and generally trudging around the farm – and they’ve quickly become a part of me.
- Fingerless gloves – When I was young I think I had a pair of fingerless gloves and in latter years I didn’t own any. A few Christmas’s ago I was given a pair of navy fingerless gloves by my Mum (knitted by a friend of hers) for me to use when out fishing on the crab boats in north Norfolk. On the farm they mean I can retain some body heat but still have workable fingers for whatever I’m up to – feeding the cows, digging in the garden or hanging out the washing.
- Body warmer – I always wear it outside for that extra bit of warmth. I feel the cold so all these essentials make for a warmer – and happier – me. There seems to be a pattern emerging because my wonderfully warm North Face body warmer was also picked up in a charity shop for about £5.
- Secateurs – These beauties by Felco are normally in my pocket when I’m outside for the day or on a dog walk. I last used them a few days ago when I was topping up the cow’s water. While it was filling up I managed to prune an apple tree – now that is multi-tasking.
- Penknife – You never know when you’ll need to cut bale wrap, a length of string or some other item which calls for a reliable knife. I picked my current one up from Gallyons in Norwich.
- Car – With our nearest town about 5 miles away and no public public transport on that route, it would be near impossible to get on with daily tasks without one.
- Woodburner – The quickest and nicest way to warm up after a day outside. As I feel the cold quite a lot I love the immediacy of the heat – lighting it early evening and sitting next to it with a cup of earl grey tea or glass of wine.
- Country Life – It’s by no means a secret that Country Life is my favourite read. The very fact that it arrives once a week is absolute bliss. Always topical, always informative and the challenge of the weekly quiz is always pretty competitive in our house. Sometimes in the darkest days of winter, when it’s dark by 3pm, you need something like this that brightens your day. The only problem with it is that I’ve ended up with piles of editions scattered all over the house!
Each month I supplement this addiction with editions of Vogue and BBC Good Food magazine.
- Head scarf – Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m more often than not, wearing a head scarf. In winter this little bit of silk keeps my ears warm while offering a flash of brightness and style against the welly boots and wax jacket.
- Body oil – With the cool temperatures, I’ve begun to rely on a wonderful body oil by Cowshed that I was given at Christmas. It’s aptly named ‘Knackered Cow’ and does wonders for reviving my spirits after a day of hard graft.
- Lip balm – Each night before I go to bed I slather Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm on my lips. It really does nourish and protect them, an essential if you’re outside in all winds and weathers.
- Moisturiser – My choice at the moment – and it’s served me well – is Olay’s Complete Care Lightweight Fluid. Not only does it include an SPF – I’m told I need this if I’m outside a lot – but it reminds me of the Oil of Ulay my mum used to use when I was small.
- Hand cream – I’ve recently been converted to Cuticura’s original hand cream, it’s super absorbent and leaves your hands silky smooth, I always put some on before going to bed.
I’m sure as the week goes on I’ll think of those other little essentials that make life a little better. I’d be really keen on hearing all about your winter essentials – do pop me a message in the comments box below with yours…