This is my fifth January in London. The first two were spent being miserable about having to get up for work while it was still dark out, the next two were spent studying for exams, with stress levels building year by year.
This January, however, is my last one taking exams, and stress levels are higher than ever. January, in general, isn’t usually a great month for anyone – Christmas is over, it’s dark, its cold, everyone is either broke or doing Dry January so are refusing to go out…
But strange as it may seem, a part of me kind of likes winter in London too. The streets are quieter at night, and when it’s rainy and foggy, the city gets kind of eerily beautiful and makes me think of how London must have looked back in Dickens’ time. As a little kid, I had all these dramatic notions about different European cities – Paris was the place for romance and the place to find some beautiful, bittersweet affair; Rome was loud and vibrant and bustling and where you’d go and meet a crazy Italian family who would adopt you as one of your own and teach you to cook; and London was foggy and mysterious, the place where men still wore trench coats and under every railway bridge, one of these be-trenchcoated men would be lurking, smoking a pipe and waiting for someone.
Now, unfortunately for my childhood self, London is more likely to show you bankers in suits and teenagers in chicken shops than the set of an old black and white detective movie… but every once in awhile, it gets foggy, and you can almost convince yourself that it could happen.
But this is why I love London in winter – it’s beautiful. If it’s foggy, you get what I just described. If it’s rainy, you can feel smug and cosy in bed, listening to it patter against your window pane. My favourite of all though, is when it’s cold. That crisp, bitingly cold kind of air that almost hurts your lungs to breathe in.
Back home, in Ireland, the air is a lot cleaner than London. When I go back to visit my parents, I get that sharp feeling to the chest when I take a deep breath. I suppose that’s why when the air is crisp here, it reminds me of home.
So I’ll savour our last bits of winter as much as I can, and I suggest you do the same. After all, everyone looks cute wrapped up in hats and scarves. 🙂