How to get ready for the cold weather
By Fraser McAlpine, 18 October 2018
Summer is over; the leaves are falling from the trees and the nights are getting shorter, but that's no reason to be downhearted. It might be the season of sniffles, blankets and wet socks, but it's also a time full of soup, scarves, fireworks, Halloween and hygge.
If you're struggling with the thought of the year drawing to a close, here are a selection of tips and hacks from some of Radio 2's illustrious guests and listeners to help bring a warming ray of sunshine to the chilly days ahead.
Hacks for embracing autumn
Autumn may be the prelude to winter, but it's a wonderful time of year in its own right too. Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo put a call out for some of the smaller things about the fading months of the year that listeners enjoy. It's a time that's all about embracing the changing seasons, kicking up some leaves, breathing in the crisp, cool air and looking forward to a nice blackberry and apple crumble when you get home.
And while we're on the topic of things that fall from trees...
It's conker time!
Few things evoke the simple joys of childhood like conkers. They're a good way of getting kids to put down their devices too. Take a leaf out of Karen Holloway's World Conker Championship-winning book and get out among the trees, grab some horse chestnuts - being careful of the prickly outer shell - drill a few holes, string 'em up and make yourself the all-conkering champion of your neighbourhood.
Be ready to battle the dreaded winter cold
The colder months may be known as a time of sniffles, handkerchiefs and warming drinks, but they don't have to be. So what are the most effective ways to avoid getting a cold? Jo and Simon sought out some illness avoidance tips, and while some of the suggestions might be best avoided - one involving bubblegum particularly - there are a few really useful tips in there to help keep your nose clean - literally. Listen back in the clip above.
And if you haven't been lucky enough to successfully sidestep a snotty nose, Claudia Winkleman has a solution:
If you want to feel the heat, get spicy
Should you be stuck with the sniffles, it's no bad thing to try and clear your blocked tubes with some spicy food. Chef Kobir Ahmed has some great ideas for curries that will provide winter warmth, and he encourages everyone to have a go at making their own: "Curry is all about experimenting," he told Chris Evans. "You've got to try with different spices and different blends. If you keep on practising, you're gonna make the perfect curry."
Get your five-a-day to maintain health and wellbeing
Getting the right amount of fruit and vegetables is key to staving off the winter blues, but it can be an effort to work them into your daily routine. Thankfully, Jo and Simon - who point out that it's now recommended that you should consume nine portions of fruit and veg a day, not five - are on hand again with some more listener hacks for introducing stealth berries and greens into the most unlikely of recipes. You can include them in everything from omelettes and pasta to porridge. Speaking of which...
Start the day correctly, with a glowing breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it's a good idea to do it right. Lynn Munro, junior winner of the World Porridge Making Championship, treats her morning bowl of oaty goodness with the utmost respect - soaking the oatmeal overnight and taking time to cook it properly and release the flavour. As far as Munro is concerned, if you get that right, you could be set up for the day ahead.
"It's all about accepting the bowl of porridge you have, as an analogy for every day," she told Chris Evans. "There's so much we can put into our life, we often think 'oh my goodness, I've not done enough,' and just like a bowl of porridge, there's only so much you can put into it, so much you can do with your day."
And of course, nothing washes down a hearty breakfast like a perfect cup of tea. Here's expert help with that, thanks to Jane Pettigrew (BEM) from the UK Tea Academy:
Get your warming meals ready
Few things warm the body like a lovely stew or casserole, and if you've got a stew, what you really need is dumplings. BBC Good Food editor Cassie Best has a great recipe as well as a few tips for how to jazz them up a bit. For meat-eaters, try a touch of mustard or horseradish in your beef casserole dumplings, for example, or some apple if your stew contains pork.
Meanwhile, food authors Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (better known as Hemsley + Hemsley) recently joined Fearne Cotton to discuss how important it is to prepare your own home-cooked food. And now the nights are drawing in, it can be enjoyable and useful to spend time as a family creating batches of delicious dishes that can then be pulled out of the freezer at a moment's notice.
Consider a winter break
As autumn turns to winter, you might find yourself wanting to jet off somewhere far away. There are two contrasting perspectives on the enlivening effects of winter holidays within the Radio 2 presenting team. Claudia Winkleman is considering her very first skiing holiday with a feeling of total trepidation - not least about the concept of fondue - and wondering whether it's the right thing for her.
Chris Evans, who tried skiing for the first time last year, has an opposing view. The family joy of his trip was enough to win him over. Mind you, snowboarding might be a step too far for beginners, as Sue Dermody of Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre advises.
If you do stay at home, try a new hobby
As the autumn rain turns to winter sleet, it's a good idea to have a hobby that you can indulge in while stuck indoors, and knitting is both creative and contemplative. It's also a bit fiddly, but we're here to help! According to Bronagh Miskelly - knitting champion and supplier of Doctor Who's jumpers - all you need to remember is this helpful rhyme: "In through the bunny hole, round the big tree, out through the bunny hole and off hops she."
Or pick up a book
If knitting isn't for you, you can't go wrong with a good book and a comfy chair. If you're struggling with literary inspiration though, Simon Mayo and Liza Tarbuck have some reader hacks to help even the most timid of readers. Consider audiobooks, reading apps or simply going to bed slightly earlier so you don't fall asleep on the first page.
And once you've got going, get involved with Radio 2's Book Club with Sara Cox to help you find your latest favourite read.
Finally, look forward to playing in the snow
Winter is coming and for some parts of the country that could very well mean snow too. It can be a very disruptive time, but it's also something to embrace. Whether you're an expert snowman-maker or just like to enjoy a walk in the flurry of white, there can be something magical about snowfall.
Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, tells Chris Evans just how unique each individual snowflake is, and tips a hat in the direction of Wilson Bentley, pioneering photographer of thousands of snowflakes.
Get your hats and gloves at the ready!