I’ve seen a few people on social media posting about cabin fever in recent days, but as long as you are not snowed in – literally snowed in, as in, can’t open the door and walk outside – you can make the most of snow days. Everything looks better, cleaner in the snow. The silence is huge. Your regular running and hiking routes turn magical. I’m only sorry I don’t have my skis right now, or I would have been *that* person, skiing into town with my sledge for supplies. As it was, I walked into town, dragging my not insubstantial children on the wooden sledge that was mine when I was little. So, no cabin fever required; with a bit of forethought you can get on your gear and get out!
1. Layers. Just like your grandmother told you. Start with thermal base layers – merino wool from Aldi did me very adequately yesterday – but tights and a thermal top or long-sleeved top would work too. After that, fleece, then a light down or other warm jacket, then a waterproof over. Hat, gloves, buff, scarf and walking boots to top it all off. You don’t need anything super-expensive (although those things are nice too). For little ones, add extra gloves and maybe surgical gloves between to keep their hands dry.
2. Stay cool. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you were out for any length of time, the last thing you want is to have sweat freezing under your waterproof. With all that lot on, you’re going to get warm quickly. Remove layers as you start to heat up, even if that means taking off your jacket at -5. Maybe your fleece, plus a hat, minus a buff equals comfort at that moment. (with thanks to the awesome Hannah McKeand, on the benefits of being ‘comfortably cool’)
3. Bring supplies. You might only be going to the nearest town centre, or to friends round the corner, but it’s good practice to have a hot drink (hot blackcurrant in a flask is my current favourite and the kids love it after sledging), a few extra layers, a fully charged phone and something to eat.
4. Look after each other. Small people (and big people) can get cold easily. Check each other for sock wrinkles inside boots (super-annoying and can cause blisters) or freezing toes (which could be serious in low temperatures).
5. Keep moving. As soon as you stop, all the heat you’ve been generating will quickly leave your body. If you have to stop, add a layer, turn with your back to the wind, and make it quick.
6. Improvise. Your buff could be a wrist warmer, your spare socks could be mittens, shopping bags could go inside boots as a waterproof layer. What do you have with you that could do double duty as something you need? Yesterday I used a giant kit bag as a sledge bag so we could buy lots of food and not have to carry it back home. I used the bags shoulder straps to attach it to the sledge, which kind of worked and was good enough to get everything home (apart from one squashed muffin).
7. Have fun! Snow days don’t happen very often in the UK. Make the snow angels, take the risky route on the sledge, say hi to strangers, get soaked. Then get home and get dry and warm again.