The Sussex holiday cottage blog » January Outdoors!
Too much chocolate at this time of year? Overdone it on the roast lunches? I know, I know, and I see lots of guilty-looking people out running at the moment, declaring war on the Christmas excess.
But feasting around the December solstice is a tradition borne of necessity, of creating light and warmth at the darkest time of year when there was little you could usefully do on the land. When it's all over we gear up for the work ahead, so if your New Year resolution is to train for a distance run or a marathon do it for the fun and the challenge - and look back on the feasting as a fun way to stoke up energy for all this activity.
I'm seeing lots of people trying to run too fast at the moment, and cyclists pushing themselves that bit more up our Sussex hills. Try not to underestimate the South Downs - unless you're taking on an obvious escarpment some of the long hills can be deceptive and are definitely not as gentle as they look. Every runner has to start by walking, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise for most people, so take it more slowly and look around as you go.
I love looking at the winter light on trees - on the edges of a forest, or a wood or copse among open fields. On a frosty day the sun gleams on bare birch branches as the dark roots thaw out and makes a stark contrast with green-black pines; on a dark day the same birch catches any available light and shines through.
There are fabulous views from the South Downs or the Hampshire Downs, but equally a slow stroll through local footpaths, fields and woodlands reveals many small animals and birds fossicking (I love that word!) for worms and grubs at ground level - there is so much to see. Bird feeders in cottage gardens will be well used at this time of year, too; I'm not going to stray into the realms of bird-feeding advice but I believe they like fat in the winter, so those last bits from the roasting tray won't be wasted.
A warm country cottage with a pretty garden and a beautiful Sussex view - what more could you ask for a winter weekend break?