“But you are from Moscow, how can you be cold?”
That’s the standard line I’ve been hearing for the last couple of years when I would complain about being cold first in Berlin, now in Edinburgh. Not so much anymore, but here’s the thing. Yes, I grew up [mostly] in Moscow, but the winters are dry there. It’s not as cold as in North-Western Europe, not as damp either. The cold doesn’t get through your bones. Plus it’s always (always!) warm inside. We never had any control over the central heating: they switch it on in October, switch it off in April, period. There was no way to make it lower or higher, it simply has always been on the maximum. So when you wake up, you wake up in a warm bed, in a warm flat and walk barefoot to the warm bathroom.
Then my first shock was when I was living in Valencia, Spain for half a year. Spanish houses don’t have central heating. Cause why? Not worth it for a few months a year. But those few months were freezing cold: I was wearing a winter jacket at home, it was literally warmer outside than inside. Did not enjoy that.
Then in Berlin, I had the first reality check with the controlled heating and with the need for the economy because it is bloody expensive. After the first year, I got a bill for €800 over usage of gas! This including two months when we were fighting with the landlord for not having neither hot water nor heating in November/December!
Then it was a long school of learning to save energy (also getting more aware of ecological aspects) and learning to dress up warmer at home. It took me years to kind of adapt to the colder apartments, my friends from Moscow would still freeze.
And the final wake up call was during my first trip to London two years ago. I was freezing all the time at the beginning of November, whereas the locals would walk around in shirts, mini-skirts and even flip-flops. Well, now I know that Brits are a bit crazy in that way, but back then it was a shock and made me think what was I doing wrong. So when I came back to Berlin I started putting on less warm clothes, switched the heating completely off overnight and opened the window (in December, yes), stopped covering myself in 100 scarfs before leaving the flat and…
And my immune system said a huge THANK YOU. I stopped getting sick 3 times per season, I stopped freezing all the time instead I feel kind of comfortable being a little bit cold and the most important I cracked the code of how not to freeze in the humid climate: layers. I had the most expensive winter jackets and thermo underwear, but nothing works as good as simple layers (under-t-shirt, t-shirt, shirt, jumper, cardigan/blazer, coat), easy peasy. And needless to say that natural quality materials must be your top choice, invest in good cashmere and wool!
Writing the post in my PJs, covered in huge wooden Tartan shall and wearing UGGs at home, drinking hot coffee, cuddling a cat.
And here’s a wee bonus for you!
my glüwein recipe <3
Because it’s the best drink to warm up in winter! I know there are those pre-packed bottles, but they are loaded with bad wine and sugar, I prefer to make my own mulled wine at home. It’s very simple, you’ll need the following:
- dry red wine of your choice
- spices: cinnamon (better in sticks), cardamom, star anise, cloves, allspice, ginger
- some fruit (apples, lemons or oranges or both)
That’s it. Put a bottle of wine in a pot and start warming it on a low heat. Add spices (to your taste), be generous with honey, cut the fruit (they are yummy after cooking in wine!). I try to let it do its thing for ath least half an hour. If you wish, you might also add a shot of rum to your glass, makes it a bit stronger and warmer:) Voila! Easy!
xx, love, Liza