For Foggy, Frosty Days … we love …

The cold and foggy weather has returned to the UK. Now for me, who absolutely loves almost everything about autumn and winter, it's more than welcome. Don't get me wrong, I love a sunny day but I've always preferred chill over clammy weather.  Some of you, of course, will think I am completely barmy and will loathe cold weather but I want to change your minds. There's a passage in the novel Watership Down to the effect that it's not the winter that people love, but the wrapping up against it. And, even if you're not like me and don't enjoy the feeling of the cold air against your skin, there's plenty to enjoy about winter time.

So, to try to convince you I've drawn up a list of ten of my favourite winter-friendly luxuries. I'm not saying they'll turn you into a snow baby, but they might give you a few reasons to celebrate, what I believe, is the most rewarding of all the seasons.


Hot Chocolate - There's really no beating it for cheering up and warming up! A couple of years ago I purchased a hot chocolate maker that you pop in the microwave. It came complete with a whizzer that whips up the chocolate. You could use normal hot chocolate, but why not do what the Belgians do and use a high-quality product like Chocolate Charbonnel? Add peppermint syrup or even peppermint schnapps for a special choc-mint treat!

Your Favourite Hot Drink - winter is the time those American coffee chains bring in their special coffees. My favourite has long been Starbucks Gingerbread Latte but there's plenty of choice. Of course this is all very well if you live right near a branch, and can afford to shell out a few pounds a day on coffee, but you can make your own - and there are plenty of books, and equipment available with which to do it.

The Slanket - the ultimate lazy person's blanket comes into its own when it's just too cold to move out from under that blanket even to use the remote. In case you've been hiding under a duvet for the last couple of years, the Slanket (invented by an ingenious American student) is a blanket with sleeves so that you can wrap up against the chill without having to poke your arm into the cold in order to channel hop. Genius!

Yaktrax - I came across these on QVC UK a few years ago and I simply cannot emphasise enough just how life-changing the are! Sounds dramatic? Yes, but imagine being able to walk out in the ice and snow without fear of slipping and sliding and landing base over apex on the pavement. Now you're interested, right? The Yaktrax attach fairly easily to the base of most normal shoes (I wouldn't try stilettos, of course) and provide a grip in even the slipperiest conditions. In the US they've been used by numerous couriers and even posties. Of course, they can't guarantee that you won't fall –  and you shouldn't wear them indoors, particularly on slippery non-icy surfaces – and you still have to be careful. I’ve not felt sure-footed on snow and ice since a very heavy fall as a teenager. The Yaktrax have changed that.

There are, of course, other brands offering similar effects on sale nowadays that get really good reviews. Mine just happen to be Yaktrax.

Fabulous Warming Food - with dishes like soups, casseroles, roasts, puddings and so on, winter has all the best food. So why not treat yourself to a cookbook specifically featuring winter dishes? Look on the bright side, if you cook it yourself, you won't have to venture out in a blizzard. And you could always do the sociable thing and invite friends round for the evening. If you get snowed in, at least you'll be with people you like!

Mulled Wine - call it what you like - Glogg, Gluhwein or Grzaniec Galicyjski - hot, spiced wine is a sure-fire winter warmer. Thanks to the burgeoning Christmas market industry mulled wine is popping up all over, even on tap in pubs. And it's easy enough to make at home - you can buy bottles of the stuff from most supermarkets or, if you've come over all Delia, you can spice the wine yourself. I usually use a pan and decant it from a jug, but you can now buy proper equipment. For an authentic continental edge be sure to add a slug of spirit - brandy, rum or a flavoured vodka should do the trick.

Yankee Candle - there are a lot of great scented candle manufacturers out there these days, but there are some terrible ones too. To be sure not to get a weak, artificial scent that dies 5 minutes after the candle is lit, I prefer to invest in Yankee Candle, which can now be found all over the UK and widely on the internet and from QVC UK. The scents, particularly those Christmas and winter ones, are the perfect antidote to a miserable night in.

Mittens - everyone loves warm clothes in winter and I've always preferred mittens over gloves to keep my fingers cosy. Okay, you might lose a bit of dexterity but they just seem snugglier. They look prettier too, and yes, that is important when you're trussed up like Nanook of the North with a nose as red as Rudolph. And, if like me you're a fairytale fantasist, there's a touch of the Snow Queen to them too!

A Real Fireplace - sadly most of us don't have access to this and, unless we want to stand outside over a bonfire in the middle of December (and admittedly I just might be up to that), the only option is going to be the local pub. But then you get the old start-the-night-by-the-fire-but-finish-it-by-the-door effect which rather defeats the point. You could, of course, as I have done, get yourself one of those ambient DVDs and stick it in the player to view on your flatscreen: instant roaring fire, no over-heating and no grate to clean in the morning!

Someone to Snuggle With - Obviously this is preferable with a loved one, or at a push a neighbour, someone you know at least. But failing all else (and Lord knows sometimes I've failed), when even the cat doesn't want to know, you can always rely on a teddy bear. Charlie Bears are a British family company with a wonderful ethic. Nowhere is allowed to sell their bears without being thoroughly checked as appropriate. All the bears are high-quality and sensibly priced and every one is gorgeous and snuggly (unless you have strange allergies like me and might want to give the mohair ones a miss!)