No matter how cosy and convivial, there is something unavoidably claustrophobic about the festive season, confined indoors with family and relatives as the celebratory debris (and laundry) piles ever higher.
This year, the insularity has been made all the worse by weather conditions so appalling that, all too often, leaving the house has become mission impossible.
There’s only one thing for it, and that’s a mini trip away. There’s not much we can do about the weather, but we can lift and lighten the mood and the post-Christmas gloomy atmosphere. A weekend or few days in a hotel or holiday cottage brings a welcome break from home and last year’s routine, plus a chance to clear the head so we can plan and really look forward to the months and seasons to come.
First things first, however, and that’s a well-thought-out wardrobe of clothes and accessories, put together with considered flair, so you can really make the most of the opportunity a break away brings. Don’t even think you can just fling a few items into a case and set off, job done, no matter what you imagine you will be doing. That hotel room or tiny cottage will become at least as claustrophobic as the home you have just escaped, unless you can get out and about.
Begin at the bottom, or rather the feet (broadly speaking, the following advice applies to men and women). Make sure your wellies are in the boot of your car and add your waterproofs and umbrellas, and proper walking boots or boots you can rely on for all weathers and terrains – emergency equipment.
Then consider the inner layers, and invest in a thermal or cashmere vest, plus a fine-knit sweater or two, and of course your underwear and nightwear, welcoming perhaps a first chance to try out any special Christmas gifts you might have received (or, more likely, exchanged or bought in the sales). Don’t forget socks, tights and an emergency extra pair of each. Plus, if it’s a spa hotel, you’ll need swimwear you feel happy in, which is easier said than done after the season of roasties, canapes and endless chocolate.
Well-cut, comfortable jeans are handy, although more suitable for indoors and dry weather sightseeing as denim is notorious for sticking to the legs once sodden. Whether you are based in the country or town, it’s best this year to have specialised walking leggings for more challenging conditions outdoors and jersey ones for general wear, while woollens and tweeds are a good option for light rain and windy weather, as fabrics that are by their very nature created to be worn outside. Consider a tweed or wool skirt or pair of trousers to team with your knitwear. A tweed coat is a perfect British break investment, while chunky knits and wraps are a must, and there are some great bargains in the sales – look for classic quality in neutral shades.
It’s also an excellent time to invest in new luggage, with plenty to choose from at bargain prices. Go for the best you can afford, and you’ll be mini-breaking in style for many a year to come.