It's that time of the year when people reflect on what they've achieved and share their successes with the world. For many, though, this isn't the most wonderful time of the year and, on top of that, a lot of people have been really struggling with the impacts of Covid, be that on their physical or mental health, their jobs or their relationships. So, rather than look back over my year of work, I thought I'd share something I've learnt during my 15+ years of living in Scotland: the art of coorie-ing in. And it's definitely what I need right now.
It's no surprise that in cooler climes - Norway, Sweden and, let's face it, Scotland - a tradition has built up around the art of making yourself as comfortable as possible away from the harsh weather outside. And that's what the coorie represents - disconnecting, wrapping up and hunkering down. From the Gaelic word for cosy, the tradition focuses on life's simple pleasures: taking in the scenery and then snuggling in thick socks and a blanket while enjoying a mulled wine by the fire. There's no better time to do this than in December, when the nights are very long and you have the perfect excuse to watch cheesy movies and listen to Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews croon to each other. So, for those of you new to coorie, here are my top tips.
Wait for the right weather to venture outside
Coorie is all about balance so, to make the most of your coorie-ing time, you will need to step outside your front door. But, choose your moment wisely. This is not about trudging out whatever the weather. Wait for a crisp yet sunny day to venture over the threshold - you know, one of those wintry days that really takes your breath away. Remember to wrap up warm and then head for whatever part of nature takes your fancy. You might like to tackle a munro or - if you're like me - go for a more sedate walk somewhere that doesn't involve a big hill. Take in the scenery and hug a tree or two. When your feet start to go numb, it's time to head for somewhere warm.
Light the flames
If you're lucky, you'll have access to a real fire of some sort, be it in the garden, in a clearing in the woods (please remember to follow the Countryside Code!) or in your living room. Flames are an important part of coorie-ing in, at least in my mind. So, when I get back from my outdoor adventures, the woodburner is the first thing to go on. If you don't have access to a fire, then light up a few candles. The flickering flames shoud help you set the mood.
Line up the refreshments
I'm not sure how traditional this part is, but I think a good coorie is made better if you have the right snacks. So whether that's a hot chocolate and a slice of cake, a mulled wine and a mince pie, or some port and a nice bit of cheese - or even all of the above - get your refreshments sorted. The last thing you want to do is have to get up and restock, so have plenty to hand.
Find the right attire
If lockdown has taught us anything, it's that dressing down is the only wise thing to do. For a good coorie, you need to find the comfiest, snuggliest clothes you have. My advice is to go for loose fittings - you need to keep room for your snacks - and thicker garments rather than layers so you don't feel too hemmed in. My preference is pyjama bottoms, a big hoody and some cosy socks, plus blankets to use as and when you need them. Remember, this is not a fashion show, so just go for whatever works best for you!
Get yourself settled
We've had some fresh air, lit the candles, stocked up on snacks and got our PJs on, so now the snuggling can really begin. Choose your favourite chair, gather in the cushions and let yourself sink into the cosiness. Now, take a moment or two to just breathe and enjoy the sense of complete calm you've created for yourself. Once you're settled, you might want to take out a book. Sometimes I do some knitting. But my favourite thing to do whilst coorie-ing in is to snuggle up with one or both of my cats and watch a movie - usually something low brow and unchallenging, so I can just drift along with the story. Pure bliss!
I really hope that's given you some ideas about how to get cosy this season. I've grown to love the festive season but I also know how hard it can be so, if you're having a hard time, give the coorie a try and give yourself the break you need.