Winter – It’s Not That Bad

It’s still cold, but we all survived the mutant cold front and are stronger people for it.

I’m not going to lie – there will be cold fronts ahead and days where we all can’t feel our fingers and our cars won’t start in protest of the icy weather, but winter is really not that bad.

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A representation of what happens in a cold front. I have no idea what it means.

The solstice has passed. That Pagans have partied. That means the days will get longer, the sun will warm us for a few moments longer each and every day moving forward. And even the most hardened night-owl will admit that the sun isn’t a half bad thing to have floating around in our solar system. And just think about that extra vitamin D you’ll be getting. This has various health benefits I honestly can’t be bothered to get into right now.

I'm feeling warmer already

We have passed winters peak and summer is on its way. Spring is around the corner, and everyone loves spring. So hang in there, and if you can’t, well, winter is not entirely terrible.

Just think about hot chocolate… Go get some, and then continue to read. It’s good, isn’t it? It’s making you feel warm right now. And it’s yummy.

Hmmmm

Winter means it’s okay to pick up a bit of weight. And this is natural and good, don’t fight it. Your body needs a bit of extra padding to survive. So there is less than zero reason to panic because of a few extra rolls. No one is going to make love above the covers for a while still, and if you have half a brain, you’re wearing enough clothing to hide the winter flab when you aren’t getting frisky.

In winter you get to enjoy soup. Soup is great and you can have it at any point in the year. But if you think about it for a few seconds, it’s not nearly as satisfying as when you have it in summer. Throw in a tasty slice of ciabatta or rye bread and you’ve got a healthy meal that not only warms your body, but is yummy too.

It's never the same in summer

Don’t even get me started on stews, casseroles and pasta bakes… These taste so much better when it’s freezing outside. So enjoy your food, go wild, eat chocolate… Being chunky can be solved by reading Cosmo or Women’s Health next month. They will have you bikini ready before you can say September.

If you aren’t working in education and are still doing the whole 9 to 5 thing, getting up is an achievement every single day. Getting out of the shower is about as fun as chewing on sandpaper, but if you have half a brain, your clothes are warming near the heater. So get smart and stop whining.

Getting into bed at the end of the day is now better than ever. And two days of every week you get to lie in and enjoy the toasty cosiness. Is there anything better? Yes, probably, but on those days there aren’t. And while you work, you have warm and lazy mornings to look forward to for an entire week. This is awesome, admit it.

And then there are movies in bed. It gets even better, because reading in bed becomes a refuge, something you look forward to because it’s warm and stimulating.

When it’s cold and no clients are hanging around your office, it’s okay to wear a blanket at your desk. This not only endears you to your colleagues (themed blankets even more so), but makes you feel like a Mexican. When you get over wanting Tequila, you get to experience a tiny part of a different culture. If you’re really brave, wear the blanket around your clients. They will probably admire your attitude and sensibility meaning more business in the long run.

Go get one

If all of the above are not enough for you, think about the balmy winter afternoons that we so often experience in South Africa. Don’t take them for granted. Go for a walk – you won’t sweat profusely. Lie in the sun – you won’t get sunburnt. For me, there is nothing nicer than being outside on a mild winter day. There are more of them than you realise too. You’re just too caught up feeling sorry for yourself to take advantage.

Every single snow flake is unique - and that is pretty impressive

Winter also means there is the chance of snow. In South Africa, snow is cool (until you play in it – then it’s just wet and cold). But snow is pretty, and filled with nitrogen or something, which is great for plants growing in spring. That means your steak will taste better and your soy products will have higher nutritional value. So winter is the foundation of happy dining in summer.

Snow = Better steak in summer

I don’t love winter. I just don’t mind it that much. And I’m done complaining and whining about how I have frostbite (no one believes me anyway). But being a human is about looking and moving forward. And that’s what we’re doing.

And in a few months we’ll be moaning about heat. And I’ll have something else to write about.

After winter comes spring and blossoms and hay fever.
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Winter – It’s Not That Bad

A Night in the ‘Burg

I went out of town this weekend. Not too far out, but it felt like another planet.

The town of my destination: Boksburg

I used to party in the East Rand a lot. But it was a long time ago and I have vague memories of those times because I was constantly drunk. That was seven years ago. Not much has changed: they still know how to put away a few out there. The only difference is that I’m not so good at that anymore.

But I wanted to spend time with Mad Laura and I promised I would, so I trekked through the maze that is the Gauteng highway system on a rainy Saturday. Laura is awesome, her family rock and meeting them and the usual small talk was very pleasant. But I wasn’t there to bond with her family, I was there to party. And Laura, freshly single, was up for it too.

Being close to the airport, you are allowed to start drinking at any time, because the Boeings do their thing all day long. And you can’t really be uncertain about it because they come in so low, tall people can touch them. But Laura at least works in Johannesburg so she can wait until the sun sets.

The venue of our night out: Cool Runnings, right on the border or Benoni and Boksburg, so I was deep in the East.

This branch was hosting some Afrikaans band. The direct translation is either ‘Sun Stroke’ or ‘Sun Shag’. So it was packed. Laura did an amazing parking manouver (confirmed: some women can park) and we battled our way in to find a table. But it was a rugby night too, so there was no space anywhere. Eventually we found a counter that was available and sat on that. Savage: but when in Rome and all of that.

And just like back in the day, there were young things everywhere, drinking heavily. They are even younger now. I know that some of the kids I saw were only about 14. But no one asks for ID in the East. And no one stops you from smoking inside the building either.

At some point someone brought me a shooter that was disgusting, strong and a major contributer to today’s hangover. A bit later there was tequila. At that point I was flirting with a young thing and he gave me advice on how to take it. In what universe does a 21 year old know more about drinking tequila than retired pro? In the freaking East Rand is where.

I lost interest in Jail Bait shortly after. At 21, men are still very silly and have no idea how to work a woman. But I guess men are actually really silly and have no idea how to work a woman. But to all the boys out there, if you are lucky enough to have a woman pay attention to you, don’t tell her about all the numbers you collected so far that week. And if you’re lucky enough to have a shot with an older woman, don’t tell her how to drink tequila.

I got pretty hammered and I did have fun. I’ve been invited back – but I’ll have to get over this tour first.

While driving back to civilisation I couldn’t help notice how the East Rand feels a lot like Free State towns. Advertising consists of notices on shop windows and company names painted on walls. There are no billboards, and if I wasn’t enjoying my Billy Idol CD so much, I probably would have found that there is no radio either. It even looks a lot like a Free State town. Until you get to the mall. That looks urban. The East Rand does not have many trees.  The ones that stand around look too deliberate and awkward. There are a lot of 4×4’s, but unlike those in Sandton, these look like they have been used. And I saw Toyota Hilux’s, the signature car of the Free State – so for a moment I felt confused because I could have been driving through Frankfort.

I was delighted to see the Bingo hall is still in business. And all of a sudden I was in familiar territory and felt nostalgic until I remembered my head hurt. The clubs are still in the same places, the businesses haven’t moved. It looks exactly the way it did in 2003. And that’s how life moves in the East. You club as a youngster and play Bingo when you age. Oh yeah, they know how to live it up back there.

It’s good to be back in the city.

A Night in the ‘Burg