WARM PLACES FOR COLD DAYS

IN­DOORS AND OUT­DOORS, JU­LIAN OWEN HAS FOUND THE HOTSPOTS THAT TURN PARKY INTO PERKY WHEN THE TEM­PER­A­TURE DROPS

The Simple Things - - OUTING -

Jan­uary is upon us and a great chill is about us. Might I bid you draw near to the camp­fire, for I have much to tell you? Al­ter­na­tively, walk briskly with me to the top of yon­der hill, and we shall talk there. Or, if it isn’t a lit­tle for­ward, grab a towel and I shall see you anon in the sauna. I have no pref­er­ence – the trans­for­ma­tion is the thing; the sin­gu­lar sense of well­be­ing that arises from leav­ing be­hind cold to be­come en­folded in warmth.

One freez­ing Jan­uary, I took a two-hour drive out of Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, head­ing for the vol­canic Je­mez moun­tains. There, be­neath a starry sky so vivid I felt I could reach out and wrap it up, I took a stitch-less plunge from snow-cov­ered for­est floor into a hot spring, bub­bling away at 39C. An in­deli­ble mem­ory, yet the thrill – that clash of de­light and re­lief as one’s tem­per­a­ture trans­mutes from blue to red – is far from de­pen­dent on geo­ther­mal en­ergy.

There’s bed­ding down in a camp­ground on the out­skirts of New­bury, for in­stance; though the heavy snow might not have paid at­ten­tion to my re­mon­stra­tion that, for the love of God, it was the mid­dle of April, its pres­ence nev­er­the­less height­ened the bliss of climb­ing out of the cold and into the sleep­ing bag (mem­o­ries of morn­ing time, mak­ing the ma­noeu­vre in re­verse, need not de­tain us here).

The joy of cale­fac­tion – the act of mak­ing warm – is writ­ten through­out our lives: traips­ing up to the back door, school­bag drag­ging through slush, step­ping into the so­lace of a steamy kitchen; a hes­i­tant walk along­side a new love on a frosty evening, nerves and shivers melt­ing away in the glow of the first em­brace; vis­it­ing a sea­side re­sort in win­ter and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the apric­ity – the warmth of the sun in win­ter – to be found in a glazed seafront shel­ter.

We’ll talk more of beach­fronts shortly. In the mean­time, though, the tem­per­a­ture has taken a turn for the Baltic and I could re­ally do with talk­ing the chill out of these old bones. Here’s a hand­ful of ideas for kin­dling some heat. »

2 1Noth­ing to lift your 1 spir­its like lift­ing some spir­its in a cosy pub. 2 If time (or money) won’t al­low you a break in the trop­ics, a day trip to a trop­i­cal glasshouse will warm you through. 3 Get­ting naked in win­ter sud­denly seems more ap­peal­ing in the glow of a sauna

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