Autumn is well and truly just around the corner, and for me it’s a wonderful time of year – from chilly evenings spent curled up on the sofa with a comforting cup of herbal tea to setting free my inner child by running through piles of russet leaves. Knowing how to make the most of it is key, and looking to the Nordic countries can be a great place to start.
Despite their low temperatures and lack of daylight, countries like Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden all made their way into the World Happiness Report 2020’s top seven happiest countries. The Danish in particular attribute this to the concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-ga). In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Sounds perfect, right? With that in mind, I’ve come up with 5 of the easiest ways to embrace the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s pleasures.
Cosy up your couch
When you’ve finally got some ‘me’ time to indulge in, nothing beats sinking into an inviting pile of pillows or supersize soft blankets. Whether you want to cosy up your couch or bolster your bedding, I love blankets and throws and suggest mixing different textures such as warm chunky wools, fleecy knits and heavy cottons to provide warmth all season long.
Cold-proof your closet
Embracing luxuriously warm textures doesn’t just apply to your home. A few simple adjustments to your wardrobe can make all the difference. Aside from the obvious choices such as a warm coat and scarf, it’s also worth investing in a beanie hat to keep your head and ears warm, snug socks to keep feet toasty, and fluffy slippers to slide your feet into the moment you reach home. I love the Polish sheepskin slippers that my friend sends me.
Radiate a warm glow
Candlelight is the best lighting when it comes to transforming a room into a cosy haven. The warm glow helps to create a comforting atmosphere and if you can get your hands on a candle infused with your favourite scent, there’s nothing else like it – this is the start of pumpkin spice season, after all… If the room is large, then enhance the effect of the candles by carefully positioning them in front of mirrors or on top of reflective surfaces. I like to make my own candlestick holders from empty wine or olive oil bottles.
Create comforting dishes
I really enjoy creating warming, seasonal recipes for autumnal nights – the payoff they provide is so rewarding in terms of taste and nourishment, fuelling you with goodness at a time of year when it’s needed most. My colleague and friend Ethnobotanist James Wong’s book 10-a-day the easy way is a constant source of inspiration for me. From triple berry hotcakes and fruit-filled crumble with a splash of rum to Thai curry complete with butternut squash and mangetouts, there’s a tasty treat you’re sure to love. Also head to your local farmer’s market to sample some harvest season delights – one of my favourite discoveries was spaghetti squash!
Get some fresh air
Get outside and enjoy all the natural beauty the season has to offer – at a social distance, of course. Nothing beats a long walk down winding country lanes if I am back in Yorkshire, beach walks in Devon or exploring the city when I am London. It’s always so invigorating, inhaling the crisp air and finding something new. With cold, rosy cheeks glowing and legs fully stretched, it feels a real treat to open the front door and relish in the cosy and comforting atmosphere you’ve created at home. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of hot tea and some left over veggie stew to warm you up!