Simple ways to stay warm and dry

Hot water bottle and fingerless gloves

Cold, grey days? Dead brown landscapes? Welcome to a British winter. If that wasn’t bad enough, British houses can be difficult to keep warm all day. With rising energy bills, now is a good time to discover other ways to keep warm. Luckily, there are a few simple things that make life much better, inside and out:

  1. Hot water bottles. These flat rubber bottles (pictured) are a winter essential and can be bought cheaply in pharmacies and hardware stores. They are the perfect thing to cuddle on the sofa or when meeting friends outside – or use one to pre-warm your bed. There is a technique to filling them: pour in some cold water first, then hot water (but not boiling water) from the kettle until the bottle is half full. Very gently squeeze the bottle so the water comes to the top, then screw the lid on tight.
  2. Electric blankets. One of the worst things about winter is getting into a cold bed. One way to solve this is to use a hot water bottle to pre-warm it, but even better is to buy an electric underblanket. This is a thick blanket with a tiny electric wire that you place under your bed sheet. You switch it on about half an hour before you go to bed and switch it off when you get in. Bliss. If you need extra warmth, you can also buy ‘heated throws’ – which you can use to cosy up with on the sofa or bed.
  3. Fluffy dressing gown. Warm nightwear is great when in bed, but it is often not enough when you are walking around the house – especially in the morning. A thick dressing gown will give you the extra warmth you need.
  4. Slippers. If you like walking around the house barefoot or without shoes, you might find your feet get really cold in winter. This is a particular problem if you have tiled floors. You can end up getting chilblains on your toes – red, hot itchy patches or blisters caused by damaged circulation. Make sure you always wear slippers or slipper socks (thick socks with a non-slip layer underneath) to keep your feet warm.
  5. Fingerless gloves. Are you working from home and getting cold hands using the keyboard and mouse? What you need is a pair of fingerless gloves. Despite the name, only the top part of the finger is missing from the gloves. This keeps most of the hand warm, while still giving you the grip and sensitivity of your fingertips. Still cold? Try a battery-operated heated waistcoat.
  6. Wellington boots. For mud and puddles, try a Wellington boot. Often just called ‘wellies’, these rubber boots are not just for children – they are popular with everyone because they are waterproof all the way up the lower leg. It is a good idea to buy 1 size too large and wear them with thick socks for warmth. The luxury brand is called Hunter, but you can find cheaper versions in garden centres and home improvement stores. (One tip: don’t store them somewhere sunny because the UV light will make the rubber crack.)
  7. Waterproof trousers. A good coat is important on rainy days. But you will probably notice that a lot of water runs off onto your trousers and makes your legs wet and cold. This is where a pair of waterproof trousers can be very useful. They are very thin and light, so they are easy to carry when not needed. Find them in outdoor specialist shops.

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