What's the upside of winter? The bright side to all those dark months

Mark Rice-Oxley
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Gary Yeowell/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gary Yeowell/Getty Images

What do you love most about winter? Fireside reading? Long walks in wild weather? A good movie with an even better glass of something? Stews? Hellebores? Boardgames? Cold water swimming and a scalding cup of tea afterwards? Football? Nostalgia? The soft silence of the first snowfall?

I only ask because I’ve had my issues with winter in the past. Low skies, darkness at teatime, narrowing horizons, a generalised apathy, a yearning for hibernation. This year promises little better, with the pandemic resurgent and fun all but quarantined.

But of course, sometimes we just make situations worse by dwelling on the downside. I’m not sure I quite believe in the new wellness trend of “manifesting”, but there’s something to be said for reminding ourselves of the small joys of the season, looking out for them, being grateful for them as they come and go.

Hikers walking dog
Hikers walking their dog on Loughrigg Fell in Grasmere, Lake District national park, Cumbria. Photograph: Martin Berry/Alamy

So what are your winter upsides? Let us know, and we will spread the word. (Apologies to our southern-hemisphere readers: do put this to one side and read it in about six months.)

In return, we give you some early Christmas baubles in the form of this week’s Upside journalism, which included:

• the great outdoors (I): tourism venues venture outside to pull in the winter punters. Four-minute read

• the great outdoors (II): how to socialise outside. A short series

• the maps that show that things are slowly getting better. Three-minute read, with cool before-and-after maps like this:


• the people who got fit in lockdown. Five-minute read

• water on the moon. Two-minute read

• who in Europe is getting it right on Covid? Two-minute catch-up

• what to do with that leftover pumpkin. Seventeen recipes

Lucky numbers

Sales at publisher Bloomsbury jumped 10% in the six months to August, a sign that people have “rediscovered the pleasure of reading” in lockdown, according to this piece by the BBC.

Some 80 million Americans have already voted – that’s almost two-thirds of the total number who voted in 2016.

What we liked

Footballers often get a bad rap for being paid too much just because they are good at playing a game. But there are plenty of exceptions, and PositiveNews catalogued a few in this piece.

We enjoyed the latest offering from Reasons to be Cheerful’s series on overcoming divisions. This week Bastian Berbner wrote about the success of Botswana, and Keshia Naurana Badalge examined Singapore’s success in achieving racial harmony.

And finally, back on the outdoorsy theme, New York City has a plan for shops to take over sidewalks and offer outside shopping, so as to keep afloat both the retail economy and the anti-pandemic effort.

What we heard

Some nice remarks on Twitter (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) about our maps piece (see above)

The Progress Network (@progressntwrk) wrote:

The rise of renewable energy, connectivity, and access to education as well as longer life expectancy and lower child mortality. Plus it is really fun to play with the interactive maps.

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And geography teacher Ben Bishop wrote

Some really nice maps for #development in here... Slight shame it’s Mercator projection even though @GuardianUpside write about its inaccuracies!?

Where was the Upside?

Pretty much anywhere Marcus Rashford was, on the pitch, in a warehouse, or even in a delicious Guardian cartoon by David Squires.

Thanks for reading. Write to us here about anything you like. We will be certain to get back to you, unless we forget, of course. Have a good weekend.