I don’t have a favourite season. I feel they all have something to offer. At the start of spring I could easily tell you it’s my favourite, with its new growth and all the promise that it holds. Just as I’m getting tired of spring it helpfully turns to summer and all the lightness of being that goes with the endless daylight hours that suggest much productivity.

As I decide that summer should take the top spot I usually begin to tire of all the productiveness and packing as much as you can into the, by then, waning evenings. As autumn begins I happily turn my thoughts to warmer clothes and blackberry picking. The colours of autumn are perhaps the most beautiful and the weather is particularly appealing to the Irish temperament; not too hot and not too cold.

Could autumn be top of my list? Then suddenly the clocks go back, the days shorten, the warmer duvet is put back on the bed and the dark evenings of winter call for lovely layers of cosy fabrics that cover up all those deserts you should never have had and conveniently hide the fact that you’ve been skipping the gym! Okay, winter is definitely the one; while it lasts anyway.

So as it has just arrived, I feel it should be embraced. Winter is the time for comfort. It is also a time for comfort food. Slow cooked stews and casseroles with lovely gravy. Sunday roasts with proper Yorkshire puddings and tasty root vegetables. Even the whole run up to Christmas can be enjoyed for what it is. 

Christmas lights 

I was in the centre of the city earlier this week and noticed people putting up Christmas lights on Michael Street. Yes it’s early, but why are we fighting it? This year instead of believing that there is pressure attached to the early start of Christmas, the twinkly lights and tinsel might just brighten our lives and take our minds off the gloomy recession. Yes, I’m very supportive of a little twinkle. Actually the general sense of what I’m hearing from people is that the recession has somewhat liberated us all to a place of just enjoying the season rather than shopping for it.

Now I’m not for a second suggesting that we don’t shop or spend money. I despise the negative rhetoric that tells us to save and hoard because we might not have it next year. I appreciate that we have to be sensible and cut our cloth accordingly, but we also have a social responsibility at a time like this to keep the local economy ticking over. We must remain as channels, keeping our money and resources flowing as best we can. Should we start to hoard and become reservoirs we could be in danger of stagnating altogether. There are a host of things to enjoy in Waterford this winter and none of them will break the bank. 

Fashion shows

There will be several fashion shows throughout the week, but the show at the Grannary (Waterford Museum of Treasures) next Wednesday evening (11th of November) is in aid of the Solas Centre. The shops involved include Pamela Scott, Wallis, Debenhams, Shaws and Fitzgerald’s Menswear among others. You get to see great clothes and the Solas Centre benefits from the profits; a win, win for everyone. Talking of the Waterford Museum of Treasures, the annual Christmas Fair opens there at the end of this week. The Waterford Film Festival also kicks off this Friday night (November 6th). What I’ve mentioned here is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are sports clubs, exhibitions, libraries and cinemas that should also be thrown into the mix. In fact there is so much going on it will be January before we know it and, if you plan it properly, winter ’09 could be very short after all.

Traditionally winter is the time when many people cite symptoms of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This often manifests as depression and mainly in people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year. It’s often put down to a few weeks of winter depression or winter blues. The causes of SAD are complex and layered. For some it is caused by the shortened daylight hours. For others it can be the lack of companionship during the winter. In the summer people tend to be out in their gardens and neighbours will chat over hedges or in driveways on a summer’s evening.

 Early birds

 Most of the restaurants have early bird menus or specials particularly in the earlier part of the week. The Theatre Royal officially re opens this week and there is a full programme of events right through to the New Year including the pantomime, Aladdin, which will be a huge treat for the younger ones; book now before all the tickets are gone. There are a raft of plays coming up from the funny Stags and Hens (17th to 21st November) to Sive at Garter Lane (9th to 14th November). The Forum and Christchurch Cathedral also have full programmes of events running right through November and December. On Sunday November 15th there is even a traditional performance at 12 noon at Christchurch; an ideal way to spend a daytime hour or two at the weekend. From comedy to children’s shows there is something somewhere for everyone.

Waterford Fashion Week has just been launched and that takes place between the 10th and 14th of November. The idea behind it is to showcase Waterford as the fashion capital of the South East with a host of clothes shops, hair and beauty salons. Who needs to travel to other cities when it’s all on our doorstep? 

Mood disorders 

In the winter we are often rushing in out of the cold and the dark and so some people don’t get to exchange a word with a real human being for days on end. No wonder depression and mood disorders are more common in winter.

I’m not suggesting that going to a fashion show, a play or having a meal out will cure SAD, but getting out and mixing with others will certainly take your mind off it if nothing else. If you have someone nearby who is on their own then treat them to an outing. Many events and exhibitions are free and the paid events often offer discounts and concessions for children, OAPs, students and the unemployed. There’s absolutely no excuse for experiencing a dull and dreary winter. It’s a fantastic time of year to be living in Waterford but it’s up to us to open our eyes, explore and enjoy.