Brass monkeys

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The freezing weather has made me add another coat to my collection.

Land's End coatLand's End coat rearHas anyone noticed it’s FREEZING?

Jeezy Creezy. Today it’s mostly snowed but yesterday in the glacial wind the DH and I spent the day doing the delightful task of shopping in Mayenne, something marginally sweetened by the buffet at the Palais de Bonheur Chinese restaurant, but heck, what do you wear on days like this?

It was alright for him – he climbed into the usual ski thermals, topped with fleece layers and then his navy super-insulated parka from Land’s End, and he’s away. 

It’s different for a girl. Given that my winter get-up at the moment is ski thermals, fleece layers and Ugg boots, and the past few nights I’ve been sleeping in our 9-degree bedroom in fleece PJs, an alpaca wrap and a massive cowl wrapped round my head, I thought it might be good to take the opportunity to look – you know – nice.

I shouldn’t complain, I know. It’s been a mild winter on the whole, for all that it’s chucked it down almost every day and at least I’m not a blue tit trying to eat my body weight in fat balls every day, but having decided to be girly and wear a skirt for the first time in months, I found myself in the following: big thick knee-length mohair socks, fleece-lined tights from Japan, a turquoise knee-length wool sweater dress from Land’s End, a long, thick jade knitted wool skirt from John Lewis, a thick primrose vintage cashmere cardigan, a blue vintage leather 1960s coat, blue corduroy bucket hat, magenta pashmina, vintage turquoise leather gloves, vintage black leather riding boots and fleece wellie socks. And I was just about warm enough. Just about. As long as I kept moving.

It’s nice, said the DH, that you’re wearing turquoise because of your eyes and your yellow cardi to match your hair. This was an accident, I had to admit – I’d just fancied something a bit brighter than my usual navy bomb-proof getup.

In to town we went. A Chinese meal, a wander round Noz (for me), where consumer goods go to die, and I get to rummage through the detritus that is Western civilisation, picking out must-haves like pickled peppers, travel deodorant and a chiffon scarf; then Lidl, since ours is closing down, dammit; then SuperU for the main shop; then Intersports for a fruitless search for a swimming mask (they won’t be here till April, apparently). 

Home again home again, jiggity-jig, where the house was so cold I unpacked the shopping still in my coat and hat while the DH lit the woodburner and I then swapped the coat for a thigh-length fleece parka, as I could keep my head covered. I was wearing more bloody clothes indoors than I was outside! Even several hours after the fire had been put on, it was still cold. 

Walking round in the cold in ‘posh’ clothes is very taxing. Really, I would rather have been in my trekking gear, which is really designed to keep the cold out, and I seriously regretted – not for the first time – not getting my Land’s End fleece-lined parka in a darker colour. Mine is screaming daffodil yellow – great for trekking, and for walking the dog down our narrow country lanes, but it makes you look a bit of a dick in town. 

Land's End Squall Stadium coat

I felt another purchase coming on and it didn’t take me long to succumb. In theory, the last thing I need is another coat – I have some great winter warmers. But they are all wool or skin, not the kind of thing to stand up to the endless rain and filth and mud we have endured this winter. So welcome to my new coat, the Stadium Squall from Land’s End. Not the most stylish rig in town, I grant you, but the waterproof outside, fleece lining, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, button-down pocket flaps, fleece-lined hood and storm-flap pockets are persuasian enough, along with one crucial detail – it’s machine-washable, which I’m certain will prove invaluable over time.

You can get this coat in a more stylish cut (see the purple version above), but mine (which I got in black, not aubergine) was £59 in the sale, as opposed to £140, so I am willing to forgo a little taste in favour of not breaking the bank, and since I want it primarily for practical reasons, I want to be absolutely sure it has the features I’m looking for.  

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