Let me just tell you right now, I have no truck with Dry January, nor with Veganuary, nor with any other faddish means of making this dreariest month in such uncertain times any worse than it already is. What, I ask myself under my breath, is the matter with people who think that this martyrish self-denial is in any way improving, when we’ve all got to get through weeks or months of darkness and doubt, before the sun truly comes back and we can all get vaccinations without losing any loved ones. Is this a time to deny yourself cheese? It is not. Are these icy mornings the moment to step outside in nothing but your skimpy running tights and no gloves on? They are not.
The best of the weather is crisp, blue-skied, and bitterly cold; but most of the time it is overcast and the streets are mucky with salt and grime. Even the birds are holed up somewhere more hygge, and won’t be lured out by anyone’s fat balls. I intend to take a tip from my feathered erstwhile companions, and sing for no-one who doesn’t offer me chocolate and a hot water bottle, or a pot of delicous tea.
I posit that denying oneself pleasure in January was an invention of the Victorians, known for covering up the legs of their chairs lest some lightweight of a gentleman should become excited by their delicately turned ankles, and other utter batshit nonsense. Times were hard, but they didn’t have online ordering, so perhaps should not be judged by the standards of today. If you’ve been reading Uborka for any portion of the last 17 years (bloody hell 17 years?) then you know I generally tend towards resisting rampant consumerism, and yet am hypocrite enough to order from Amazon if I really, really want it. I declare January in itself to be entirely enough excuse to buy stuff, to eat stuff, to wear stuff, and not to bother too much about vitamin D. There’s none of it out there anyway.
Let me tell you who I’ll be buying from; some of these already tried and tested by Casa Uborka, and some recommendations from the larger readership, who are getting larger still as they sit on their arses reading this and eating chocolate – to which I say, well done you people.
Tea will be acquired from Suki Tea of Belfast, and Imperial Teas of Lincoln, whence came this morning a parcel of delicious teas for which nobody will take credit. Thank you mysterious benefactor of tea, unexpected tea is truly the greatest delight.
Chocolate could come from many places, but I’ve got my eye particularly on Artisan du Chocolat, whose salted caramels featured in the hamper Pete got from his employer, and might be one of the nicest chocolate-based items I have ever eaten. Even after they had gone, we both independently and secretly spent time inhaling the packaging. I can also recommend Chocolates & Truffles in Skipton, who provide exactly what it says on the tin.
Non-booze is supplied by Square Root Soda and my own home-made gingerbeer. I’m also quite partial to Aldi’s Ultra-Low Alcohol Rhubarb and Ginger Spirit. Listen, I’m not doing Dry January, I thought I had already made that point. We just don’t drink much these days and are happy that way. There is real gin in the cupboard, and I’m not above mixing that with any of the above.
Cheese is one of life’s essentials, and I anticipate with sadness the day I’m told my cholesterol is high and I shouldn’t eat so much of it. Best not to know, perhaps. Best Christmas Present Ever was a massive box from The Courtyard Dairy, somewhere in Yorkshire. I’ve cancelled my monthly cheese box from Abel & Cole, to allow me freedom to sample cheese from other places, which will also include Northumberland Cheese.
To go with all the cheese, we will naturally need pickles, and intend to try out Gingerbeard Preserves, courtesy of Tim. My mouth waters just browsing the website, and I keep finding myself adding more pickled eggs to the basket. Soon I shall progress to the checkout, and then we’ll know.
We only ever eat cake by accident, but we have often deliberately eaten Grasmere Gingerbread, which is not only delicious, but also so evocative of my favourite place in the world. Their postage fees are high, so you have to order it in huge quantities. Shame.
Edited to add: Sausages are another important food group, and we’ll be continuing to order from Mountain’s Boston Sausage, who also provided our christmas dinner this year. Their Boston Chipolatas are a thing of beauty. We’re also going back to the Rural Pie Co, who are local to us, and kept us supplied with pie through Lockdown 1.0, before they stopped delivering. I’m about to go and investigate whether the delivery service might have restarted.
We shall be enjoying all of this with the heating on, in our pyjamas, and with the christmas lights still up. We shall do this for as long as is necessary, and not allow ourselves to feel shame or guilt or like we’re wasting our lives writing self-indulgent blogposts instead of that essay that occasionally reminds us of its only partial existence.