As the clocks go back... 10 winter warmers

If the clocks going back leaves you with nothing to look forward to until spring, you need the IoS guide to raising your spirits


1. There's nothing like a winter's baking session to lift the spirits. It's creative, but in a non-taxing way, and you get to scoff something sweet at the end of it. Plus let's face it; one drawback to summer is that cakes just don't taste as good when it's warm outside. And don't claim you can't cook: stick to the recipe and you really won't go wrong. Especially if you start with cupcakes. Just don't forget the frosting.

2. With the end of summer comes the end of barbecues and, frankly, good riddance. Who doesn't prefer a roast dinner if they're being honest? Far more comforting and far lower maintenance, too: a joint of beef doesn't mind if it starts raining as soon as you heat up the oven. And you won't run out of charcoal halfway through cooking it. Nor will you have to scrub the grill when you're done.

3. Why not profit from all those extra hours of darkness by snuggling up in bed. With a lover, a cat, or, best of all, a really good book. You know, one from that pile you thought you'd devour on holiday in the summer, but somehow the luxury of resting your eyelids got in the way. Or there's always the Man Booker shortlist to tackle. And if those striking posties mess up your Amazon order, just try the library.

4. Embrace credit- crunch chic by rooting around in your wardrobe for something you haven't worn in months. Or even years. You might be surprised at what you find. And if it's truly a little frock of horrors, there's always eBay. Then you can go shopping with a clear conscience.

5. Fellow females rejoice in what winter brings: months and months of lovely thick black tights. Part of the beauty of black is that you can forget about shaving your legs, stop worrying that you never got round to getting that pedicure, and just rejoice in the power of Lycra to hold in all those wobbly bits that your half-hearted pre-bikini gym sessions failed to shift. And gentlemen, fear not! Winter also brings release for you: from ironing. Just grab a jumper and no one will notice your shirt is creased.

6. If your finances won't stretch to booking a winter escape, then indulge in the next best thing: holiday porn. Let your imagination run wild and the world be your oyster when mulling your potential options. After last summer's washout, you needn't feel guilty for shunning the staycation either. Think abroad, think hot and think a lot. It will cheer you up, we promise. And if you're really on a budget, then why not suss out a holiday house swap?

7. Other than sleeping, long winter evenings are also good for catching up on some seriously good telly. Not what's actually on the box but all those US imports you never quite got round to watching. Like the last series of The West Wing, or just about any series of The Wire. Other suggestions: Mad Men, Arrested Development or House. Or if you've got a multi-regional player, then thirtysomething, the original babyboomer drama, has finally made it on to DVD in the US.

8. Rather than just adding to the digital photos that are slowing down your computer, use the less photographic months of the year to fulfil that promise you made yourself to sort through the backlog and, maybe, even delete a few. Or go wild and print some out. They'll brighten up your walls and if you have a spare frame or two, they make handy Christmas presents for relatives.

9. Embrace the Sunday afternoon gloom by making a day of it in the pub. Grab the Sunday papers, well, this Sunday paper, and hunker down. Celebrate the changing seasons by swapping tipples: red for white wine, preferably mulled, or bitter for lager. And the darker outside it is, the better. Then you won't even feel guilty for not making the most of the day.

10. Relish the fact that the weather is supposed to be bad. You can finally pack away that optimistic attitude and stop zealously checking the forecasts. Just let yourself be pleasantly surprised if the drizzle lets up for long enough for you to escape your four walls and head to a park. If you're lucky, you might even catch the tail end of autumn. It's a true misery who isn't heartened by the sight of branches aflame with the reds, golds and browns of the year's most underrated season.

Take the time to celebrate 125 years of the Greenwich Meridian

It might feel like the clocks have been going back forever to ruin your winter, but actually the Greenwich Meridian line – which runs at longitude 0° 0' 00" and to which clocks worldwide are set – was drawn just 125 years ago last week.

That was when the world decreed that days would start at midnight in Greenwich and Greenwich Mean Time would become the global standard. Ever since the First World War clocks have been going back one hour from British Summer Time at the end of October. The exceptions were a brief spell during the Second World War, when the clocks were set to British Double Summer Time (two hours ahead of GMT), and for three years from October 1968, when the country ran to British Standard Time. That is until many people in Scotland and Northern Irish got fed up with it not getting light during the winter until late into the morning.

English MPs make sporadic attempts to get England and Wales to adopt Central European Time, with clocks on BST during the winter, but the farming lobby always puts the kibosh on that suggestion, fearing the extra hours of darkness.

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