Planning your travels by the colours of the seasons

This is the season of drab colours, a time of year when you want to pack up and escape to the 'bright red south'

It's winter again, the eternal cycle of the seasons and all that. I always see this change as a violent switch from black to white, so that the new year invariably begins in a drab, unlovely colourlessness. This lasts through to February. Not until March will a vague whiff of colour touch this nothingness panorama - a watery green, perhaps.

It's winter again, the eternal cycle of the seasons and all that. I always see this change as a violent switch from black to white, so that the new year invariably begins in a drab, unlovely colourlessness. This lasts through to February. Not until March will a vague whiff of colour touch this nothingness panorama - a watery green, perhaps.

By May things are moving on. A strong yellow-blue patina will have formed, which progresses to something nearer red by mid-July. But from then on, colours fade ominously: first to a purple, in turn leeching colour rapidly to a pale brown, then to a grey then, by late November, to pretty much a solid, featureless black, all the way through winter.

So what does this colour-calender prove? Nothing much. But it does seem to tell a story about which parts of the world we ought to be visiting at which times of the year. Think about flying to the bright red southern hemisphere during the drab white month of January for example. Plenty do. But have they ever really told what an extraordinary sensation this is? Walking the streets of Cape Town, Canberra or Santiago de Chile while your home is in the grip of a northern winter will enable you to see hot skies and smell dry grasses as you never, ever imagined them before. I liken the experience to savouring a perfect cold drink which you knew existed, but had not drunk until now.

Following on from that, the insipidly pale-greenish month of March is the time, without a doubt, to get down to the southern Mediterranean, when everything will already be happening in bold colours: big storms, green hills, rich brown earth in the vineyards. And this is not the artificial, jet-flight-aided experience of someone else's climate. This is your own hemisphere. It is a preview performance of your own spring.

Coming up to the yellow-blue time of year is when I want to be in Scandinavia, travelling endlessly northwards. It's a mystical thing: some primeval search for the land of eternal sunlight. But the second the red time of year arrives in the UK is the second I want to get back home: July and August are without doubt the best months of the year to be in the UK (and how unfortunate it is that this is also the time of year when the majority of us have to take our holidays abroad).

The pale-brown month is time to get moving south again, preferably back to the Mediterranean where the bright-red season will still be in full swing, as though nothing has happened. But that phase doesn't last long. I see no fun in discos down on the beach, when the leaves up on the trees are wounded and dying.

My response upon entering the grey months is instantly to develop an appetite for extreme colourlessness, that is to say for Poland, or the Baltic, or Russia. It is as though, by anticipating my own winter, I can get it out of the way faster.

It is possible to truncate the whole autumn into a couple of weeks by a judicious north-eastward journey at the start of October, beginning with brown leaves in Berlin and ending in the snow-fields of Siberia.

That, then, leaves the black month of December, which can be dealt with by a tropical antidote: Bali, perhaps, or the Seychelles. Enjoy the last dying days of the year in some hallucinatory place, with fantasy downpours of steaming rain, and jabbering birds leaping about on rocks where the moss grows in front of your eyes.

There is no better way of busting up the illusion of the eternal cycle of the seasons than this.

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