DUNCAN BARKES Warming up thanks to some of life’s simple pleasures...

The festive season and the freezing weather conditions bring stress and frustration by the sleigh load. But the icy blast does make you really appreciate the simple pleasures in life.

Food offers many new avenues of joy. As the chill factor rises and we eat to fuel up to stay warm I delight in the hearty dishes that stick to your ribs and fend off the cold.

And if you don’t have the time or the inclination to create a homemade stew or a bubbling casserole then just keep it simple.

A can of Heinz Tomato soup takes on a whole new taste when the temperature drops below zero – it is transformed from a humble tin of soup into sheer nectar of the gods, especially when you dip chunks of strong cheddar cheese into it.

Toasted crumpets, hot sausage rolls from the baker or slices of hot toast and marmite all become culinary events as out bodies crave warmth and comfort.

Drink also has a part to play in keeping body and soul intact in these chilly times.

A steaming pint mug of tea has never been so appreciated after you have spent 20 minutes scraping the ice off the car and warming the engine first thing in the morning.

Stronger drink becomes antifreeze for the cockles as its immediate effects become a major force in the fight against cold. A glass of red wine from a bottle that has been warmed by the fire, cooker or radiator offers instant balm for the soul. A nip of whiskey or brandy before climbing into bed trumps any duvet tog rating and delivers a level of cosiness that eclipses anything offered by a hot water bottle.

For those of us who enjoy venturing out for a festive drink, nothing beats the first sip of a pint after a crisp walk to the pub. For the drinker to enjoy the maximum benefit of such an experience, I recommend that the hostelry in question be at least a 15-minute walk away and that much time is taken in savouring the delicious moment when you first step inside your (warm) venue of choice and order your tipple.

Challenging and frustrating, when the freezing weather arrives, turning the simplest chore into a task requiring Herculean effort, you don’t have to look too far to find something that makes the stress and frustration just a tad more bearable.