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Winter, wood and water


As the year crawls gradually towards winter, weather has set in. While I was in Jersey, Storm Angus reached 99mph at one point and the next day, in the Lake District (see above), the fells were covered in more than a light dusting of snow. Of course, this is no bad thing now we're all getting so hygge, as the Danes would have it. I for one am not at all sceptical about this. Of course, it's nice to sit in front of a log fire, wearing woolly socks and drinking a glass of wine. Why wouldn't it be? I have, though, also discovered why I'm particularly susceptible to this. It's all to do with wood.

So, some trees came down in Jersey - as you can see - though the next day it was all blue skies. That afternoon, I had a completely different insight trees or, more precisely, wood. Staying at the totally gorgeous Longueville Manor (the only relais et chateau in the Channel Islands, see below), I went to their new not-a-spa (they understandably didn't want people in dressing-gowns traipsing about the place) to experience the de Mamiel Rhythm of Nature created by Annee de Mamiel. Now, officially, this is a facial. Do not be fooled. It is something that's actually quite hard to pin down and it includes everything de Mamiel has covered (so Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, pressure points - no acupuncture, thank goodness). And, to assess your oils, massage technique and so on, you begin with an assessment that analyses your leading characteristics and indicates your element.

So - and I'm really simplifying here - the Chinese have an extra element, beyond our usual four, and that's wood. And this is what I turned out to be. I did actually know this, having been feng shui-ed ages ago and having had my element assessed at the same time (something, I think, to do with Chinese astrology). What could it possibly mean?

It all became clearer the day after I came back from Jersey and went north to the Lake District. Staying at Brimstone in the village of Chapel Stile, I was surrounded by woodland. In fact, there was wood everywhere you looked - including that gorgeous wood-burning stove in my room (with glass of wine, please note, all hygge-lovers) and the only place I've ever stayed where a log-trolley accompanies the normal one to the rooms. The immediate result of all this was I felt very calm and grounded - and, almost unbelievably, slept like a baby. This is the first time I can remember in years that I slept till eight and had to be woken up! Though looking back, the last time may have been in the most rustic of log cabins in the middle of a forest in Lapland. So, for an insomniac, this is pretty close to Paradise.

But what does it mean? If you're a water person, you have to live by the sea? If you're air, you have to head to the top of a mountain? Not sure, really, but I could be moving to a forest some time soon. Enjoy the winter.

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