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The chickens’ water bowl was frozen over this morning. It’s definitely almost winter. I never quite know what to do with the animals when it’s cold. I feel bad for the chickens but they don’t really seem to care. A chicken forum in the UK (of course they exist) said chickens are fine in winter because “they’re basically walking duvets”, and it’s way colder there, so I’m not worried. Though when it was super windy the other day I brought them into the garage because they were being blown sideways as they walked across the yard; while highly amusing, I would have felt terribly guilty if they’d actually been blown away or hurt. The cats were not amused that their domain was now inhabited by poultry, so I don’t think it will be a regular occurrence. I guess I’d probably be less fussy about it if I had a whole flock of hens, but only having two they are definitely pets and are treated as such.

Since moving all the furniture around last week and swapping the couches around, both cats now join us at night for TV in front of the fire time. Previously Coco would take up residence on top of the pellet fire lid, and Mattie would sulk elsewhere in the house. I guess she likes this couch better because it’s fabric, so warmer and less slippery. Or something. I don’t know, she’s weird. Mattie is also fine with being in the same room as Coco as long as she can’t see her, but if she catches sight of her she makes the noise that little kids make when they’re whingeing “muuuuuum she’s looking at me…muuuuum she’s breeeeeathing funny” etc.

Anyway, we now all enjoy the benefits of warmth and cosiness. Speaking of which, merino! I was going to tell you about my current obsession.

So when we first arrived here, about 19 months ago, I had a Sydney wardrobe. Lots of dresses (eShakti!) and things to wear on various occasions. In terms of cold weather gear, I had a couple of sweatshirts, cotton long sleeved tops and jeans. I mean, it never gets truly cold enough in Sydney to get serious about investing in cold weather clothes. You rug up for a few days and suffer through it and then winter’s over. In fact, the most repeated (almost horrified) refrain when we said we were moving was, “hope you like the cold!”

I do, as it happens.

Then when we got here, I was diagnosed with diabetes and dropped a whole heap of weight, none of my clothes fit anymore anyway, so I needed to start gradually acquiring more warm clothing that fit properly. By far the best things I’ve bought have been the merino items. They are lightweight and fine, temperature regulating, made of natural fibre, antimicrobial, easy to wash and dry quickly…basically I want to live in nothing else.

Unfortunately the decent 100% merino stuff isn’t cheap, but it seems to last so much better than the cheaper cotton things I used to live in. These days I’m much more in the mindset of buying a few decent, simple garments that will last and recognising that I don’t actually need a whole wardrobe of outfits because a) I don’t go anywhere that requires me to look fancy on a daily basis and b) I live in the same few items of clothing most days anyway (this only becomes an issue on occasions such as the (rare) job interview when I realise how long it’s been since I’ve worked in an office with other humans and needed to look professional).

My cost per wear is actually quite low. I buy bits and pieces when there’s a sale, so by this winter I have amassed quite a useful selection – leggings, socks, a dress, a couple of jumpers, a few layering tops, a scarf. In terms of brands, my faves are Australian brands IoMerino (who always have excellent discounts on offer if you join their mailing list) and Smitten Merino (which is usually out of my price range but occasionally there is stuff on sale or I get presents (thanks mum!)). I have also ordered a zip up top from Icebreaker in NZ, which should arrive tomorrow so I’ll see how that compares.

It’s nice to feel toasty warm without looking like the Michelin man – I really don’t want to buy a puffer jacket. So far I have managed to avoid succumbing to those ubiquitous garments (though at least here they would be more warranted than in Sydney apart from maybe one or two days in winter). I haven’t worn my swishy green coat much yet…again, I don’t really go anywhere that I need to dress up and Launceston is definitely not a dressed up town for the most part. Smart casual, at best.

I wonder how long my love affair with cold weather will last…the locals look at me like I’m crazy when I say I enjoy it. If you come to visit during winter, let me suggest layers. And bring all your winter accessories that you never get a chance to wear, like gloves and scarves and hats! Actually even in summer, let me suggest layers. My brother visited just before Christmas and was totally unprepared for a couple of very cold days…came out of the airport and had to wrap himself in the picnic blanket we keep in the car. Basically, living here, you never put your cold weather clothes away…just in case.