The nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter, yep, winter is definitely here!
Whether you’re new to the UK or were born here, let’s be honest, this isn’t exactly everyone’s favourite time of the year (except of course when it’s Christmas:-)).
There are hundreds of articles and tips out there about staying warm in winter, but does it really cut it for Nigerians in the UK? We have put together a few things to help you stay healthy and survive the British winter and you’re going to need it, as the Met office has already predicted a frosty couple of weeks to come.
Fear not though, we’ve got you covered.
1. Good Old Robb or Aboniki Balm
Seriously! Don’t laugh. You know the typical Boots Mentholatum or any other Oyinbo type of Vicks is not as strong as these two. Good old Robb comes in handy to keep the cold in check plus it also helps clear your nasal cavity so you can breathe easy. Try rubbing some in your hands just before you put on your gloves, around your ears and also on your feet before wearing socks or tights.
If you’re brave enough, Aboniki balm is another option, but please bear in mind that this is super hot and not for the fainthearted. It also carries the extra risk of having a lingering smell. We want you to stay warm but, the last thing we want is for you to enter a packed underground carriage and have people staring at you because you smell funny.
You should be able to get Robb from your local Naija store, otherwise, a trip to Peckam or Upton Park should take care of this.
2. Make Stocks of Pepper Soup
Goat, fish or beef pepper soup, whichever floats your boat. It can be difficult for the typical Nigerian in the UK to get used to ready made soups such as the ‘chicken soup’ or ‘noodle soup’. There is a reason soups are popular during winter and are recommended for banishing the winter blues.
It’s comforting and relaxing, not to mention it warms up your body too. You can do a Nigerian take on the typical British soup by warming it up and adding some ground pepper and seasoning. Better still, why not make proper Nigerian pepper soup? It’s richer and more filling and will no doubt remind you of the good old days when you were back in sunny Nigeria without a care in the world!
This is a staple and a no brainer. Even if your house is warm, there will be intervals when you would have your heating off if you don’t intend to land yourself a hefty bill at the end of the month. The average temperature recommended by the NHS is 18-21 degrees during the day and about 18 degrees at night. This will probably be slightly cold if you’ve just emigrated to the UK, although it makes sense if you want to keep your energy bills down.
This is where the hot water bottle comes in. Always have one with you when you go to bed so you can slip it underneath your Duvet or blanket. It’s also better if you put in in your bed for a bit before you climb in to bed so it’s all nice and warm.
4. Tea…lots of Tea.
You’ll need proper PG tips or any other tea bag in HOT water, and you’ll need several cups a day too. To get by during winter, you will need to become a tea lover and even if you don’t want it, you will have it offered to you at every turn so it’s best you get used to it.
If you can’t give up your Milo, well, there’s good news. You could easily buy Milo from most off license stores around London and if that’s too much trouble, hot chocolate is a good alternative, and these are readily available in all UK supermarkets. It is worth noting that Milo and hot chocolate are best had at night when you’re home as they can make you drowsy, which is why tea is a better option if you have a busy day.
5. Stay Active
Join a Gym or exercise at home. Don’t sit immobile watching BEN TV the whole afternoon. You need to keep moving to keep your muscles and joints supple and avoid cramps.
Plan activities for yourself and the family to help you keep active during the winter, it really helps and it’s fun!
6. Check For Draft
This is the easiest way to loose heat from your home. You may find that your heating is on but you can still feel light breeze sipping in. Trace the source of that breeze and you’ll find that this is where all your heating has been escaping from. It’s usually underneath doors or unlocked windows that are culprits. For the doors, you can buy ‘sausages’ from Ikea or other home and DIY stores, and always make sure your windows are properly sealed to keep heat from escaping.
7. Wear Layers
A lot of Nigerians in the UK assume you need to wear a great big coat all the time to stay warm. This might be true most times, but sometimes, you can achieve the same level of warmth by cleverly layering your clothing. Invest in some good quality thermals as they are thin and most don’t show underneath your clothes. Wear a very light garment first, followed by a short sleeve or long sleeve top, layer these with a jumper or cardigan and a Trench coat or other trendy coat will do nicely once you’re well covered underneath.
8. Tights…Lots of Tights
You can’t possibly do without them, even men need thermal underwear in the thick of winter, unless you drive, in which case you don’t have to freeze your hands off while waiting for the bus or train. Invest in some good quality ones, there are thermal ones, and body shaper ones, the shape is up to you. You’d probably be better off with the higher denier ones as these are thicker and keep your legs warmer than the lighter flimsy ones that are more suited for summer.
9. Waterproof jacket
Everyone knows that Umbrellas are absolutely useless in the British rain. It’s not even as heavy as the Nigerian rain, yet it manages to blow your umbrella inside out! You’re better off with a water proof jacket, preferably one with a hood with fake fur trimmings for added warmth. This also comes in handy in case it snows, you’ll need to hold your balance while navigating thesnow and having to hold an umbrella might make this somewhat cumbersome.
10. Your Hairstyle Matters
During winter, it’s best to have a weave or wig that covers your whole scalp and is a bit long. We loose a lot of heat through the head which is why a lot of British people wear hats. We are well aware that this is not really an option for a lot of Nigerian women as we usually have a weave and obliviously want to show it off after spending £50 making it (fair enough). Fringes and closed partings are the best styles for winters. Try to stare clear of pixie cuts and braids as these expose your scalp and neck to the elements.
Hope these help!