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Coping With The January Blues....

"When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England"  Hilaire Belloc

The festive period is behind us, like a distant memory from a long forgotten time.

For many, after a week or more off work, adjusting back to early get-ups and the old routine after a period of looser schedules, it can be a depressing time. The weather, short days, the abrupt change back to reality - all these can conspire to make January the month from hell. And for some of us, January is the month when a number gets added to our already considerable age!

Some decide to do something about those extra pounds put on over the Christmas period. Some decide to go dry for January. Some sign up for the gym. Some change their diet. I can't do anything about my advancing years!

But for some, doing all those things against the background of what is already the most miserable month of the year, the sense of depression is enhanced. And for those that cut back on their social life, the greater sense of isolation can add to the spiralling misery. And the fact that there always seems to be someone talking(often loudly) about calories, Fitbits, the gym,etc. can give the impression that by crossing the threshold of a licensed premise you are somehow committing some heinous crime.

This year there has been a campaign called Tryanuary supported by pubs and bars up and down the country to counter the abstemious Dry January, as this is traditionally a quiet time for the licensed trade. But for me, if you don't want a drink, that's absolutely fine, as long as people keep visiting the pubs which for so many of us are at the heart of our communities. Go to the pub after the gym. Give your Fitbit an outing and walk to a more distant pub or two. The sad reality is that if we don't support the pubs and bars in the quiet weeks after Christmas, well, it is likely that the odd one or two won't be there when we want to celebrate come next Christmas. And that was why it has been good to see the industry trying to keep the footfall coming through the door.

So for me, this is how I am going to cope with January:
1. Keep going to the pub, drinking responsibly of course.
2. Embrace my extra year and additional gravitas.(well I can write what I want!)
3. Take heart from the fact that the days are getting slightly longer and it'll soon be spring!
4. Avoid all talk of diets, calories, Weightwatchers, etc. But eat sensibly of course.
5. Catch up on some of the music I didn't get to hear last year.
6. Not let the doom and gloom we hear on the news get me down.

Roll on February....
Despite the year's infancy, despite only having a few pints, I have been impressed with the quality of the beer I have had thus far, and if it carries on like this we are in for a cracking 2018.

My first was on New Year's Day, at the Grayston Unity in Halifax. A pre-football pint of Goose Eye Chinook. It was so good I had to have another. This is a beer that does vary in quality sometimes, but when it's on form, it can exceed all expectations. After the football, in which Town were soundly beaten 4-1 by league leaders Macclesfield, we repaired for the usual post-match analysis to the Three Pigeons. As every move was dissected, every goal analysed, every player's performance assessed, the manager's head called for...the quality of the beer crept up on us. The White Rat from the Rat Brewery was excellent and helped salve the pain caused by our team's abject performance.

And then the other day, I popped into the Market Tavern in Brighouse. The beer quality in here is unfailingly top-drawer, but the Hop Studio Extra Pale Session Ale I had on this visit was superb, pale, hoppy, refreshing, and definitely one to lift the spirits. The brewery is based just outside York and in my experience, their beers are always worth a look.

So, if you stick with our pubs, January doesn't have to be that bad. But, of course, make sure you drink responsibly....

Winter Lights, Brighouse


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