By Rob Allanson

Editor's Word

So here we are, as I write, caught in the iron bound grip of winter weather. It is that time of year when you need the warmth of a whisky to take the edge off the day, especially if you are facing the failing of the British transport system, both public and on the roads. It appears to me that the home counties and the East of England share the same snow plough and gritter.

That said it is one of the great joys of the season to spend a Sunday morning wrapped up like a Michelin man, or woman, and head out into the fields or the hills.

I think as our adult lives become increasingly occupied and taken over by the strains and stresses of modern life, generally being ruled by a smart phone or some form of electronic device channelling immediate contact via email, text or instant messaging, we miss out on the simple joys and fun of winter. It is easy to put off diving into the cold when there are emails to deal with.

It is time to reclaim our winter fun, at least at the weekends. That moment of joy when you first snuggle down into a long packed away woolly jumper or wrap a well chosen beloved scarf round your neck again. Little rituals, events that take you back to being a child, slipping a hand into the toasty pocket of a parent as you walk the moors searching for the choice sledging spot.

Then of course there is the larking about in the white stuff, dragging children in sledges to the tops of hills to watch them hurtle to their certain doom. Honestly if you have not done this for a while, just get on the sledge... go on you might enjoy it. Snowball fights and creating snow angels are both musts, who cares how old you are, it's fun.

For the photographically minded snow laden landscapes can inspire stunning images.

Finally the joy of coming home, putting a fire on and pouring a dram to thaw out with; or even the delights of a late evening adult hot chocolate. Indulgent and decadent, and try it with a little peated whisky.

January is often described as an austere month, but I think it's time we took it back and embrace the chills. February at least has the redeeming features of Valentine's Day and March has St Patrick's Day to focus on.

Speaking of which, if you are planning a trip to Dublin to celebrate I have a few bar suggestions for the whisky cognoscenti.

No trip is really complete without visiting the award winning pubs, L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter and W. J. Kavanaghs in Dorset Street. The food and drinks on offer are simply stunning, and watch out for the black pudding wontons in Kavanaghs, one portion is not enough trust me.

Also a new kid on the block worth checking out is the Vintage Cocktail Club in Crown Alley, Temple Bar. This is Dublin's first speakeasy style bar, complete with anonymous entrance door. Hard to find, but the cocktails are worth the effort.