I hate to write off a whole month.
A twelfth of the year. A twelfth of my life, give-or-take.
But I have to come out - I dislike January intensely! And when you're stuck in a small French town, far from family with four energetic young children, it's hard not to feel that you're trapped in a nightmare - at least some of the time.
The garden is out of bounds. Even going to the park is out of bounds (cold, wet and muddy). The playroom suddenly shrinks in size, and the TV takes on too much of the parenting. The days seem long, punctuated with warming meals, cooked with care, that the children nibble at, at best.
The nearest "refuge" for us is the soft-play centre in Limoges, which we end up going to at least once over the weekend. But as the children get older, it's getting pricey! And then once you leave, you're on the bleak drive back home, wondering how to fill the next few hours without a full-scale riot erupting.
Of course, it's not always that bad. Sometimes the winter sun shines, sometimes snuggling with the children is wonderful; occasionally the children (gasp!) play nicely together.
But when I look back over this grey and money-starved month, it's hard not to flip the finger and say "sod you, January - and good riddance."
OK, it's February. It's still bleak. It's half-heartedly snowing (enough to keep us inside, not enough to go and play in), but February is short. Sometimes, here, March heralds the start of Spring. Evenings are getting lighter (albeit still grey), the end of winter is in sight. And we've just been paid.
It does bother me that winters affect me so much sometimes. I do have a SAD lamp blazing "sunshine" in my office as we speak, and I do try to get out and about as much as possible. But winters are when I question my living in France the most - where is the infrastructure?!
Then the sun begins to pierce the clouds and I'm in no doubt during the summer when I'm watching the children play on the beach, or sitting at a café overlooking the lake, that I'm exactly where I should be. I just have to try to remember that when the grey mood and weather sets in.
The key to it has to be finding ways to weather the winter without feeling like a prisoner, and embrace the solitude and greyness with a smile.
Wish me luck in January 2016!