It’s not exactly threatening to snow, but winter is definitely on its way down here in the Southern Hemisphere and the cooler, darker nights are drawing in.

Brrrrrazil: It only really gets cold, by European standards, in the south of Brazil – and ice and snow are still relative rarities there.

Here’s it’s called Austral winter – as opposed to the Northern Hemisphere’s Boreal winter.

Once Mother’s Day has gone by, the supermarkets in the south of Brazil start ringing in the cooler times – with pictures of hot chocolate and marshmallow and other wintry wonders, and you know it’s only a matter of time before the pinhões (pinenuts) and quentão (mulled wine) are wheeled out for the winter fair.

Winter in Brazil is a funny affair – as in vast parts of the country it doesn’t really change that much. In the north-east, it rains a bit more… that’s it.

Down in the south, like in Curitiba where I’m living at the moment, it gets noticeably colder – and the buildings are strangely in no way prepared for it. Single-glazed windows and gaps in the masonry made me think last year’s cold winter – and the nights can get down to 0°C and even minus temperatures further inland – was something special, but it’s not.

People just wrap up and wear socks in bed! Very strange, I thought… But, actually, even now in winter you can encounter high 20s Celsius, even the odd 30°C – and so in truth the houses here, as in the rest of Brazil, are built to be cool, which is a damned relief during the rest of the year.

The trade-off is that winters can really bite – so heaters and plenty of layers are needed down here!

And even further south – towards the border with Uruguay – you can find snow, for example, in the interior parts of Santa Catarina state.

But I’m off to the UK in a couple of weeks – to soak up some British sunshine(!) ahead of the Olympics – so I’ll be able to sleep without socks and that extra blanket for a while, fingers crossed.