Autumn, for me, is a time when magical things happen. That’s why so many of my favourite memories are set in the autumn and it’s the first season I think of when I think about my childhood. When I was little, autumn was all about finding conkers, pumpkin carving, fireworks and lovely walks. I still love all those things, but more recently there have been lots more wonderful associations with this beautiful season, as it’s when we got engaged, started planning our amazing wedding, got married, came back from honeymoon and started house hunting. That’s why I actually look forward to the end of the summer, when the nights start drawing in and the smell of the air changes subtly to autumn.
Of course, one of the best things about autumn is all the magnificent colours on the trees. We plan to do a trip to New England to see the famous autumn colours in the next year or two, but this country has plenty of beautiful places to experience autumn in the meantime. Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the most renowned places round here for captivating autumn colours. This year I think we’ll try Batsford Arboretum near Moreton-in-Marsh – I’ll let you know how we get on.
Needless to say, you don’t have to go to an arboretum to enjoy the changing autumn landscape. Whether it’s the trees in the back garden or just driving through the countryside, the autumn transformation is something that can be marvelled at wherever you are.
Halloween is one of my favourite annual celebrations, even though I know it’s mainly for kids. For years, my friends and I have met up at Halloween to carve pumpkins and keep the childlike fun of Halloween alive. It’s a lovely tradition, and back home I usually also get into the Halloween spirit by watching a few of the Halloween episodes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We’ve been in America in October the last couple of years and I loved seeing how much they obsess over it there; seeing all the houses decorated for Halloween is one of the things I’m looking forward to about our New England trip, whenever that happens.
Another of my favourite nights of the year happens days after Halloween: Bonfire Night. I just love seeing the dark evenings lit up with colourful fireworks, going to displays, eating parkin and sipping mulled wine to keep warm.
The sound and smell of fireworks and sparklers takes me instantly back to my childhood, when my dad used to do little displays in the back garden for my sister’s birthday, which falls close to Bonfire Night. Our house overlooked pretty much our whole town, so we had a great view of everyone else’s fireworks, too. Every year we’d be glued to the window as darkness fell, watching fireworks lighting up all around the valley. It was so magical. Now we try to recreate that magic with our own displays down at the airfield.
Bonfires – and just regular fires – are another wonderful thing about autumn, of course; the smell of wood smoke on a crisp, frosty autumn morning is hard to beat. There’s nothing better than wrapping up warm in my sheepskin coat and scarf and heading out for a walk when the air smells like that. On autumn evenings, we love going to cosy country pubs and sitting by an open fire with a glass of wine. The Castle at Edgehill is the perfect place to do so.
This year we’re particularly excited, because we finally have our own log burner to sit beside at home. We’re going to be so snug on those cold, dark nights.
In addition to the fire, we stockpile beautifully scented candles to make the dark evenings indoors even more cosy – the very embodiment of the Danish idea of ‘hygge‘, which is a concept I’ve always really got behind without knowing that the Danes had such a cool word for it. Yankee Candles are a bit expensive and so are an occasional treat; we get the bulk of our candles from Ikea as we get through so many of them. I also really love Pintail Candles, as they have such gorgeous fragrances.
Another lovely thing to look forward to about autumn is being able to cook hearty winter recipes again. I don’t feel like eating as much in the summer when it’s hot, so I prefer lighter dishes such as salad or pasta. In the autumn, comfort food is the order of the day; think hearty beef casserole, cottage pie or toad-in-the-hole.
The autumn doesn’t last long, and I start to think of it as winter when the preparations for Christmas begin in earnest. By that time, the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees (ready for the branches in our back garden to be decorated with our Christmas lights!) and the prospect of snow becomes a possibility – a reminder that there’s lots to love about every season. But autumn is still the best. :)