You all know how much I love a good, blustery autumn evening. The kind that leaves you wanting to wrap up in a fleece blanket by the fire, with a gripping novel or cosy lifestyle book to fall into.
Now that September is here, it's time to fully embrace the transitioning season. Whether it's the 1st or the 23rd of September that is the beginning of autumn for you, the weather slips gradually, day-by-day, into a kaleidoscope of burnt umber, rich red and mustard yellow. It's such a precious time of year for noticing and embracing the end of the regrowth cycle that slow and simple living choices have never been more significant. Here are some ideas to get you appreciating the gifts of autumn with a sense of fulfilment and content.
Hearty and nutritious cooking
Autumn is THE time of year for foraging. After an incredibly hot summer and periodic bursts of plentiful (torrential) rain, the fruit trees and hedgerows are teeming. Swathes of sweetcorn are standing tall and swelling in preparation to be picked. Apples, plums and pears are ripening and dropping to the floor with each heavy rainfall and forest floors are dappled by mysterious fungi. Vegetable patches are alive with squashes, pumpkins and courgettes. The hedges blush with blackberries and raspberries, each built like tiny bunches of polished balloons.
Autumn is the time to harvest nutritious food and cook heartwarming meals for friends and family. Dishes should be laden with rich jams and jellies, meats and roasted veg sweating flavoursome oil, all crisp and fluffy within. It's the season for lavish table settings with crackling leaves and dancing candles. Autumn is the epitome of celebrating seasonal changes slowly and fully, giving thanks every day for warm food and much-needed company as the nights draw in.
When I was in my teens, from 16 onwards, walking home from work on a Saturday night in the darkening months was made far more bearable by walking through what is considered to be the oldest street in town. Here, smoke billows from the chimneys. It's a charming road lined with leaning houses adorned with structural beams and, while the street's inhabitants have modernised some of their homes over time, these cottages range across centuries of architectural style. My favourites are the Tudoresque, cottages straight from a sixteenth-century tale, which have net or lace curtains shrouding warmly lit rooms that glow with woodfires.
The scent of wood from fruit trees was always my favourite and, to this day, it still is. Coming from a home with a gas fire, I would relish in the heady smell of woodsmoke at every opportunity and felt transported back to a village of the Victorian era, somewhat Dickensian in character. Families gathering at the fireplace is a such a treasured tradition that none of us can really resist, whether we're crowded around a fire pit in the garden or perched close to the hearth. I've always found staring into the fire to be a very therapeutic and easy-going experience for those thought-provoking nights in.
Board games and family fun
Autumn afternoons were so often spent playing 'I Spy' with my dad and sister on the sofa while it poured down with rain outside. Even today, family gatherings, to me at least, are not quite complete without board games, packs of cards, darts or floor-based games like giant Jenga. Not everybody is into playing board games, so there are some other alternatives.
When the family gets together to play games or the local pub quiz has everyone rallying around, there's a type of communication that takes place which is sadly lost sometimes when we spend all our time on our phones instead. We are all guilty of it but I'm convinced every one of us has a soft spot for light-hearted competition and games of times gone by. One day, I'm looking forward to visiting a bar in Copenhagen where you can rent board games for the night, for a proper hyggelig experience and plenty of jesting.
Photography's golden hour is always at its best in autumn, in my opinion. Walking at first light or at sundown is such a fulfilling experience, giving you time to feel free and enjoy the warmth of your cheeks as they redden. Even if your 'woodland' is a ditch shrouded by trees in the middle of an urban housing estate, as mine was, getting outside and breathing fresh air is practically invaluable.
You can go on organised woodland walks with the children or go exploring with friends to shake things up a bit. And, while you're out, keep your eyes peeled for goodies you can take home and cook with.
'Me' time this autumn
There's never a better time to lounge on the sofa and participate in some quality self-care time than in autumn. As autumn depicts a period of regeneration in time for a long rest, it's only appropriate that we should do the same. Making time for yourself is easy as the nights draw in and the weather becomes wilder than before. While it's dark, windy or raining outside, see this as a perfect opportunity to pop on some mellow music, light a candle and engage in your favourite hobby to uplift your spirits and give your brain a good rest. Take some time to work on your mindfulness techniques and meditation, or simply do something that requires you to be completely mindless!
Are you going to adopt a slower approach this autumn? Some of my own past times this season include all of the above, decorating the house with some homemade seasonal decor and building my first, real capsule wardrobe.
For those of us in business - next week's post is all about business shifts for autumn. Stay tuned and I'm looking forward to sharing the new season with you. I can't wait to see where it takes us!