(I meant to send this out earlier in the month, been a bit busy…)
Golly gumdrops (and gumboots) how can we be in the penultimate month of the year already? The long Indian Summer certainly lulled me into a drowse and suddenly its totally dark at home time and I can see the breath I breathe as I stomp homeward. Homeward, to the prospect of a cosy fire and something bubbling on the stove with goats cheese dumplings…
November; a month to embrace the dark but enjoy the daylight hours whilst you can by wrapping up warm and taking those first frosty walks of winter amid landscapes full of nature, from the tiniest mushrooms peeking through the damp grass to the majestic sight and sound of stag deer braying his dominance. It’s also a month to be in the garden clearing and tidying away the remnants of summer and planting a springtime crescendo of bulbs.
Mid-October, it’s properly autumn now! Those pumpkins you harvested a few weeks ago are perfectly suited to a spicy, warming soup or perhaps you’re plucking up the courage to get carving for Halloween? The leaves are falling rapidly, a wondrous carpet of yellows, coppers, browns and reds lie beneath your wellied feet. Wood smoke pervades the air and there is an urge in our house to make sticky parkin (uncle Dan’s recipe) to wrap in greaseproof parcels and take on Sunday stomps through the woods and Downs.
It’s certainly time to embrace the dark evenings with family, friends or in glorious solitude; stargazing, huddling in the warming flames of a bonfire, the glow of a traditional hurricane lamp, the flicker of candlelight on the dining table and the sparkle of tiny twinkle fairy lights on the mantle (fairy lights are not just for Christmas)
October is a month of exciting adventures. It’s all about being; and being outside! After the heat haze of summer, our newly discovered autumnal senses are sharpened. October is also a month of ‘firsts’!! The first of the leaves falling from their trees, the first tang of frost in the misty air, the first whiff of wood smoke, the first bundles of fire wood entering the house and possibly the first hot chocolate sipped outside from an enamel mug whilst wrapped in a blanket whilst watching dusk turn into starlight.
We love autumn, can’t you tell? Back from travels and back at the homestead, hunkering down, preparing for a cosy winter and obviously Christmas (but we’re not onto that yet). We’ve travelled this summer; to Stockholm, to Paris & to our own beloved London Town in search of beautiful and useful goods that are also produced with love, care and ethics.
Everyone knows what the Robin looks like; red breast, usually found on the front of Christmas cards, etc. But get up close to one, as I hope you will be able to with the lessons learnt here and you’ll discover how limited those preconceived ideas are. In fact, you’ll discover that really they’re orange breasted, not red.
Since Rosemary Verey’s garden at Barnsley House in the Cotswolds has become a very nice country hotel and restaurant, the only way to see the garden these days is to join the garden club or eating there. The latter seemed the better option and with Mother’s Day (who is also a keen gardener and has been to the property before, back when Rosemary was still running the garden), it was a perfect opportunity.
It must have been the same winter blues that blew us this way before, though I can’t believe it’s been six years. I’d read that they moved and with a January Sunday in need of brightening, we headed to Whitstable and the string of nearby towns that merge along the north Kent coast for a fantastic lunch.