Bewitched by Autumn
September 29, 2018
No other season uplifts my heart quite like autumn. The moment I feel the crisp air chill my cheeks and breathe in the pungent smell of woodsmoke from the neighbouring chimneys, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood. Kicking up golden leaves, bonfires, sparklers, toasted marshmallows, woolly jumpers and fleecy pyjamas.
There’s something invigorating, comforting and spellbinding about this time of year that enlivens the senses and nourishes the soul in preparation for the long dark days of winter. It’s a time of plenty, festivity, reflection and the one time of the year I feel as though I’m connected to the earth instead of drifting through it.
Yes, I confess. I’ve fallen under autumn’s bewitching spell – and here’s why.
I live in a quiet village in the Scottish Borders, surrounded by heather-clad hills, meandering rivers and timeless forests. It’s a picturesque setting at any time of the year, but there’s something about the earthy hues of autumn when the landscape is wrapped in gilded light and the fields and trees look as though they’ve been painted by the hand of Gustav Klimt that makes this special season all the more glorious.
I’ve loved trees ever since I was little. Climbing them, building dens in them, looking up through tangled branches at the broken patches of sky and following the filtered shafts of faerie light to nowhere and back again. Walking under the russet, copper and golden crowns of the changing canopy, crunching fallen leaves under my feet while keeping any eye out for a big fat conker to take home, is a something I’ll cherish until the day I die.
The changing season also brings a plethora of nostalgic smells that instantly remind me of the special places and people in my life, past and present. Outside the air is filled with a heady mix of aromas; damp and earthy from the turned over soil and dying leaves, fragrant from the shedding pine needles, and rich and sweet from overripe fruit. Indoors, inviting smells of orange and cinnamon scented candles, home-baked bread, roast chicken and maybe even a warm mug of cider or two, are guaranteed to brighten my spirits on days I’d rather stay hidden under the duvet.
I’m not what you would call a girlie girl, so flimsy tops and summer skirts wouldn’t be my first choice of clothing. Jeans, a geeky t-shirt and hoodie are more my kind of thing, although I’m happy to make an exception for a hippy skirt that floats around the ankles. Which is why when autumn arrives it’s a relief to pack away the summer clobber for another year and not have to worry about baring my wobbly bits to the world for a while. Plus, it also means I get to swap the shades for my favourite black cap. Yay!
Weirdly, I feel more naked without it. I’d like to think that’s because I’m an old soul and have worn all kinds of dapper hats in my time. Who knows, but if I have been here before I hope one of my past selves owned a tricorne hat, similar to the one Ross Poldark wears on his dark brooding head. I could totally see myself in that, as long as I had a cloak to go with it.
Hats aside, I can’t wait to slip on a pair of well-loved leather boots and — okay, maybe not so swag — dig out a favourite cardi from the back of the wardrobe. Or better still, pop on my PJs and curl up on the sofa with my Kindle to while away a long autumn evening. The soft snuggly fabrics and sumptuous jewel colours that hit the shops at this time of the year are my absolute favourite, purple especially, which fills for over half of my A/W wardrobe in various gorgeous berry shades.
Autumn clothes don’t judge, they hug!
Time to ditch the salads and barbecues and indulge in some hearty fare. What comes to mind when I think of autumn food is the kind my granny used to make: Scotch Broth thick enough to stand a spoon in, porridge drizzled with golden syrup, homemade jam and chutney, sausage stovies, shepherd’s pie, rhubarb crumble with a big dollop of custard, Clootie Dumpling, and not forgetting a steaming mug of hot chocolate, piled high with marshmallows.
Sadly, my grandparents are no longer with us, but cooking the recipes I remember them making for me is my way of keeping their memory alive, as well as making new ones for my own kids to cherish.
Hygge yourself Happy
I’ll let you into a little secret. I’m a tad obsessed with cushions – well any soft furnishing really – so it should come as no surprise to learn that I’ve fully embraced the Danish concept of cosy living. Scoff if you will, but give it ten, twenty years and some of you reading this will be drooling over designer fabrics with the same spine-tingling thrill as a pair of Jimmy Choo’s – if, that is, shoes are your thing. Needless to say, when the time comes to give my knitted cushions and faux-fur throws their six month airing on the sofa, I’m as happy as a pig rolling around on a sheepskin rug. Seriously though, who wouldn’t want to cocoon themselves as snug as bug under a fluffy blanket while the rain lashes against the window outside.
Hubster doesn’t get it, but then I don’t get his compulsion to automate every light in our house. Fortunately, we’ve been married long enough to turn a blind eye to each other’s freaky little quirks. Most of the time.
Of course, I don’t just stop at cushions. Out come the scented candles, pine cones and diffusers, faux berry sprigs and pussy willow. The only thing missing from this cosy haven is a real fire. I’ve fond memories of toasting my tootsies in front of my grandparents coal fire, listening to the logs crackle and pop as I happily munched on a piece of thickly buttered toast. You can’t beat a real fire. Shame my own house doesn’t have a chimney or anywhere suitable to put a wood-burning stove. Ah well, maybe one day.
I think Peter Pan must have sprinkled more than fairy dust on me when he flew in my window all those years ago, because I’m still the same big kid I once was, trapped in a 40-something body. And I still LURV dressing up. All Hallows’ Eve is therefore the perfect time to unleash Hela on the zombie hordes. Of course, when the smell of sweet jelly brains and finger lickin’ skulls lure the brainless idiots to my deceptive-looking door they won’t be expecting the goddess of death and ruler of Niflheim to be waiting with a freshly sharpened Nightsword behind it. Depending on whether I’m in a generous mood, I might even let them play some Halloween games this year, starting with dooking for their own heads.
Sadly, my teen sons would probably disown me if I let out my inner She-Devil these days. Not that I would dream of doing something so mortifyingly evil.
Although they do seem to have forgotten pretty quickly how much fun they once had terrorising the neighbours in the gory creations I’d spent hours labouring over. Just as well I still have the pics to jog their selective memories. Think yourselves fortunate it’s this one I’ve posted boys.
They’ve obviously sloped off in a teenage sulk somewhere. Never mind, I’m sure the trail of marshmallows I’ve liberally sprinkled will entice them back in time for Guy Fawkes. I can’t think of a better way to bring the family together than huddling around a roaring bonfire, scoffing hotdogs and gooey marshmallows in between oohing and ahhing at the Rockets and Roman Candles exploding overhead in an ear-popping kaleidoscope of colour. Then, to finish off the evening’s festivities, making ghostly trails in the pitch black with your sparkler. I might be *cough* forty seven, but I still love twirling a sparkler as much as I did when I was seven.
I’ve been a lifelong Whovian since the flamboyantly eccentric Tom Baker first materialised onto UK TV screens back in early 70s, dressed in an impossibly long rainbow scarf and a roguish grin.
Jelly baby anyone?
It would therefore be an understatement to say I wasn’t the teensiest bit excited that the long awaited new season of Doctor Who will be returning to the BBC on the 7th of October. And for the first time in the programme’s long and much-loved history, The Doctor will be played by – dun dun duuuun – a woman!
The new Doctor will have to pull out all the stops to fill Peter Capaldi’s immensely talented Dr. Martens boots, but I think the show’s directors have made an excellent choice in casting Jodie Whittaker for the role. She might not be Scottish or have the twelfth Doctor’s off-the-cuff wit, but she’s a fantastic actress and a Yorkshire lass no less, which gets a big thumbs up from me. If the trailer for the first episode, The Woman Who Fell to Earth is anything to go by, I’d say she’s off to a flying start.
And if that wasn’t enough to give me a warm fuzzy glow, Strictly’s back to add even more joy and sparkle to my Saturday nights right up until Christmas. Which reminds me, I need to get in some Pasodoble practice before next week’s show. But before I sashay off in search of a willing dance partner, I think I should take a moment to doff my cap, give a grateful bow and offer my sincerest good wishes to Autumn.
The Queen of all seasons.