The clocks have gone back. It always takes Bertie and Bindi, our little pugs, a week or two to get to grips with the loss of the hour – they start agitating for their supper earlier in the late afternoons and Bertie wakes up earlier, looking forward to his walk and his breakfast. Bindi has always liked a lie-in so she’s happy to stay snug in her bed for as long as she’s allowed.
The autumn colours are wonderful this year. We haven’t had the storms that have lashed other parts of the country so the leaves have stayed on the trees for a bit longer. Last week’s frosts caused our old ash tree to drop her leaves in one day, we could hear them popping off in the cold air. Arnold, who helps in the garden, can’t resist turning up whenever lots of leaves have fallen, he loves his leafblower. We call him Captain Horatio Leafblower…
The little maple tree which shelters beneath the ash tree and her neighbouring beech trees is always a picture in her autumn finery. I took this picture just before yesterday’s wind came along and stripped her naked.
Autumn is probably my favourite season. It doesn’t have to be perfect, unlike Spring and Summer when one is always hoping for sustained good weather, I don’t really mind what Autumn throws at us. Darker days, brooding skies, great storms or bright, clear frosty days, it all seems to fit the bill.
Richard puts wild bird food out on the deck outside our sitting room window and it’s a treat to watch the little chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, robins and our favourites, the tiny wrens, zipping back and forth like Spitfires. Some are bolder than others. The wren likes to bustle about in the edges of the roof or in the stone walls, ferreting insects out of the cobwebs and corners. Wrens are such tiny things but with a surprisingly loud call and I gather are the most populous birds in the UK. You can’t imagine there are more wrens than crows, pigeons or seagulls but that’s what we are told.
In the kitchen, there is much preserve making going on. I’m busy with the Festive Fig and Plum Chutney which is a ‘Limited Edition’ for this time of year and popular at the fairs and markets I attend in the build-up to Christmas. I’m off to the Cumbria Life Christmas Market on 16 and 17 November at the Rheged Centre, just outside Penrith. It’s a lovely couple of days, the stall holders are so friendly, there’s a great atmosphere with much food and drink to try, all manner of Christmas gift ideas and demonstrations ranging from Christmas wreath making to cocktail demonstrations, courtesy of Laura Tuer of Greenwheat Flowers and the very amusing Helen Askew of the Tipsy Filly.
Other fairs and markets I’m taking a stall at:
Hunter Hall School Christmas Fayre, that one’s on 30th November, again just outside Penrith. Interesting local stallholders with all manner of gifts. There’s mulled wine, mince pies and the pupils sing carols (very beautifully).
On the following two days, 30th November and 1st December I’m off to the Windermere Jetty Boat Museum, they are hosting a Christmas Shopping Weekend.
Sunday 8th December it’s Askham Hall Christmas Fair, that one’s really good – always packed.
The last Christmas market I’m attending is the very jolly Sedbergh Christmas Market on 14th December. That one is outside on the Main Street of Sedbergh, but if the weather is going to be bad, we decamp to inside St Andrew’s Church.
It’s a busy season, but, as I say, probably my favourite. There is always dark and gloomy January and February when we can batten down the hatches and watch for the first signs of Spring.