Isn’t autumn the best? I mean, today is dark, rainy and freezing – it’s a chilly 8°C right now, when this time last week it was almost 30°C – but who doesn’t love an opportunity to wrap themselves up in an oversized cardigan and legitimately wear Ugg boots?*
|Wood delivery, mid-September 2018.|
It’s the little annual routines that make autumn my favourite season. Packing away flimsy summer dresses and saying hello to my trusty old-man jumpers. Transitioning from white wine to red wine. Getting the wood delivered (wood for next winter, that is – this year’s is already chopped and stacked). Lighting the fire for the first time. Moving the tender succulents that have been enjoying life in the summer kitchen back into the real kitchen. Wearing hats. Cooking curries, stews and hot soups after months of salads and gazpacho. And baking. All the baking…
(Christ, but the new Bake Off is brilliant. I love Noel’s whimsy and Prue’s determination to dress more garishly every week. I want to be her when I grow up. This season, we’re trying to make something inspired by Bake Off every weekend or so. We did Chelsea buns a few weeks ago, and last weekend we made a dark, sticky ginger cake chocked with nubbles of stem ginger. Our neighbours were fascinated by it. ‘Why is this cake so BROWN?’ they kept asking, while prodding it. ‘It’s very BROWN isn’t it?’ ‘But how do you get it so *prod, pause, prod* BROWN?’ It’s hard to explain the concept of treacle in Bulgarian but I gave it a good go.)
The only downside to autumn is the extensive list of jobs that need doing to get the garden ready for next spring and preserve whatever’s left to harvest. So as well as all the dividing and replanting that needs doing in the flower beds, we’ve also got to:
- Collect the quince and make quince jelly
- Collect the walnuts (really wish we’d done that before this morning’s rain)
- Make this year’s batch of wine
- Cook down and freeze the apples for apple crumbles and pies (no need to make cider this year as last year’s batch is still going strong)
- Clear away the cheapo polytunnel plastic (destroyed in a freak windy afternoon last week) and burn the blight-riddled tomato plants
- Dig up and store all the dahlias that were frosted last week (yes, we’ve had our first frost already, which is always a bit gutting when the flowers were still going strong)
- Bring in the last of the tender plants (cannas, lemon tree, lime tree, various pots on the terrace – our house is becoming more chaotic with plants every winter)
And all this while wrangling the two new kittens who have joined our household. Honestly, it’s hard to prioritise garden work when the fire is on, and there’s cake to eat, red wine to drink and kittens to play with.
|Introducing Merlin and Baxter. Not, in fact, a two-headed freak, but two individual kittens
who like to stack on top of each other. I love them more than cake.
*As my office is at the cold end of the house and we haven’t put the stove on today, I’m also currently wearing fingerless gloves and a large scarf. It’s a look that can best be described as ‘Boho Hobo’ or, à la Sam Rockwell in the movie Mr Right, ‘Fancy Homeless’.