This is my absolute favourite time of year. I enjoy all of the seasons, but Autumn is so beautiful and so fleeting that I can’t help but embrace it with more enthusiasm than the rest. I wait with breathless anticipation for the trees outside my bedroom window to start to turn golden brown. I watch with glee as the pavements begin to develop a coating of russet leaves, that, like a child, I still can’t resist crunching through as I walk. I get a quiver of excitement as I smell the first whiff of woodsmoke on the air. I love that the sky drains of light before I’ve barely got home from work, and I can curl up by the fire in my cosy lounge, enjoying the anticipation of a long, leisurely evening ahead. This is the time of year for rest and recuperation. For getting around to those doorstopper books I’ve been saving. For sewing and knitting. For baking and cooking. For red wine and fruit crumble and roast beef. For Sunday afternoon walks in the park. For period dramas. Autumn is where it’s at.
I went for a lovely walk around Knole Park last weekend. The trees were just starting to flame at their tips, the grass was carpeted with crisp leaves of varying shades of brown and the watery sunshine was barely able to keep the nip out of the air. As the leaves rustled in the wind and the sky lowered, there was no mistaking that the season had changed. Inside the house, where intense renovation is going on to make the roof watertight, it was dark and cosy. I love the slightly musty smell of the centuries old, wood panelled rooms, lit by mullioned windows, whose stained glass casts colourful beams of light across the floors. As The National Trust puts it, the house is currently in ‘flux’, with many of the rooms in some level of disarray due to conservation work. As a frequent visitor, I am fortunate to see the subtle changes from season to season. At the moment, many wall hangings have been removed, which reveal the cheap wooden planks that line most of the walls. Ornamental carvings have been stuck on around the tapestry lines, which makes the rooms look half naked!
Returning home, ruddy cheeked, it was time for a slab of plum and almond cake and some reading. At the moment, I’m shadowing the Booker Prize shortlist with a student reading group at school. As you all well know, I am not the biggest enthusiast for modern fiction, but I am appreciating the challenge of being forced to read outside of my comfort zone. Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland is a lovely autumnal choice; a family saga set between India and Rhode Island in the 1960s, it’s a rich and absorbing tale that I would never normally have picked up, but am enjoying immensely nonetheless. Waiting for me on my bedside table as a reward are the two new Persephone titles for the Autumn; what a treat!