Autumnal Ambles

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I love autumn. It’s my absolute favourite season. Nothing beats kicking piles of golden, crunchy leaves, watching the sky fade from watery blue into pearlescent pinkness as the afternoon light ebbs away, the smell of woodsmoke and leaf mulch, and the softening of the landscape into the burnished bronzes and browns that make the world seem as it if is slipping into a haze of sepia. When not frolicking amidst the glories of a nature raging brilliantly against the dying of the light, the natural tendency to hibernate as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter suits the introvert in me very nicely as I hunker down indoors with plenty of tea and books, pies and crumbles, duvets and Netflix. It is a time for winding down, for relaxing, for the pursuit of comfort.

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I always ache to get to the countryside in autumn, for London, wonderful as it is, cannot quite provide the sights and smells of nature I crave at this time of year. I love the tunnels of golden leaves made by the overhanging trees in the lanes around my sister’s house, and foraging in the woods for conkers and acorns with my nephews. I love seeing the piles of leaves burning gently in the newly shorn fields, sending up great puffs of delicious smelling smoke into the air. I love kicking my way through enormous drifts of crisp leaves, and wandering across fields full of hay bales, admiring the subtle shifts in colour palette of the surrounding trees, smouldering away at the edges of the horizon. I was invited to spend a weekend with a friend who’s moved to the countryside in Hertfordshire a few weeks ago; we had a marvellous time walking all around the fields and lanes, taking in the beautiful range of brightly coloured maple trees and accidentally wandering onto the grounds of an amazing Elizabethan house, whose mellow red bricks seemed perfectly suited to the autumnal surroundings. Last week I was in the Lake District, which was fittingly damp and misty, its beautiful red and gold hills reflected smudgily in the flat grey surface of the lakes. I could hardly bear to tear myself away from the landscape, which so takes me out of myself and fills me with a sense of peace and awe.

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Back in London, the air is smokier, the sky greyer, the pavements littered with leaves. At the edges of the roads and in the parks, the trees are yellow, amber, bronze, softening the surrounding buildings with their golden glow. At night, the sky is always lit up with some form of fireworks display; we love celebrating Guy Fawkes’ Night so much that one night just isn’t enough! Though I know some hate the fact that they leave work in the dark now the clocks have gone back, I love it – the comforting glow of neon and the brightly lit-up shop windows take on a festive air, and walking around London on a crisp, dark evening makes me feel wonderfully Dickensian. In the evenings of late I’ve taken to curling up in my armchair with a very nice new anthology of ghost stories, published by Vintage, which has plenty of Victorian favourites inside – there’s nothing like a spooky story to make me feel ready for the onset of winter.

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6 comments

  1. This is the sort if article I like a lot on your site: about England and/ or London, with your own photos, in your very own voice. I really enjoy those, and they always make me want to go.
    But, of course, I love your writing about literature equally. Cannot say what is more important to me.
    And I am always sort of proud if you appear in the Persephone Biannually – as if I really knew you and wanted to tell everybody: “Look, that’s her, I know her!” Congratulations, by the way, that you are so frequently featured there.

  2. Hello Rachael…..What a beautifully written post. I have already read it twice. How are you coming on your novel? I enjoyed very much the “little bit” you sent out several months ago.
    Margo Boylan
    Old Forge, New York

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