Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

All week I’ve been thinking I must get the spare keys back from Ben, the chimney man. He’s had them since September, when he was supposed to come and finally sort out the leaking chimney. Since then the weather hasn’t been kind and jobs have been delayed, and I had all but given up. So I was delighted to find scaffolding finally up when I got here in the pitch dark last night.

I’m hoping that the work he’s going to do will cure the damp and leaking chimney. If it doesn’t, I’m going to stop throwing good money after bad and give up.

Today ended on a good note, full of slanty rays of sunshine and bright autumn colours, despite several rain showers. So I was able to do some hacking at the garden, during which I discovered that I’ve got my very own spindle tree. I wrote about these a year ago, when I saw them in a neighbour’s field, having never noticed them before. So much depends on looking at the right time.

I ended up doing a more than a bit of hedging and then came in to rest my sore elbow, and have some tea and chestnuts roasted over the fire. This morning, while I was buying some bits and pieces for grooming horses (more about that another time), I came across a roasting pan in the department that suddenly springs up at this time of year full of fireside accoutrements, so this totally unnecessary item just fell into my shopping basket. Apparently, you’re not supposed to put it in the flames, stupid thing.

Chestnuts remind me of when I was a student in Vienna years ago, when I used to buy a paper coneful and eat them on my walk home from the university. They warmed my hands and filled my lonely student stomach so comfortingly.

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While I was shovelling earth three inches deep off my little driveway today, a woman rode by with some children on horseback and said, “I bet you wish you’d never started that.” She was right. I’d only gone out to rake up some leaves, and had ended up totally distracted into shifting five or six wheelbarrows of earth brought down the hill by the rain over the summer. It was slowly starting to encroach on the tiny bit of hardstanding by the garage and build up into a new verge, so for some reason, the rake gave way to a shovel for a couple of hours. And then I still had to rake up the leaves.

With strong gusts winds of the last couple of days and a sudden drop in temperature, whole treefuls of leaves had descended on the garden since Thursday when it was last cleared, making it look a soggy mess.

You could hardly make out the difference between the flowerbeds and the grass.

They were in the pond.

On the patio.

And in the porch. The American way of calling this time of year ‘the fall’ is very appropriate.

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It is late afternoon. As I look across the valley – or combe, as they’re called here – I can already see curls of smoke rising from chimneys here and there as the light dims. Larger plumes give away where farmers and gardeners are having bonfires. The smoke mingles with the damp leaf mould smells all around, as I stand and look through the woods. It says: this is my favourite time of year.

tree with bare branches

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I must confess that I am in a somewhat fallow period, in terms of blogging about Spring Cottage. Now into my second year of it, I’m wondering if there’s anything left to say or photograph. Of course, I know there will be but for now, here are some pictures from this time last year, when we also had a period of warm, sunny weather. An Indian summer seems to be the seasonal way of things these days.

Someone told me today that it’s 12 weeks until Christmas. I can scarcely believe it.

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Coming home this evening, it is warmer outside than in the house. The atmosphere is heavy and misty, the hills wreathed in low cloud and drizzle. I’m glad I didn’t take the trouble to straighten my hair.

The house feels like it is trying to revert to the earth from which it was built and the stones of chimney breast look damp as if it is asking me to light a fire. I put the heating on to take the chill from the rooms.

I catch three daddy long legs and throw them back outside  – they don’t complain. A flyer for a lost cat has joined the pile of post. The wheat in the field at the back has been harvested, but the blackberries is the hedgerow look as though they will never ripen.

I will see more in the morning. In the light.

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There are leaves to sweep up wherever I am but, much as it is a chore, I do love this time of year, even with its damp and bone-chilling winds. I love the smell of the leaves, the leaden skies, the warm house to come home to with flaming nose and icy ears. I don’t so much love my numb thumbs after half an hour’s cycling or the umbrella that tips inside out when I least expect the wind to catch it.

These few weeks are precious to me, laden with expectation of Christmas, of visiting people long not seen, of sharing hospitality with friends. In truth, Christmas has often been lonely, with my children away and me playing lame duck at generous friends’ tables. But I cannot shake my love of this time of year. And this year is particularly poignant, as the Boy has announced his intention to move out in the new year. Not unexpected or in any way unusual at his age, it makes these few weeks, and the festive period that follows, possibly the last where I will have both my offspring resident at home.

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But the reality is that I also spend time lagging the loft…

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As autumn arrives, bulb catalogues plop onto the doormat. Frustrated at how impossible it is to source my favourite Swedish geranium, Pelargonium Mårbacka , in the UK, I found what I hope will be a suitable substitute from the rather wonderful Vernon Geranium Nursery.

Looks like Pelargonium MarbackaHowever, I wasn’t very well prepared for the arrival of the plant plugs, during an unusually busy week at work. So when the sprogs, and their companions that just happened to find their way into my online shopping basket – six lavandula blue star plugs – arrived, I had no wherewithall to plant them up. London cellar, which usually abounds with empty plastic plant pots, has suffered a recent decluttering, due to an infestation of Girl’s cast-off A-level and GCSE notes, and winter shoes.

sad baby plantsResult (taken by the fun free Pudding Camera app on my iPhone in vignette fantasy mode): rather floppy-looking baby geraniums, which look unlikely to survive and need rewatering every five minutes. And I can’t even get this sorted out at the weekend, as said daughter needs transporting back to university – an almost 500-mile round trip unlikely to involve a garden centre.

It pains me to see them looking pale and wan on the kitchen windowsill, but I hope that somehow they will survive to see spring at the cottage after all.

Postscript: I can’t make up my mind if I like the blurred image or if it makes me feel like I have an eye infection.

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