The average temperature has been so mild this Autumn. There are yellow Welsh poppies and primroses flowering in the garden and the magnolia stellata’s buds are very fat already. I hope they won’t be frosted. It would be sad to lose those delicate white flowers in the Spring. My neighbour gave me a pot of purple pansies last April. I finally put them in the garden, hoping they might flourish a little longer and to my surprise, there is now a whole carpet of them under the rose tree, far more than in the original pot and in full bloom. Somehow, it’s a little disquieting when the plants get confused about the seasons … climate change is definitely on the march.

Spider's web - herald of AutumnSpider’s web – herald of Autumn

Confusing times ...Confusing times …

Windfalls ...Windfalls …

I’ve been buying a wealth of Kentish grown apples from the Farmers’ Market. Braeburn and Cameo are my favourite at the moment. Jonagold are good too. Ringden Farm, where they come from, also have wonderful pears. My favourite are Comice. I was watching a programme recently where Michel Roux was promoting the English pear. To tell if they are ripe, don’t go by the colour – just press them lightly at the top and if they are a little soft they are ripe – I never knew that! Sliced pear with walnuts and some mild blue cheese, white Stilton or even a Cheshire with hints of honey and lemon or a fresh Wensleydale is just such a treat. We are lucky to be able to buy this excellent fruit along with apple juice every Saturday. I like the mix of Cox and Bramley but having a sweet tooth means that I adore the Russet. And there are many more juices to choose from.

A Comice pear no more.  It was delicious ...A Comice pear no more. It was delicious …

The other delights in Autumn are fresh hazel nuts, known as cob nuts when you buy them in their shells just off the tree. And that made me think of the best English poem to describe an English Autumn time, written by John Keats … the first verse …

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run:
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Rooks gathering at sunset - 6 November 2011, TangleyRooks gathering at sunset – 6 November 2011, Tangley

We went to see some friends in the countryside for Sunday lunch. Eleo gave me some windfall apples from ancient trees. We don’t know the name of them but they taste so fresh and crunchy and sweet. They also cook well, turning into an apple snow. I add honey and right at the end, pour in a little Calvados, brought back earlier in the year from Normandy. We eat it with crême fraîche. Eleo baked hers on top which caramelised them a little. Who needs a Michelin star with that on offer?!

A bowl full of apples ...A bowl full of apples …

Except for the fact that it isn’t full because I ate the rest!

Complementary pink and green ...Complementary pink and green …

Below is one of my favourite of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It is rather melancholy but although it conjures up the dying side of Autumn and life in general, Spring may just bring a new dawn and that’s what we need in Europe right now! So read it but be optimistic!

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivs’t, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

We had cider with our supper last night. The rich golden colour matches well with ‘mellow fruitfulness’. Today is a first for scarf and gloves alongside a coat. John had a brainwave on the bus. I expect it is to do with the cold stimulating his brain cells!

Getting ready for Autumn ...Getting ready for Autumn …

This is just a small entry as I am ensconced in writing up our trip along the Lycian coast of Turkey, which is a travelogue unto itself. I just wanted to hail the arrival of cooler weather!

Fallen leaves at The Aldwych, flattened by the traffic ...Fallen leaves at The Aldwych, flattened by the traffic …


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