Wednesday, 1 October 2014

All Change!

Here we are at the beginning of October and somehow it feels as if the summer has relinquished her hold and has slipped quietly away, leaving the autumn to take centre stage.  I suspect we still have some lovely warm sunshine to enjoy now and then, but each day will be precious and must be thought of as the last, in order to take full advantage.  No more squandering!  Summer has been wonderful and we have loved every second of it.  The children had a last dip in the sea in late September; incredible really considering they were splashing about in the Irish Sea and not the Pacific!   Autumn is making herself known to us by gently tugging leaves from the trees, whipping up a stiff breeze and cloaking the garden and countryside in a heavy dew fall each morning.  She also insists that we bake and eat in a different way and the cotton dresses so beloved by sun worshippers are making their way to the back of the wardrobe for another year.  It's Autumn; bring it on!

I love the change of the seasons; I love Autumn and her magic and softness.  I love the mists that creep in from the sea with stealthy fingers and a chilly kiss.  I love the smell of decaying vegetation in the hedgerows and the feeling of sleep descending over everything.  What I absolutely loathe and cannot bear are the dark mornings and the damp that creeps into my bones and makes me feel one hundred years old.  Hate it with a passion.  It is only just getting light when we are rudely awoken by the incessant buzzing of my alarm each morning and I drag myself out of bed and shuffle to turn the hall lamp on.  It takes me until mid morning to feel awake.  I am a dormouse and should be asleep in my cosy nest at this time of year.  Wake me in March and I will be fine.

Even though summer has all but gone, there are still plenty of signs that she was here.  The garden is still producing flowers, courgettes, the odd tiny alpine strawberry and sweetcorn.  Autumn is softly laying a blanket of leaves at our feet but I still cling to the hem of Summer's dress as she fades into the mists.  The sweetcorn isn't yet fully ripe, so I am really hoping for more sun and warmth to finish the job, then we can tuck into them, dripping with salted Welsh butter.  As the children walked down the track to the waiting taxi this morning, I heard a chattering above my head.  I looked up and saw a swirl of swallows catching the last of the lazy insects floating on the breeze.  They are still with us but it is only a matter of days now before the skies will be empty of their aerial  acrobatics for another year.  It is hard to believe those tiny birds will see things I will never see, experience danger, fear, hunger and exhaustion.  Be close to death and yet survive and will return here to their place of birth next Spring to start the whole circle off again.  Can't help but admire them.

I made my You-know-what cake last week.  It turned out really well and is solid and heavy.  I began feeding it this week with a few teaspoons of brandy and will continue once a fortnight until November and then up the dose to once a week.  I took the lid off the tin this morning to have a look and the smell of rich fruit and brandy doing their thing drifted up from between the layers of brown paper.  It smells like Christmas.

I met The Bear again and he told me he had made a load of Christmas puddings.  Suitably impressed, I told him about my cake.  He asked if I'd made it with butter.  Well of course I did, I wouldn't make it with coal, would I.  What a daft question, thought I.  It was only later on when I opened my fridge and saw the huge tub of Stork margarine that I realised what he had been asking.  Stork is not butter; he meant butter.  He had also told me that marg in a Crimble cake was a Bad Thing to do.  Oops.  Anyway, we argued the virtues for each case and he said I should take him a bit of cake so he could try it.  Not gonna happen.  I am not having some wannabe Paul Hollywood prodding my cake and saying 'It's raw.' in that condescending manner he adopts so well.  The Bear told me he wouldn't do that and he didn't really like PH anyway.  Still not gonna happen.  Despite his spade-like hands, he told me he loves making pastry.  I was really surprised at that.  You can never tell with people.  I love discovering something unexpected as it reminds me that despite my now great age (45), I still have so much to learn and find out.  I will never know it all and that's just how it should be.  Having been surprised at this revelation, we talked for a while about pastry, egg custard tarts and Bakewell tarts.  Then, feeling a bit hungry after all this food talk, I went and bought a Bakewell tart.  What a sin!

As life becomes ever more 'indoors' rather than 'outdoors', we are finding ways to fill the hours.  It was easy in the Summer as we just sat in the garden and read.  I know it's possible to read indoors and I do, but I like to be active too.  It helps me sleep.  Pea and I have been going to line dancing classes for almost four months now and the tempo is shifting up a notch.  We are able to have a go at nearly all the dances, which means an awful lot of concentration for me.  Pea can grasp the steps quickly but I need a bit more time to focus.  This week my level of focus had dropped below the scale.  Somehow I just couldn't find the energy in my head to let all this in.  I still managed to dance a lot, but I sat out more than I normally do.  It was an odd feeling and I didn't like it one bit.  I am a bit of a perfectionist when I'm learning something new and I like to get it right fairly quickly.  It doesn't help this state of mind when the only people I can see in front of me are all proficient dancers.  I can only measure my ability, or lack of it, against theirs.  Not a good idea.  I had even forgotten how to do familiar dances, which was quite depressing!  I must find time to practise at home as it really does help.  Hopefully this week was just a minor blip in the proceedings and I will be back on form next week.

After all, Strictly has started again and if they can do all that, I can manage a few coasters and montereys!

Have a lovely day and enjoy the magic of

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