Autumn . . . almost.

Miles walked: 176.25          Miles left to go: 323.25

Autumn is tiptoeing in quietly. There is a gentle leaf fall and the deciduous woodlands are brushed with subtle golds and yellows.

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Falling chestnuts are a hazard when out walking . . .

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. . .  and the fungi are putting on quite a show.

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The kitchen smells seasonal: stewing apples, toasting walnuts, pears poached in spices, leek and squash soup spiked with chilli . . . and yet, it doesn’t quite feel like the real thing. For a start, it is so mild: low twenties in the day, mid-teens at night. No wonder things are still growing. The grass is lush and green, the valley is still vibrant and the meadows are full of flowers.

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Plenty of colour, too, in the garden.

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I have never seen fruits on a Japanese quince quite like this; they are scenting the whole garden and a couple in the fruit bowl are perfuming the house, too.

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Still, it really is autumn and we have been busy with seasonal jobs this week. I have planted 50 ‘Senshyu Yellow’ onions (from sets) and 44 cloves of ‘Casablanca’ garlic in the vegetable patch.

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I’ve also cleared out the flower border along the lane again – nature had done its thing and filled a vacuum with weeds – and planted with a mix of climbers, perennials and spring bulbs for a splash of colour next year.

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Meanwhile, Roger has been on some logging expeditions in the wood; these poles will be cut and stacked to season for next year.

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The days are drawing in . It isn’t really light here until 8.30 am, something we found difficult when we lived in France: no early morning walks or runs! (That said, it’s light until 7.30 pm and our days are shortening more slowly and the daylight hours are longer than in the UK, so there are some benefits.) However, shorter days mean it’s time for me to indulge in some evening textile therapy and here is a happy sight: my spinning wheel finally back with me and my spinning and knitting baskets full of wool.

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The wool came from http://www.loveknitting.com/ who I think are excellent – I love the way everything is wrapped in gauze, not plastic, and new patterns can be downloaded as PDF files. For Ben and William, Drops 100% Extrafine Merino DK yarn which is totally luxurious and drips off the needles like silk. It is quite elastic and has excellent stitch definition so I’m glad I chose a cabled pattern. For Annie, a scrumptious Merino/Cotton mix which promises to be every bit as good. Mmm, I’m happy!

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On the spinning front, I’m planning to carry on with my exploration of British wool breeds. I want to create some hiking socks – thick, warm, soft and hard-wearing.

I’ve chosen to use Kent Romney fleece (from http://www.fibrehut.co.uk/ ) blended with kid mohair which will add strength, durability and an antibacterial action to the spun fibre: these socks are for hard-working feet! Purists will tell me I shouldn’t blend sock wool on carders as it will result in a lighter, less dense yarn than is required . . . but I think in personal creative projects there shouldn’t be too many rules and anyway, I doubt the spinning police will be knocking on my door any time soon. What’s the worst that can happen?

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So, my first job is carding/blending, then spinning three bobbins of fine, tightly-spun singles to ply into yarn and then (and here’s the exciting bit – well, for me, anyway), having a go at hand-dyeing for the first time. Mmm, I’m very happy!

By the way, despite my initial misgivings, that marled Jacobs yarn is knitting up into a decent pair of socks; the fabric is reasonably close-knit, it’s warm and – most importantly – very soft against the skin. Not a scratch, not an itch, not a tickle.

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They aren’t up to the hard graft of wellies or walking boots, but inside a pair of winter boots on easier missions they will be just perfect.

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When it finally gets cold enough to wear them, of course! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Autumn . . . almost.

  1. Will be interesting to see just how long you can keep growing things! Sounds incredibly mild. What do you do with the Japanese quince? I was given a ‘quince’, but it’s much smaller than the normal quince that I’m used to (we also have one of those) and after a while I realised it was a Japanese quince! It has lots of little fruit, but nothing that looks as ripe as yours.

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  2. I must admit, we used to struggle to grow the plant itself just for those gorgeous flowers, yet alone any fruit – I think it must be a climate thing. They are as big as a normal quince, we’re planning to make a small amount of quince and ginger jam which makes a delicious zingy alternative to marmalade, also maybe use some in a meat tagine. Next year (when I hope to have more time!) I might investigate making some membrillo, it doesn’t look too difficult to do.

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    • You can make lovely clear jelly from the fruit. Sliced and de-seeded you can use them in cooking instead of or in addition to lemons. And if you slice and dry them you can use them in flavoured teas.
      We didn’t get any harvest this year as the shrubs suffered from the snowless frosts – but as they didn’t die there is some hope for next year…

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  3. I didn’t know about drying them to make tea, I might have a go at that – I should imagine the tea would be very fragrant. I shall miss them when they are gone, the perfume in the garden is gorgeous. Good luck for next year, you are eternally optimistic as ever! 🙂

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