23 Reasons why the End of the Summer is Cool!
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere – and depending on how north your particular north is for you – the end of August can sneak up on you out of nowhere. Lazy beachy days, Pimms and the monotony of cricket, gelato and sunglasses, bikinis and the annual overdose of chick-lit suddenly seem like a whole lifetime away. The moment the calendar turns to September you appear to spend your evenings debating the age-old dilemma of caving in to the comfort of central heating… or wearing five jumpers, three pairs of socks and 2 pairs of finger-less gloves… and the mere mention of a salad has you shivering as if you’ve been asked you to de-ice the car.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
There’s an autumnal avalanche, a bountifall number of reasons to celebrate the colder season ahead. So without further ado I present to you (in no particular order) my Awesome Autumn, Fabulous Fall extravaganza of happiness:
1: Countdown to Halloween can officially begin!
Oh yes. You know you’ve secretly been waiting for it all year long… well now you have the perfect excuse to spend your waking – and non-waking – hours on Pinterest executing your party planning boards, your kids’ costume boards, your spooky cupcake boards and your inspiration for the ‘grown up’ witches’ brew board. Especially the latter.
2: Luxury hot chocolate.
Which of course becomes essential to ward off colds and flus! Yippee. We now have carte blanche to indulge in this. It’s been so long! Plus a little of my Number 10 below, a lot of my Number 15… and the quintessential hot water bottle with the furry cover.
3: Pinterest… again.
Well hello. Christmas IS just around the corner. We have pretzel wreaths to make, twisty pine cone garlands to adorn the banisters of the stairs, handmade gift tags, Gingerbread Buche de Noel, paper doily Christmas trees, Mince Pie Pops (move over Cake Pops, you’re so last year), gift topper reindeer on clothes pegs. And of course… the piece de resistance; the obligatory mulled wine with a festive kick.
4: A riot of colours.
It’s not just New England that looks gorgeous in the Fall. Open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you where you live. Leaves take on every imaginable hue from Candy Apple to Marigold Petal and Maple Leaf Red to Tangerine Orange. Nature is arguably at its most wonderful. A walk in the park becomes a crunch fest of jumping on the crispiest carpet of flora for kids and adults alike, and those fresh dewy mornings reveal the intricacy of spider webs, sparkles on the lawn and that intoxicating smell of earthiness that try as it might, no other season can quite emulate.
5: It’s no longer too hot to eat soup.
Hooray! No more throwing out the squishy veggies lurking at the back of the fridge. We can revive and whiz them up instead into a hearty, healthy bowlful of kisses. Paired of course with a fresh batch of soda bread, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a good glug of olive oil. Just writing this is making me hungry…
6: The joggers can come back out.
No. Not jogging bottoms for running… unless you are of those strange people who people like myself have spent their lives attempting to fathom out – why would anyone pound the pavements in the sleet, snow and rain when they could trampoline jump (try it, it’s great!), treat themselves to the warmth of the gym… plus a drink at the bar afterwards, or chill out and be kinder to their joints a la yoga? The kind of joggers I am talking about (and this goes for sweat pants or any other tracksuit-type attire) are for one thing only: Sofa plus book. Sofa plus luxury hot chocolate. Sofa plus remote control. And Relax.
7: School bells!
Some of us parents out there feel the tug at the heart strings as we send our little munchkins back to academia. The rest of us however are breaking out in a mass conga outside the school gates after handing the relay baton of responsibility over to the teachers. For now we have freedom, coffee mornings, and okay, many of us that thing called work… still, it’s all so much easier when we’re not having to worry if the childminder will turn up today.
8: New Term.
That’s how Autumn and Fall feel to me. Like a fresh start. It’s that going back to school with blank pages in your exercise books feeling. Anything is possible. The blackboard is clean and the chalk is in your hand to write a new story. New Year’s Resolutions? Forget them. The best time ever to turn over a new leaf is Autumn. I mean the old leaves don’t fall from the trees for nothing… So no better moment than now to take up that new hobby, make a start on penning the novel lying dormant inside you that you’ve been harping on about for years, decorating the bedroom, changing your decade old make-up or learning to throw the javelin.
Whether this is a tradition in our own country or not, the very act of gratitude makes for a richer, more fulfilling life. We have so much to learn from the Americans and this very special date in their diaries.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
William A Ward.
10: Shopaholics have an excuse to hit the malls!
Because of course Christmas is just around the corner. So it makes sense to start buying gifts as and when we see them… as long as we remember where we’ve hidden them for ‘safe keeping.’ Then of course there are all of those upcoming Christmas parties, balls and ‘dos’. And if we find something completely un-Christmassy ‘on offer’ for ourselves in the process, well, we just have to snap it up while the opportunity is there, don’t we?
11: More rainy days = more crafty days.
Which doesn’t suit all of us… But for you lucky peeps who have the skills, oh, the things to be made with dead leaves, conkers, chestnuts and pumpkins. Apparently they can be transformed into portraits of people with hair, chestnut worms… or even chestnut spiders complete with pipe cleaner legs and Halloween decs!
12: Conker fights.
These may be restricted in some British schools. But not in my backyard. That is all.
There’s something so essentially seasonal about a bracing cold cloudless Autumn evening sky, twinkling stars and a cacophony of colour shooting up to space from rockets, bangers and Catherine wheels. And a sparkler just wouldn’t be a sparkler in the summer. November 5th in the UK, and all its historically political importance, is as good a reason as any to gather together your family and friends. Eat, drink and be merry. Just obviously make sure the person in charge of your display is staying sensibly tee-total…
14: Did I mention Pinterest?
15: Log fires and marshmallows
Fall is all about the simple pleasures. It’s the campfires and snuggling down to a spooky story whilst pulling sticky warm candy from your toasting stick. In fact anything goes as long as you have the right camping cooking equipment. Mix it up with Banana Boats (slash a banana skin length ways and top with chocolate drops), Campfire Pizza, Hot Toddies and Popcorn Satchels as featured in this fab article by Buzzfeed. It’s soon going to be too icy to leave the house so make the most of the milder temperatures while you still can!
Teeming with vitamins, there is one subject I do agree with Jamie Oliver on… and that is squash. Of the vegetable variety. We need to eat more of it. We need to get bold and experiment with it. And this IS the time of the year to do it as, well, it’s in season and tasting its very best. Not so keen on your vegetables? Fussy eating children? Then try this delicious Butternut Squash and Honey Muffin recipe from Momtastic. You will be converted!
17: Great value trips to the sunshine
Who says travel with toddlers has to be tricky? For a fraction of the summer prices you can be decorating the beach in the Dominican Republic or splish-splashing in Santorini. The dive bombing, snogging teens are all back to college, the 5 plus brigade and their belly flops are back to school. Plenty of room to swim uninterrupted. Prices no longer bring tears to the eyes. And less queuing at the theme parks.
18: Grrr. Football.
Well, I had to include it. I had kind of noticed it was the highlight of some of your weekends… PS. Have you even tried points 1-17?
19: Slightly smaller grrr. Rugby.
Only because it’s a little more upmarket and there are less tattoos on view.
20: Woodland walks.
There are so many stunning places to discover out there. Places near to you. Places you keep saying you’ll get round to visiting one day. Well, do it now while the colours are this vivid and before winter’s icy blanket envelopes it all. Drive off to the forest for a family walk after Sunday lunch. Give that impressive National Trust estate down the road a try. You might discover a new passion for strolling with – or preferably without – those Nordic walking poles. You might rekindle your love affair with birds, insects and tree hugging. Dust off your binoculars, pack up your mackintoshes, shake out your picnic rugs, leave the selfie stick at home and get back out into the world. The real world.
21: Smelly Wellies.
Well this goes hand in hand with Number 20. There was a reason Wellington boots were invented. Use them! And if you’re a fashionista what better time to pull on your pillar box red glossy Hunter boots and strut your stuff? The point is: Wellies nowadays don’t have to be boring. Fuddy or duddy. We’ve trendied them up. Yes, it’s cool to parade in our rubber boots. Take them on a maiden voyage to the park, the beach, the lake, the fields. Smelly wellies weren’t just invented for Glastonbury and Woodstock.
Apologies to the nations who don’t have the thrill of the UK’s most exciting TV series to look forward to during their Autumn weeks. But it just has to be included. Strictly is good old fashioned showbiz, the way it used to be. Sequins and sparkles. Big dresses and hair. Theatre and spectacle. Lifts and tumbles. Music and mayhem. Will they or won’t they? The latter to which we could add so many things…
23: Plump Puddings.
And of course I had to save the best for last. Like the true dessert devourer that I am. You’ll rarely see me procrastinating over the finale to a 5 course dinner. Fall gives us the permission we’ve been seeking since Easter to spend hours in the kitchen constructing a Charlotte Russe worthy of Queen Victoria’s consumption, a Boston Creme Pie to wow even the Red Sox or a Sacher Torte to meet the lofty standards of afternoon tea after a Viennese ball.
So what are your favourite things about this time of year? Share your ideas. You never know whose day you may brighten!