by Ellen Upton – Rhubarb & Hare
I love Autumn as a season. And in fact, if I really sit and think about it, it is probably my favourite season of them all, which considering how much I love Christmas is quite a bold statement.
Living in our village in the middle of the English countryside, you really get to see the seasons change incrementally over the course of my daily dog walks and every year, I love the slow, gentle slide from Summer into Autumn. The September days of blackberry picking under blue skies amid fields waiting to be harvested, that give way to muddier stomps through ploughed fields, as the inevitable chill in the air rises and the scent of woodsmoke gently pervades the village as everyone lights their fires again. I love coming home to a cottage warmed by the Aga with a stew bubbling away, or CRUMBLES. My word, for fruit crumbles alone I would love Autumn.
Autumn is also a time when we start to spend more time indoors and suddenly my focus is all about creating a sense of warmth and cosiness in the cottage.
I loved Rebecca’s blog on Changing colours with the changing of the seasons. Without realising it, I do start to change the feel of our home around this time. It may not be as dramatic as changing cushion colours but my big, furry throws have been dry cleaned and are now draped over sofas, ready for that cold evening when you just want to curl up in warmth. And I won’t lie I’ve already used mine in the snug several times already.
I also make very small tweaks. The biggest and most noticeable to me is my candles change. I swap my usual white jar candles from Plum & Ashby to those with warming dark glass that gives a cosy glow when they’re lit. And whilst I am not ready to start burning festive scents yet I begin to look at richer, deeper scents; like Pumpkin Spice from Ethel & Co, or my current fave is Plum & Ashby’s Wild Fig & Saffron. I also like to layer my candlelight more to create that cosy atmosphere. I’ll burn a scented candle but also have tea light holders grouped around it on my mantelpiece or table for maximum effect. Tea lights also work really well down the dinner table mixed in with the baby gourds I made my husband dash to Aldi to buy once I heard they were in stock! Such an array of beautiful colours in white, pale orange, bright orange, yellows – and they look amazing grouped together. I have a little stash at either end of my mantelpiece that I’ll keep for a bit before I turn into soup! (Nigel Slater’s Pumpkin Soup is the best and most delish recipe if you’re looking for one – find it here )
I also change the two dinner candles that sit on my mantelpiece either side of my mantle vase. They are the first things you see as you enter the cottage so I always like to make sure they give a good impression. As Rebecca mentions in her blog – jewel colours are so perfect for this time of year and I am alternating at the moment between St Eval’s Bedruthan Blue which is just a divine blue, so bold and yet warming and also their Olive which I think is just heavenly and works beautifully against my gourds and my flower arrangements.
And this brings me onto my second tweak – the floral arrangements I have around the house. I love bringing the outside in and for me it’s a quick and easy way to cheer up a room and make me feel better. If my mantle vase above the fire isn’t made up I feel a bit miserable. And it literally takes me ten minutes, if that, to dash outside, grab a few sprigs and arrange them. I just adore this time of year because the garden and hedgerows are literally stuffed with gorgeousness that look amazing in your home. Berries, old man’s beard, holly, ivy and I even cut the rosemary and mint from my herb pots to put with them so they smell gorgeous (though the puppy has started to wee on my mint, so that may change quite soon!). Even if you have no time at all, or patience or even a vase – just put a wee spring of holly in a clean jam jar and place it somewhere lovely you can see it every day – by the sink, by your bedside, next to your candles in your living room. It’s a really kind thing to do for yourself. Go on, try it.