Monday, 26 September 2011
7 ways to ease into autumn
Well, not necessarily pumpkin soup. You might prefer butternut squash soup (a favourite of mine) or plum jam. Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables prepares your body for the season ahead and is cheaper than using produce that wouldn't naturally occur at this time of year. It also reduces your carbon footprint by allowing you to eat locally grown produce. You can find an excellent article on autumn seasonal eating on the Mostly Eating blog.
2. Layer it up
Just because the weather is blustery and temperatures are dropping doesn't mean that you have to immediately pack away your summer clothes and bring out the jumpers and boots. Swap your lightweight scarf for a heavier fabric. Wear a long sleeved top under your favourite dress. Replace bare legs with woollen or opaque tights. You can find a helpful article about layering for autumn from the Independent here.
3. Get Out
Whether it's with family, friends or your other half, walks can be the perfect opportunity to talk, make plans and enjoy each other's company. Wrap up warm, add sensible shoes and get out there. You'll appreciate the warmth of your home all the more when you return. You can find news of walking events on walking.org and there are some wonderful child-friendly walks listed here. By the way, this would be the perfect time to make sure your wellies and raincoats still fit and are waterproof.
4. Check your central heating
I admit that this isn't the most exciting task but it is necessary. If you're like me, your central heating will have been turned off all summer. Now is the time to check that it's still working. If you use fuel for a wood burner, real fire or a range cooker, this is also the ideal time to stock up. If you will be using a real fire, ensure your chimney is clear. We've had jackdaws nesting in our chimney top and I dread to think what they've left behind.
5. Protect your car
When I was a child, cars that regularly broke down, overheated, or stalled and rolled backwards down the hill were the norm. Nowadays we expect near perfection from our cars so give yours a helping hand in preparation for the colder months. Add antifreeze. Get your battery checked. Make sure your brakes are working properly. Lubricate your door parts to help prevent them freezing up on extra cold days. Ensure your heater and defrosting elements are working. There's nothing worse than having to drive in a freezing cold car when your fingers are turning blue from scraping the windows. Inspect your tyres for air pressure and tread. Finally, replace cracked or worn windscreen wipers. Protect your car so it can protect you.
6. Get your garden ready
I'll leave the gardening advice to the experts. They can explain that side of things much better than I ever could. There are a number of jobs I do though at this time of year that you might want to try yourself. Firstly, I move the barbecue to the garage. This frees up space in the garden for my children to run around in and hopefully saves the barbecue for use the following year. I gather any remaining herbs from the garden and pick the apples from the trees (to make apple crumble and apple cake which are wonderfully warming with custard). I brush up any dead leaves and remove leaves that have fallen into the pond. I search out any toys that the children have left outside. So far I've found an trucks, cars, water pistols, figures and a couple of pens. The only exception are footballs which the children can still kick around in cold weather. We have heavy wooden furniture in our garden here but in past homes, I've removed the more lightweight plastic furniture and given it a wipe over before storing it away until the spring. My children are given the task of planting bulbs, wherever they want, for a lovely surprise in the spring.
7. Look for the colour
We often assume that with the passing of summer, the colour begins to seep from our world, shifting to the muted shades of winter, until spring returns with its fresh shoots. I disagree. There is always colour to be found in the natural world. Autumn brings in its own shades - russet and golden yellow leaves, deepest red berries and purple heather. Look out for the colour. Turn it into a game for your children when you are out. Take photographs that you can display at home or use as a wallpaper on your computer.