They've been busy in Bournemouth getting ready for Halloween.
First task - choose a pumpkin!
With some help from Daddy.
Hello pumpkin face!
Ah, to be in Blighty now that autumn's here!
I picked some bedraggled flowers in the garden. They have no impact outside so late in the season but it pleases me that when I bring even the most forlorn specimens into the house they put on quite a decent show.
The clocks went back at 2am on Sunday morning and it was the end of British Summer Time. I stayed in bed for the extra hour and read a book. Aah, the indulgence! But outside the weather looked good and in the afternoon we went for a walk. The rest of our family, dotted in different parts of the country, did the same. Wee One sent photos of her partner and son walking in their nearby woods before the sun went down. I enjoyed our walk, but how much nicer it would have been if all the family could have walked together!
I was out on the driveway sweeping up leaves when several men in hard hats arrived with their highway maintenance machinery. Himself had been edging the grass but we both stopped what we were doing and left the men to park on the drive and start their work.
They were here to clear branches from the electricity wires that meander from house to house in an untidy fashion throughout the village. The red phone box is no longer in use and has been bought by the village. We plan to use it to house a defibrillator. It has been ordered and we are considering that the box may need to be lit by solar power. I asked the men if they would chop a good amount off the fir tree in our garden to allow some light to the phone box and they obligingly removed a good three feet or more,
Then they tidied up the horse chestnut tree and put everything into the shredder - what a noise!
It's great to watch other people working!
When it is as damp and dreary as this it is time to turn the heat up on the Aga and do some baking. I'd bought a pineapple but didn't fancy eating it cold. We have entered the time of year when thoughts turn to hot, comforting food, to stews, warm puddings and custard. I looked out an old recipe for pineapple upside down cake. A daughter phoned. "I've just got to take a cake out of the oven" I told her. She wanted to know which recipe. "How retro!" was her response. She's right, of course, I don't think I've used this recipe since the sixties.
The first thing that I noticed was how much sugar was in the recipe and that a can of pineapple was specified rather than fresh. In Britain in the sixties you couldn't always rely on being able to buy a fresh pineapple that tasted of anything, they could be an expensive waste of money. The finished cake, however, did look more decorative with its circles and semi-circles of fruit than my random chunks. I cut back on the sugar and threw in a few dried cranberries. We ate a slice warm with custard for lunch and another piece cold later on with a cup of tea.
I miss our former neighbour, Sally, but we keep in touch via email. I sent her a photo of the next upside down cake to come out of the oven, as many pears as possible crammed into chocolate cake. That's my crop of pears from the garden dealt with for another year. She sent a reply, "at first glance I thought you'd sent me a cross section of the brain!" She and her husband run a busy veterinary practise. She's obviously working too hard!
If it clears up a little I'll pull on my wellies and waterproofs and have a short walk.
The sun is fleeting, most days now are dull and damp. When the clouds part briefly and a patch of blue sky appears we want to make the most of it and we fling on our coats and go outside.
Cold nights have coloured up the leaves and the sun makes them look brilliant.
It is a lovely time of year.
Gesso painting of our cottage by James Lynch.
The poor weather has brought problems in the garden as well. Last year we lost a prolific red apple tree to honey fungus and have been carefully tending the remaining tree of the same variety.
I've dug them and the surrounding earth up and bagged it. The tree trunk and the earth has been doused in Jeyes fluid.
I'm not hopeful.
The pears, meanwhile, have had a splendid season. Some are still on the tree, but most have been picked to ripen indoors.