If there’s a colour for this time of year then surely it must be orange. Carved pumpkins with flickering candles, plates of beautiful gourds and squash, cape gooseberries hanging from the ceiling, burnished leaves and bonfires. It’s a bitter sweet time of year. A time of beginnings and endings; of moving inside to focus on the hearth; of reflection. I do love this time of year – damp and misty mornings, dark nights and the feeling of life slowing down. Of course the lack of daylight hours can be a very powerful negative force but if you spend at least half an hour outside every day -whatever the weather – most people will get by quite happily.

I’ve written about Calan Gaeaf before – the start of the Winter season for the Welsh. The Celts also referred to it as Samhain. The Harvest was safely gathered and animals brought in for the Winter. Families congregated round the hearth. The past growing season was reflected upon and plans discussed for the coming season. Family members and friends who’ve died during the past year were remembered. It’s no different for us.On the plot we’ve been building a new leaf mould bin, clearing and mulching some beds, planting Winter salads and sowing sweet peas in root trainers. The dahlias are still going strong and so we took some to the grave of my daughter’s godmother who died during the year. Later this week we’ll be making our Christmas cake and no doubt we’ll go for a tramp around Stourhead with friends and collect some leaves to make a leaf wreath for the front door.

And of course there’s Bonfire Night which should definitely look something like the scene above photographed by Helen Johnstone back in June at Jubilee Beacon time. I like to think my Celtic ancestors have been gathering like this for thousands of years to bring some warmth and light into the dark days of Winter. It’s time to embrace the advantages of life lived at a slower and more reflective pace.