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November gets a bad press.

It’s cold.

It’s damp.

The garden looks sad.

Your first cold of the Winter strikes.

The only thing to look forward to is Christmas.

Well – I’m here to balance the scales a little with a bit of November love courtesy of my twittermate and soul sister Karen Thorne of Hopton House. Put the kettle on. Cut yourself a slice of cake and enjoy.

My love of autumn started as a very young child, with long dog walks in the wood with my parents, kicking leaves and collecting the best coloured, along with acorns, haws, hips and conkers for the nature table at school. Always coming home to a fire & hot buttered crumpets.

 

As I grew to be a teenager it became the new fashion season, wrapping up in the loveliest chunky knits, long boots, scarves and gloves; usually heading off to the same beautiful beech woods, this time with a boyfriend in tow for a romantic walk.

 

Then I headed down South to University. I decided on my college as I sat outside it, waiting for the bus home, watching squirrels running up & down the tree lined drive. Autumn then became a time of exciting new beginnings & adventures ( and, even now, I’m far more likely to make this a time of resolutions than New Year ); spending autumn afternoons, wrapped up warm, watching the college rugby players.

Once I left university, in very rapid succession, I got a job, got married, moved house, got a first dog and then a baby. Our first home was chosen for its vicinity to the woods at Runnymede and Windsor Great Park. My long weekend autumn walks in the woods now accompanied by husband, daughter & dog, picking up treasures for the next generation’s nature table.

 

My low point in my career was finding myself managing 120 staff and having to do all of their performance reviews in September & October. I felt bitter & so sad about this happening during these months. I was having to work all the hours I could, including weekends, and all the time Autumn was carrying on without me able to get involved.

 

Then 10 years ago we moved to South Shropshire. We look out on farmland, scattered with oaks, towards wooded hills, which are punctuated with deciduous and larches. Even on the greyest of days the landscape glows.  No tidy lawn carefully raked for us! But instead a country garden lawn scattered with the jewels of the season; red, gold, orange leaves, in front of a wildflower meadow, bordered by our own hedgerow filled with sloes, bird cherries, haws & rosehips.

 

I can experience autumn without leaving my kitchen, something I sometimes need to remind myself after 5 weeks of running the B&B without a day off. And if running my own business all gets too much I load my mini up with the 2 collie dogs & head up to the woods. Just 45 minutes of soaking up the views over the Shropshire Hills & kicking the leaves is enough to restore the peace to my soul.

Now put on your boots and enjoy November.