Walking through our park on an October afternoon.
Not just the park any more but *ours*. Mine and this bub’s. Newborn’s first outing around the frozen lake, picnics with friends, daisy chains and eating grass, snoozy feeds under shady spots, squeals of delight on the swings. Somewhere in the future, there are steps to be taken, ducks to be fed, ices creams to eat and a scooter to ride.
But here and now we’re walking through our park on an October afternoon. The leaves on the trees may be dying but they seem oh so full of life as they gently fall. The sun is warm, unseasonably so. Low in the sky, it casts a magical glow whilst I collect autumn treasures. I pass them to baby to discover; crunchy leaves, pine cones and shiny conkers.
We stop on a bench under the dappled light. Play peekaboo through the gaps. Share an apple, big bites and little bites. Wave at the people walking by with their dogs. We spot squirrels and birds and hear the breeze in the treetops.
This time last year I sat in the autumn sun full of anticipation, with little kicks keeping me company in my rounded belly. All these echoes in time swirl around me like the leaves. All golden in our park on an October afternoon.
With the Autumn Equinox on Sunday, this week marks the true beginning of the new season. When I woke up on Monday morning I swear I could sense the change in the air. Sure, that might have had something to do with the cool 15 degrees the temperature in our bedroom had dropped to, but whilst my husband grumbled about the cold I couldn’t help but feel a flutter of excitement about the seasonal shift.
Along with an undeniable love for the autumnal aesthetic, there’s something about the season which genuinely lifts my spirits. I find myself with a renewed energy as the weather gets cooler. I can’t wait for crisp days, gorgeous early golden hours and cosy nights.
Sat in bed with a warm cup of tea and my baby playing next to me I began to write my to-do list for the week but it quickly turned into more of a list of tasks and plans for the coming few weeks. So here are some of my ideas for welcoming autumn; things to do and prepare around the home, in the kitchen and beyond.
// Bleed radiators.
// Wash blankets and sheepskins and (preferably) dry in the sun.
// Pack away summer clothes for another year and replace with winter wardrobe items – bring on the woollies and tweeds.
// Have a little wardrobe clear out while I’m at it, do a charity shop drop and consider what items I need in my closet for the cooler months.
// Prep the house for colder weather. I’ve got floorboards gaps to fill and some very drafty drafts to exclude!
// Get the windows cleaned.
// Switch up fragrances in the oil burner. Out with citrus and florals in with wood and spice.
// Stock up on candles and tea lights.
// Treat yourself to some deliciously scented new products for the bathroom.
// Clear out the freezer and turn those scraps you’ve been saving into stock and bone broth. And on that note…
// Dust off the slow cooker.
// Fill your larder with immune boosters – echinacea, manuka, turmeric, ginger and lemons. I plan on staving off those sniffles before the begin.
// Eat all the figs! I forget just how much I love fig season.
// Stock up on oats and porridge toppings for a warming start on cold days.
// Bake – especially on Tuesday to accompany GBB.
// Plan brunch with friends.
// Fill your home with pumpkins!
// Set some manageable business goals for Q4 that will set you up well to head into a new year.
// Do some autumn hashtag research. There are so many lovely Instagram challenges and hashtag to join in with at this time of year (including my own #squashwatch).
// Start a new habit for the last quarter of the year – why wait till January?
// Go for a walk at golden hour and collect leaves
for Instagram for a garland
// Dig out your favourite autumn playlist.
// Keep a journal.
// Borrow some autumnal reads from the library.
This seasonal pumpkin salad with fig & goats’ cheese is so full of the joys of autumn I simply love it!
I have this thing with pumpkins, they just bring me so much joy to look at and eat that I can barely walk past them without buying one. Seen as my local greengrocer has a lovely display of brightly coloured seasonal squashes at the front of the shop I’m currently bringing home pumpkins home like little lost kittens! Although I’m perfectly happy to have them brightening up my home, I thought seen as we’re still a month away from Haloween I better cook one up before the collection gets out of hand!
I’m a big advocate that salads aren’t just for summer, and this pumpkin salad with fig & goats’ cheese is just the ticket for the transition into warm salad season. The spices added to the pumpkin for roasting bring depth and a little heat with the cinnamon adding that extra hint of the cosy season upon us. The soft squash contrasts wonderfully with the crispy chicory and the sweet figs and goats’ cheese combo is always a winner. This is a lovely simple bright supper to make as the evenings draw in. Oh, and the method I suggest below is my absolute favourite way to cook crispy bacon which is amazing in salads!
Pumpkin Salad with Fig & Goats’ Cheese
1 small pumpkin or seasonal squash – skin on, cut into wedges
2 figs – quartered
50g goats’ cheese
4 rashers of good quality smoked streaky British bacon
2 heads of chicory – 1 white / 1 purple
A couple handfuls of other salad leaves – rocket, little gem, red oakleaf etc.
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds – toasted
small tsp dijon mustard
small tsp honey or date syrup
Place the pumpkin wedges into a roasting pan and drizzle with oil; dust each slice with a little cinnamon and sprinkle over cumin seeds and chipotle flakes. Roast at 200c until cooked through and caramelising slightly. Toss the pan once during cooking. Remove the skin before serving if you prefer.
Line a tin with baking paper, lay rashers on the sheet and cover with a second sheet of baking paper. Place another heavier tin on top to keep the bacon flat and bake in the oven for 20mins. Cut into squares once cooked.
To assemble the salad: Separate the chicory leaves – slicing the larger ones in half lengthways and add to salad bowl or platter with the other leaves; top with the warm squash, fig quarters and bacon; top with crumble the goasts’ cheese followed by toasted pumpkin seeds; dress and serve.