If I couldn't step outside myself, I'd find it impossible to guess what time of year it is from current photos of city folk going about their business. The pavements stream with folk either happily sweating in pea coats and 100 denier tights, or stubbornly shivering in t-shirts and shorts.
Image by Saku Takakusaki on flickr
For me there's no denying it. Summer is a fading memory and autumn has arrived in a hail of acorns. And, as with so many things in life, autumn in practice isn't nearly so bad as autumn in anticipation. In fact, every year at this time of year, after dreading the end of summer I remember just how much I love this season.
As the days get shorter, dawn makes a reappearance in my life, followed later in the day by log fires and blankets. For this week at least, with autumn in the grip of a soul-soaring Indian summer, the early morning swirls of mists and dew-dropped grass are slowly lifted by a bright sun and it's possible to mix two of my favourite things in the world: woolly jumpers and a sun-warmed face.
Image by Sten Dueland on flickr
It seems to me that there are four ways to get the most of autumn, four mindsets that press the last drop out of this most bountiful of travel seasons (and it's off peak!). Which is yours?
The hedgerows around me are glistening with sloe berries (it's a bumper year), rosehips and bobbly blackberries swaying above plush mushrooms. The apple and plum trees in the neighbours' gardens are bent sideways, begging someone to make a crumble. Autumn is prime foraging season. I've got my heart set on a new hotel in the Lake District. Forest Side Hotel is being renovated and when it reopens in summer it will be with chef and renowned forager Kevin Tickle, recruited from the nearby two Michelin-starred L'Enclume restaurant in the kitchen and the extensive gardens. I'm saving up for an autumnal stay with foraging experience next year.
Image by Jonas Weckschmied on flickr
As the nights get longer, the temperatures lower and the tv offering better, the temptation to settle into your well-established bottom hollow on the sofa in front of the fire with the TV on and comfort food standing by is unbearable. Give in! This is one of life's great joys. If you can't do this in your own home - I do this every night from 1st October to 31st March without fail - I recommend finding somewhere you can: a pub, a friend's house, a hotel with fires in the rooms, a self-catering cottage. Try The Black Forest in Germany for heart-warming views of autumnal hues, from your window.
Stare down winter and refuse to give in to wintry lethargy! It doesn't matter how grown-up you like to think you are, if you can walk through a pile of autumn leaves without kicking them joyously skywards, you might as well be dead. It's another of life's great pleasures. Autumn walks along crunchy forest paths, invariably ending up in pubs that make your glasses steam up as you cross the threshold. Blustery walks along beaches recently deserted by the summer throngs. Conkers! And will someone please take me to New England for a fall foliage road trip with autumnal treks and vineyard tours?
Image by Adam on flickr
Autumn's not to everyone's taste though. And even my brambly heart takes a tumble when I look beyond the glitterballs of Christmas. So when the novelty of the woolly jumper has worn off, it's time to skip town. There are two options: summer, or proper hardcore winter. Personally I opt for extreme winter: snow, huskies, ice hotels and, oh please please please, the Northern Lights. I've got Svalbard, Norway, on my mind. Softer souls should head to the Southern Hemipshere to relive summer. Sunbathing on a beach on Christmas day does have a certain appeal, I grant you.
Which of these attitudes to autumn do you have? Have I missed any?
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3. Food and wine tour of South America https://www.thelmandlouise.com/en-gb/trips/1332/
4. Northern Lights cruise in Norway https://www.thelmandlouise.com/en-gb/trips/1325/
5. Weekend hikes in the UK https://www.thelmandlouise.com/en-gb/trips/1203/