"What's your favourite season?" is a question that seems to come up every now and then. Hmmm....Winter maybe - beautiful snowy lanscapes, clear views where later in the year nothing can be seen through trees, scarves, gloves and hats, and the feeling of snuggling up under a couple of nice heavy duvets on a chilly night... Or Spring maybe? The first signs of new life, the woods over the way to us taking on their first tinges of green, the first mornings where the bathroom doesn't feel absolutely FREEZING, lighter jackets but still cool enough to wear scarves.... Oh, but Summer - summer is just fantastic, no? Warm weather, not having to bother to take a coat, SUNSHINE, flowers out everywhere.... And then of course there's Autumn. All that colour, the crunchiness of leaves underfoot, beautiful sunsets and stunning sunrises...the colour - Oh, I've already mentioned the colour? Crisp mornings with wisps of mist hanging low over the countryside.
We're incredibly lucky in our town and the surrounding countryside - although the town is a new Town it's been built with open spaces and colour as an integral part of the design. Autumn is probably the best time to see it - it's a positive pleasure to walk around at this time of year with every colour from green through yellow and orange, to deep, dark red.
Is there a better time of year than autumn to go walking? I'm not sure there is. Not too cold, and yet not so warm that you get all hot and sticky within minutes.
The ground might be a bit sticky and slippy but nothing that ordinary walking boots are going to get phased by - I'm happy to wear wellies when gardening, but I'd have to be honest and confess I'm not a huge fan of walking any distance in them. Leaves getting stuck to the mud is a bit annoying though - that I'll grant you.
Then there's nature's harvest of course - where gardens tend to be more productive through the summer months, the countryside is in its element just about now. In the last few weeks we've gathered rosehips, haws, blackberries, plums, crabapples, sloes, elderberries and walnuts. Oh, and a Hazelnut. Not a great year for those. With just the addition of some sugar and some time, we've now got jars of jams, jellies, syrups and sauces, and a freezer loaded with fruit to take us through the winter months.
It all looks so stunning too - vibrant reds, glossy blacks, and the finished products from the deep purple blackberry jam to the beautiful delicate pale pink of the rosehip syrup. Just as marvellous lined up in the cupboard as awaiting harvest in the countryside.
So - which is my favourite season? Hmmm....can I get back to you on that? Better still - which is YOURS?