So the school holidays are over and it's September. We had a last hurrah, a day out at Bolton Abbey, and it was bright and sunny and glorious. But more about that in my next post.
I know a lot of people talk about September as being their 'new start' month, and I'm no different. I don't beat myself up with resolutions in the New Year. In fact I actively avoid all that stuff in favour of holing up indoors with stodgy food and a good book (or film, or both).
I know that most of my career has been spent in the education sector - which probably explains my preference for 'academic year' diaries - and I suspect that's why I have this 'fresh page' outlook when September comes around. And maybe it's a nod to my school days that I like to indulge in a bit of new stationery at this time of year.
I do enjoy the slow tiptoeing in of autumn. Joe finishes school (last year it was preschool) in mid-July and over the course of those six weeks, we go from summer's day pursuits - kite flying, picnics in the back garden - to collecting pine cones and blackberries.
We're already making plans for Halloween. And I've noticed wood being piled up in readiness for bonfires.
We really need to tidy the back garden. The last of the potatoes are up, the slugs got to the broccoli before we did. And the house has been valued and will be on the market within the next week or so. Cue that sense of needing it to be kept tidy at all times...
There are still a few pretties in the flower beds. But the birch is starting to drop golden confetti and the leaves on the twisted hazel are turning too. I've got all kinds of stuff on the mantel at the moment: prickly purple burdock, a vast assortment of seedy stems in vases and jars, sprigs of dried heather, papery hydrangea heads, honesty tucked into the top of the mirror.
We've had the odd early-morning foray to the back gate to look at all the spider's webs. Yes, there are several living indoors as well. The season of the eight-legged house guest is truly upon us...
In addition to blackberries (we've picked so many), I mentioned rosehip syrup and its benefits whilst we were out walking. Joe immediately developed a dramatic cough and is now obsessed with the idea of harvesting said rosehips and making a concoction. This may or may not happen.
I'm not entirely sure whether the hips are quite red enough yet. And if they are, what I need to do to make the syrup. Which means I'll end up consulting my little copy of The Hedgerow Handbook. It's always inspiring at this time of year - and possibly another addition to the bedside reading pile...
Also spotted: sloes. Although these were in Yorkshire, not our local area. I don't think they actually grow around here. There are a few hazelnuts but most seem to have been taken by the squirrels.
The conkers continue to get fat. I know a few special trees which we'll be visiting in another month or so.
We're wearing jumpers and wellies an awful lot at the moment. And I'm craving hot baths and treacle toffee. I light candles in the evenings (and in the afternoons on particularly dull days). I've also got a strange urge to unearth my old university scarf from wherever it's hiding - hopefully not up in the loft.
Getting the woollens out of the drawer, reacquainting myself with my favourite warm coat - it's like saying hello to old friends. I even wore a hat yesterday to collect Joe from school as it was cold and rainy and windy and altogether a bit... inclement.
I've had the heating in in my little work room today. It's an odd space as it gets really chilly, yet I just hung a thick curtain because the late afternoon sun shines so strongly onto the computer screen. Luckily the temperatures haven't dropped too much just yet and there's always the possibility of an Indian summer...
Not that I want one. I'm an autumnophile through and through. Always have been.
Maybe it's something to do with being a Taurean. Autumn is, to me, the most sensual of the seasons.
As it is, I'm relishing the peace and quiet of term time (with the exception of the crazy morning school routine). There's been an awful lot added to the to-do list over the summer: writing, blogging, admin, printmaking... I'm looking forward to getting back into it all. My (new) diary is filling up with all kinds of things, some fun and some tedious but necessary.
As ever, I'm feeling the pull of West Yorkshire as we head towards autumn proper. I do love a solitary amble around Hebden Bridge, looking in the beautiful shops and wandering along the river. I think I can possibly tie it in with work-related things (or, at the very least, 'research')...
And now: time to read Joe a bedtime story before a cosy evening and an early night.