And then, just like that, it is autumn. The season of the witch and the winemaker, of windfalls and toadstools.
A certain spell-like sense of nostalgia is cast in autumn ~ the shift in the weather brings morning fog, afternoon mists, evening smokiness, between bouts of dappled golden sunshine. It is one of the most beautiful, atmospheric times of the year in England ~ walking in the woods beneath leaves that range from gold to lime to burnt russet, picking sloe berries and rose-hips for preservation and enjoyment later in the winter. Exorbitant quantities of tea are drunk at the kitchen table, crackling fires are lit, woollens are donned. Floaty chiffons are stored away in favour of fairisle and tartan, the watery shades of summer darken to smouldering jewel colours of emerald and garnet. Everywhere there are banks of delicate lilac-pink Japanese anemones and speckled hydrangea at the very peak of their loveliness.
To me, autumn is like a favourite, glamorous aunt who wears excellent hats and dark lipstick and whose annual visit is excitedly anticipated and wistfully pined for throughout the year. This is a time for festivities; candlelight and a touch of sorcery - Catherine wheels, toffee apples, bonfires at night. The richest and most abundant culinary season, one for regular trips to the butcher and forays outdoors for fallen fruit and field mushrooms ~ baked potato weather. The kitchen is dominated suddenly by Armagnac and heavy cream, Roquefort, ravioli with walnuts. There is a profusion of new ingredients to buy and cook with and recipes to muse over.
In the studio it is as though, with the change in weather, a new year has begun. Brides are eager to make plans for their spring and summer weddings. Flowers, like fashion, seem to be about forecasting, and we’ve been busy writing proposals for the seasons ahead, skipping from winter through the months to this time next year; the siren call of flowers to be arranged and candles to be lit. We are propelled forward, hatching plans, gaining momentum, and the enthusiasm of a bride’s wedding planning is always infectious. She can’t wait to walk up the aisle towards the one she loves, and we are equally anticipating how to dress her tables, deck her halls with boughs of…
Speaking of which, we have also been devising our December foraging and wreath class to be held in the ballroom of a beautiful gabled manor house in Oxfordshire ~ the childhood home of the Mitford sisters near Burford. It couldn’t be a more idyllic setting to spend a morning hunting for ingredients, weaving a wild, natural wreath for your door and grazing on delicious eats and mulled wine. More details will follow shortly but if you are interested do put the date in your diary (Saturday 19 December, 10am – 2pm) and drop us an email to pre-register. Tickets will go on sale on our website in a couple of weeks' time, but places are limited so do put your name down if you’d like to come to avoid disappointment. We would love to see you there.
In the meantime, friends, enjoy this exquisite season of mists! The conkers, the leisurely perambulations in Wellingtons through falling leaves, and not forgetting of course, those long, hazy Sunday afternoons with an absorbing book and a few glasses of rich red wine (post roast chicken) beside the fire.