An Autumn Walk

October already! How did that happen?

The long, hot summer days have faded away and autumn has taken hold. Late afternoon yesterday, when I went out to shut my hens away for the night, the sun was shining and there was a pleasant breeze so I thought I’d make the most of it and take a quick walk.

Heading out through the back of the yard, I joined the public bridleway that runs through the farm but there was nobody else around. The blackberries are just about finished but scarlet rosehips still make a splash of colour in the hedges and I resolved to pick some soon to make a little rosehip syrup to mix with this year’s Hedgerow Gin for an autumnal cocktail. This year, I’ve been infusing a few seasonal ingredients like raspberries or blackcurrants or blackberries in a small amount of gin for a week or so. Unlike a traditional, sweetened fruit gin that’s drunk neat, I’ve left them unsweetened and added tonic water to make a colourful drink with a hint of fruit. The hedgerow gin with blackberries, rosehips, haws and sloes has been particularly delicious.

As I walked alongside the ditch where the track changes to a narrow footpath, the water had flooded the path making me glad that I was wearing wellies (even though I don’t like walking in them) as I sloshed through muddy ankle deep water. Further downstream the banks and bottom of the ditch are so overgrown that the water is obscured but I suspect, from the noisy rush of water, that the flooding was caused a fallen branch that has made a dam. That stretch of path is owned by the local council who don’t seem to care too much about maintenance or keeping footpaths passable but they probably have rather more important matters to deal with during this Covid crisis.

crab apples floating in water

On firmer ground, fallen crab apples littered the path making a circle under each tree or floated like the prelude to a giant apple bobbing game where the trees overhang the ditch in Lakes Field. This field has lots of wizened crab apple trees along its boundary with each producing its own shape and size of apple, all of which are disgustingly sour. I often wonder if the trees have sprung up from apple cores discarded by farm workers years ago or if there used to be some sort of dwelling here. A map from the eighteenth century shows small buildings dotted along the main track that runs through the farm, although they’re long gone and have left no trace.

Geese flying over a cultivated field

Walking southwards, the trees cast long shadows across the cultivated earth as geese flew noisily overhead and a hare sat motionless on the headland ahead and then quickly turned to dart through the hedge, across the ditch and over the open field. I lost sight of it as I walked behind a high section of hedge but then I thought I saw him waiting in the middle of the field. Or maybe it was a clod of earth. It’s difficult to tell at that distance, especially in the fading light.

Rain on an autumn day

Suddenly, the sky darkened, the wind blew cold and large drops of rain fell in a torrent so that within a minute I was soaked to the skin. The folly of wearing a lightweight jacket in a showery week. Though this was considerably heavier than a shower implies. I thought about sheltering under a tree until the rain had passed but I was cold and didn’t think I could get any wetter, so ploughed on. I was wrong! By the time I reached home, my trousers were so wet that water trickled down the inside of my wellies and water streamed from my hair. Cursing that I walked before I did the hens, I tipped in their food as I did a quick head count and closed the gate.

Across the yard, the lights were on in the house, which is always a welcome sight. I peeled off my dripping clothes just inside the door and by the time I’d had a hot shower and put on dry clothes, there was a pot of tea waiting on the kitchen table. And a slice of millionaire’s shortbread. Perfect.

11 thoughts on “An Autumn Walk

  1. I walked down the road to the Lidl on Sunday and got a good soaking on the way back. When I got home I got into bed with BB ( he spends a lot of time in bed because of his back and leg pain ) and after half an hour of playing word search together and I was warmed through. I love autumn; i think a lot of people do. It a season that really has something all of it’s own. Best, J

  2. Your descriptions and the pictures paint such a beautiful picture. I must say, living is suburban northeast US, I am so taken with your farm life! Ah, but to have chickens! Sorry about the rain, but the hot shower and waiting tea sound heavenly!

  3. A beautiful post – even if you do describe getting rather wet on this walk! We too got drenched on a walk out recently – but alas, when we got home there was no sustaining hedgerow gin in our store cupboard – do you happen to have a recipe for it that you could share please ?

    1. Not so much a recipe … about 100g mixed hedgerow fruits – blackberries, sloes, rosehips, bullace, haws into a bottle with 350ml gin. Add a bay leaf/lemon verbena leaf/clove/small bit of cinammon stick/sliver of orange peel. Keep it cool and dark for a fortnight or so, shaking when you remember. Then strain. I think of it as adding another layer of botanicals. The more traditional liqueur type recipe is

  4. I know I have said it before but your farm landscape is truly like a postcard! Those crab apples floating on the water create an amazing scene. Are crab apples edible in any way? Isn’t it fascinating to think about those old buildings that have since disappeared. Thank you for the mini virtual tour! x

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