it's getting autumnal up in here
September 9, 2019 4:15 AM   Subscribe

It's the start of autumn (fall), my favourite time of the year. But last year, this time almost entirely passed me by because I was really busy with work and I barely noticed the leaves changing and weather getting colder. This year I will also be really busy with work but I'm determined to make the most of this time of year. What are some autumnal activities I can do? What do you like to do when the weather is turning chillier? I have included examples of what I mean after the jump:

1) Hole up with cozy autumnal murder mysteries or ghost stories in the evenings
2) Wear comfy jumpers
3) Paint my nails in autumn colours (silly, but enjoyable!)
4) Drink hot chocolate
5) Go for walks in the weekend through nearby greenery (this will require a lot of discipline as I am really lazy but it'll be worth it to see the leaves changing colour)
5) Be disciplined about work and don't do any unpaid overtime

This is part of a broader concern I have about trying to be a bit more in tune with the changing seasons, which can be really hard when you live in a busy city and spend most of your waking hours at a desk in front of a computer. But I feel I did well with the summer this year, spent a lot of it outdoors and made the most of what the city had to offer. That felt easier because there tends to be a lot going on in summer, lots of outdoor festivals and other activities, whereas in autumn, I think people tend to feel depressed about summer ending and there seems to be less going on.

I live in London but in the suburbs.
posted by unicorn chaser to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Enjoy the fall harvest by visiting a festival, farm or enjoying it as an ingredient-here it would be apples, pumpkin and other winter squash. My favorite is pie.
posted by childofTethys at 4:26 AM on September 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

commit to taking one photograph each day- it's a tangible way to keep track of your commitment to walk each day. As a neat bonus, if you take the same place each day, you'll be able to put together a neat time lapse of the leaves changing.
posted by freethefeet at 4:44 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Wear scarves!

I bought a discount pot of mums ($2!) to put by my door.

Make mulled apple cider.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:01 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can start to enjoy soups, stews and roasts again because it is no longer too hot to even contemplate cooking.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:01 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

- If you have access to an outdoor space, set up a fire pit / chiminea and enjoy sitting by it with a mug of mulled cider or mulled wine
- Do you have a local orchard or farm that does seasonal events? Go apple picking or take advantage of a hay ride, corn maze, or "pumpkin roll" event
- Knit (or learn to knit) a scarf or blanket, and do this while cozying up indoors
- Bundle up and go to a local high school football game
- Bake scones, or pecan pie, or banana bread, or pumpkin loaf (I am a huge fan of chocolate chip pumpkin bread)
- Spiced tea (I like David's Tea's "Forever Nuts" for this)
- Drive anywhere that you can go to see the leaves turn
posted by nightrecordings at 5:17 AM on September 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

You could visit the National Fruit Collection in Kent, they have 4000 varieties of fruit trees.
Make parkin.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 5:27 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Eat all the apples. I eat like two or three apples a day in the fall and it is my Fall Thing.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is my absolute FAVORITE time of year! Can you find a local harvest or fall festival and drop by at least to grab dinner and some cider? Have a friend over and carve pumpkins! Pull up a playlist, either your own or on Spotify or something of seasonal music. (I have an autumn playlist that I made years ago and I listen to it from September to December. Heh.) Find Halloween episodes of television shows and watch them!
posted by Aquifer at 6:35 AM on September 9, 2019

I change over my bed linens and add a 2nd comforter on top of the summer-weight comforter.

I also clean my fans, some of which I run year round, on low in the winter, just to keep air circulating.

I change my table cloth to something fall-themed, warmer colors.

Go shopping for boots, sweaters, and maybe a new scarf, like a pima cotton or similar, suitable for Fall weather.

Take inventory of my socks, and buy new ones if I need more.

Gather books and magazines that I want to read when it's too cold or rainy to go outside.

Plan craft projects. I just made cinnamon-scented soap, and have some other craft projects in the pipeline, jewelry, sun-catchers, etc. I also want to knit/crochet something, not sure what yet, maybe a little neck shawl to keep me warm when sitting at the computer.

Get some local apples and make a galette. Usually will visit an apple orchard at least once, and take a ride on a wagon around the orchard, buy some apple cider, apples, & maybe get an apple donut.

Put up Fall-themed decorations, indoors and outside. I usually have some colored lights, as the days are getting shorter quickly, so a set of orange mini lights perks me up, and they can stay up until Thanksgiving, when I change them out for white or colored lights (those stay up well past Christmas, because, well, lights cheer me up).

Wash my furniture covers and throw blankets. Change my lightweight throw for a thicker velour throw.

Vaccum and dust the whole house, not just the floors, but the lampshades, and anywhere dust tends to accumulate, corners, behind doors, the sills above the doors, etc. That way, when the heat comes on and starts blowing, I won't have dust (or cat hair) flying around. Since the windows will be mostly closed, I can't air the house out as much, so attacking dust helps a lot.

Switch my purse/bag for a different style and color. I usually buy them at vintage or resale shops, this year, I got a nice orange bag for $22, like new, and I love it.

I also start changing the menu to roasts, soups, etc. as mentioned above. Oh, and I stock up on various kinds of tea. I have decaf Earl Grey for afternoons and in case I wake up in the middle of the night, and darjeeling for late morning/early afternoon (with caffeine). I also have various kinds of herbal teas, a box of biscotti, hot cocoa, and microwave popcorn on hand, as well as some dark chocolate, for chocolate emergencies.

I also have a favorite sweatshirt, to wear at home, over a t-shirt. I have to layer this time of year, and if I'm up and about, cooking or cleaning, I can take it off, then put it back on when I sit down to work at the computer or watch TV. I also bought a new hoodie, for doing errands like grocery shopping. Even if the day is warm, our grocery store is often chilly, especially near the meat section.

Usually take one or two hikes, collect some colored leaves, take photos, enjoy the fall weather, and gather memories for when winter hits. Last year, we got snow on Thanksgiving! Super important for me to get outside, or I tend to become a hermit from October - April.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Find some trees you can pass every day - maybe a detour via a park even if it adds 5 minutes to your walk to the station - and pay attention to the trees, same trees each time. The first time I remember really noticing the seasons in London was the year I had a weekly appointment in a place facing onto a park full of conker trees. Seeing them turn brown, and then in the late spring seeing those little spear-like thumbs of green leaves appear again, felt like the first time I'd really felt the seasons since I was a kid.
posted by penguin pie at 7:34 AM on September 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

A lot of the suggestions for apple-picking are giving me pause, because I'm not certain if that's more of a USA thing, where a local orchard lets people come and pick their own fruit. For some reason I've always associated that with USA farmland. (Here in New York there are scores of farms in the countryside surrounding New York City, and it's a very VERY NYC-fall thing to do.) If you can do it, then by all means!

If you don't have access to an orchard where you can pick your own things, you can still look up what is seasonal for produce in your area and use that. Eating seasonally all year is actually a good thing in general; it's a little more economical, the food generally is better-tasting, and it's a good way to stay in tune with the seasons, I've found. There are some things that I only make at a certain time of year because "that's when that food item is ripe" - even though I could pick up strawberries and rhubarb year-round, or freeze it for mid-winter, it somehow doesn't feel right to do that for me, you know? Strawberries and rhubarb are for spring.

Homey baking in general is also a very homey, comforting fall thing (for me anyway). Not elaborate spun-sugar confections, but simple, plain baking, the kind your mother or grandmother would make. Think, like, the kind of things that would make Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith say "that's....kind of rustic". Simple apple cakes, simple fruit pies, spice cakes. There's a French pound-cake type of cake called "Pain d'epices" which is all full of honey and fall spices; this is the recipe I use.

And don't forget the traditions that we as people have also added to the seasons. There's nothing in the natural world that triggers that feeling of "school is starting again" in me, but instead it's the fact that September was the day for "back to school" when I was a child. And ever since, come September I still feel a little bit of that intellectual curiosity waking back up, and I am more likely to go to visit museums or lectures.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on September 9, 2019

In the fall, I do one outing to an apple orchard where you can pick your own and one outing to a pumpkin patch. Now that we have kids, we carve pumpkins. Also, I know this isn't exactly about nature and the seasons, but you could go to a haunted house to celebrate Halloween.
posted by slidell at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2019

Sitting by a fire is a good one, outside or in. If you have access to an outdoor space, you can get a little camp stove twig burner. Or look up pubs or cafes that have an open hearth.
posted by rollick at 7:43 AM on September 9, 2019

Have a Come Over for Pie party on a Sunday afternoon 4-6. Serve hot and cold cider. Set out a bottle of applejack for those so inclined. If you want to add more munchies, then put out a cheddar cheese and sausage board. Add potted mums around your place. That's it.
posted by Elsie at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

All said before but

Roast a chimken
Make beefy stew or chili
Curry so hot you can see through lead

In the morning listen for admittedly necessary but horrible disgusting bugs. That first morning you don't hear any because dead or hibernating, nuke yerself a mug of cider or hot choclety milk and toast their temporary demise

If like us you sadly lack a fireplace, get one of those fireplace-ey candles with the wood wick-oid that crackle and make fireplace smells

Get instant decaf coffee and at night nuke a mug of (ideally skim) milk until piping hot and just add instant decaf to it, yum

When there are leaves strewn across the sidewalk and you don't need studiously clean shoes, KICKE. ALL. LEAFFES. Squornchle noisily like the rufous-sided towhee.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

As a more general suggestion about becoming more mindful of the seasons, I strongly recommend vising your nearest farmer's market regularly. You don't have to do all your shopping there (though I personally think the quality and longevity of the produce at London's farmers markets is worth it) but you will get a wonderful sense of seasons changing. Particularly when local seasonal produce comes and goes - right now, for instance, many markets will have cobnuts and hot ciders, and in a month or two medlars will start coming in.

More traditionally, you could make a corn doll and attend a harvest festival in late September (however I believe these tend to be quite child-oriented -- perhaps someone more rural, like Wordshore, might be able to comment). Many parish churches and farms hold them, or there is a big RHS one in Malvern this year.

Don't forget All Hallow's Day and Guy Fawkes Day -- make some Soul Cake and parkin? Rich oaty and ginger-y cakes are very autumnal for me.

Personally I think the best way to enjoy the autumn is to be outdoors in the countryside, so encourage you in your idea about walking through green spaces. UK colour changes are not that vivid, so it's more about responding to the feel of the air changing. There are so many incredible countryside walks not that far from London, perhaps in your own neighbourhood since you say you are in the outskirts.
posted by tavegyl at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2019

If you can't go to an apple orchard, go to your farmer's market. Buy ALL THE APPLES. The only drawback to doing this is that it will render out-of-season apples totally unappealing by comparison.

Just today I allowed the opening song of The Nightmare Before Christmas to play when it came up on maximum shuffle. You don't have to go the horror route, and I know Halloween is not so big a deal in the UK, but the Charlie Brown Halloween special (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!) is a hard-core classic.
posted by praemunire at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh! Change out the plain-weave sheets for the flannel ones. Bust out the winter duvet (or change to the winter cover).
posted by praemunire at 1:25 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I make applesauce. I am not sure if this is true where you are but where I am we can buy good apples by the bag and so I'll take a bag (or two) home and spend an afternoon just chopping and cooking them down over the stove. It makes the house smell amazing and then I have applesauce for days.

Same thing for squash. I'll grab whatever's local here (butternut and sometimes acorn0 and go fussing around looking for good recipes and bake them all day. It means you have the oven on a lot, the house smells amazing and even though you can get apples and squash year round it's somehow even better having seasonally appropriate home made foods.
posted by jessamyn at 4:17 PM on September 9, 2019

I go mushroom hunting- I'm in Seattle, but I follow this UK based mushroom hunter on Instagram, and it seems to be booming in certain areas! It's certainly a fall activity around here. I'm another person who goes apple picking and makes applesauce. I unpack all my warm clothes from where they've been stored and it's nice and exciting to see them again, and I put away my summer ones.

I clear out the garden and dry the herbs that are left before they start dying from the cold. I take lots of warm baths, and watch stuff like Twin Peaks and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Gilmore Girls. I cook seasonally- lots of winter squash, like people have said, and things like concord grapes and kiwi berries that you only see around here in September/October. And I take lots of leaf photos!
posted by mollywas at 10:34 PM on September 9, 2019

Take a careful look at the street trees you pass regularly. They're often London plane, cherry or ginkgo, all of which put on a good show in autumn.

Seek out a Japanese garden (there are a fair few dotted about: try Kew, or Holland Park's Kyoto Garden, or if King's Cross is convenient for you, even Cambridge Botanic Gardens) for the fabulous autumn colours of Japanese maple.

Borrow an American tradition and make a spiced pumpkin loaf: you can get canned pumpkin in pretty much any supermarket with an international section at this time of year. Or stay on this side of the Atlantic with a blackberry and apple crumble.

Visit Richmond Park, Bushy Park or Greenwich Park to see the deer... from a safe distance. Autumn is breeding season, so you might also hear them roaring and barking.

Find out about the Capital Growth Urban Harvest, running from the 19th of September to the 6th of October.

Keep an eye out for garden spiders in their webs, in gardens, hedges and woods. They're at their biggest in late autumn. They're harmless and have beautiful markings.

See if you can find a pick-your-own farm you can get to.

It's still too warm for it now, but as the temperature drops, seek out pubs with open fires.

Go to a National Trust apple day.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:12 PM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, and:

As you walk around London, look out for berries as well as coloured leaves. The rowans are in full fruit at the moment, for instance, as are blackberries and other hedgerow berries if you have any wilder areas near you.

Choose autumn colours for those comfy jumpers. Dark reds, oranges, greens, browns. Pin a leaf-shaped brooch to your coat, when it's cold enough to wear one.

Decorate your home with autumn leaves, real or fake. (Arbitrarily-chosen example. I'm sure there are better ones.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:49 AM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for these lovely ideas!

Oh and also...

Keep an eye out for garden spiders in their webs
posted by ManyLeggedCreature

Eponysterical :)
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:57 AM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Eponysterical :)

*scuttle scuttle*

Chipping in again because I've just noticed that someone recommended the National Fruit Collection, and I want to second that recommendation. It's about half an hour's walk from Faversham station, which is directly reachable in around 1h15 from St Pancras (on the high-speed line) or Victoria. The annual apple festival is the weekend of the 19th and 20th October this year, but even just on a normal day, it's pretty great. Take a guided tour of the orchards and your guide may well pick you some fruit as you walk around, plus there's a farm shop where you can often buy new, rare and/or heirloom varieties of whatever's in season.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:24 AM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

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