Autumn is my favourite season, especially when the weather is fine and dry, which it hasn't been this year, but never mind. I can always find plenty of things to forage and collect while I am out on my walks. Pine cones, alder cones, beech nut cases, to name but a few.
I have collected oodles of them, to make winter wreaths.
Several hours were spent wielding the pruning shears, trimming pine cones, painting some, bleaching others, snipping and wiring to a wreath made from some honeysuckle vines which I pruned a couple of weeks ago, then formed into a wreath shape.
I need to add a loop of wire to the back, for hanging, but then it is finished.
I also made this one, much less work, and I like the simplicity.
I have been fairly busy in the kitchen.
Apricots in Brandy, Prunes in Port, Ginger in heavy syrup, and Ginger in Brandy Syrup plus a couple of containers of Quince paste.
They will all be going into Christmas hampers.
I managed to fit in lots of long dog walks, despite the wet and muddy fields. Toby still hates getting wet, but he is much more resigned to having to wade through deep puddles, especially when the alternative is to be left behind - of course I wouldn't leave him behind, but because I just walk on at the same brisk pace as normal, he thinks that is going to happen, so he delicately (for a chunky Labrador Cross) picks his way through, skipping with joy when we reach dry land.
This morning's walk was much drier though. We went out along a bridle way which I haven't walked since the Spring. I am so glad that I did.
I had forgotten to take my camera or glasses, but when I spotted some pink flowers in the ancient hedgerow, I was intrigued enough to snaffle a couple of leaves and the accompanying flowers so that I could attempt to find out what it was.
Spindle! Tiny, brilliant pink flowers with bright orange berries. According to the Woodland Trust it is an indicator of ancient woodland - and just one field away there is indeed a patch of ancient woodland - the woodland which covered the area after the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, a rare and special habitat.
The wood of the Spindle tree has been used to make spindles, toothpicks, skewers, viola bows, knitting needles, pegs, and bird cages, according to Richard Mabey in his book 'Plants with a Purpose'.
The berries are 'fiercely purgative', poisonous, some say, but they were dried, powdered, and then rubbed into the hair of boys to rid them of lice, he doesn't say why it was only used on boys.