As a kid, I loved the seasons: the long, light nights of the summer; the freshness of dewy, spring mornings; the crackle and crunch of autumn leaves and the icy sparkle of winter. We’d collect leaves in the autumn and make Halloween books with poems and stories and onomatopoeia and tinfoil ghosts. We’d pick brambles and make sticky crumble for dessert. During summer we’d pick rose petals and soak them in water to make questionable, floral perfume. We’d wander down the woods to make dens and swings and jump over streams and we’d cycle on our bikes for what felt like days.
Scotland is so lucky to have seasons (okaaaaaay, insert your own joke about Scottish summers here.) And every time a new season is upon us I declare it my *favourite* season of all. But what I really love is embracing the differences that come with each season.
When I lived in China it felt like there were only two seasons. First there was a long, dry winter. So dry you’d get electric shocks from everything you touched, your skin flaked and your lips were permanently chapped. Then there was a hot, smoggy summer, great for drinking on rooftops and cycling around the city but exhaustingly oppressive. I missed spring and autumn SO much. So much, that I’d frequently have dreams about Scottish rain: everything from “yon smirry rain” to torrential, horizontal cascades. I was addicted to box sets of DVDs like Inspector Morse and I prayed for episodes to be set in a drizzly, autumnal Oxford.
I am absolutely not wishing summer away but, as this week it’s September, and gradually summer nights will dissolve into navy blue evenings, I thought I’d share some of the things I love about autumn.
- Pollok Park: this is an amazing place to walk during autumn. Gorgeous golden leaves, misty, rolling fields and Highland coos the colour of whisky. It feels like you are miles from the city. You can find The Burrell Collection here which is like a mansion from an 80s Michael Douglas thriller filled with exotic artefacts. Pollok House has a great garden and a quirky cafe, The Edwardian Kitchen. The Pollok Park run is free, has a great feeling of camaraderie and it is a perfect way to start your Saturday.
- Wearing boots. Time to wave sayonara to the flip flop and get cosied up in a great pair of boots. Doc Martens are super comfortable for walking in and I defy you to find an outfit they don’t go with. It’s especially lovely wearing boots with coloured tights – another perk of chillier weather.
- Halloween: pumpkin carving, monkey nuts, clementines, dressing up and the real start of the dark nights.
- Cinema becomes amazing again. There’s always a lull over the summer but autumn is where the flicks really start to pick up. I have a Cineworld Unlimited Card. This is an amazing money saver if you go to the cinema more than once a month. However, The Glasgow Film Theatre is also fantastic. You can grab a beer or wine and watch anything from Hollywood cinema to niche arthouse and world cinema. It’s worth checking out their Halloween films. Last year I saw Halloween on Halloween and there was a guy wearing a Michael Myers mask in the audience. Granted I was too terrified to walk past him to the toilet but it was completely atmospheric.
- The smell. That burnt, bonfirey, hollow dampness is unmistakably autumn.
- Red wine. It’s time to make the shift from refreshing white wine, prosecco or fruity cocktails to smooth, warming, red wine. I love a tumbler of the stuff with pizza at the wonderful Paesano.
- Walking from The Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse. This is, in my opinion, the best part of the West Highland Way. You can easily take the train from Glasgow to Bridge of Orchy if you don’t have a car and a bus runs between Kingshouse and Bridge of Orchy to get back. The Bridge of Orchy Hotel is lovely: good food, great bar, lovely views of Glen Orchy and welcoming staff. An added bonus is that they often have amazing rates during October too. Walking into Glencoe is breathtaking. You are overcome by the sheer vastness and beauty of Glencoe. The Inveroran Hotel is a good place to stop for a wee dram on your way. Or, I recommend taking a hip flask or miniature spirit, finding a gorgeous viewpoint and having a sip. (Valhalla’s Goat do a great selection of mini bottles of gin, rum, vodka and whisky.)
- Baked potato! Winter is the season of the roast potato but the baked tottie belongs to autumn. Crisp up your skin by blasting on them full heat for the last ten minutes of cooking in olive oil and a light dusting of chilli powder. And, don’t just have one topping, go for a whole smorgasbord: veggie chilli, beans, butter, a selection of cheeses. Toasty and warming and delicious.