I’ve decided to try a monthly post about the things I’m looking forward to and planning on doing during the coming month. I’m broadly basing the topics around things I really enjoy: plants, TV & film, books, photography, and food & drink. It’s a form of gratitude practice really, and for me October is an easy month to start with because it’s always been my favourite time of year.
Although I can find the longer nights difficult, I’m not one to mourn the end of summer. To me, autumn signifies the start of real beauty in the natural world; the foliage colours, the way the woods start to smell, the beauty of the light in the early morning and the opportunity to see sunrise and sunset a lot more often. It also signifies the start to a run of festivities – from my birthday in late September, equinox, Michaelmas day, Halloween, bonfire night, Chanukah and Christmas – being a multi-faith family we celebrate all of them.
As the heat of summer fades I start to wear clothing in layers, and I love wrapping up in long coats and scarves. If I come home cold it’s a good excuse for hot chocolate, and the dark evenings are a reason to light scented candles or a fire, and of course they provide much better conditions for star-gazing than the light summer nights.
Now the autumn is here I’m going to group many of my houseplants together into warmer, sunnier rooms as many of them won’t cope with my dark, draughty Victorian house if I leave them where they’ve been happy all summer.
For something very simple, I’m going to try growing some variegated ivy either trailing over the side of a pot or perhaps training it around a simple wire support fashioned from some florists wire or a metal coat hanger if the mood takes me. If I need colour I’ll add some cyclamen. This combination would work indoors or out at this time of year, so I know it will cope in my shady, north facing dining room.
I’m also going to try and find an Alocasia Black Velvet. I have a Zebrina, but I would like some darker leaf colours in my houseplant collection in general and so I think if I can find it, the Black Velvet might be the one to go for. Another plant for a slightly more unusual, dark Halloween type feel is Anthurium Karma. I’ve had mine for six months next to the window in a north facing room and I think it’s probably time to move it to the south facing living room now so it can get a bit more light. I love the colour, it’s a bit more unusual than some of the other varieties of Anthurium I see in the garden centre.
October is also a good time to plant up Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) bulbs if you want them to flower for Christmas so I’ll be doing that too.
For houseplant advice and ideas, I’ll be reading James Wong in The Guardian.
2 TV & Film
As far as our family is concerned the main film event has got to be Edgar Wright’s new psychological horror offering, ‘Last Night in Soho’, which will be released in the UK on 29th October 2021. From his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy horror/ comedy/ action films like Hot Fuzz, to his recent documentary film about the Sparks brothers, he never fails to entertain us and so that’s a definite cinema trip.
As for TV, we’re probably be watching the third series of ‘You’ on Netflix, as well as catching up on some of the series we missed during the summer like the ever weird and wonderful Britannia on Sky, and of course we’ll be watching Bake Off on Channel 4 and all the way through my husband will be asking me if we have any cake, pie, biscuits etc in the house.
I tend to prefer non-fiction books, and this month’s reading plan is no different. This month I’ll be reading ‘Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create and Learn in Unconventional Ways’ by Sarah Stein Greenberg. It contains exercises that originated in the ‘d.school’, the design institute of Stanford University, that aim to get you thinking differently and apparently “can drive more vibrant ways of making, feeling, exploring, experimenting and collaborating at work and in life”. Sounds interesting, so let’s hope it lives up to that!
4 Photography Subject
I don’t have to remind anyone that now is the time to photograph all the glorious autumn leaf colours, seed heads, fading foliage, pumpkins, and Halloween costumes and decorations. Those are all things I’ll be looking out for in October and November too. But I’ll also be looking carefully at the light as at this time of year it’s just gorgeous indoors and out, and if you can capture that then the subject matter doesn’t seem to matter all that much.
Around this time of year there are large flocks of birds that seem to settle on the houses opposite me; I like the way they space themselves out along the rooftops, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for those so I can get a better image than I did last year with my iPhone. Are these starlings? I don’t know, but starling murmurations in the UK can involve up to a million birds so to see one would be amazing. If you want to take photographs, the early evening is the best time to see them and this is the time of year to do it. Check out the RSPB website for the best places to see these birds.
5 Food & Drink
One of the best things about this time of year is I feel it gives me an excuse to casserole just about everything. I love the kind of meal where all the ingredients all go in a pot in the oven and you pull it out several hours later and all the flavours have melded together. The meat, if you’re using it, has a texture that melts in your mouth, the vegetables are soft and tasty, the whole thing is just delicious and you can serve it with things like dumplings or jacket potatoes, both of which I love. I’ll be blogging a recipe of sorts for a beef version very soon.
My trusty Waitrose calendar tells me that in October in the UK squash, pumpkin, beetroot, turnips, shallots, swede, parsnips, cavolo nero, pears, figs and savoy cabbage will all be in season. Most of these things can go in a stew, and those that can’t can go in a cake!
As for drink, on the first night I felt the cold I decided it was time to break out the Talisker Skye Whisky, and I wasn’t disappointed. This has quite a peaty flavour, so if you’re not used to Scotch but want to try it, or you don’t like the smokiness, then it’s probably best to go for something like a Glenlivet or Glenmorangie.
What’s your favourite thing about October, and what are you grateful for this month?