It’s autumn proper at last and the ground is a swirling mass of orange, yellow and brown as the trees are gradually stripped of their dignity. The unseasonably warm Indian summer outstayed its welcome by a few weeks, and I am relieved to be back in cosy layers which conceal lumpy bumps and summer indulgences.
My favourite thing just now is walking the dog with my fresh-air denying almost-3-year-old. Crumble is a wonderful companion and her enthusiasm for the outdoors is gradually rubbing off on the youngest child who can now manage a gentle stroll round the estate with only minor meltdowns. We ditched the pram a while ago which felt like a huge milestone but it makes walking so much more interactive (if excruciatingly slow) as we stop frequently to poke around in ditches and undergrowth, searching for treasures.
Bramble season was short but lucrative and provided a great energy boost for a flagging child (5 minutes into the walk) but unfortunately very few made it into puddings and I failed miserably at collecting enough to make jam. Next year I will be more organised (I absolutely know I said that last year).
Conker season is now upon us and I am obsessed with scrambling around under horse chestnut trees, hunting out their spiky offerings and cracking them open to retrieve the shiny treasure inside. Having pockets stuffed full of conkers is immensely satisfying although I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the hundreds I’ve collected. Pinterest offered up a few suggestions which I pinned enthusiastically, but the reality is that they will be chucked in a bowl and forgotten about until they are discovered, desiccated and shrivelled next year when it all begins again. It’s the circle of life.
I had to tear myself away from our autumnal haven recently to spend a glorious child-free 24 hours in Amsterdam with two art college friends. It was fabulous and the perfect place to wander around in the sun, chill out with beers in the park and catch up on our busy lives. I attempted to make ironing duvet covers and folding fitted sheets sound hectic but I’m not really in the same professional league as my two lovely chums. One works in film special effects in London while the other is a talented radio documentary producer in Dublin but we are united in our struggles to balance motherhood with sanity and inevitable guilt, regardless of our circumstances.
Having all been to Amsterdam before, we had no agenda other than catching up and drinking cocktails. We eschewed the usual tourist attractions – sex, drugs, Van Gogh – in favour of cosy bars and whiskey sours. Conversation veered between traumatic birth stories, marital gripes and the complex sub-plots on Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom as we nattered into the small hours, eventually stumbling into our plush Air B&B apartment for six hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep.
We managed to squeeze in a token gallery visit and the obligatory flower market the following day before heading back to the airport to go our separate ways. I love those girls and was sad to say goodbye but the excitement of seeing my other favourite girls kept me going on the long drive home. That, a cheeky McDonalds pit stop and the Desert Island Discs archive on my iPod.
I was reconciled with the fact that the kids would be fast asleep in their cosy wee beds by the time I got home and was looking forward to a good nights sleep before an excitable reunion in the morning. Picture my
utter horror unbridled joy when the little darlings launched themselves at me as I stepped through the door because they’d been too excited to go to bed. I really must go away more often.