Cue Earth, Wind and Fire. Start digging out the knee-high, brown suede boots. Think about ordering logs for the wood burner, and sourcing those warming, home made soup recipes.Those are the kind of things I’ve always thought about at this time of year.
But I only realised the other day that, for the first time in my life, our Big Trip (less than two weeks away now…!) means skipping an entire English season.
It’s not as if we’re away that long. It’s not a grown up gap year. It’s a fifty-seven day, non stop, whizz around the world at full pelt. But for all the treats and sights that lie ahead of us–and there are many–I had to stop and think that we’ll be heading off before the green leaves start to change. And by the time we’re back in November; autumn-wise, the show’s over.
England’s changing seasons are, for me, a joy to experience. Whether it’s spotting winter’s first tiny snowdrop bravely piercing the frozen soil, or breathing in the soft scent of a fully open rose in summer rain…it’s one of the best things about living here.
On Monday, we were at Croft Castle in Herefordshire, seeking out a shot of that quintessential “English-ness” before we fly off. This was late August, and rows of meticulously planned and planted chestnut trees in the grounds, were still summer- green. Just over the fence, the proudly parcelled bales of hay were lined up on sun-bright fields like sausage rolls cooling on their tray: ready for the golden feast of autumn. I’ve always thought of it as a rich, opulent season: gifts a-plenty on trees laden with heavy, crumble-perfect apples, plump plums and damsons; juicy berries, and trees swathed in their copper coloured cloaks: rich russets, burnished bronzes.
By the time the leaves here are turning gold, we’ll have rolled across Canada on the Rocky Mountaineer, and explored Vancouver and San Francisco. As they start to fall, we’ll be hurtling through Japan on bullet trains and trundling down through Vietnam on the Reunification Express. We’ll have fulfilled a childhood ambition of mine to follow my late father’s steps in Tonga, we’ll have met members of remote Vietnamese communities on a hilltop hike, and linked up with old friends and family in New Zealand and Hong Kong. And as temperatures in England dip, we’ll also be adding another layer or two, for an early morning trip to walk on the Great Wall of China. And that ain’t bad!
Back in England, autumn means birthdays for both of my daughters, and it’ll seem strange to miss those, too. But they’ll be opening the cards and presents I’m leaving for them. And social media messaging is sorted!
Of course…on top of those birthday gifts, there’ll be travel treasures from our trip for my girls, and for Nigel’s two daughters too…all similar ages; all bright, lovely, independent young women.
All four girls have clocked up a fair number of travel miles between them already. Alice and her boyfriend Andy are on the Spanish leg of a month’s Interrailing trip round Europe right now. But I hope that one of the best gifts we can bring back from our adventure is to show them that a continuing curiosity about the world ; a need to explore it, and a yearning to learn and care about people who live two flights and a million miles from us, never has to stop.
Whichever season of your life you’re in.
+ Hello! Our bags are getting pretty full now…but you can still come with us on our whizz round the world. If you’ve followed us already, or offered hints and tips for our preparation and the trip itself, thank you SO MUCH! If you haven’t , please just click on the follow button up there on the right, for regular updates. And chat to us, please! Wherever we are, you might know of a sight that mustn’t be missed….a bar with the funniest cocktail waiter…..a simple bench with a million dollar view. Share your experiences, offer us advice…just keep talking 🙂