Sunday 25 September 2011

First days of Autumn

1st tinges of color in the oak leaves
Last Friday was the Autumn Equinox so summer is officially behind us. Late summer gave us weeks of wishy-washy weather with below average temperatures. However, it has now turned glorious. Proper bright blue skies and temperatures in the low to mid 20s. Indian Summer, with the first leaves on the turn, has arrived!

The grape harvest is as good as finished but there are plenty of other signs that Autumn is settling in for a 'good' session. 

drop, drop, dropping.....!
Our walnut trees have been dropping nuts for a while now and you can barely move without scrunching several underfoot. There are loads of acorns and conkers [wild chestnuts] too this year. It keeps the red squirrels very busy. They are making good use of this harvest and seem to have become adept at playing 'cat & mouse' with Katinka without it really interferring with their collections. Thankfully, so far we've had no 'presents' of russet furry bodies.

autunm sown field

Several weeks ago Eric finished his autumn planting and now tiny green shoots have popped up in orderly rows. The minute leaves look to be of a brassica type plant so we suspect it's colza [rape seed].

red apples in a village orchard
Everytime we drive into the village we pass an orchard with a number of very heavily laden apple trees. The fruit on the two red trees really stands out. We wonder if they are going to harvest them -- as far as we can recall, last year they didn't.

wild rosehips packed with vitamin C
The hedgerows show splashes of bright color with wild rosehips as well as sloe plums. When we lived in the Netherlands you could buy comercially produced rosehip syrup called 'Roosvicee', it was very popular and you added it to natural yoghurt. Rosehips have far more vitamin C than oranges. We've been told that you should leave off harvesting the sloe plums until the first frost if you plan on making sloe gin. Sadly our hedgerow hasn't enough rosehips to make turning them into syrup worthwhile.



Diane said...

My oak tree has not started to change colour yet, but my Canadian maple has a carpet of leaves under it.
When I went to go and get some rose hips I see the birds have been having a ball, I decided that I would leave the few left for them as well. The recipe you sent me is tagged for next year, thanks. Diane

GaynorB said...

My post for today (still in it's editorial phase) is about autumn too.

What is that saying ...great minds think alike or is it the fools seldom differ part? :0))

Beautiful photographs and banner!

Jean said...

Lovely photos and your new header photo is fabulous!
I looked at the weather forecast today and as usual your weather is much warmer, by about 6°, and much brighter than ours, right up to the 1st October.
Please persuade the good weather to stay just a little longer for our forthcoming trip !!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - probably the latter! ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - Niall says thanks. He snapped the header pic: an early morning sun on the 14th.

Here's hoping it stays. It would be great to have few weeks of this mellow weather.

the fly in the web said...

Loved your header photograph...and the others, too.
My grandmother had me picking rosehips for syrup...and sloes too, for gin.
I don't remember having to wait for the frosts, though...and certainly didn't when making my own!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - re photos--thanks! The frost info comes via a friend in Amboise who was told this by a neighbour when out picking sloes. No idea why it should be better! :-)

Tim said...

No need to wait... in fact they've started to fall off the bushes already! Over-ripe.
Just pick and either...
1 [tedious and messy] prick the sloes all over with a needle [tip on this, five needles pushed through a slice of cork.... slightly less tedious, just as messy.
2 [less tedious and less messy] slice into each sloe with a sharp knife.
3 [not tedious and only messy if you don't put them straight into the jar] put them for a week in the ice-box of a domestic fridge.... or feeze and thaw them a couple of times in the freezer. You need LARGE crystals to form inside the fruit and break down the structure.
Done the first two, worn the t-shirt and put it in the wash!!
No 3 works every time... ours will come out at the end of the week and be put into the jar and the alcohol added.
You do not need to thaw the sloes, let nature do that in the jar... avoids mess.
We now do sloe rum rather than gin... using 55%ABV Martinique white rum... the white rum flavour is better matched to the sloes and the result is more plummy.

Jane said...

Gorgeous photographs folks... as others say, particularly the new header on your blog. How are you both doing? Have you been having the late summer too?!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Tim - sloe rum sounds excellent! BTW veggies were super. :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Jane - we're having the weather we'd normally have in July/August: cloudless skies,not a breath of wind and 28 to 30C.
All credit to Niall who took the header pic :-)