There’s something both dispiriting and magical about this time of year. Dispiriting as the days get shorter, the mornings colder and the chance of being able to leave the house without at least ten layers on remoter. But magical as the leaves turn glorious colours, the air gets crisper, the light clearer and (dare I say the word) Christmas draws closer. It’s not my favourite season but it has its attractions, not least of which is our annual family pilgrimage to Nonsuch Park for a conker hunt.
So last Sunday after breakfast (details of which here) we piled the girls, scooters and a carrier bag (oh yes, we’re THAT family) in the car. I’d heard that the rather tired park tearoom had recently had a facelift so let’s just say the trip had an added attraction for at least two of us.
It’s always a bit of a lottery as to how successful our hunt will be; in previous years we’ve walked the length of the park to find a tree that hadn’t been denuded of its bounty, but this time we struck lucky with the first one we came to. There had obviously been a fresh crop overnight as we found several beauties still nestled in their prickly cases and Jessica in particular found these ones incredibly exciting as only a six year old can. Although I have to admit there is something thrilling about catching a glimpse of the glossy surface peeking out from its shelter of leaves that makes it surprisingly difficult to stop looking even when the bag is bulging.
Last year Nick decided to extend the hunt to pine cones, which he likes to display mixed in with the conkers; it’s all about the texture, dahlings. And, oh look, we had to walk past the café to get to the pine trees, so what better opportunity than to drop in for refuelling? Sadly we didn’t get to try any of the delish looking cakes on view as Nick was planning to cook lunch when we got home so we contented ourselves with hot drinks and drooling over the café’s laden counter.
The pine cones duly collected (and Alice dissuaded from taking an entire fallen pine branch), we took our treasure home to display proudly. It’s official folks – Autumn is here.