“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
A.A. MILNE, WINNIE-THE-POOH
Autumn; a time of adventure, of kicking through the gathering piles of fallen leaves and finding rich pickings of bejewelled berries in amongst the hedgerows and wild grasses.
I have run and small and fairly inaccurate poll and can confirm that autumn is everyone's favourite season in the British Isles.
We love to hate our weather. Summer; inevitably too slow to arrive, then despicably hot for a day or two and cursed by those that have to suffer the intolerable heat thrust upon them so unexpectedly... then cursed doubly when the heatwave is retracted and replaced with a bitterly cold chill and constant horizontal rain.
Autumn, meanwhile, we feel comfortable with. We understand each other. We are best equipped for this season, our wardrobe's are ready to stand up to the falling temperature and we know we need to leave the house prepared for all eventualities, but snug and waterproof clothing is essential.
For me, the clear, crisp, mornings with sun streaming through, happily enveloped in a thick knit jumper and wellington boots on standby at the door are magical.
More magical still are the adventures on our doorsteps, the woods come alive in Autumn. There are so many weird and wonderful creepy crawlies lurking under rocks and rustling through leaves, mushrooms of all varieties pushing up through the damp earth, conkers scattered like falling stars, ready to be speared, strung and swung against your queue of opponents in conker championships.
I'm a little concerned that conker wars are slipping into the past and sadder still, the horse chestnut tree is under threat of extinction. It is predicted that in just over 10 years, two million horse chestnut trees will be lost to a combination of disease and moths. Furthermore, they are no longer being planted as the moths attack so savagely, the tree only survives between three and five years.
So I implore you to gather conkers while they are still to be found.
And if you really want to get serious, sign up for the World Conker Championships. Keep us in mind when you're little one becomes the reigning champion of the conker world!
Latest haul from foraging adventures include blackberries, picture perfect windfall apples and sloes. The blackberries and apples went straight into a crumble and well, you can guess where the sloes are now. Soaking up the good stuff in time for Christmas.
Another favourite is using the blackberries for a baked custard pie. Here's Töastie's easy peasy chef-short-on-time Baked Blueberry Custard Tart.
500g sweet shortcrust pastry
500ml vanilla custard
120g foraged blackberries
Roll out chilled sweet shortcrust pastry and line the base of a circular 20cm cake dish. Line the base with tin foil, cover with baking beans and blind bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C until pale golden. Scatter blackberries evenly across the base, pour in the delicious thick custard and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until set, at 150C.
Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar.
More adventures for Tiny Explorers with curious little minds can be found through the National Trust. By becoming a member there are not only magical experiences to be had and a wealth of places to be explored, but you are also helping to protect the land and landmarks so richly embedded in our British heritage.
For the London dwellers amongst us, you might not have thought it, but there are endless opportunities all around you! The National Trust website have a fantastic selection of autumn walks in and around London, hugely encourage you to check them out. You can download Ordinance Survey style maps with clearly mapped out routes for wonderful afternoon adventures! Linked here.
We look forward to your Tiny Explorer forging the path of another enchanting adventure.