Is it autumn yet? has been the question my friends and I have been asking a lot lately. Some cling to summer, while others, like me, rejoice in the autumn. Late summer – that brown, dull, lagging, almost-but-not-quite warm season of cobwebs and rain – is, together with late winter (also brown, dull, lagging and almost-but-not-quite warm) my least favourite season. Autumn promises new harvest, colour, gently darkening evenings. In the autumn the year begins anew – will we ever break that cycle of school year in our minds?
Hearty meals. Red wine. Candlelit dinners and asters.
And rain. Somehow autumn rain isn’t quite as disheartening as summer rain. It belongs. It brings mushrooms, and gives permission to stay indoors. To wear warm clothes and wellies. To feel a bit sad, but in a cosy, forgiving way.
There are also all the autumn walks in breezy, sunny days, the dramatic cloudy skies, and landscapes ripe and dry.
And all those autumn flowers – every seasons seems to have its colour, and the colour of autumn flowers is purple. Michaelmas daisies, asters, crocuses, morning glories, oh my.
I didn’t really mean to take this picture – my finger hit the button by accident when I was putting the phone away. A rather happy mistake.
Turner’s cows, Constable’s clouds. They both stood here, looked at this same view, and were inspired. How could one not be?
The peacock of The Trout. Every pub should have one.
Off the bucket list: walking home through Port Meadow at night. We had the perfect evening for it, even a nearly-full moon.
I love, love Victoria and Albert Museum. I’m a bad museum goer in that I never learn anything, I just admire the aesthetics of the displays. And I’m drawn to the same displays over and over again, like the Egyptian gallery in the Ashmolean and the performing arts gallery in V&A. The model of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach is new since my last visit.
I finally finished reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novels last Saturday – I started this project at Christmas, so it has taken me rather embarrassingly long time. I think Jane Marple really would deserve her own post, but until then: Sleeping Murder is still my favourite. They do it with mirrors is the weakest of the 12 novels, even if I do love the adaptation, with Penelope Wilton and Joan Collins playing somewhat implausible sisters. I could remember most random details from The mirror crack’d from side to side, and after finishing that novel, went around for weeks ordering daiquiris in bars. Now I just need a new project…
When Instagram introduced this new feature, I resisted pretty hard. Guess what happened next? I call this photo hipster breakfast – the eggs are from organic chestnut maran chickens, the toast is NY sourdough, there’s coffee and Palomino Blackwing pencil and knitting, and all the colours match the plums. I’m morphing into one of them.
Carousel horses. St Giles fair is over and gone for another year, and the summer is over.


Wine Wednesday

This is something I have meaning to do for a while now: a wine feature. Not that I know a lot, but I have been known to gargle and spit on occasion (well, gargle; I’m not big on the whole spit thing), go on the random vineyard tour and drink far more than is officially beneficial health-wise. My serious interest in wine started in university, when I got in the college wine team, spent one term training to taste (my academic output that term wasn’t great, amazingly enough) before going to California for wine tasting challenge. I’ll probably never drink as fine or as expensive wines again I had a chance to sample then, but luckily enjoying wine isn’t all about the price.

My interest in wine was sparked (or rather, flamed) again by watching a documentary called A year in Burgundy (available on Netflix and iTunes), an interesting, elegant account of how the grapes make their way into the bottle, and how the conditions – early spring, drought, hailstorms on the day of the picking – impact the vintage. This documentary is both educational and inspirational, and it was while watching it that I decided to start this project. First step, go downstairs to the wine merchant (yes, I live above a wine merchant) and spend a little bit more than usually on a bottle of Californian Cabernet sauvignon. Gargle, don’t spit. Second step, organise a tasting. I invited a group of women of all ages to a restaurant in Summertown, and over couple of hours we tasted wines from France and from various new world countries, and learned along the way how growing conditions, wine making methods and local tastes affect the wines produced – an interesting insight into how changing tastes have influenced wine production and marketing especially in France. Third step, learn. That’s what Wine Wednesdays will be all about.


IMG_5520Gas towers in Hackney in east London. I love these, the utilitarian, steampunky beauty of them.
Beautiful graffiti in Hackney.
Constable’s clouds over Berkshire.
IMG_5590From the city streets to the country. I visited the Stanlake Park winery in Twyford, Berkshire, with some friends couple of weeks ago and heartily recommend it. The vineyards and gardens are beautiful, the wine fairly good and very reasonably priced, and Ruth the tour guide lovely and hilarious.
IMG_5680Constable’s clouds over Gloucestershire.
IMG_5724Maple avenues in Cornbury Park, near Wychwood Forest, our second day destination.
IMG_5666Welcome to Cotswolds.
IMG_5739Roman snail crossing the road near Charlbury train station.
IMG_5675From home counties to Cotswolds. I spend the August Bank Holiday weekend in Costswolds, walking, eating, spending time with a friend. The summer has faded into autumn rather quickly, and the landscapes are breathtaking – from a hillside opens a view of ranges of hills, sprinkled with little hamlets and church towers, clouds of smoke from gardeners burning leaves rising here and there. There is something comforting about the vast silence of the countryside, but also something eerie, hostile almost. There are abandoned barns and plague villages, and the place names suggest of past horrors. Ask me sometime why Dancer’s Hill is called so.