Who in their right mind looks forward to a British winter? Endless nights, endless rain, streaming colds, mud and no hint of warmth. Not me for one. Despite the joys of hot chocolate and starry, starry nights and watching the snow fall, our winters just go on too long.
But preparing for winter is a different business altogether. I love this time of year, of harvest and golden days and the smell of ripening fruit and I love being part of the season and the feeling of taking in the bounty of the land and preparing for the cold.
Today has been the most glorious autumn day and I have stocked my cellar full of apples. Some picked from a local community orchard where I braved the daddy long legs to gather coxes and russets from the trees I had pruned in the spring and some scrumped from my neighbour which involved climbing on the roof of the summer house and leaning precariously out over their garden.
I have stewed apples and bottled elderberry elixir, a dangerous mix of elderberries, spices and dark rum, guaranteed to keep any cold at bay. I have squeezed the rose hips to test their readiness for syrup making and tasted my first batch of blackberry jam. I have smelt and sipped and supped the season. I have felt the cold pick of ice in the evenings, I have watched the moon rise, I have felt the season turning.