We are halfway through October, my favourite month of the year, and it still feels like our feet haven't touched the ground. Thank-you cards have arrived but remain unwritten. I will tackle them tomorrow and hope we're forgiven a little tardiness.
A lot of the whirlwind has been around work as mine continues busy and N started university the Monday after the wedding. At the start of the month, I went to see a performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Birmingham Rep which was beautifully handled, with signing (some of the actors were deaf) and a sensitive treatment of multiple needs. Hero was actually given some autonomy in this performance, instead of remaining a cipher, a pretty mute thing who has no voice but merely accepts the fates dealt by the terrible men around her. It was rather refreshing.
The last time I'd seen this play, it was a Bollywood version in Stratford, which was a visual feast. I've always loved the sparring between Beatrice and Benedick.
Last Saturday we went to see Mark Steel, the comedian, at Tenbury Wells Regal, a treat of a little art deco theatre, loving restored and working again. I'm a big fan of his 'In Town' series on Radio 4 and he didn't disappoint. Every joke about a place is said with genuine fondness for its strange customs and quirks, there is no malice. Unless he was talking about the present government, but then he could be forgiven that. Especially as the audience felt much the same.
We have met up with some of the RHS course crew a few times since it came to an end in May, most recently yesterday. Generally at each other's houses or in a garden centre. Mostly, the talk is not about gardens or gardening careers, but about families and plans and life in general. Children and pets run around. We eat. We chat. We swap cuttings and bulbs.
Lured in by how much I'd enjoyed the films, we started watching Rings of Power and got 3 episodes in before I declared I did not care for any of the characters, and I did not care for a stroppy Galadriel, and I did not care for meaningful looks where a simple "this is a terrible idea and we shouldn't do it" statement would do. But Ghosts has restarted which makes me joyous, as does the new puppy on Gardener's World, all wriggly legs and ears. Bake Off continues to reach new heights of silliness and I don't care in a good way; it is the icing on the bun on the bake that is unnecessarily complicated but still, somehow, delicious. I think I might be in awe of Noel Fielding's eyeliner.
The Cheltenham Literary Festival is on. I haven't been to an event there since I saw Audrey Niffenegger speak in 2010. Back then, I was living a different life, writing a different blog. Now I'm living this one and looking forward to seeing Ian Hislop talk about his Desert Island Books tomorrow with N. I've long admired Hislop's intelligence and wit, so this should be interesting. And yes, I do have a list of desert island books of my own, and have already decided that, should I ever be on the Desert Island Discs, I will reject the copy of the bible for the collected novels of the Brontes.
Speaking of which, I will not be watching the new film, Emily. I'm sure it's a very good film but I feel that all biopics take liberties with the truth and Emily Bronte has suffered enough at the hands of people taking liberties with her truth.
But I have reread the book recently, and Jane Eyre, and Dracula. This month always calls for Victorian novels, I feel, and I've got a copy of Lady Audley's Secret to hand, a blanket to curl up under and Nordic socks to wear to keep my feet warm. These socks are simply amazing. Warm enough to keep my toes from feeling froze, even without slippers or within wellies, whilst not keeping them so warm I end up with unpleasantly sweaty feet. Consider this a wholehearted recommendation.
Some mornings, I've got myself out of the house for a walk along the canal just as the sun breaches the trees. The air has that autumn smell of woodsmoke, fog, damp bark and earth that is so wonderful. The colours make my smile wider and my step springier. I'm enjoying Mabel's fluffier coat, the return of soup to our lives, the shine of conkers against the paths, the moon rising a little higher and brighter against the darker skies.
Once we return from Bruges, a proper hunkering down will begin. Fewer excursions, a retreat to warmth and light behind our doors. I love the whole process of Wintering, when my overstimulated brain is allowed to rest, when I naturally wake later and don't feel that surge of 'must do' that comes from the lighter half of the year. I am a natural hibernator.
Autumn, I've been waiting for you.