rolled field Little Forest


October already and we are making the most of a spell of fine weather sowing wheat for next year’s harvest.

sunset apples

The Discovery apples in the garden have finished and we have just started to pick the Sunset. We’re still picking blackberries and autumn fruiting raspberries, the runner beans and tomatoes show no sign of slowing down and I’m pretending not to notice that the courgettes are no longer small, tender fingers but have ballooned into mammoth marrows.

cockerel and hen

Each evening the hens, ducks and guinea fowl are shut in a little earlier as the days shorten. The ducks come to the kitchen window any time after five in the hope that I might feed them early but the hens linger in the garden so that I sometimes have to chase them out from underneath the rose bush. The guinea fowl just shriek at me from behind the fence in the fruit field, forgetting that they can fly until I wave my arms behind them.

rabbit traps

The oilseed rape is growing well, which means that the usual battle against pigeons and rabbits has started. Just for some variety, moorhens have also decided that the tender green leaves of oilseed rape are tasty and are helping the rabbits and pigeons to clear the crop. Our mode of attack so far is to place gas bird scarers in the fields to deter the pigeons and line up rabbit traps along the headlands. A trail of carrots (sliced lengthways because that’s the way rabbits best like them) lead the unwary rabbit into the cage, where they stand on the plate that springs the door shut behind them. The traps are checked every morning and any captured rabbits are humanely dispatched. Sometimes a rabbit gets lucky and manages to eat all the carrots without springing the door. Sometimes there’s two rabbits in a cage. Sometimes people spot the cages across the field and walk over and shut them. Or turn them over. Or throw them in the ditch. Or steal them.

ducklings on pond

Rather unseasonably for October, one of the ducks has hatched four ducklings. Aren’t they cute? For the moment.

Normally at the beginning of the month I link up to Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for In My Kitchen but I think I may just post In My Kitchen photos on Instagram instead. This may be a one photo wonder, especially as my enthusiasm for Instagram waxes and wanes. If you want to see what everybody else is up to in their kitchens, check out Celia’s website for a list of proper In My Kitchen stories.

Blackberry Tart | Autumn/Fall Menu | Dessert

Anne Wheaton:

If you’re looking for something to do with your autumn blackberries, there’s a recipe here for a simple tart.

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

Blackberry Tart | The Dinner Party Collective

If dinner is to start with modest autumn vegetables, it seems entirely suitable to end it with a modest autumn fruit, which the blackberry surely is. By the time we reach this course everyone should be relaxed and sociable so I like to place a dessert in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. This also means that guests choose their preferred portion size or indeed come back for a second helping.

The tart consists of a pastry case, filled with a blackberry and lime posset topped with autumn berries.


Also, if you are wondering which wine to pair with Anne’s blackberry tart, just keep reading until the end of the post and you will find my wine pairing recommendations: enjoy!

Stefano (Sommelier, Flora’s TableClicks & Corks)

Link here to Appetiser | Autumn/Fall Menu

Link here to Main Course | Autumn/Fall Menu


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autumn oak leaves

early autumn

Autumn is here. Hurrah.

There may be various ways of working out the start of autumn, whether you use the Met Office or astronomical dates or veer towards phenology, guided by the changes in the natural world such as the colouring of leaves and ripening of acorns, but sometimes it’s more personal. Here’s five ways I know that autumn is here.

Lt Forest field early atumn

ONE The countryside is changing colour. From the brown fields where the ground has been cultivated ready for sowing the new wheat crop to the leaves on the trees that are slowly turning yellow, brown and orange.

TWO  I feel drawn to wearing browns and purples. This happens every autumn as catalogues drop unbidden through the letter box featuring leggy models photographed in misty orchards wearing felt hats, tweed trousers and brogues. I resist the urge to emulate them as (a) brown and purple don’t particularly suit me and (b) my legs are at least 30 centimetres too short to carry off the look without appearing to be in fancy dress for a war-time drama.

Neck warmer

THREE  I start knitting. I thought it would be good to knit a neck warmer using the wool that I dyed with plants gathered from around the garden and farm. A sort of knitted story rather like the printed book I made in the spring. It would have been better if I’d worked out how long to make it rather than just cast on stitches until I got fed up (it winds around my neck three times and there’s still a lot of slack). Having decided to knit in the round, it would also have been better if I’d untwisted at Row 3 when I realised my error instead of thinking it wouldn’t matter. Actually, by the time it’s wound around and around, it doesn’t show. Not too much anyway. And yes, it does appear to contain brown and purple.

FOUR The Autumn Menu for The Dinner Party Collective is published. There are recipes for Vegetable Dips, Boeuf Bourguignon and Blackberry Tart together with suggestions for wines to accompany them. Just the thing for evenings around the table with friends. Nothing pretentious or fussy, just good autumn food.

FIVE  The kitchen reeks of vinegar or sugary fruit as saucepans filled with chutneys and jams boil away on the cooker. I know that I do not need to lay in stores for the winter like the squirrels that I watch pilfering our walnuts from the tree. For goodness sake, I live half a mile from a supermarket that’s open twenty-four hours a day. But there seems to be some sort of primitive urge to stock the pantry shelves for the winter and anyway, I always plant more tomatoes than we can eat fresh and  I cannot bear to see the fruit fall from the trees to lie rotting on the ground. And I can’t walk past blackberry bushes day after day without stopping to pick a few to drop into an apple crumble. And a few to make jam. And a whole lot more for Blackberry Gin. And blackberry chutney. And blackberry leather …

How do you know that Autumn has arrived? Or maybe you don’t notice or even care. Do tell.