Today is the autumn equinox, when day and night are equal in length, which means my favourite season has finally arrived! Brisk walks, dark nights and the perpetual smell of a distant bonfire in the air. What’s not to love about autumn?
If you’re also a fan of all things autumnal, don’t let the small matter of a global pandemic stop you from making the most of the season. Here are 20 activities for autumn that are pandemic-approved.
1. Visit a pumpkin patch
Pumpkins are the epitome of autumn and picking your own from a pumpkin patch in some picturesque rural setting has become a trend over the last few years. If you want to hop on the bandwagon, a quick google search for ‘local pumpkin patch’ will bring up a number of nearby farms that you can visit where you can pick out the perfect pumpkin for your annual Halloween carving.
2. Go for a walk in nature
Temperatures in autumn are ideal for outdoor walks. It’s not so cold that you need to bundle up in a scarf and gloves, yet not so hot that you are going to get uncomfortably sweaty from the exercise. Enjoy the scenery at your local park or drive into the countryside.
3. Capture the colours of the season
No-one can deny the natural beauty of autumn. With so many vibrant colours around you, it’s a great opportunity for a seasonal photoshoot. Most smartphones have a good quality camera, so you’re already equipped to start shooting some beautiful photos of your surroundings.
4. Make a bonfire
The smell of bonfires always reminds me of autumn. Gather some dry wood from a nearby park, invite a couple of friends round to sit two metres away from you in your garden (aren’t pandemics fun?) and you’re ready to go!
5. Have a conker battle
The great thing about being an adult is that you no longer have to listen to those ridiculous health and safety guidelines that deem conkers ‘too dangerous’ for school playgrounds. Take your time when hunting for the perfect conker that will see you to victory, it’s all part of the fun.
6. Experiment with pumpkin recipes
Every year as autumn approaches I tell myself that I will take the opportunity to cook something delicious and pumpkin-flavoured, yet frustratingly I never get round to it. Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient! You could choose to make a traditional pumpkin pie, but you could also blitz it for a hearty soup or spiced curry.
7. Carve a pumpkin
It isn’t Halloween until you have carved the innards out of a pumpkin and stuck the illuminated corpse in your window for all the neighbours to see. For those of you who are more creatively inclined, challenge yourself to carve a famous person or character.
8. Decorate your house or garden for Halloween
There’s lots of Halloween themed decorations available to buy online for cheap – Ebay is a good place to start. Alternatively, there’s plenty of DIY decorations on Pinterest. If you have the time and commitment, you could go all out and transform your garden into a sinister graveyard scene with skulls and tombstones.
9. Give your room an autumnal makeover
I am that basic girl who has already bought an autumn-inspired candle and you know what I have no regrets. My bedroom smells of pumpkin spice and it is heavenly. As well as seasonal candles, you can bring the colours of autumn indoors with cushions, blankets and other home accessories. Leaves and pine cones also add a great finishing touch to any coffee table.
One of my favourite ways to spend an evening. Head out into the countryside where there’s less pollution for the best view and see which of the constellations you can correctly identify. Make sure you wrap up warm or pack a blanket.
11. Make your own apple cider
Apple is another traditionally autumn flavour, so embrace the season with a warm apple cider. Making apple cider at home is easier than you might think, especially if you have a slow cooker. Apple cider can be enjoyed without alcohol, but I personally like to make things more interesting by adding some bourbon to the mix. Here’s a straightforward recipe you can try.
12. Celebrate Harvest Festival
In Britain, Harvest Festival dates back to pagan times when people would give thanks for the crops they had enjoyed throughout the year. Nowadays it is basically an excuse to over-indulge in comfort food, although many people do see it as an opportunity to reflect on the positive things in their lives. Invite friends or family to join you over Zoom for a harvest feast and share with each other the things you are grateful for.
13. Embrace soup weather
Cooking soup is a great way to use up leftovers and fridge food nearing its expiry date. Chuck all your ingredients into a blender, heat the mixture in your saucepan and boom you have a wholesome lunch for work the next day. Don’t forget to add a slice of crusty buttered bread for dipping!
14. Road trip
Road trips are a fun day out at any time of the year, but a trip taken in autumn offers the most beautiful views during your drive. Stock up on the essentials (snacks for the journey obviously) and then drive to your chosen location. What I love about road trips is that they always feel like an adventure, regardless of how near or far the destination is from home.
15. Read some autumn poetry
Ode to Autumn by John Keats is one of the most famous poems about autumn (‘seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness…’) but many poets, from the traditional to the contemporary, have been inspired by the beauty of autumn. The best way to enjoy a poem about nature is surrounded by nature itself, so grab a blanket and spend a relaxed evening reading in your garden.
16. Host a virtual Halloween party
I firmly believe that you are never too old to dress up as a slutty witch and get drunk on jelly shots. Celebrate Halloween with your friends by throwing a virtual party (fancy dress mandatory, of course). Order your costume online or make your own from old clothes and materials around the house. Don’t forget, there’s always those trusty black bin liners as a last resort.
17. Visit a lantern trail
A lantern trail is when a popular nature spot is adorned with hundreds of lights for visitors to enjoy at night. These trails are often promoted as a Christmas attraction in winter, but many of them open in November. If you’re a Nottingham local like myself, Wollaton Park have recently announced that they will be organising a lantern trail this year so keep an eye out on their social media for more details.
18. Film night
A cosy film night is a great way to make an autumn evening at home feel a little more special. Gather up some blankets and cushions and set up camp in your living room – even better, make a duvet fort! Add some traditional snacks, like popcorn and nachos, for a more authentic cinema experience.
19. Bake a pie
Sweet or savoury, traditional or creative, everyone loves a good pie. I will hold my hands up and say when it comes to pastry, I can never be bothered with the faff. It’s the 21st century, people – ready rolled pastry exists for a reason. Whether your pastry is made from scratch or shop bought, it’s guaranteed to be well-received by the people you live with.
20. Make your own Halloween treats
More seasonal fun in the kitchen! Tuck into these tasty treats at your film night or wrap them in cellophane and leave on a friend’s doorstep for a sweet surprise.
What are your favourite things to do in autumn? Will you be trying any of the activities on this list? Let me know in the comments. And while the warm weather lingers, remember there’s still time to try the summer activities on my socially distanced bucket list.