Autumn is here. The days may be drawing in, but as the leaves change colour it's also a beautiful time of the year to spend with friends and family, and there's plenty to do and enjoy. Below are some fun autumnal activities for you and the family now the leaves are turning, along with a few Heathcote & Ivory products to enjoy along the way.
Also, if you missed it, take a look at our article The Best Autumn Walks in London for some great walks in the capital.
Activity 1: Foraging for chestnuts
Rosehips, blackberries, elderberries, sloes, mushrooms as well as a variety of nuts are all available this time of the year, but one of the favourites to go out collecting is the good old-fashioned chestnut. The chestnut is easily recognised and makes a tasty treat when cooked by an open fire when you get home. Not to be confused with horse chestnuts (conkers), which are inedible, chestnut trees can be found all around the country. They're best when they've had time to ripen. Late autumn is best, when they have filled in and have turned a deep reddish brown. Don't forget to wear gardening gloves – these tasty little nuts don't half pack some spikes!
Handy H&I item? Floral Mixed Hand Cream Collection – Keep those hands in good condition and experience all four floral fragrances with our travel sized hand cream collection – perfect for popping in pockets or bags for a day out in the countryside.
More info: www.woodlands.co.uk
Activity 2: Build a bonfire
You still can't beat the cosiness and comfort of a bonfire on a cold autumnal night – it's an enchanting way to light up the night time sky and wrap up warm with loved ones. A well managed bonfire where everything is done safely is also a great way of disposing of dry, non-compostable garden waste. A few bonfire tips are: warn your neighbours beforehand, build the bonfire away from structures and trees, keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies, and of course keep children and pets a safe distance away.
Handy H&I product? Dandelion Clocks 6 Scented Drawer Liners – A great way of adding a gentle fragrance to your cupboards to keep your clothes smelling fresh and vibrant – especially important after a bonfire!
More info: www.direct.gov.uk
Activity 3: Rake the leaves
Now this one sounds like a chore, and if you want to keep the grass alive over winter, it is. But, what many people don't always appreciate is exactly how much fun raking the leaves up with the family can be. Warning: leaf fights may be imminent, and this activity may result in you picking leaves out of your clothes and shoes for some time. So wrap up warm, arm everyone with a rake, and get out in the fresh air. Leaves will compost well on their own, but you're best off gathering them into a pile somewhere convenient, rather than letting them pick their own spot on your nice lawn.
Handy H&I item? Gardeners Tea-Break Hand Essentials with Hand Cream & Hand Wash, Nail Brush & Ceramic Mug - What better way to get hands clean after all that hard graft, followed by a little pampering, than with our delicious Gardeners tea break set?
More info: www.ehow.com
Activity 4: Make some warming soup
Autumn is a fantastic season for squashes, such as Butternut and Pumpkin, both of which help make delicious soups to warm the cockles. It's also a great way to treat the family, who may well have been outside foraging, raking leaves, or making a bonfire. Get everyone involved, chopping and preparing, and when that's done, doing the washing up! Enjoy eating together with some crusty bread and butter.
Below is an easy and delicious soup recipe, that can be applied to pumpkin as well (if using pumpkin, try adding curry powder instead of chilli) that can be found on the BBC Good Food website.
- 1 butternut squash , about 1kg, peeled and deseeded
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 onions , diced
- 1 garlic clove , thinly sliced
- 2 mild red chillies , deseeded and finely chopped
- 850ml hot vegetable stock
- 4 tbsp crème fraîche , plus more to serve
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into large cubes, about 4cm/1½in across, then toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins, turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
- While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
- Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and the crème fraîche, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. For a really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser and blitz it in batches. Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste. Serve the soup in bowls with swirls of crème fraîche and a scattering of the remaining chopped chilli.
Handy H&I item? Morris & Co. Golden Lily Hand Wash & Hand Lotion – The perfect decorative duo for pampering hands after a busy time in the kitchen, with essential oils of Patchouli, Orange and Black Pepper.
More info: www.bbcgoodfood.com
Article updated: 17/10/14