Autumn is a good time. Yes, the days get shorter, darker and colder. But the leaves are crisper, the pubs cosier, the wine redder and the jumpers thicker. The winter coats and the wooly hats make their long awaited appearance. Picnics are replaced with roasts. Pumpkin spiced lattes and hot chocolates make their grand entrance. Halloween and bonfire night flex their muscles. And Christmas is only just round the corner (of course October is an acceptable time to watch Love Actually with a glass of mulled wine).
This autumn is looking a little (a lot) different to normal. And with London joining many of our fellow Northerners in achieving the converted ‘Tier 2’ title, it seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll be able to fully enjoy many of autumn’s simplest pleasures; jostling in big crowds to watch Guy Fawkes go up in flames, peeling veg with friends in preparation for a mid afternoon roast dinner, and raising a glass with colleagues in a pub. The few months of freedom in summer was a blissful respite (Super Saturday, remember that?). But with the seventh month of home working setting in, and new restrictions coming in thick and fast, the covid fatigue is very real right now. Where is the finish line? Why is our hopeless government so incapable of implementing an effective track and trace system? When can we finally visit grandparents again? When can things just go back to normal?
So yeah, there is no denying that the next few months will probably be a bit of a slog in many ways. 2020 has been one big adjustment. BUT, corona hasn’t taken away every good thing about autumn. As we’ve done with pretty much everything else this year, from holidays to work to virtual quizzes, autumn is also going to have to adjust and adapt. Here are some of the ways in which I’m planning to enjoy one of the best seasons…very much in spite of covid (🖕).
- Appreciate the evenings inside
Like it or not, we’re going to be spending a lot our evenings inside for the foreseeable. Pubs close at 10. You can’t meet friends inside. And it’s getting too cold and too dark to sit in a park. What’s more, with no commute these days, evenings in general start a lot earlier than they normally would. So when it hits 5.30, you’ve closed the laptop and the light fades, it’s time to start the evening festivities. Switch the fairy lights on, pour a cup of tea or hot chocolate (or a midweek glass of wine, we are living in a pandemic after all), debrief with housemates, and accept and enjoy this new slow pace of life.
- Spend more time on food.
More free time in the evenings means more time spent on dinner. Gone are the days of pesto pasta, hastily thrown together after a day in the office followed by drinks and the commute back home. Dinner is now the highlight of the day – and more time and that extra ££ saved from TFL = fancier and more creative meals.
Everyone gets caught in the classic ‘food rut’, where you recycle the same 5 meals round and round. Personally, I’ve found the most effective way to claw yourself out of said rut is to flick through cookbooks. Mob, Jamie, Ottilenghi if you’re feeling particularly bougie… but when inspiration is running low and you fancy a change, tackling a brand new dish is a very good way to inject some excitement and variation into an evening.
- Catch up on TV
This entire year has been one big tv catch up. Which I am most definitely here for. Grab a blanket and some crisps and go wild. Here have been my autumn MVPs so far…
- Gogglebox (Channel 4) – quite possibly the best thing to have ever graced the small screen. Throughout the entire Covid debacle, the national heroes of Gogglebox have been the collective voice of the country, and a beacon of shining light in dark times. And the new series is no different. Whether it be ridiculing Nigella’s avo on German spelt bread (‘cut the crap, Nigella’ – Giles), outrage as Boris fat shamed the country on Andrew Marr, or hilarity at Gordon losing it once again at his poor staff, the entire cast are deserving recipients of OBEs, for their admirable services to entertainment.
- GBBO (Channel 4) – Seeing this back on our screens again was like receiving a great big warm hug. The music. The beloved tent. The utterly adorable contestants. Not to mention the drama – remember Sura knocking over David’s pineapple upside down cakes in the very first ep? Outrageous.
- This Is Us (Amazon Prime) – Get the tissues ready for this one. It follows the lives of triplets Kate, Kevin and Randall as they deal with their own trials and tribulations, from kids to adults. Heartwarming, heartbreaking and very very watchable, this is a perfect autumn watch for a cosy eve. Plus (as it’s American), there’s about 5000 episodes, so you’ll never run out.
- Us (BBC) – Not to be confused with the above. Witty British drama at its finest. A four part series, which stars Tom Hollander as Douglas, a bumbling middle aged and middle class man who tries to save his marriage to wife Connie, by embarking on a European interrailing trip together with their teenage son, Albie. The writing and acting are both 10/10, and the European backdrop is beautiful – touching, funny and well worth a watch.
- Below Deck (Netfix, Hayu) – It’s the drama, Mick, in the wise words of Pam Shipman. 3 deckhands. 3 interiors. A chef. The captain. A luxury yacht. Bloody good tv. If you haven’t already binged several seasons, then do not fear – that’s what lockdown 2.0 is for. Oscar worthy reality TV.
- Enjoying new (and old) hobbies
It’s been a year of self discovery. Discovering how scarily accurate TikTok’s algorithm is after being bombarded with hundreds of videos featuring puppies dancing to Taylor Swift’s Love Story.
Also discovering that running is not actually the worst thing in the whole entire world, and sometimes, can even be considered marginally ‘enjoyable’. Wild, I know.
This autumn I’m going to continue making time for the things I enjoy, and never did much of in a pre pandemic world because there never seemed to be enough time. Whether it be reading a lot more, running, scrolling through Donald Trump’s twitter, TikTok or cooking. It’s the small things right now.
- Socialise outside
It’s only October! Seeing friends outside without receiving frostbite is still very possible. Normally, sitting outside for an evening in autumn wouldn’t even cross my mind. But each stage of Covid is forcing us to interact differently to how we would before. And tier 2 in October means booking an outside space, bringing coats, hats, thermals and blankets to enjoy your meal out (beer jackets are also a very real thing). Or meeting a friend in a park with a flask of tea for an autumnal walk. Or taking advantage of friends with outside spaces and investing in an outdoor heater on a Sunday afternoon. The possibilities are endless.
Covid fatigue is frustrating. We’re social beings, and the world right now is designed to prevent that in every way; from government restrictions, to table service in pubs and home offices. Social distancing in the colder months is going to be a whole new kind of challenge. But autumn isn’t cancelled – and finding new ways to enjoy normal aspects of the run up to Christmas is still very possible. Especially with thermals, Below Deck and outdoor heaters.