Each year, almost like clockwork, Autumn comes around and sends me into a deep and amorphous funk.
Even though I’ve been working for ten years, I still get that “back to school” feeling. There are a number of factors at work here: the first damp cold days are a reminder that the months ahead will be even more cold and grey. It’s not cold enough for the heating to be on (we all want to keep it off as long as possible, right?), so unlike the depths of winter, home is not a cosy refuge from the cold in the air. Autumn is mucky, the falling leaves are mulched on the ground into a dirty decaying mess on the wet pavement. My birthday is in October and as a child it would tide me over between Summer and Christmas. I used to wonder why people were so worried about birthdays and getting older, but these days a birthday fills me with trepidation. It’s not so much the thought of getting older that causes my anxiety, as being stricken with the thought that nobody else gives a crap, that if I organise something my friends won’t come, or they will come and complain about it. Of course the first signs of Christmas are showing – and I’m a big fan – but it’s just not as good as it used to be, is it?
What Autumn does amazingly is colour. Even when the sky is grey, if you look carefully, the shades and patterns are beautiful. The sunlight in Autumn has a special quality; somehow nostalgic for Summer just past. Sunny days are more valuable in the Autumn, when each fine day could be the year’s last, than in Spring, when we complacently assume there will be many more to come.
This weekend had that feeling of the last warm weekend, and we swapped the pervasive damp of the city for the dappled light of the Forest of Dean and enjoyed the other great thing about Autumn – Apples (cider!). The Wye valley is fantastic in the spring (blossom) and autumn (fruit), and I haven’t been to Symmonds Yat since I was a kid, so this was a real treat.
I used to hate going to the seaside. The sea is dirty – there is usually a sewer overflow nearby just as a reminder. I hate sand, I hate the way it just gets everywhere, in my shoes, between my toes, in my food. It is always windy. I hate the wind. It winds me up, it’s like being manhandled by mother nature’s security men – it’s out of order but there’s nothing you can do, and when it’s done, you’re left sore and red faced. The sun is probably why I find myself at the seaside, so naturally I will be burnt. Hot weather also means pollen – even at the beach – add that to the wind and sand and my eyes will be streaming.
We recently revisited a beach that we first found a year ago, and I realised that there is a difference between a beach and the seaside.
Coming from land locked Herefordshire, a trip to the seaside usually meant going to a seaside town on holiday. I like seaside towns. I like to stroll along the promenade with a “99” or a bag of chips. Beaches at seaside towns are not good. These are the dirty, overcrowded things of my nightmares.
So it occurred to me that this beach on the Gower peninsula, near Swansea is probably my favourite one – probably because of the lack of other people.
Now I am a little older, and have (sort of) come to terms with sand and water and the fact that it will get everywhere, I can at least enjoy bite sized visits.