Now that the kids are back in school, leaves are turning brown and the air has that lovely crispness about it which heralds the onset of the kind of weather in which you can legitimately cover yourself in faux fur and stop worrying about shaving your legs, I find myself making many promises which rarely come to fruition.
I say promises. Actually I mean blatant fibs. But the intention is there. Readers, I give to you the 8 lies of autumn.
1. I will cook something featured in The Great British Bake-Off
Excited by all that artistry, the creation of statues out of dough and cakes so large you could wedge a barn door open with one, I consult my wall of cookery books, find my flour is inhabited and my eggs don’t float at the right angle (I’ve read up on egg freshness you know) and then ponder whether I am brave enough to turn the K-Mix on. Yes I actually have a K-Mix but I’m a bit scared of it.
Generally, this is so stressful an experience, I put the whole thing safely in the hands of Mr Kipling and mutter about baking a Christmas cake this year. (See lie 4).
2. I will not watch X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing but will read a book instead.
The Husband and I have the same conversation each year along the lines that both programmes have ‘gone downhill’, we don’t know any of the ‘celebrities’ on them and we should just turn the damn TV off and chat or read. Obviously this means will end up watching one or the other (or if the Husband is not around, possibly a combination of both). Who can resist Simon being mean? Or having a bet on how long it will take before Mrs O starts throwing water? And the dresses on Strictly. I love the dresses.
3. I will not leave all the Halloween pumpkin carving to the Husband
I am the proud possessor of Martha Stewart’s guide to Halloween – which is one of my favourite celebrations. In it, she gives templates for carving 4 ft high witches and cats out of balsa wood and her home (mansion) is a fantastic concoction of spiders, webs, potions and cute themed cupcakes. There is, let me tell you, emphatically nothing produced by Cadburys. Her fancy dress costumes would not look out of place in a Hammer Horror film.
In reality, this means that the Husband and I argue about whether 3 pumpkins is overdoing it a bit and then I leave him to assert his masculinity by carving them out in the cold in the garden. After a bad tempered trip to ASDA where we are usually too late to get the kids’ choice of costume, I then spend two hours putting our Halloween decorations up indoors. This means getting out Mr Bones (our full sized plastic skeleton) and making sure there are spiders webs in all the corners.
I am sure that this really irritates the real spiders who live in all the corners but it’s company for them, isn’t it?
4. I will make a Christmas cake.
Now, admittedly, baking a fruit cake is not too difficult but by the time you tally up the cost of all that dried fruit, marzipan, icing and a decent whisky to ‘feed’ the cake (and fortify the cook), you may as well buy one of M&S’ finest creations and stick a Santa ornament on the top. Plus, nobody in our house will actually admit to liking Christmas cake except me. Strangely it usually all gets eaten, even if the kids just pull the icing off. I may just be better off buying a packet of ready roll icing and sticking a toy reindeer on it. Sorted.
5. I will keep up with my exercise routine.
Well, I would, if I actually had one, apart from my weekly Pilates. I have visions of jogging through darkened streets lit by twinkly fairy lights with my breath frosting into the cold air. This would be great if I could cantilever myself away from The X Factor. Or jogged.
6. We will invite people round for mulled wine and mince pies.
I could eat mince pies every day but mulled wine on the other hand can be just plain lethal. I had a spectacular fall from grace the Christmas before last after consuming too much and having to stay in bed for the whole of the next day. The Husband was left to “babysit” (sorry, I meant parent) which as every mother knows means the appearance of far too many crisps and jam sandwiches and a sink full of dishes. God knows what he fed the kids.
After much consideration about who to invite and whether guests tanked up on mulled wine would be quiet enough not to wake the kids, we usually decide to go up the pub (our village has 3) instead. Mulled wine is usually restricted to a dose in a plastic cup served by The Conservatives at our village’s irrepressibly twee “Dickensian Fayre”. Jenna Coleman would not be all that impressed.
7. We will make autumn collages from the leaves and berries we find on our walks.
We do venture out to Cosmeston, our local nature reserve and through our local woodland but apart from the kids trying to wound each other by using pine cones as missiles, we never seem to get into the whole ‘nature as art’ thing. You won’t get me to make a collage using anything found where they’ve been walking dogs for a start.
And I’m always a bit suspicious about blackberrying near the road (all those fumes and the risk of being run over).
I once made Sloe Gin after a sloe picking episode with my dad. A word to the wise. Do NOT try to pick sloes at twilight because you can’t see the little swines.
8. I will get all the Christmas shopping done by 1 December.
I promise myself this every year and it never works because I’m never sure how much is ‘enough’ and I have to make sure each child receives EXACTLY the same or there’s war. And if that wasn’t difficult enough, coming up with a natty and exciting combination of stocking fillers each year is even worse than deciding on the ‘main present’.
By the time the Husband and I get round to thinking about each other we normally agree we don’t need anything at all and then pick a couple of books from Amazon. Mine are usually cookery books (Lord knows why) or something from the self-help genre along the lines of “20 things I would tell myself if I loved myself enough, even though I can’t really be arsed”.
I love this time of year. I really do. I think I’m going to see if the flour’s weevil free and de-rust my cake tins. It’s OK to use WD40 on them, isn’t it?