“It’s raining, should we still go?” I looked outside as if to acknowledge the question, even though I had just come in from cleaning out the hen house. I replied that we should go, we would be mad not to. The lovely Sharon’s question was not about the fact that we should go walking in the rain, it was about getting stuck in a heavy downpour with the little ones. The weather front seemed slow moving and more damp than menacing.

Wrapped up in layers and hats, we found ourselves in Acorn Wood. We have found ourselves visiting here a lot recently. Acorn Wood has been set up by its local community of volunteers who look after its grounds, ducks, geese, swans, chickens, rabbits, guinea fowl and pheasants. It even has a little fairy village hidden away in the woods, but I think they look after themselves.


There was water all around us. Water drizzling from the sky, water dripping from the points of twigs and yellow leaves. Water splatting in the puddles under our feet and a soft fur of water covering the hats on our heads. Even our breath was saturated and wet the air in front of us. In such weather at this time of year I can’t help myself from constantly stopping and staring. Gazing at the running river, at piles of fallen leaves, at rooks in the trees.


After a few hours the thought of food and the wood stove brought us home. After a wet autumn walk I can think of no better smell than that of damp hats and gloves drying by the stove. Later there was a different smell from the stove. Autumn is the season for rolling out fistfuls of hazelnuts on top of the wood stove. We sit back and patiently wait for the slight hint of burning before we lift them off and try and eat them when they are too hot and burn our fingers. The lovely Sharon believes roasted chestnuts are superior to hazelnuts. I will have to disagree with her on this matter.


It has been discovered that hazelnuts were harvested in large amounts on the Scottish island of Colonsay nine thousand years ago. Annually, neolithic man made a trip to the trees and collected them to roast them on the island in what must have been very large fires. It seems that roasted hazelnuts can be stored longer than fresh ones, a fact we knew nine thousand years before best before dates. I can’t help but picture them sitting around the fire on a damp autumn night with the smell of roasting nuts and drying hats.