I’ve long believed that – for Northern Europeans at least – January is a terrible time to have New Year. I suppose any other month would be a preferable one to start afresh but, for me, September is perfect. Perhaps it’s because the new school year always felt like a chance to start again. The season of fresh pencil cases was an opportunity for metamorphosis – there was always at least one kid who came back from the seemingly endless summer holidays looking completely different. Witnessing these transformations take place (a new haircut! Four fresh inches of height! A holiday somewhere as exotic as Portugal, which bestowed an attitude of Continental élan!) convinced me that summer is the time to have fun, but autumn is the time to live the life you really want to. As Truman Capote wrote in Breakfast At Tiffany’s: “Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”
Since each new school year also brought new challenges (by which I mean finding your place among your peers, as well as making it through Middlemarch), this feels like the right time of year to take on projects that require your full attention. For me, that means a new running challenge and the epic The History of English Podcast, which is utterly wonderful but requires the kind of focus I can’t give anything during the summer months, which are made of distractions and jostling obligations.
Even if you don’t go in for the usual summer holidays and festivals, longer days, better weather and the extended school break can be disruptive. That can be good, of course, but there comes a time when reintroducing a bit of routine becomes necessary. I realised I was ready for things to go back to normal last week as I attempted to send a time-sensitive work email while wearing a too-hot cagoule in a rainstorm, borrowing London Transport Museum’s temporarily glitchy wi-fi connection and holding two cuddly bunnies and half an egg sandwich. This kind of thing does not happen to me on Wednesday afternoons in September, when events occur one at a time and when the weather and my body temperature are likely to be reasonably predictable.
My autumn arsenal comprises of a pile of unread books, a Sky box loaded up with quality drama and a Pinterest board called NEST GOALS, which I’m using to save ideas for everything I want to make the house look cheerful pre-hibernation
So. I am less stressed in autumn. My mood is also improved by how beautiful this time of year is. Spring and summer can’t hold a candle to September and October. Warm days are all golden light and pink sunsets. Summer has simmered down and dissolved into something deliciously mellow and sweet. Cold days hint at the cosy pleasures of the months to come without any of the annoyances – turning leaves and fading light, rather than sleet in your eyes and Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is the best time of year to sneak off to the countryside for a few days (the Highlands or the Lake District are my preference). The summer crowd has gone home and, if it rains, that’s just an extra excuse to go to the pub.
My home city – London – is similarly at its best. This is the most glorious, peaceful time to visit the Royal Parks, Kew Gardens or the South Bank. It seems like the city starts making an extra effort to put on a show for residents now that most of the tourists have gone. Totally Thames Festival, OnBlackheath, the London Design Festival and the Open House London architecture weekend, when you can snoop around some of the city’s most iconic buildings, all take place this month.
And, if you’re not up for going out, autumn is the perfect time to stay in, focus on your nearest and dearest and make sure you have everything you need for the chilly months ahead. It’s when creatures of all kinds take stock and check their reserves. Squirrels have their nut stores, bears lay down adipose tissue, the Night’s Watch make sure they’ve got as much dragonglass handy as possible… My autumn arsenal comprises a pile of unread books, a Sky box loaded up with quality drama and a Pinterest board called NEST GOALS, which I’m using to save ideas for everything I want to make the house look cheerful pre-hibernation. I find it comforting and satisfying to create a wish list that currently includes recipes, House of Hackney wallpaper, William Morris-print PJs and posh slippers, even if that’s as far as my flirtation with them goes.
We’ll be sharing our ideas about how to embrace the new season by trying something new on The Pool over the coming weeks (look out for our #HitRefresh project). In the meantime, if you want to tell us how you’ll be making the most of it, why not share your own Pinterest board with us? We’d love to hear from you and (however you spend it) wish you a very happy autumn.
Click through to Lauren's Pinterest board here.