ASOS green polka dot midi dress

The Awkward Girl’s Guide to Autumn

One of the things becoming a parent has done for me is that it’s forced me to look at things a bit differently, and to think a little more about what I’d like our lives with Max to look like.

Take autumn, for instance. Now, under normal circumstances, I’d be following that statement up with something like, “No, seriously: take it! Take it far away, and never bring it back, because that’s how much I hate it!”

Er, yeah; suffice it to say that – unlike most of my blogging brethren, autumn is NOT my favourite season. Because it’s not like it is in the movies – or even in these photos, tbh – is it? No, we caught Scotland in a rare good mood the day these were taken, and, as I said to Terry on the way home, if Yankee Candle named their scents after REAL things, their autumn collection would be less ‘Autumn Glow’ and more ‘Rotting Leaves’ and ‘Downward Spiral of Despair’.

(Should I pitch this to them, I wonder? Yankee Candle people: call me!)

The thing is, though, just because I hate Autumn with the passion of a thousand hot suns (Which, ironically, would make me like it more…) , it doesn’t mean Max has to, and – modest ambition, here – the fact is, I’d quite like him to one day look back on his childhood and think it was a bit… well, magical, for want of a better word. I’d like his autumns to be like the ones other people seem to experience, filled with golden light and toasted marshmallows – or whatever the hell it is people like about this time of year. (I mean, I know pumpkin spiced lattes are A Thing, but I’m thinking maybe not for a baby? Can you buy pumpkin spiced milk? Will I just end this train of thought right here? Yes. Yes I will. ) I’d like his winters to be like the front of an old-fashioned Christmas card, his summers to be filled with adventure, and his springs to be… spring-like. Or something.

Oh, hi, I’m Amber, and I’m new to this, “Appreciating the Seasons” thing! Can you tell?

Anyway, with all of this in mind, I had the idea of putting together a set of seasonal ‘Bucket Lists’ consisting of some of the new traditions I’d like to start with Max. I’m obviously a bit late with this Autumn one – and he’s really too young to appreciate things like, “golden light” and “crisp weather” anyway, to be fair – but we have to start somewhere, so here’s my Autumn Bucket List – for next year…

ASOS green polka dot midi dressWearing: ASOS polka dot skirt; Mango sweater, River Island jacket, Dorothy Perkins skirt (All ancient, other than the skirt)

Visit a pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patches have only just started to be a thing in the UK (Otherwise you better believe I’d have been all over them, in search of the perfect Instagram shot…), but I noticed one being advertised near Edinburgh recently, which was a pleasant surprise, because Scotland’s normally pretty slow on the uptake with this kind of thing. Like, I couldn’t find any lavender fields this summer AT ALL, which meant I was forced to sit on the sidelines while everyone else on Instagram posted gorgeous photos of themselves in lavender fields. It reminded me of gym class in high school, actually, where everyone else would be selected by the captains of whatever hideous team game we were being forced to play, and then the teacher would be all, “OK, Amber, looks like you’re with me again.” But I digress.

I have no idea how good this pumpkin patch will be (Read: how good it will look on Instagram), but if nothing else, at least it will have pumpkins, so it’s on the list.

Decorate the house for Autumn

This is another thing that’s pretty new to the UK. Until recently, people didn’t really decorate for anything other than Christmas and Halloween: and, in the case of the latter, it would be a “one-day only” affair, where you’d throw up some creepy tat if you were having a party or something. Lately, though, the American tradition of decorating for fall has started to infiltrate the UK, and we’re starting to see pumpkins on doorsteps and various other autumn-themed decor dotted around houses.

I’m not planning to go overboard with this one, because I’m the kind of terrible person who sees the Christmas tree as unnecessary clutter, and always wants to take it down on Boxing Day (Another thing I suspect I’ll have to re-think with a toddler around…), but by next autumn we should have our stair renovation complete, so I’m thinking maybe a few gold/silver painted pumpkins dotted around, maybe, I dunno, garlands of leaves? Starbucks cups that once contained the famed PSL? (Note to self: when embarking on these Autumn-based activities, Amber, please try to remember that you actually hate Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. Let’s not go through that whole thing where you buy one anyway, just to be like the cool kids, and then don’t drink it, because you really, really hate anything that could be described as “spiced”. See also: cider, cinnamon, and pretty much every other food associated with fall.)

Oh, and I’m also very prepared to buy some autumn-scented candles. Not “Rotting Leaves” and “Mouldy Socks”, obviously: REAL ones. Like, woodsmoke or pumpkins or something. Just not cinnamon, because I freaking hate cinnamon…

autumn outfit inspiration03.
Visit The Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is in Perthshire, so it’s a bit of hike from here, but I’ve seen some of my friends’ photos of it on Facebook, and it really looks amazing, so I think it would be worth the trip. It describes itself as a “sound and light event” in which you walk through a forest which is decorated with beautiful lights etc. It looks like something out of a fairytale, so I’m very much looking forward to this one.

Go apple-picking

I mean, literally the only place I can think of to do this is Max’s Uncle Niko’s place in Kent, but, then again, I haven’t exactly been tuned into the Autumn activities around here, so I’m assuming there’s somewhere closer: and if not, I guess it’s a good excuse to visit the southern branch of the family?

Toast marshmallows

I draw the line at actually building a bonfire (although I will be on the lookout for official ones we can visit), but we DO have a firepit, so I’m thinking we get bundled up, and do the whole s’mores and hot chocolate thing? This is actually something I’ve only ever done in summer before, because I intensely dislike The Outside when it’s cold, but it seems like something people who love autumn would do, so I’m all in. Or I will be, once I invest in some thermals.

Take some long walks

People always talk about “kicking up the leaves” at this time of year, but honestly, any time I’ve tried it, in the spirit of, “Hey, look at me, enjoying autumn like a REAL blogger!” the leaves in question have always been so wet and mulchy that it’s a bit like putting your foot inside a dead body. Or so I IMAGINE, anyway. Ahem. So, kicking up leaves might not be on the agenda, but even I can’t deny the beauty of the autumn colours, so I’m aiming to get us all out of the house and into the world as often as possible.

Bonfire Night

This is another Autumn tradition I generally just completely ignore (Well, insofar as you CAN ignore loud explosions going off every few seconds, obviously: I’m actually really worried about how we’re going to get Max to sleep through it this year…), because, again, it involves being outdoors in the freezing cold, and I’m just not about that life. I suspect Max probably WILL be when he’s old enough to know what’s going on, though, so I guess we need to find out what’s happening locally, and whether or not there’s wine…

ASOS green polka dot midi dress*

So, when I started this list, I’d envisaged it being a nice, long, meaty one, filled with fun autumn activities. I’ve literally just had to stop and Google the phrase, “What do normal people do in Autumn?” though, so, yeah, I think I’m just going to stop here. Because, honestly, a lot of the suggestions seemed quite America-specific (Like, ball games and corn mazes and tailgating. And, I mean, I’m prepared to try to overcome my dislike of autumn in the name of parenthood, but you will NOT make me watch sport. Nope, nope, NOPE. And also: NOPE.), and one was – and I swear I’m not making this up – to take a hot air balloon ride. Which, OK, Google, SURE. I know I said I wanted Max’s autumns to be like a movie, but I didn’t mean The Wizard of Freaking OZ, you know?

(Seriously, though, is that a thing? Like, do normal, everyday people take hot air balloon rides every autumn? Because that doesn’t seem like a thing to me? Also, I’m scared of flying?)

Help a sister out here, folks: you all like autumn, right? So, tell me:

What’s on your Autumn bucket list? Please don’t say hot air balloons…

Autumn bucket list: 7 ways to make the season magical

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

I also write books
  • No hot air balloon rides for sure, but I do take the kids outside for walks through the forest an when we return they play with all the dirt they collected (we call it “do an autumnal crafts project”, but there is no need to sugarcoat things here) and I make some hot chocolate. The real deal, the one where you heat up milk and slowly melt in dark chocolate. That and baked apples is autum at our place.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    October 29, 2018
  • Myra


    Definitely the leaves kicking, when they’re crunchy it’s fab, and we do sometimes get warm dry autumns. Jumping in puddles will be a great addition to any walk with Max by next autumn as young kids can’t resist them and great fun for grown up kids too. So get him some wellies. Walk to school when he’s old enough.

    Think about warming food too, pumpkin soup is delicious, not so sure about pumpkin pie though and baked potatoes with crispy skin are yummy. Dookin’ for apples is great fun once you’ve picked them and apple pie is yummy.

    Dressing up and “Guising” is fun for kids (don’t forget to take the requisite goodie container, he will collect enough sugar to last till Christmas) and go with friends as it’s more fun with a wee gang of kids. You’ll have lots of vicarious fun

    October 29, 2018
  • Alice


    I think Christmas trees are unnecessary clutter too. hoping to convince my daughter that an outdoor Christmas tree somewhere (Trafalgar Square?) Is better.

    October 29, 2018
  • Clelia


    Haha, the “rotten leaves” and “mouldy socks” scent thing is cracking me up 🙂 Autumn just never looks like it does in the nice pictures, does it? I live in a place where autumn basically does not exist. We have a long summer and then suddenly, a cold storm comes along, blows all the leaves off the trees at once, and makes the temperatures drop by 20 degrees, and ta-dah, it’s winter. We fold up our beach towels, go home and get out the Christmas lights, wondering what the hell just happened and what is this “autumn” people keep talking about.

    October 29, 2018
  • NGL, if you were to launch a Zoella-style “lifestyle” range I’d be all over it with branding like that.

    Jumping ahead a bit, but I’ve just ordered my first ever fancy advent calendar (raised Catholic, so I’ve been resistant to advent calendars that don’t involve photos of the baby Jesus for the longest time). It’s a marshmallow one. Which, for an extra £3, comes with some little flame-y device so you can toast them. No freezing outdoors required.

    October 29, 2018
  • Kylie


    Omg I couldn’t agree more about autumn. Everyone seems to LOVE it, its like they’re all having a Gilmore Girls-style autumn, walking around in a light jumper and a nice hat, drinking hot drinks and crunching the leaves. But my experience is more like waiting for a bus in the rain, with wet leaves and crab apples stuck to my boots and my umbrella blown inside-out. And while I always try to have a nice bonfire night (could anything sound more aesthetically lovely than a crackling fire, fireworks, and toasted marshmallows?) I usually end up in a quagmirey field eating a limp hot dog that cost a fiver, watching fireworks that don’t live up to Disneyworld ones, and worrying that hundreds of hedgehogs are being accidentally burnt to death!

    October 29, 2018
  • Ginger


    Although I live in a place with very long and quite hot summers, I don’t really like autumn either. Because it’s getting cool and I hate being cold. Okay, I embrace the novelty for a little bit and I’m all over my boots and cozy lougewear and cute coats for a while, but usually I’m done after about 6 weeks. Then I’m just cranky about always being cold.

    Usually we don’t have much of an autumn at all. We don’t have THAT many trees, and the color usually isn’t anything to write home about. Sometimes it stays so hot into November/December that it seems the leaves just finally turn brown and give up. I do like the winds, though. I have windchimes outside my window, and because of their placement I can tell when a northerly front is blowing in and bringing cool air, or if the south wind is back and keeping it warm. And I really like being able to roll the windows down in the car when I drive, instead of sealing it up and blasting the air conditioning.

    I admit that sports are a big part of fall, but we never tailgate or party. It’s just on the TV on weekends and provides an occasional topic for conversation. I like it for background noise when I’m home.

    October 29, 2018
  • Love it, I’m afraid. But I do concede it’s cold here in Scotland at this time of year. Autumns in the south of England were much milder and we still had all the colours. Then there were the two autumns I spent in Japan – wonderful!

    I think you’ve heard enough now! ?

    October 29, 2018
  • Nicole


    When I was little my mom would always keep a stack of wintery kids books stored with the Christmas decorations. All those books are still some of my favorites from childhood, since only getting to read them for a month or two out of the year made them feel very special to me. I don’t think there are quite as many generally “autumn-themed” books out there, but you could definitely do this around the christmas and easter holidays.

    October 29, 2018
      • I do this! It’s lovely, getting all the books out for autumn, Halloween and Christmas (eh… I never both at other times of year because my mental image of spring and summer is “running around outside” rather than “snuggled up under a blanket with a book”); there’s always a bit of a fuss when I insist that they get put away (likewise, the decorations), but it’s worth it in the long run.

        October 30, 2018
  • Fiona


    I am trying here to think of the overlap in the Venn diagram of ‘things I think my children should like’ and ‘things my children have actually liked’. They have now outgrown even Hallowe’en so:

    Hot chocolate with the works. Many an autumn walk undertaken with this bribe.
    Strictly Come Dancing (even small children love this, all the glitter and lights are quite mesmerising)
    Pumpkin carving. They have, however, never enjoyed the roasted pumpkin seeds or soup made from innards.
    Other soups seem fine though, with bread for dipping.
    Apple crumble. I have an apple spiralizer that kids can use with supervision.
    Dressing up and getting lots of sweets. when guising.
    Learning silly ghost jokes for aforementioned guising.
    The Enchanted Forest – it IS wonderful, but we found we needed an overnight stay.
    ‘Spooky walks’ – in the dark with a torch. A cheap enchanted forest, if you like 😀
    Never fans of fireworks but did enjoy making the pictures with coloured chalk on black paper.

    October 29, 2018
  • I’m totally with you, Amber – I have absolutely NO idea why people love autumn!! The nights gett longer and longer with each passing day, it gets colder and colder and we’ve got five months until the clocks change again and we have something that’s vaguely resembling a pleasant temperature. I mean, I do like the whole crunchy leaves in the woods thing and wearing berets, but it’s never exactly an idyllic New England fall here in the UK, is it 😉

    However, as a glass-half-full kinda gal I love the way you’re embracing it! It’s not as if we can change it, is it…

    Catherine x

    P.S. Can’t stand coffee (vom) so I’m also with you on the PSLs, lol

    October 29, 2018
  • I know autumn isn’t your favorite season but your bucket list couldn’t be a more perfect way to appreciate it. As a photographer, I get so spoiled in fall with all the beautiful foliage and dim yet golden light. I know I’ll miss it so much in another few weeks once our trees are completely bare!


    Ashley || Sed Bona

    October 29, 2018
  • Myra


    I forgot collecting a variety of leaves, drying them a doing crafty things or a book with the. (Grandparents will love that. If your Mac is anything like our Max he will love collecting sticks. Show him the old Disney version of SnowWhite and the seven dwarves, then march in a line through the forest singing “Hi ho, hi ho …” Max insisted we do this when he was about three

    October 29, 2018
  • Lila Athanaselis


    Craigie’s farm has a big pumpkin patch, it was sold out yesterday ? Maria bought some from Morrisons and carved them yesterday ?
    Mill farm might also have these things.
    There is a great halloween theme there every year, sometimes they bring actors to give you frights, they make it fun even for the very young, dooking with the fork in your mouth from a height and grabbing doughnuts ? on strings with your teeth. Scary rides on the ‘ghost trains’ too.
    A lot of things are themed towards Halloween. Remember your adult Halloween shenanigans? Well you can still have those but it will be even more fun with all the parties Max will be going to, playgroup, nursery, school and any clubs he goes to too ?
    There are loads of themed nights in every local areas community centres.
    I love autumn because of the colours, weather, leaves and watching tv when it gets dark early ? Not so much fun clearing leaves or it being dark in the morning, but a hundred times better than the bitter cold of winter ❄️ brrr.

    October 29, 2018
  • This post is brilliant because I used to HATE autumn – it meant summer, my favourite season, was on its way out, it was cold, dark and damp. But now I’m totally the other way and very stereotypically basic blogger with autumn – I’m not so fussed about the passing of summer as I don’t spend all that much time outside in the sun now I’m in an office every day, and I’ve learned to appreciate the cooler temperatures and pretty colours (…mostly in clothes!).
    I also managed to visit a pumpkin patch for the first time ever – like you said, the UK’s only just catching on and ours opened this year – and it was very wonderful for blog photos, so that was a major plus for autumn in my book. The whole hot chocolate, blankets and hearty food thing also really appeals to me nowadays too!

    October 30, 2018
  • Kathi


    I’d like to add something I haven’t read on here yet: When I was a kid, we collected chestnuts and acorns and made animals out of them, like this:
    Well, mine never had eyes or anything, but you get the picture. 😉

    October 30, 2018
  • I’m one of those basic people that love autumn/fall only because I don’t actually experience “real” winter here in Silicon Valley, and it’s still been in the high 70’s low 80’s and it’s November. My house doesn’t have air conditioning so the break in the heat is nice! Plus my kitties are more keen on cuddling, yay.

    November 4, 2018
  • You are hilarious! Actually, I’m not really a fall person either. I mostly like seeing the colorful leaves from my car. You know, your list is plenty long–maybe one thing per year? I see all these fun things online, etc. but I’m always really busy in the fall, I never get around to them. My parents didn’t do these things with me and I turned out pretty norm (I think) so I wouldn’t put pressure on yourself. You could do the hot air ballon ride any time–I’ve never heard of it as a fall thing (but I’m in the US.) It is surprisingly warm in the balloon due to the fire.

    November 13, 2018
  • Jude


    I don’t like summer here in South Australia – boiling hot, sunburn, sunscreen, taking the kids to the pool or sea and all I want to do is stay inside in the air conditioning (although drying clothes outside in half an hour is super!) The plants die because I am not devoted enough to watering twice a day. But I don’t like winter either – I hate feeling cold air on my neck (it doesn’t get to zero degrees here by the way – yes, you are probably laughing at what I call cold) So I like the weather to be just perfect – which here – is Autumn! Cool mornings and warm still days with not much cold wind. Glorious late afternoon sun on the leaves – perfect walking or raking weather. The leaves are nice and dry and crunchy for only a few days even here – the driest state in the driest continent on earth! We liked to head to Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens in the hills within a few days of the leaves being “just right” – to enjoy an Autumn walk with the children and other than that we enjoy the indoor comforts of being warm – home cooking, maybe buying some new cosy looking cushions or throw rug, some new books of my own or with the children (lots of reading out loud to my toddlers – I do like Shirley Hughes illustrations of children enjoying the different seasons), craft, music and I do a bit of “Autumn cleaning”.. When our children were toddlers enjoying the outdoors in Autumn were just simple pleasures – splashing in puddles in the street between showers, walking our dog or having a little picnic in the backyard in the breaks when the sun shone through rather than big day outings which were always exhausting and overrated. We collected colourful leaves and stocky-taped them onto big pieces of card. If I lived in a cold climate I am sure I wouldn’t like Autumn. I would love to visit Scotland and see the beautiful remote areas and castles. We don’t have such old historical buildings here. But for now we can enjoy your photos!

    April 2, 2019