Autumn Rituals


some of this year’s crop

If you are a housewife in Deepest Sussex, however reluctant, there are some rituals associated with this time of year.

The Aga is back on. Obviously, there was an outbreak of very warm weather immediately after it was ceremoniously re-lit but I resisted attempts to have it turned down or off and today is gratifyingly chilly – and it is currently draped with drying knickers and socks.

Then there is the business of turning nature’s bounty into jars of stuff which can be sold to friends in aid of Syrian refugees – a ritual we started at the beginning of the war so it has some years standing – none of this johnny-come-lately refugee crisis activity.

Our crab apple tree had taken a couple of years off and was looking poorly but this year (after some ministrations) it has rewarded us with a big crop.

Too big infact.

Making crab apple jelly is a time consuming faff which involves having bags of dripping mush scattered around the kitchen for many hours, re-boiling and all that sort of stuff.

My recommendation is that you just don’t bother unless it comes with your job description.

The18 jars do look nice – a very pleasing pink and popular with the punters.

But the garden path is generously littered with more of them which I feel bad about going to waste so something more will have to be done with them.
(In case you are interested, yes there will be some elderberry vinegar and blackberry and apple jam and when I get bored with that, I will do some more interesting pickles.)

There are also clouds of pheasants released ready for the shoot and this year the landowner seems to have let out more than the usual number.

They change over a few weeks from hundreds of little brown jobs into magnificently plumed gorgeous looking birds – well, at least the males do.

They are very dim birds, and when they hear a car coming they seem to feel an overwhelming urge to run across the road or gallop off in-front of the on-coming vehicle.

It is hard work not to run them over, and can add quite a bit to your travelling time along our lanes this time of year.

However, just before Christmas the land-owner will bring a brace over – all cleaned and sorted and ready for a very nice supper.

Then there is the upholstery in aid of Syrian refugees which has also been going for a few years.

A friend and I re-upholster some chairs and sell them on Gumtree or Preloved so, obviously, the idea is to get the chairs and fabric cheap, and make a healthy profit.

Being an aficionado of the local tip shop, I got very excited when I saw a pair of G-Plan dinning chairs.

G-Plan being part of the current ‘Mid-Century, darling’ craze and only costing me a fiver, I was very pleased.

For reasons I won’t bore you with, I have been in contact with a very nice woman who is making a film for Oxfam.

I told her about this find and it turns out she is a G-Plan fan and wants the chairs. She also has the fabric she wants them done in.

Good news you may think, and indeed it is, but I feel a bit cheated – selling them so easily, not getting the chance to chose the fabric ( always the best bit of re-upholstery), makes me feel the ritual is not complete.

So I am on the hunt for some more chairs.

I went to an auction but ended up buying an elm ladder-backed rocking chair which we will keep. ( I do like to rescue old elm chairs because we won’t see the like, as my grandmother used to say.)

I will keep looking but time is not on our side – upholstery takes longer than you might think.

But on the upside, this is a chilly Autumn Sunday and there is Antiques Roadshow on tonight – a ritual I always enjoy.



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