Being slapped in the face by a wet leaf means only one thing: autumn is here. Spiders and an unfamiliar morning coolness, warm days snatched, hedgerow harvests, crows surf the frequent gusts and two stags are glimpsed through the Ashridge trees, tussling, preparing for the rut.

“Vapour breath
Sparking berries,
Laden with soft rain.
Damp dogs and wellies
Rainbows shiver through a monkeys wedding.
Home to warm towels and tea.”

Here are some of my favourite autumnal things

I heard on the grapevine that pickers were needed to bring in the Solaris harvest at Frithsden vineyard last month. 40 or so volunteers,  including locals and “I missed it last year” regulars turned up on an expectant autumnal morning.

Ensuring a continual supply of wine

Piccotts End is a dot on the Chilterns landscape; somewhere you wouldn’t even pass through as the busy Leighton Buzzard road now bypasses the village. Yet this tiny settlement has one of the most remarkable and historically important features, tucked away inside a Grade I Listed 15th century cottage at No.132 Piccotts End.

Tucked away pre-Reformation murals

A story of battles fought and lost in a far-off land and a horse’s heart buried in Latimer.

Taking a dip in the river Chess

I love the rain, but as the water-soaked overhanging branches slapped the car roof, I edged alone Mop End Lane, wishing I’d left home earlier. I couldn’t be late for the guided tour of Penn House conducted by Earl and Countess Howe no less!

Tourism trophy envy

Itching to get away from my desk and take a walk to enjoy a warm autumnal afternoon, it was a tweet that spurred me into action to head over to Cliveden Reach, between Cookham and Boulter’s locks, the fabled stretch along the River Thames.

Peeking through the shutters