Summer is done and dusted. Autumn is in full swing, and it's time to say hello to crisp mornings, scarves and boots; the time to get inspired with all the pumpkin scents and get creative in the kitchen. Autumn is all about about cooking yummy, comforting meals (soups, stews, oven-baked goodies...). It is the pumpkin-everything season; the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to Summer and redecorate the house, swapping the bright colours for warmer tones, welcoming all the orange, red and browns.
For some reason, I also think of Autumn as the season of arts and crafts. I always seem to get inspired during this season, and this is when I normally take on some sort of DIY challenge that I get super involved with. Last year, I went to a seasonal journaling workshop, which I loved! This year...who knows?
I am crazy about the changes in the season, I love to photograph the trees and go on nice walks, and I secretly love waking up to a pitch-black sky. Oh, and most importantly, Autumn is the time for candles, candles, candles!
For the past few years I have tried to find local farms and pumpkin patches, but let me tell you...it's not easy! Last year I was too late when I asked a few farms about pumpkin patches; most farms had already closed for the year, or there were no more pumpkins left. So I never made a successful trip, although it was definitely something on my bucket list. I would love to visit a farm and pick my own pumpkin and vegetables straight from the ground.
After having spent a few weeks looking through the map to figure out which locations would be best, I was determined to make a trip to Maxey's Farm Shop.
This award-winning Farm Shop in Kirklington, Nottinghamshire sells only organic and fresh produce. It has a in-house bakery, a butchery counter, a deli counter and lots of local produce.
I had planned to do this trip and contacted the farm to find out from when would be the best time to drive down to Newark and take some pictures of the pumpkin patch and the shop. I was told that although week days work better for picture opportunities, I was welcome to stop by and take some pictures on the weekends as well.
Bruno decided to join me on this trip, and I was excited to have a travel partner for the day!
Unfortunately, upon arrival, we realised that the pumpkin patch was...closed! Due to a flood caused by bad weather conditions, the owners had to close the field, so there was no way no one would be able to pick pumpkins on that weekend.
By the entrance, a cute sign with a devastating message let us know that there would be no pumpkin picking that day...or the following day.
I was so sad, and I couldn't believe my eyes. But the cute display in front of the little local shop made up for everything. I decided to focus on the positives instead.
The entrance of the local shop was adorable! Stacked boxes served as tiny tables for the pumpkins, and there were all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. I saw the smallest pumpkins I'd ever seen and they were adorable!
Bruno and I then walked into the shop to have a look around. I couldn't leave without getting some organic vegetables. I was intrigued by the options, including a smoked garlic that smelled so good! I picked up a bunch of carrots (purple, orange and yellow carrots mixed together), and I instantly had the idea of roasting them with lots of garlic, salt and pepper, and maybe some spices.
Parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts, aubergine, ginger, kale and fennel were only some of the options! The shelves were full of wholefoods, and I picked up a few goodies.
This dark green cabbage was whispering my name. So green, so fresh! I couldn't leave it! And it only costed £1.50. Knowing how much the big chains of supermarkets normally charge for organic produce, this was actually super cheap! And look at that colour!
I have to admit that I have been pretty lazy lately when it comes to cooking, planning my meals and organising my pantry. The truth is that sometimes, with work and all that's going on in your life, you simply do not have the time to cook all your meals from scratch. I won't lie and say I haven't done it lately, because the truth is I have been too busy to cook everything from scratch. I still buy the vegetables and ingredients I need for my meals, but normally I don't buy too much processed foods and lately I have been turning to them due to my lack of time management. I also like to buy organic when I can, but sometimes it's more expensive and I turn to the plastic-wrapped alternative that ends up being 20p/30p cheaper.
But the truth is...you can taste the difference! And I want to be better at buying better produce. This experience was eye-opening in that sense.
I wasn't going to let the pumpkin patch situation bring me down. Bruno and I sat in the car after we shopped for our groceries, and we looked for alternatives - after all, we were over 2 hours away from Newcastle, there had to be an open farm/pumpkin patch on the way home!
While Bruno googled our options, I took a photo of my yummy-looking carrots. We also ended up buying a few of the little pumpkins on display by the front door, because they had unusual colours and shapes. However, we still needed a big pumpkin!
We followed the map to the closest location, which seemed to be the Crumpkins Pumpkins farm. To prevent disappointment, I phoned them before we left Maxey's Farm to ask if they were open, what time they closed and, of course, if they had any pumpkins! I was told 'yes, of course!', so that was plan B sorted! I didn't want to keep my hopes up until we got there, and once that happened, I was not disappointed!
A huge field of pumpkins of all shapes was right in front of me.
This place was so cute, secluded and not many people were around at all. Only one other family was on the field, and they left shortly after we arrived.
As soon as we got out of the car, we noticed the first problem: cash only! I didn't take any cash with me; to be fair I very rarely carry cash with me, but after speaking with the owners, we were told that a bank transfer would be fine and they would sort us out in the end.
Bruno and I were then given a wheelbarrow and we were free to browse around until we found the most perfect pumpkins!
I was in my element! This is what Autumn is all about. And I was finally getting to fully experience and embrace it.
From the land and the dirt, straight to your plate, that's how it should be! I meticulously looked for the best, most-perfect pumpkins and put them in the wheelbarrow. There were so many to choose from but we narrowed them down to 3 or 4.
It was pumpkin-heaven. I thought about all the recipes I could do with the pumpkin: pumpkin soup, a stew, roasted pumpkins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin curry or even a pumpkin risotto...yum!
Bruno and I loaded the wheelbarrow and headed back to the start of the field to pay for the pumpkins. My boots were muddy but my heart was full by the end of this adventure. We were ready to go back home!
As soon as we got home, I created a pumpkin display by the door and I was happy with my collection. Now all that's left to do is use some of these pumpkins to decorate the house, and the remaining ones to make yummy recipes that will hopefully make an appearance in the following blog posts.
What is your favourite season? Do you do specific seasonal activities like going to a pumpkin patch or a Christmas market? What are your favourite seasonal traditions? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.