‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower’

‘Breeze blows leaves of a musty-coloured yellow
So I sweep them in my sack
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac’.

The first quote is, of course, from Albert Camus and the second was sung by Ray Davies in 1967, for and the approach of the new season is a time for celebration, be it in Muswell Hill or in Saint-Philbert-en-Mauges,.  Indeed, you could attempt some cross-cultural fusion via a breakfast of warm croissants while listening to Autumn Almanac, a practice I heartily recommend for any time of the year but particularly as summer draws to a close.

Meanwhile,  for those of you with horticultural interests,  September brings The Pumpkin Feast at Château  du Rivau – https://www.chateaudurivau.com/en/chateau-events/pumpkin-feast.php. I have to say that the idea of ‘pumpkin jugglers’ is absolutely enchanting, even if my first thought was of an out-take from The Wicker Man. It is also an inspiration to create pumpkin au gratin in the kitchen; there is something about the rich colour of the dish that seems so appropriate for this month.

And of course, this is the time of the year for the  Journées du Potager (Kitchen Garden Days) at Château  Villandry – https://www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/project/the-kitchen-days/. Even if you regard gardening as a hobby that is on a par with avidly watching football or cricket – i.e. totally mystifying – the grounds of this World Heritage Site should be visited at least once in your lifetime.

Back at Château de Bois Giraud it is indeed pleasant to see the smoke rising from bonfires – ‘Pleasant summer over, And all the summer flowers, The red fire blazes, The grey smoke towers’, to quote Robert Louis Stevenson. The heat of August is now a recent memory  and the great Sir Ray complained that ‘tea and toasted, buttered currant buns, Can’t compensate for lack of sun, Because the summer’s all gone’, But that faint bite in the air beckons so many events and celebrations in the Loire Valley over the next 12 weeks…