An Ode to Autumn

So first thing's first:  when did I start calling this time of year "autumn"? These British ways have a funny way of making themselves at home in my American self. When I go back to America ('the States') and start talking about the bin ('trash can') and the garden ('yard') and various bits and bobs ('things'), I know I'm going to come across as an affected American who spent a few too many years abroad. So I'm offering up my apologies now to all those who will roll their eyes at me in the not-so-distant future: it was all just too charming not to pick up.

But, back to autumn ('fall').  I absolutely love this time of year.  When September rolls around, I start eyeing my boots and my sweaters (haven't quite made the leap to calling them 'jumpers' yet) and start checking the status of the leaves.  It's always a bit premature, though, because September is that transition period when the Pumpkin Spice Latte may be on the menu, but it's not cold enough to order it yet.  But then October arrives, and, my friends, October may just be the greatest month of the year.  It's crisp, but not cold.  There's a carpet of yellow, gold and red on the ground but the trees are not bare.  The light starts to soften, but the daylight isn't limited.  And then the fog and mist start to roll in.  All together, you have the ingredients for the perfect month.

We were spoiled in England this October.  To say the weather cooperated would be an understatement. And when the weather is fair in England, you must take full advantage.  So we did by visiting Rye and the Cotswolds and even by staying local to pick our own pumpkins.  We topped the month off travel-wise with a visit to Stourhead, a National Trust site in Wiltshire that features one of the most beautiful landscape gardens that I have ever seen.  It is like something straight out of a painting.

We first visited the gardens at Stourhead in the early spring, and on first sight, I knew I wanted to return to see the colors change in autumn.  Given our rather hectic schedule in October, we went earlier than I would have liked, and while most of the garden wasn't at it's peak, it was still breathtaking, and there were certainly a few autumnal standouts.

But, as I wrote earlier, it's not only about the colors for me. In autumn, the light loses a bit of that harshness it sports during the summer months, and in England, with its varied (and moody) weather patterns, that can make for some fun - and dramatic - photographic moments.

And speaking of moody and dramatic:

Misty, milky, foggy country lanes ....

The fog. I cannot get enough of these foggy October mornings. Can you blame me?

Autumn or fall?  It doesn't matter, because whatever you call it, it's simply the best. 

Knock, knock ....

Oxford, in a day

We are fortunate to live within a relatively short drive of some must-see sights in England. I count Oxford as one of these places, and when my parents arrived for their last visit to England before we move back to America, I thought it would be nice to take a day trip to this oh-so-famous university town.

If you are visiting Oxford for the day, Christ Church college is certainly one of the highlights. The grounds are stunning, and it is fascinating to see its 16th century foundation fit in with the modern day university setting.

And if you visit during Autumn, you are in for a real treat: Christ Church's facade, decked out in red. 

In addition, if you time your visit right, you might be able to sneak a peak into the Hall of Christ Church, where current students dine during term time, and where Harry Potter dined while attending Hogwarts.  Just watch out for the tourists posing with their wands.  (Seriously.  It happens.  A lot.)

I was quite taken with the autumn light on this early October day.  The light and shadow play was beautiful both inside ....

... and out.

But my favorite part of the day was climbing the tower of The University Church of St. Mary and getting that spectacular 360 degree view.  Words don't do it justice.

View of Radcliffe Camera from The University Church of St. Mary, Oxford.

View of All Soul's College from The University Church of St. Mary, Oxford.

View of High Street, from The University Church of St. Mary, Oxford.

View of High Street from The University Church of St. Mary, Oxford.

Truly, a spectacular town.  One I'm glad to have visited more than once during our time here.