October has got off to a good start. The weather is still sunny but it’s getting chilly. We had hoped to hold off having a fire until October, but a couple of days ago it was just too nippy in the living room at 6.30 am, so Chris cracked. Out came the matches and soon we were much toastier.

The mornings are dark now. When we leave the house at 7.25 am sharp to walk Rors up our long farm drive to where the school bus picks him up, it’s still night. Today the moon was up and we saw a satellite moseying across the sky too.

Rors disappears off into the gloom on the bus around 7.30 am. It’s still nice and light when he gets back slightly more than ten hours later, but not for much longer. There’s the distinct feeling that winter is creeping up on us.

In true autumnal fashion, we’ve been providing for the winter months ahead. We’ve finished the wood, phew, and have been concentrating on food. I’m making a batch or two of jam and stewed fruit (peaches, damsons and apples) every day. Chris has been more adventurous and is in the process of tackling our first home-fattened-up pig. It’s pig’s liver for tea tonight, kidneys tomorrow and then we have plenty of ham, bacon, joints and sausages to come. I was extolling the virtues of my German plum destoner the other day. Chris has joined me in supporting that country’s economy by investing in a very svelte sausage-maker. OK, it’s actually a multipurpose mincing machine with a set of attachments specifically for sausages. All we need now is the sausage casing to arrive (we didn’t fancy manufacturing our own from various parts of the pig) and we can have proper non-French sausages again. Many people love saucisson I know, but not us. We only go for real sausages like the ones we grew up with.

We are still fruit gleaning. The other day we got some medlars (the dog butt fruit), a coing (quince) and a handful of walnuts. It’s a lean year for walnuts generally, as for much fruit, but there are a couple of trees that have produced a respectable crop. We’ve got them earmarked! The medlars were very high up and required considerable ingenuity and skill to get them down. Chris with his fishing rod met both criteria!

And I’m still swimming in the pool! It’s hovering around 18 degrees so it’s kind of excruciatingly cold but very invigorating. It’s just a shame it takes me several hours to warm up afterwards. However, I’m not prepared to give up just yet. Fifteen degrees is the cutoff point, because that’s when my blood supply gets cut off to my fingers and toes as soon as I get in the water. At present I can manage a dozen lengths before my extremities turn morgue white.

I like autumn, short as it is in Creuse. Winter arrives on 1st November, regular as clockwork, so we need to make the most of the next few weeks before we hibernate until spring. So we’re going to be busy … as usual!