Make use of the long weekend to implement small, simple changes that will boost your spirits, counteract seasonal affective disorder and make the most of the seasonal splendour …
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Birdwatching can be a very meditative activity and provides the opportunity to spend some therapeutic time in nature. Autumn is the season of intense and mass migration. Look out for avian visitors, from herds of storks gathering in the meadows, or rows of swallows on the wires of the power grid, gathering energy before their journey or Brent Geese landing on the shore at Sandymount. Other winter guests to Ireland include the bohemian waxwing, brambling, twite, redpoll, rough-legged buzzard (which is a bird of prey) and numerous water birds such as common eider, long-tailed duck, black-throated loon or razorbill.
As a swan lover, I’ll be checking out the poetic Cynus installation which is taking place every evening from Friday October 27 to Sunday October 29 at Grand Canal Dock. This beautiful installation features twelve life-size swans gliding in sync with music, their delicate pirouettes forming a water ballet. These robotic birds will come to life as dusk descends and are part of the (free) Bram Stoker Festival which takes place in the lead up to Halloween; www.bramstokerfestival.com.
“Leaf peeping” – the term used for travelling to see and photograph the fall foliage may have originated in America, but there’s no need to travel to New England for some spectacular scenery. Getting wrapped up for a day trip is all part of the fun, as is packing a picnic or stopping off for coffee en route. From Killarney National Park, Co Kerry to Mount Stewart, Co Down, as well as Killruddery Gardens, Co Wicklow, and Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, there is plenty of scope for enjoying the brilliant red and gold autumnal splendour. Gather some leaves and dry them to create a pretty tablescape later or use to decorate a cheeseboard, which always impresses.
SLOW DOWN AND RESET
There’s nothing better than snuggling up on a sofa in front of the fire with a good book. Take inspiration from Books Editor Edel Coffey’s suggestions and also the just published shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2023. Now in its 18th year, the shortlist features a diverse mix of new and established Irish writers across 19 categories. Why not take a moment to look at the shortlist and vote for your favourite novel until November 9? The winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 22; www.irishbookawards.ie.
Start a “One Day Box” inspired by interior designer Flora Soames who has a passion for collecting antique textiles. “Scraps of wallpaper, remnants of upholstery, an old kimono – they resonate because they remind me of something or someone I love. To begin with I stored them all in an old trunk. This was the origin of the One Day Box – my shorthand name for things that spark a memory of feeling that appeals, to which, one day we hope to return,” she says. Start your own collection and read Flora’s book The One Day Box: A Life-changing Love of Home, Rizzoli out now; www.florasoames.com.
It’s easy to get into a routine of slouching on the sofa in front of the TV which does little for our mental acuity or social skills, if you feel like you’ve completed Netflix at this point, why not emulate Christian Dior and enjoy some card games with the family? “To terminate the list of my favourite distractions, I will admit to a great weakness for cards. I spend hours bent over the Bridge of Canasta table, trying to penetrate its mysteries …”, Mr Dior wrote in his memoirs. Most families will have a deck of cards lurking in a drawer. Aficionados might like the posh new decks designed by Dior Maison in powder pink or red embellished with the Dior Oblique motif. The poker set features chips in six different colours, each engraved with Mr Dior’s lucky star, a symbol of luck, daring and freedom; www.dior.com.
Illustration by Catherine Kay Greenup via Unsplash.com.
TAKE STOCK IN THE GARDEN
If you are looking out onto a garden wilderness and not sure what to do or where to start, garden designer Leonie Cornelius says this is the best time to clear the garden palette. “Before everything dies down for winter is a wonderful time to take stock of the structure in your garden. It is a good moment to sit in the garden and reflect on how the season has progressed. Where have there been gaps? What would I like more of in the next year? It’s a great time to start putting together ideas for what will bring you joy in the next growing season.” She suggests starting to plan and plant some bulb displays for the new year. “How you plant bulbs can make a huge difference in impact. For example, swathes of white daffodils in drifts or ‘rivers’ in the border, crocuses scattered organically throughout a lawn, or a collection of terracotta pots with tiered masses of planted black and lilac tulips will have a much greater impact than simply buying bulbs and placing them wherever you have space.” The kids might like to help too!
Photographed by Elliston Lutz, styled by Luis Rodriguez.
PLAN A GALLERY WANDER
It’s a bumper season for visual inspiration with many of the country’s top galleries and museums offering free exhibitions. Browsing art is a small pleasure with numerous benefits – neurological imaging has shown that viewing art encourages the release of feel good dopamines. Currently running until the end of December in the Copper Tree Gallery at Birr Castle Demesne is an immersive experience called “The Peatlands”, an exhibition highlighting the biodiversity of the peatlands and wetlands of Ireland. “The Peatlands” combines animated painting, photography, field recordings, sound sculpture and video curated by Charleen Hurtubise, involving various artists including Birr native Tina Claffey; www.thepeatlands.ie. Meanwhile at the National Gallery, “Lavery. On Location” is the highlight of the autumn programme. For more exhibitions to see, follow this link.
AUTUMN-ISE YOUR HOME
Rebecca Roe, creative director of Hedgeroe Home says a few simple tweaks to our interiors made with practicality in mind will help create a cosy autumn aesthetic. “As the evenings get darker, introduce more soft, warm lamp light, in all areas of your home, even updating a lamp shade can make a deference. Wicker lamps give a warm dappled light, our Lila lamp is a wonderful example of this.” With autumn comes more crisp walks and crunchy leaves under foot too. Rebecca says means clearing the entrance hall or adding a practical console which can store boots, hats, gloves and dog leads.”
For more ways to autumn-ise your home, follow this link.
PLAN AHEAD …
We know it’s coming but sometimes taking the time out now to plan ahead for Christmas can reap rewards. For instance, this weekend why not pot some hyacinths for the Christmas tablescape? Leonie Cornelius is foregoing the usual colour combinations of pink and blue and planting some deep black and white hyacinths. “These will look incredible with the moody grey and purple-black Christmas concept I am planning”, she says. If planted now in pretty antique pots and kept indoors (in the airing cupboard), they should be ready for Christmas. Leonie says, “The great thing about bringing hyacinths indoors for Christmas is that you can later add them to the garden for the next growing season too.”
REFRESH YOUR WARDROBE
You may be searching for a new coat, autumn wardrobe staples, or thinking ahead to party wear. Use the long weekend to identify any gaps in your wardrobe and build out your new season shopping list. In a classic autumnal mood, shades of tobacco, sienna, chocolate and beige swirl together in a look that’s part 1970s, part Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. The key to looking contemporary? Modern shapes and low-key styling à la key autumn brands like The Row, Acne Studios and Dôen. Follow this link to shop this autumn colour palette – it feels so luxurious.
RETREAT TO THE KITCHEN
As we fully embrace autumn, Trish Deseine loves to add sweet notes to her cooking to help fend off any dreary wintery blues and this month’s menu uses wine and fruit to add depth and tang to dishes. “Kale and apple are wonderful together, and added to a smoky-salty bacon base, they all make for a terrific autumnal soup which is good as is for a weekday supper, or elevated to a smarter dinner starter status. My lamb stew benefits from a slow simmer in some good red wine alongside added carrots and parsnips to give a rich, earthy background. Meanwhile the luscious orzotto soaks up the acidity and flavour of white wine as a first layer for some smooth sweet pumpkin and tender roast chicken. The cake, a beautifully buttery and fragrant hazelnut sponge, is chic enough to serve as dessert with cream and compote, or as a cutting cake for afternoon tea – and it’s made in no time at all, in one bowl.” Follow this link to see the full menu and save the recipes to try at home this weekend.
NEW SEASON BEAUTY QUICK FIX
Sometimes a chic update to your usual manicure is all you need for an instant update says Beauty Editor Sarah Halliwell: “Chanel Le Vernis in Tuxedo, an antique gold, is an easy way to dress up your daytime outfit, and looks stunning with black, €32, www.chanel.com. On cold winter nights, it’s also important to up your usual evening skincare routine with Ultraceuticals’ Ultra DNA Complex Recovery Night Cream, to cosset, repair and protect your skin barrier. €90; www.ultraceuticals.com. Another pick-me-up treat is the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Dreams Come True set which has all you need for the most glamorous evening out, from face palette to mascara, all in a reusable vanity case with mirror. €380; www.spacenk.com.”
IDENTIFY YOUR AUTUMN WELLNESS TOOLBOX
Margaret Young of Wild Soul Yoga and Wellness believes in embracing the ancient science of Ayurveda at this time of year. This system of medicine and holistic healing originated in India, she explains: “From an ayurvedic perspective, autumn is considered a ‘Vata’ time, characterised by dryness, coldness, lightness, and mobility. A really simple, effective way to work with the seasons and incorporate ayurveda into your lifestyle is through the use of spices, so now is the time to take stock of the pantry and perhaps update your spice rack. We can balance Vata with warming and grounding ingredients like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. Cinnamon helps with digestion and brings some sweetness and comfort. Ginger helps digestion too and is warming. Turmeric also helps balance Vata and is well known for its anti-inflammatory proprieties. Herbal teas aside, a turmeric supplement can be very helpful element to add to your autumn wellness toolbox. As we move closer to winter, which is a ‘Kapha’ time, we can turn to more stimulating spices likes cloves and nutmeg. Cloves are great for sluggish digestion and even help the respiratory system as they have an expectorant effect, helping prevent the accumulation of toxins and excess mucus, and nutmeg is great for circulation, perfect for when we go into hibernation mode!”
Most businesses are in the process of doing a quarterly audit, but what about personal intentions? If you have goals that you’re currently working on, take time to assess your progress on each of them. Someone who can help is Yvonne Tchrakian, a corporate lawyer and founder of a new Irish mindset movement brand called Pause.Penny which is neuroscience-based. She recommends implementing four simple habits for seven minutes each morning. She calls it the “G.A.M.E Changer” and it includes practicing gratitude, a daily affirmation, manifestation and mood-boosting dancing first thing in the morning. Follow @pause.penny to see more.