Hot Lists Friday, September 21st

Your definitive Autumn checklist

Hot Lists Friday, September 21st

Your definitive Autumn checklist

Autumn is here. And we know this because about a week ago – when it was still pretty shorts-and-teeshirt-weather – Starbucks started telling us that we need a Pumpkin Spice Latte more than the world needs a cure for cancer. The Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL) is, of course, the new, corporate herald of Autumn, tapping you on the shoulder and telling you to go buy more knitwear.

But you what? Despite the fact that brand managers have commodified a whole season in to a beverage, and despite the fact most of those beverages don’t even contain pumpkin, there’s something about that PSL blend of cinnamon and what I can only assume is crack cocaine, that doesn’t half get you feeling all falling-leaves-and-roaring-bonfires romantic for the changing seasons.

Sure, Ibiza pool parties are cool – but have you ever had a pint next to an open fire, as the rain beats down on the windows outside?

There may be a time, likely in around seven to ten days, when you miss being able to leave the house without a minimum of three layers – but until then, we’ve got a checklist to get you fully in to Autumn Mode.

Autumn1. Pick your own pumpkin.

You can do this at Court Farm in Tillington, with the pumpkin patch using ready for picking in the first week of October. Whether you plan on making a soup, a pie, or just a KISS-themed Halloween lantern, there are various factors to consider when picking a pumpkin. This WikiHow will get you started.

Court Farm also has PYO plums, apples, pears, blackberries, damsons – and basically any fruit you could ever want to bake in a crumble, incidentally another Autumn-approved pastime.

2. Ditch the Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and try a chai.

Just because PSL ads signal the start of Autumn, doesn’t mean you need to bow to mass-advertising (although they are pretty damn good). In fact if you’re looking for something that’s going to leave you all warm and fuzzy inside, there are better options out there. Try a chai latte from Hereford’s Sensory + Rye (or alternatively their unique and punchy Straits 7 coffee with salt, pepper and condensed milk – seriously), or one from the Coffee Cart Co (in the High Town plaza) or the Coffee Corner (in the Old Market). You can even turn it up a notch and order a Dirty Chai (with an extra shot of espresso dropped in for good times).

All four boast bonafide hug-in-a-mug credentials (if you want a kiss as well, you can always bring a little hip-flask of spiced rum to add to the chai lattes), and you get to enjoy them sat out under the city centre space heaters and furry blankets, or in S+R’s bare wood, Euro for maximum Hygge-ness.

psl3. Go to the woods. See the leaves change at Queenswood’s arboretum.

I realise the Hygge reference may be about two years’ from being cool, but the Swedish concept of general cosiness is still about as close a guidebook as you can get when it comes to nailing Autumn living. Along with blankets, candles and family, part of it is staying connected with nature. Getting out for a walk in the woods, and feeling that freshness of the air on your face and the smell of woodland after a heavy rain, is a great way to do that.

There are loads of great, accessible woods to do that in around the county – but the most spectacular at this time of year is Queenswood, between Hereford and Leominster. The country park features hundreds of varieties of trees planted over a 47-acre country park, from towering Californian Redwoods, to Japanese maples that show bright red throughout October.

If you want to get a different perspective on the changing foliage, Oakerwood also to a two-hour high ropes Tree Trekking course a little further north.

4. Climb a really tall hill in time to see the late-afternoon sun start to drop. And Instagram it.

If you get one of the clear, cloudless Autumn days, grab your scarf and walk uphill until the horizon stretches out for miles and miles. Then get out your iPhone camera and take one of those panoramas that rarely work for time but are great for catching that moment when the hazy September sun just starts to fall towards the rolling Herefordshire countryside.

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Everyone’s got their favourite hill, but here are a few that will give you various levels of rosy-cheek-ness.

Symonds’ Yat; a short, gentle climb - unless you start from the Saracen’s Head right at the bottom - the views are great over the Wye Valley, and the hot chocolates from the cabin are better.

Kington/Hergest Ridge; there’s some to get you started here, there are some serious vistas from up Hergest Ridge, as well as wild ponies and the highest golf course in the country.

Hay Bluff; Bring some old sneaks for this one. You can get good views from the carpark if you just want to be lazy and dive back down the hill to Hay-on-Wye and its cafes and bookshops (Richard Booths Booshop/café and the Old Electric Shop, if you’re asking) – or head up the bluff to get blood moving.

British Camp; It’s only two miles from the British Camp car park to the Hereford Beacon in the Malvern Hills. It’s an old Iron Age fort, put precisely there because of the views (for defence, not Instagram pics). 

For the more adventurous, on Oct 6 there’s the Black Mountain Trek – and organised 30km walk through some pretty spectacular scenery to raise money for St Michael’s Hospice.

5. Get muddy. Go mountain biking.

Some things are just better when you get a bit dirty. Mountain-biking is one of them. Pedicargo’s Will Vaugan – who both races and coaches mountain-biking – recommends Pedalabikeaway on the Gloucestershire border as a starting point. If you head to their website here, they’ve got info on trails for families to full-blown adrenaline junkies.

Out west, Drover Cycles in Hay-on-Wye has three routes to get you started on their site here – and both companies will help you get kitted out if you need some wheels.

6. Halloweening.

There is always that one person in the office for whom Halloween is not only the best part of Autumn, but the best day of their year. You know them. They have the Buffy the Vampire Slayer stickers on their laptop, and start asking about your costume in early August. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being that in to Halloween, you probably don’t want to get stuck in a lift with them.

But All Hallow’s Eve is a big deal these days, from Dia De Los Muertos house parties to throwing on your most revealing nurse’s outfit and chucking back some slime-coloured tequila shots. And that’s just the lads.

There’s no costume party at Saxty’s this year, but there is a Horrorford outdoor film festival being run by Andy Black just West of Hereford, and a real life ghost hunt going on at the Shire Hall.

We’ll also be updating our list of last-minute Hereford-themed costumes at some point.

7. Find a country pub with an open fire.

Walk to it where possible, just to feel the benefit. It’s almost impossible to name any without appearing to play favourites in a county blessed with so many great timber-framed country pubs so I’ll defer to the experts.

The Good Beer Guide named The Red Lion at Stifford’s Bridge its Autumn 2018 Pub (Mordiford’s Moon Inn, and Ledbury’s Talbot Hotel were 2017 and 2016 winners), The Black Swan Inn at Much Dewchurch its Classic Country Pub of the Year and The Green Dragon at Bishop’s Frome Cider Pub of the Year.

The Good Food Guide spotlighted the following Herefordshire pubs for their seasonal scran; The Riverside at Aymestery, The Stagg at Titley, The Cider Barn at Pembridge, The Oak at Wigmore and The Baiting House at Upper Sapey.

8. Where possible, drink your booze mulled, whatever ‘mulling’ is.

Not only are mulled wine and cider delicious and warming, they are dangerously acceptable to enjoy at almost any time after 10am. The best around are the Shack Revolution’s range of hot cider-based cocktails, with everything from sloe gin and star anise dropped in for additional Autumn-ness, and De Koffie Pot’s mulled wine. Both spots are perfect for the fresh afternoons and cosy evenings, with DKP dusting off the fire pits and the Shack bringing out the blankets for a certain ski chalet vibe through the winter.

9. Conkers.

The first few have fallen – get across to Widemarsh Common for some good ones. The key is to find a perfectly round stone, paint it brown, and ruin the hopes and dreams of all your nephews and nieces by destroying them in battle, and attributing your ‘conker’s’ hardness to a secret process involving vinegar and a tanning lamp.

10. Autumn like ze Germans.

We’re not the only ones  who know how to make the most of the changing seasons, and the Bavarian beer-and-sausage celebrations otherwise known as Oktoberfest are coming to town with the Firefly and Beer House teaming up for live Ompah and big boy beer steins on Oct 5.

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11. Or if you can’t wait, eat like the Italians, and French, and Germans this weekend.

The Flavours of the World market is back taking over High Town with stalls stocking everything from schitzels to spaghetti. 

(After that though, look out for that staple of Hereford’s Autumn markets – the fresh doughnut stall, and the smell so good it’ll raise your cholesterol.)


12. More food. Specifically hearty lunches in Hereford.

We mentioned country pubs, but if you’re in Hereford you’re not short of the kind of hearty, good-for-soul food that dark nights and walks by the river deserve. Bill Sewell – the famed head chef at All Saints Caféhas made a career off the back of just that. The Rocket’s windows are always steamed up for a reason; it’s full of both people, and people roasting veggies and pulling fresh quiches and pizzas out of the oven. A few doors down, Church St neighbours La Madeleine bring a little alpine twist to comfort food – order the Croque Madeleine and thank us later.

13. Horse racing.

Not must smells more like Autumn than the combination of good-to-soft racing turf, wax jackets and whiskey hipflasks that you get at Hereford Racecourse. There’s another great set of fixtures for this season, with a ‘Cider and Sausage Raceday’ on Oct 16 the perfect way to get in to it if you’ve never been before.


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14. Or do it yourself.

Eastnor Deer Park hosts the Mud Bath trail race for the third year running, with distances from the ‘mini Mud Bath’ up to a 10km (and a hog roast after) on Oct 7.

15. Step up your wool game.

Sure sheep wool is cool. But what about Alpaca wool? What about wearing scarves from wool shorn from the backs of animal that appears to be a cross between a llama and a teddy bear? Old Bakery Alpacas not only sell the highest-quality wool clothing and throws, they let you head out and meet the alpacas (one is called ‘Nightrider’), from their HQ near Brilley.


16. Write a novel.

Allow every darkened sky, every gale-tossed tree to add significance to your to your prose. Trust me, there’s a reason 80 percent of the world’s best literature and music comes from countries that don’t enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year. Release your novel in chapters on Tumblr, print out copies out for your Mum – who won’t get it – and give up by early-December.

If you are actually serious about this – there are short courses in blogging and creative writing at the Hereford’s two major colleges.

17. Shooting.

Not for everyone, but if you want to spend the cost of a small summer holiday for one day of drinking port with breakfast and blasting away at some over-fed pheasants, it is a free country. Just remember to dress like someone who can train both a dog and a rose, and sings lustily in church. When people ask, always claim you shot at least 30 percent more than you actually did.

18. Dodge the rain, hit the cinema.

Aside from the usual Big Screen offerings (check our Movies This Month articles to avoid FOMO), the brilliant Borderlines Film Festival are debuting a four-day mini-fest, B2, of films, gigs and workshops in late October, from the happy to the Halloween-y.


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19. Delete all EDM playlists from your Spotify.

Replace with Dylan, The Shins and Michael Kiwanuka – and any other artists who go with grey-on-grey knitwear and feelings. Learn at least one Joni Mitchell song on acoustic guitar, but never play it for anyone except your cat.

(If you do get suddenly emboldened by whiskey, The Firefly are bringing back their acoustic open-mic nights).

20. And lastly, bonfires and fireworks.

We will have a full round-up on the site closer to the time, but as far as Hereford goes, the big ones are still the big ones with the Round Table organising the large-scale spectacular at the Racecourse, and Castle Green and the Quarry in Tupsley hosting nights with a more neighbourhood-y vibe.

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