Rosie and Jim: Spectacular nature, bitter cold, fantastic parties and the utter misery of flu — the love/hate affair with Autumn

Rosie and Jim just can't agree on autumn — and the division is so deep that they can't even agree on whether to capitalise it.

Our writers Rosie Paterson and James Fisher blogged for Country Life throughout the lockdowns of last year, when (one way or another) they ended up alone for the duration. Both used to the time wisely: they revealed the rules of cycling, ranked musical instruments (and not in a good way)shared tales of curious robins, video chat and little old ladies winching shopping through windows. You can catch up on all their columns here.

Now, though, our intrepid pair have moved on — one to become a home owner, the other, er, not. And now, they’re facing the perils of living with parents as an adult, and the coming of winter. They have our sympathy.


It’s Autumn: my favourite time of year, regardless of my living circumstances and whoever’s house/flat/sofa I’m currently occupying.

I secretly love the long, dark nights. Jumpers, mashed potato, pine-scented candles and hot chocolate are all back in fashion. Oh, and red wine (I’m very sorry, but drinking red wine in the summer just feels very odd. The same goes for eating macaroni cheese in the summer). Most meals contain some sort of pie — sweet or savoury, I’m not fussy — and you can wax lyrical about Christmas without someone hissing at you in protest.

The best bit about Autumn is the trees. At the moment, they are a glorious, fiery riot of colour. In a few weeks, they will give in to the wind and rain. The once crisp leaves will litter the pavements and create a lethally slippery and mushy mess. This will add an extra frisson of excitement to flat viewings: will I make it from one overpriced box to the next without breaking a limb? Do keep reading to find out.

Autumn is also when we (we being Country Life) host our annual Gentleman’s Life party, to mark, you guessed it, our annual Gentleman’s Life supplement. There are no prizes for guessing what it’s about. The party — which took place earlier this week at The Mayfair Townhouse hotel — is normally a precursor of what is to come. A joyous whirlwind of Christmassy events, late nights and early mornings, too much champagne and deadlines.

It was utterly bizarre to witness first hand so many people in one small space. In fact, the last time I’d seen that many was in the long queue for my first vaccine at Heathrow Airport… and the two aren’t really comparable. In that hot room there was the sense that all 100 guests were relieved to be out and about again. Everyone took the ‘smart’ dress code to heart and everyone played their part in getting through 70 bottles of bubbles, several bottles of gin and vodka and 900, unbelievably good, canapés.

Long may Autumn and the Christmas mayhem last.

One of the (many) problems with trying to avoid being very sick for the best part of two years is that eventually you will forget what being a bit sick feels like. At some point last week, the common cold virus tracked me down for the first time and has thoroughly rattled my cage.

The list of symptoms is almost too savage and brutal to list here, but list them I will.

My nose is runny. My eyes are a bit watery. I am sneezing, on average, 20-30 times a day. I know, I know, it must make for tough reading but I must continue. My back hurts. I sometimes have to wake up to go the bathroom in the night. Ok maybe those last two aren’t to do with the cold but they still upset me

The point is, I had forgotten just how awful having a cold is. Not being able to taste anything at all. Having the entire front of my face feeling like it’s filled with phlegm constantly. My mother calling me twice daily to check if I have enough chicken soup. She grew up in Germany in the 1950s, where as far as I can tell, the answer to everything was ‘chicken soup’. Cold? Chicken soup. Fractured vertebra? Chicken soup. And so on.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time either, as now the clocks have gone back and it is dark all the time. This is the lovely time of year where my regular depression gets to meet my seasonal depression.

Not only that, but the early autumn sun that I had been enjoying is now well and truly gone, and the cold temperatures are in. For some reason, all my trousers have holes in them, too, so now that I’m forced out of wearing shorts, I have had to go shopping, my least favourite activity.

I am cold and with cold. Assuming I survive this vicious ailment, I should hope to come back next week with some more positive news. In the meantime, hold me in your thoughts that I may survive this most vicious of illnesses.

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