Wonderful Wednesday: October 2018

31 October 2018

I can't believe that a whole month has passed since I last down here and opened up a new tab on my blog page but just like that, I've blinked and it's the end of October. Autumn is properly here, the nights are colder and darker, and I'm ready for all of the cosy things.

I've had a really productive day today (I'm typing this intro on Sunday) - there's something about having that extra hour in bed after the clocks go back that really encourages me to make the most of the day and still feel rested. We've decanted all of our grape vodka into bottles ready for Christmas, I cleaned the bedding and washed the windows - only inside, mind, I didn't go full Mary Poppins but I now feel extra ready to curl up for the rest of the evening with a book and all of the tea.

And without further ado, here are some other October highlights...


♥ Watercolour painting... Did I mention that I signed up for an art class? I've been going for a weeks now and I love it so much. I haven't really done any drawing since school, not properly, and it's something I always enjoyed but wanted a little tutoring in basic techniques to give me the confidence to do a little more. I've always wanted to bring a sketchbook with me when I go on holiday and do a little sketching but then get scared at the last minute.

I've been going for a few weeks now and for the last few weeks, I've been able to try watercolour painting which is so difficult but I love it. I love the different shades and textures you can achieve with just the smallest amount of paint. I need to practice more and am hoping to have a real chance to play over the Christmas break but for now, the classes are the highlight of my week - which is saying something for a Monday night! And actually having a proper excuse to buy art supplies is everything I've ever wanted.

♥ A weekend in Derbyshire... At the beginning of the month, we got up far too early for a Saturday morning to make it into London for an 8am train from St Pancras up to visit friends in Derbyshire. Breakfast-less arguments on the tube aside, it was completely worth it. We arrived in Derbyshire mid-morning to be met from the train and we headed to our friends' house via the Chatsworth farm shop to pick up some supplies before heading back to the House itself that afternoon. I'm absolutely fascinated by the Mitfords so it was supremely exciting to go on a Debo-pilgrimage and walk halls she would have walked but even if I didn't have that, I would have still loved every moment we spent at glorious Chatsworth. The leaves were just starting to change colour and it was a beautifully bright day so we spent a good few hours just exploring the grounds (some of that time may also have been spent getting lost in the maze). By the time we stopped for some fortifying tea and cake and wandered over to the house itself, they were letting in their last few visitors of the day.

To be honest though, the timing worked out really well. Have you ever visited a beautiful country house just before they're closing up, as the evening's drawing in on an autumn day? I hadn't and it was perfect. We had so many of the rooms to ourselves and the silence behind us as the lights were being switched off and the doors closed made me imagine, just for a moment, that I was living there. It was such a beautiful house. I want to go back and spend more time looking at every picture and all the stunning sculptures too.

The rest of the weekend was spent catching up over a lot of delicious food and cosied up in front of their woodburning stove. The cosiest time with good friends.

♥ Autumnal cooking... And on the subject of delicious food, I'm so excited about all the tasty treats ahead as the weather's colder. We came home to an amazing beef stew on Saturday after a long walk - my husband had made it in readiness the night before, so it tasted even more delicious the next day when we got home. We served it with some creamy mashed potato and red cabbage cooked in butter and balsamic vinegar, and it was perfect food for a cold day. I've also enjoyed my first roast dinner of the season this month and here's to lots more, followed by an apple and blackberry crumble please. I think this might be my favourite season for food!

♥ Gothic fiction... When I visited my brother a few weeks ago, he was raving about a book he'd just started called 'The Haunting of Hill House'. I hadn't heard about it but as we happened to pop into an amazing bookshop near their house, I picked up a copy, read the back and had to buy it straightaway. (support your local independent bookshops, folks!) I had a couple of books to finish initially and wanted to save it until the nights got a little colder and darker anyway. Saving it until October also meant that I managed to coincide with Jenny's gothic fiction read-along on Goodreads.

My goodness, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book but was completely unnerved by it at the same time. I would usually read at least a chapter each night before bed but at one point, when I was close to finishing it, I had to hide the book underneath by bedside table because I was too scared to even glimpse the cover during the night! This book really plays on your imagination and the fact that, for most people, all the terrifying things are already there inside your heads just waiting to be let out. As I said over on Instagram, I read an article about this book recently and one particular quote stood out - "houses aren’t haunted – people are. All the most terrible spectres are already there inside your head, just waiting for the cellar door of the subconscious to spring open so they can get out, sink their icy claws into you". That summed this book up completely for me and is why I can't stop thinking about it after turning the final page.

After finishing 'The Haunting of Hill House', I picked up 'The Silent Companions', which is another piece of gothic fiction and equally gripping. I devoured it over the course of a few days and, while I don't think it'll stay with me as long as Hill House will, it was still deliciously creepy. I think the author has a new book coming out soon (if it hasn't already been released?) and I'll definitely pick it up at some point. 

♥ Gilmore Girls... I know they've made one of these lists before but as the weather started to get a little cooler, I decided to start working my way through the series again. There's something about autumn and Gilmore Girls that goes hand in hand for me. It may raise my coffee-craving levels but that's not really a bad thing, right?!

♥ Autumn spotting... When we visited Derbyshire at the beginning of the month, we went on a mud and mushrooms walk on the National Trust's Longshaw Estate. I don't think I've ever looked so closely at the ground around me on a walk before but we spotted so many different kinds of stunningly-beautiful mushrooms. I'm looking out for them wherever I go now, although it really put me off ever wanting to do any kind of mushroom foraging - there are too many poisonous types, I don't think I'd ever trust myself to get it right!

And that's it for my little October round-up. Happy Hallowe'en to you all - stay safe and warm if you're out trick or treating, and here's to fireworks, spiced hot drinks and the countdown to Christmas during the month ahead!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week/month a little rosier by leaving me a comment below or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo, LauraSarahPetaElMimmiLynseyKatie and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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