It has to be said, I absolutely adore autumn time in Ireland.
The colours everywhere are beautiful and the weather is mostly dry but with a nice enough chill in the air to warrant a fire being lit. Who doesn’t love a cosy evening in front of the fire?
The kids adore this time of year too because of the endless fun and free stuff they can do and collect from mother nature.
So grab their wellies and hats and get outside to make the most of the next few weeks.
Here’s our top 3 Autumn activities.
1. Foraging and Baking
In my opinion there is nothing nicer than freshly baked blackberry or apple tart with a dollop of homemade ice cream on the side. The fun that goes into gathering the star ingredients makes it taste even better (a real reward for their hard work!)
Every year at the end of September we head out armed with bags and bowls to pick blackberries along the hedgerows of our beautiful Ballynafagh. This year was a bumper crop with the bushes bent over with the amount that were on it.
General rule of thumb is to accept that 50% of what is picked will not make it home, let alone into the bag (that’s part of the attraction really, work and eat!)
Here’s a really simple recipe.
Simple Blackberry / Apple Tart Recipe
- 200g plain flour
- 100g butter
- Drop of water
- Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together until resembling crumbs. Add a drop of water and mix with a steel spoon or knife to form a dough.
- Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for one hour.
Blackberry/ Apple Tart
- 400g washed blackberries or peeled sliced cooking apples (or 200g of each)
- 140g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
- 10g butter (for greasing a plate)
- Grease a dinner plate with butter to ensure the tart doesn’t stick to it.
- Cut the pastry in half and on a floured surface, roll out to be slightly bigger than a dinner plate. Put the rolled pastry on the greased plate.
- Scatter the blackberries or apples (or both) evenly across the plate.
- Sprinkle the caster sugar over the fruit.
- Put the second sheet of rolled pastry over the top of the plate. Use a fork to seal the crust around the edge of the plate. Pierce a few holes with the fork in the top of the tart also. Use a knife to trim the edges off the plate.
- Sprinkle with sugar and put in the oven to bake for one hour (190C/ 170C Fan/ Gas 5). Leave to cool for 30 minutes before serving with a blob of ice-cream on top.
2. Conker Wars
Conkers are the fruit of the mighty horse chestnut trees and are ready at the end of September early October. These conkers are not the same as the ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ so please don’t try eat them! The edible variety comes from the sweet chestnut tree, not the horse chestnut which is common in Ireland.
Still though, there’s tonnes of fun to have with conkers in the form of a Conker Fight!
Every year the competition to pick the biggest conker is immense in our house. We bring them home, dry them out then bore a hole through the centre of the conker. We then put a string through it (about 30cm’s long) and let the games begin!
The game involves two people sitting opposite each other. One holds their conker straight on the string and the other takes their turn of flinging their conker at it. The winner is the person with the intact conker who’s broken up their opponents!
3. Leaf Art
With the abundance of beautifully coloured leaves on the ground in autumn, collecting them and using them to create something new is another firm favourite in our house.
The kids love letting their imaginations run wild and creating story’s and settings from the leaves and sticks that are on the ground.
If your looking for some inspiration why not choose their favourite character from a Johnny Magory Book to recreate.
If you’d like a template for Mrs Hedgehog and Mr Fox you can download one free from the ‘Fun-Stuff’ section of the website here.
I hope this offer’s some inspiration to get the kids outside and exploring in the next few weeks.
If you’ve any suggestions please leave a comment.
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