Autumn still fills me with childlike wonder and it isn’t surprising that it is the firm favourite season for many of us.
The leaves are turning flaming red, gold, amber, and yellow, contrasting beautifully with cool metallic skies and breathtaking firey sunsets. Nights are getting cosier, and the food is warm, rich, and filling.
There is a sense of change and expectation in the air, with Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Christmas just waiting around the corner, coming closer with every falling leaf.
Autumn is a fantastic time of year to explore and get creative with what nature and the pantry has on offer.
Here are a few activities to keep the whole family entertained and happy.
This is a fabulous creative activity for all ages. It’s a real opportunity to get creative and explore autumnal colours and themes, and it couldn’t be easier or cheaper!
Simply choose some of your favourite autumn spices and mix with water to create a variety of colours and hues; the more spice you add to the water, the more intense the colour.
Turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg all create beautiful shades individually, or why not get creative and mix and match to invent something new?
The fabulous thing about this activity is the wonderful array of smells that come from the watercolour paints as you mix and use them, making it an intensely sensory activity that envelopes you in autumnal warmth.
There is something spectacularly exciting about visiting a pumpkin patch and seeing sprawling pumpkins of various sizes, shapes and colours, tumbling all over one another in fairy-tale fashion, and it’s a perfect way to get into the autumnal mood.
There are several excellent pumpkin farms around Pembrokeshire to choose from, including Brooksgrove Farm just outside of Haverfordwest, Greenacre Market Garden in Llanteg, and Windsor Farm in Lamphey.
All pumpkin patches have a variety of pumpkins of different shapes, colours and sizes, from tiny white Cinderella style to enormous bright orange and quirky gnarled green.
Once we bring our pumpkins home most of us will either use them for delicious dinners or desserts, or carve them in preparation for Halloween celebrations. This leaves us with the gooey, messy inside of the pumpkin, which usually we would throw away (unless we choose to roast the pumpkin seeds, which are delicious!).
A fabulous way of using the insides of a pumpkin before we toss them onto the compost heap is to tip them into a tray, bowl, or onto a plastic tablecloth and create a sensory messy play experience using them. The combination of stringy pumpkin, seeds, and squashy pulp makes it an absolute delight for children and adults to squash, squeeze, and play with!
The perfect place to witness the changing seasons has got to be the woods, and West Wales has plenty of enchanting beauty spots to choose from.
Pack a picnic, complete with a flask of hot chocolate, tea, or spiced coffee, and take the family for a walk crunching through leaves and diving through the undergrowth to really embrace and immerse yourself in the autumnal feeling.
Canaston Woods lies just outside of Narberth and on the main road from Haverfordwest. This spectacular area is some of the most ancient woodland in Pembrokeshire. On this walk you will see not just splendid towering trees and wildlife, but the ancient 15th century Mounton Chapel and glorious Blackpool Mill.
Not far from Canaston Wood is Minwear Wood, with incredible oak and beech trees. Minwear Wood is a glorious sight to behold with spectacular autumn colours.
Brechfa Forest just inside Carmarthenshire provides plenty of space for exploration and it’s giant redwoods, eucalyptus, nothofagus, sessile oak, and walnut trees are not to be missed.
Children (and adults!) are generally very natural and gifted explorers. So a scavenger hunt is a perfect outdoor autumn activity for budding naturalists.
Here are a few simple steps to follow:
Ideas to include:
Take home your finds and explore ways to use them at home in craft or sensory activities.
Many things found on a scavenger hunt make for excellent shape printing; simply roll or dip into paint and see what patterns you can create on some scrap paper! Conkers and chestnuts can be made into jewellery or decorative bunting for the house. Pine cones and acorns look fantastic collected in a wooden bowl and used as a display piece.
The options for family fun in the autumn are almost endless; just get outdoors and see where the local wildlife takes you!
By Alice Shuttleworth