It is definitely Autumn now. Today it is as warm as a pleasant Spring day yet even if I was blindfold I would know it was Autumn. There would be the crisp rustle of leaves underfoot and there would be the smell of rotting vegetation - not an unpleasant smell but one that is everywhere at this time of the year.
Fungi in their hundreds have sprung up overnight under our Scots pine trees - some in 'fairy rings' some haphazardly scattered about the grass. The combination of damp and warmth seems to have sparked them into life.
The journey down to our feed merchants this afternoon meant running the gauntlet of the guns as our local landowner's shooting day happened to be down the bottom of our lane. A lot of the pheasant had come up on to our land - they are welcome to stay there until the danger is past. Most of them were only hatched in Spring and they are still quite small. Eventually the older, wiser ones learn to run along the hedgerow rather than to fly up in the air. It is not done to shoot anything on the ground, so they are much safer there.
On the way down to Masham the fields seemed to be full of pheasants. Many of the fields are stubble from wheat or barley or maize. The farmer tells me that they are likely to stay as stubble until the Spring now - they will be 'well-mucked' and then left over the winter.
The river is low. Although there are heavy downpours in the form of showers, this comes gradually so that no extra water builds up. We passed several bonfires stacked up and ready for Bonfire Night, which is tomorrow night. It does seem macabre to say the least that we should celebrate someone being hung, drawn and quartered by having a celebration bonfire once a year and that we should then supplement it with fireworks to symbolise the gunpowder plot. I am not a lover of fireworks myself - and neither is Tess. Pets are very vulnerable tomorrow night and need a lot of TLC - but I know I am preaching to the converted.