These Autumnal Days of Sudden Beauty

It has been a warm September. Every time that I walked to the nearest stores, which are admittedly 10 blocks away, I felt my pores opening up to the heat, trickles of perspiration coursing down the back. But yesterday, unexpectedly, there was a nip in the air. A beautiful evening had finally arrived. All I could do was bask in its breezy charm, let the breeze ruffle my hair and alongside rush through the rows of trees towering over me as it spoke to my senses in some strange tongue. Psithurism. Sonic and haunting. If there is heaven, it is to be found in the music of nature. In the gushing of that brook, in the breeze that ripples through canopies, in the ebb and tide of the waves…

Houses flanking the blocks with tamed and untamed patches of gardens, the ones matted with tangled ivy catching the eye because there is a certain something about wild overgrown beauty. The occupants of many house fronts: pointy-hatted witches, ghouls and skeletal figures swaying behind fences, a few macabre grins, autumnal wreaths in hues of gold, orange and russet upon doors, porches with autumnal leaves twirled around the balustrades. My kind of porch, I thought.

And then just like that, as I was strolling past an old rundown bakery, peering into windows scrawled with ‘try our cheese and nutella twists’, the feeling clamped down upon me. An intense wave of longing for the autumnal embrace of Northampton. The Racecourse, that sprawling park (you see it in all the shots) where I gathered leaves by the dozen every autumn, watched the seasons change in slow motion, where the trees were my beloved friends, where around this time the fallen leaves gather on the jogging path and trip merrily in the wind like children gone wild on a picnic, where the blustery wind threatens to rip the ponytail off your head as you run the length of its winding paths.

Below are the changes of season in The Racecourse which sprawls sublimely over 118 acres. How the scenes of life play out differently now from what it did centuries ago when cattle grazed upon its green vastness — a bucolic thought given that during the mid-1700s and 1800s it was the chosen spot for public executions. Convicts were brought over to the heath – that is now the park – in carts after they were allowed a last drink at the Bantam Cock pub a few miles off in Abington. In time, the gallows made way for recreational race meets before they were brought to a halt in 1904 after a fatal accident. Its final avataar was that of an army base and barracks during the two world wars before it was transformed into a refuge for pleasure seekers.

You would think that were might be dark memories clinging to the leaves. Yet it does not feel like the kind of place that holds onto disturbing memories. It is the stomping grounds of little girls and boys training in football, families armed with blankets and picnic baskets during summer, teenagers roller skating with abandon, school boys and girls romancing each other under the boughs of those trees, big and small dogs sizing each other up as they patter around with great solemnity, and the ubiquitous cyclists and runners. On the 5th of November, every year, when the Yeomen of the Guard search the Houses of Parliament in London ceremonially for whiffs of gunpowder-laden plots, in Northampton Guy Fawkes night is the occasion forΒ a great bonfire on the green, hot drinks for shivering enthusiastic residents and fireworks beneath a star-laden sky.

There is a dragon too who lies half asleep at one end of the park as if in wait that someone should say those magic words, ‘Dra…’. Shush. Meanwhile if you keep running down the straight path, atΒ the other edge of the park is a disused tram shelter and The White Elephant. From across the road, this pub taunts the hapless jogger with the wondrously warm smell of pizzas baking away in its wood-fired ovens. Now seasons may come and seasons may go, my friend, but that remains a given on Friday nights throughout the year.

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

75 thoughts on “These Autumnal Days of Sudden Beauty

      1. Exciting!! Yeah, they take ages. Mine said it would take up to 4 weeks, but I think you guys got in three. I will wait patiently for it πŸ˜€

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  1. This is so beautifully written as usual. I am always amazed by the quality of your writing and how well you appeal to all the senses and really make us imagine a place. Also, your photographs are gorgeous! Definitely makes me appreciate Autumn so much more πŸ™‚ x

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  2. Yet more gorgeous photographs and narrative. There is something mystical about autumn though it’s hard to beat the fall colours in your part of the world. Here you have to go well into the Nicois hinterland to see anything slightly similar.

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  3. It ‘s difficult not to be hypnotized by your amazing photographs and descriptive narrative. I feel like you’ve taken me by the hand and led me into the Wonderland of your observations. A wonderfully written blogpost! Looking forward to experiencing the next rabbit hole πŸ˜‰ – Neek

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    1. Thank you lovely Sarah πŸ™‚ I am guessing the autumnal colours have arrived in your part of the world already. Here it peaks around mid-October, so I cannot wait to set eyes upon it. xx


      1. That’s about the same as us, it’s creeping out and touching certain areas currently. What with all the rain and wind we have though it’s never quite as beautiful as it is in your photos xx

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      2. That’s about 3 hours away, maybe we have more wind lol ? the leaves don’t seem to settle as beautifully as they have in your photo – or you’re just better at capturing them – which is probably more likely ??

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      3. Well it was not all gold and yellow throughout town and it was always blustery. But I might have caught the park changing colours before the wind could strip the trees bare. So maybe, just maybe I outwit the wind, if one can do that πŸ˜›


  4. I think this is my favourite time of year now. When I was a child and the long and cold winters in Norway finally gave way for spring, springtime was my favourite time. This is a wonderful post with awesome photography and eloquent writing as always, dear Dippy. Sending you two heaps of hugs from the Rhine Valley. x

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    1. Thank you again Dina. You are most kind to write such generous words. I shall take the heaps of hugs, double it and send it back to you. Every season has its own beauty but spring and autumn somehow always make your heart sing. I can imagine that it would be even more pleasing when you have the fantastic cold to tide over in Norway and then find spring at the end of it all. The simple but sublime joys of life. xx

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  5. Oh Dippy Dotty … my heart goes out to you. Those moments when you suddenly feel the call of that place that nestles as home. Your sharing here, your treating us to your wonderful words and pictures, I hope has exhorcised the aching feeling a little. Bon courage, my friend – the world is a double edged sword for those of us that travel it a little or a lottle xx

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    1. My darling Osyth! You always, always get me. The throb refuses to go away. It does help sharing it through posts such as these (which is why I am going to indulge in yet another one) but I imagine myself in every season, doing my everyday things in that wonderful town after my heart, and it was not even the prettiest. But it is for me.

      I am holding onto the note of travelling as a double-edged sword, and that little/lottle thought, which btw is absolutely after my heart. We were on a drive when I read this out to Adi and he had a beatific smile on his face. Thank you. xx

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      1. I do understand the aching … please keep sharing and I am humbled that Adi had a beatific smile and most of all that you find my drivel a help in some what xx

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  6. “All I could do was bask in its breezy charm, let the breeze ruffle my hair and alongside rush through the rows of trees towering over me as it spoke to my senses in some strange tongue.” – my favorite line! And the photos that take me away to that place. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Theresa. I have a tendency of going aw when I see your comment. But I held back on it this time purposefully because it can tend to be annoying πŸ˜› I hope autumn is creeping up on you with great loveliness πŸ™‚ xx

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    1. Thank you Jen. Those are images from Northampton, England, the home of my heart. Of both our hearts πŸ™‚ I am yet to find such colour yet but I shall get there I believe soon. Here the foliage peaks around mid-October it seems.


  7. […] styles (in those days I was experimenting with a pixie look with gusto), the golf shop owner near the park where I jogged and who executed a little salute as I ran past his shop, the joggers with whom I […]


  8. I so envy the beautiful fall colors you are able to experience! We are in Texas and I often tell my out of state friends that we have summer 1 and summer 2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I’ll live vicariously through your seasons. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Thank you Joanna. These were taken in Northampton, UK. Now though we are quite chuffed about experiencing it in Vermont for which we are planning a road trip. I have my hopes about Central Park too. Two summers sound intense πŸ™‚ I hope you get to see the fall colours elsewhere in the country. I keep hearing it is spectacular in parts.

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  9. […] in Northampton. My in-laws were visiting and we had concluded a day in Blenheim by trundling toΒ the RacecourseΒ on a crisp and clear but chilly night. It was July 4. Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes. Guido Fawkes, […]


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