Top tips on making the most of autumn

It’s been a wet start to autumn, but still, the colour-changing landscapes surrounding us and smells of log-burning fires makes autumn one of our favourite seasons!  As we prepare for the turning of the clocks, it’s time to wrap up warm, dust down your wellies and get out into nature’s back garden.

There’s nothing more therapeutic than kicking through fallen leaves and enjoying the stunning scenes of transforming woodlands from greens to fiery shades of coppers, browns, yellows and reds.  We caught up with our pub manager Lizzie, who gave us her top tips for making the most of autumn.

Get out and explore the local parks and woodlands
Take time out from technology and spend quality time either alone or with your nearest and dearest.  Enjoy your very own adventure, clear the cobwebs and head out for a walk – not only will you feel amazing after, but it will cost you absolutely nothing! There’s plenty of local areas to go walking and exploring, including the beautiful Basingstoke Canal, Fleet Pond, Bramshot Farm Country Park, Edenbrook Country Park and Farnham Park to name just a few.  Whether you’re going for a long walk with your four-legged friend, enjoying a bike ride, kicking a ball around or flying a kite in our local parks, autumn is the perfect time to get outside.

Go hunting for championship conkers
Head out to your favourite country park or woodlands with your young kids and grandkids and prepare for some fun tree climbing and conker hunting. The stunning and shiny horse chestnuts are most famously used for the game of conkers, but did you know that the first record of the game dates back to 1848 and took place in the Isle of Wight! Horse chestnuts are no one-trick pony though, they are also used in horse medicines, an additive in shampoos, a starch substitute, plus did you know the horse chestnut is also great for keeping moths from munching through your winter wardrobe!  That’s right, the horse chestnut seeds contain a chemical called triterpenoid saponin that wards off pesky pests. Just place fresh horse chestnuts in amongst your clothes and as they dry out they will emit the moth-repellent.

Go foraging
Whilst out on your walk, why not do a bit of foraging – whether for hazelnuts, chestnuts, elderberries, sloes (blackthorns), apples or plums – you will be surprised at just how much autumn fruitfulness you discover on your route! There really is nothing better than creating a meal of free foraged food, as the hedgerow fruits fully ripen they can indeed provide a valuable food source.  Why not try your hand at making your own wild fruit jelly, jam or vinegar; keep an eye out for the acidic ‘blackthorn’ fruit on your travels, which is best known for making the deep-red, winter’s drink sloe gin (a great home-made festive gift!). Try, where possible, to pick the sloes that have ripened in the sunshine and always pick from the waist height upwards – not only will this leave plenty on the bushes for the wildlife, but means you will be collecting the cleanest berries.

Build a hedgehog house in your garden
As we prepare for the oncoming winter, make time to get out into your garden and give it a good tidy. Stow your garden furniture and BBQ away (or apply sturdy covers to protect it against strong winds, rains and frost), cut the grass and prune your flowers back ready for the winter to come. It’s also a good time to review where the local wildlife can hunker down and hibernate alongside you.  Did you know, there are fewer than 1 million hedgehogs left in the UK, the decline has been rapid with a loss of approximately 30% of the hedgehog population since 2002. This, in part, is due to increases in building developments, agricultural intensification and climate change.  So, whether you live in town or the country, you can help to look after garden wildlife like hedgehogs by providing food, water and shelter.  Click here for instructions on how to build your very own hedgehog house and know you’re doing your bit for our local wildlife.

Reward yourself
After spending time outside in the fresh air, giving your legs a good stretch, your heart and lungs a good workout and clearing your head, reward yourself with lunch or supper here at The Exchequer.  We are located just a stone’s throw from Basingstoke Canal by Crookham Wharf (for those who are walking) and have plentiful car parking if you plan on visiting on your way home.  The log-fire will be warming, the atmosphere relaxed and the staff will be waiting for you, ready to deliver exceptional service and delicious food and drink.  All are welcome, do just let us know if you plan on bringing your four-legged friends, to ensure we can reserve you an appropriate dining area.

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate autumn, come and visit us here at The Exchequer and enjoy the warmth of our food and service.