Dear Claire,


Happy October!

How was your trip to Lake Como? You mentioned you were taking the train, and funnily enough, just as I was writing to you I came across an interesting fact. Did you know that today, the 4th October, is the anniversary of the very first journey of the Orient Express? The service began in 1883, running from Paris to Constantinople; and resumed after a hiatus during the First World War with its route running through the Simplon pass – stopping after that in Milan 😊

I hope you enjoyed your time in Milan. I know you were planning on lots of walking and culture and foodie adventures. I was imagining you relaxing in a piazza, enjoying some early autumn sunshine, and perhaps a lovely glass of wine.

It’s actually the perfect time for that glass of wine. Apparently the Anglo-Saxons called October ‘wyn-monath’ or ‘wine month’ – the time that the grapes were harvested and pressed. That’s when they weren’t calling it ‘winterfylleth’ or ‘winter full moon’. According to Bede, the winter season was thought to follow on directly from summer, and it began with the full moon during the first month after the equinox: October.

Not so long ago we had a destructive winter snowstorm here in mid-October, so ‘winterfylleth’ would have been quite appropriate! I’m happy to say that this year, though, it’s beautifully autumnal. So wine month it is. And I’ll leave you with a little Keats. For me, no one better captures the essence of this season.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Much love,

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