Autumn has always been my favourite season. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy basking in the sun's glow on a hot summer's day, laying in the park sipping an ice cold cider. And I love curling up under a duvet with a hot chocolate and a box-set, watching the snow fall on a crisp winter's afternoon. But for me, there's nothing better than the autumn. Cold enough so that you have to cover up (I'm talking to all those girls whose staple wardrobe this summer consisted of butt-bearing hotpants - I saw more cheek on their behinds than on their faces), but not so arctic that you get frostbite everytime you step out of the door.
Even though I am no longer a student (cue emotional sobbing as I mourn my lost youth) I still get that nervous excitement that used to come with starting a new school year. New classes, new timetable and, best of all, new stationery! Everything is fresh and unblemished, and there is always the promise that anything can happen; this year can be whatever you decide to make it.
Then there's the beautiful, rich colour palette. The vibrant greenery that has surrounded us all summer transforms as if ablaze, into burning embers and glowing golds. There is such simple joy from traipsing through a park littered with fallen leaves, the crunchy snap as they pass underfoot and the warm, earthy smell. I am so besotted with this transient element of nature, that I once filled a whole page of a sketch book with examples of the prettiest autumn leaves I could find, adorned with some of my favourite seasonal poetry. This may seem laughable as an idea for a university project, but as the lecturer in question was completely mental, I thought she'd fully appreciate it (which she did, thanks for the 1st!).
But the best aspect of my favourite season has to be the clothes. Covering bare legs with thick, coloured tights, enclosing feet in sturdy boots, and layers, layers layers! Not to mention the colours: bye bye pastels (which, as a walking disaster, I could never fully appreciate) and hello to the darkness.
This Autumn I'll be on the lookout for anything in the daring new shade of the season, ox blood. An intense cross between red and brown with a hint of purple, this tone screams luxury and glamour, as well as having a morbid draw for the comparison to its name sake.
I'll also be embracing the great outdoors with smatterings of military chic, in the form of camo-print. I was lucky enough to pick up an army-style coat from a vintage fair recently for the bargain price of £12, a snip compared to Topshop's £75 version.
Something which I may have to turn to Topshop for are a pair of tartan print trousers. I actually picked some up while in store recently, but when I realised I would be parting with £60 for a dress, I sensibly but solemnly put them back on the rack. These bold checks are back on trend again, but with brave injections rather than subtle hints on scarves or bags. Don't worry about being mistaken for a bagpipes player, it's fashion darrrling!
Oh, and of course I'll be needing a new winter coat. There was a definitely chill in the air this morning, and my trusty leather jacket just wasn't cutting it. I've got last year's fur but as it's short, I can't wear any of my lovely long cardies with it, so I need something which I can layer up with. I'm thinking of a classic parka, another nod to the military trend, or a boyfriend style mohair, the bigger the better.
I can sense a huge dent in my bank balance approaching...but hey, it's Christmas soon! Presents anyone?
As my family and friends are all too aware of, I have an undying love for, well, the undying. Zombies - to use the correct term. While the masses will be driven into a widespread hysteria when the zombie apocalypse arrives (and it will), I'll be the three c's: cool, calm and carrying a very large gun. For I have prepared myself with all the appropriate zombie-related literature, quenching my never-ending thirst for all things ghoul-related.
And it isn't just zombies I've got a morbid obsession for, give me anything with gallons of gore and you'll have a happy camper on your hands. The sad irony is that the sight of a mere paper cut can turn my stomach, and has too often sent me crashing to the floor, whimpering like a child.
Anyway, I digress. What inspired me to declare my creepy cravings was a website I came across after glancing at the latest copy of Grazia. With The Great British Bake Off having recently returned to our screens, flour fever has once again swept across the nation. Cue reels of column inches dedicated to this recently resurrected pastime, which has see men (and young, handsome ones at that – I'm steadily developing a mammoth sized crush on James from TGGBO) dusting off their rolling pins and donning their pinnies to get busy in the kitchen.
I come from a long line of bakers. My mum, who bakes near enough everyday, is now a pro at making all manner of sweet treats, and for as long as I can remember, my nan has always served freshly baked bread and home-made pies. Since starting uni, I found I had an unfathomable amount of time on my hands, but not a lot of dollar to go on fancy jaunts to fun places. I also discovered, since having no restrictions bar money when it came to food, that I had developed a common student problem of ALWAYS being hungry. I had been craving Debs' (my mum) chocolate brownies, so on my next monthly food shop I stocked up on all manner of ingredients with the aim of conjuring up my own culinary creations in the kitchen. And for the remainder of my time at uni, that's exactly what I did. In my third and final year I was often joined in the kitchen by my house mate Eveey, and we spent many a Friday night cutting some shapes...in cookie dough, rather than on the dance floor.
Since finishing uni (sob) and returning home, the baking responsibilities have returned to my mother, and I have become sadly redundant in the kitchen. But I still keep a keen eye out for any baking news, and am constantly hoarding recipes for the time that I find my freedom again.
In the latest Grazia, there was a profile of several hot (but in no way cross) new things on the baking scene. One of which, was Lily Jones AKA Lily Vanilli. After several seconds too long spent gawping at the picture of her delicious looking chocolate ginger cake, I was intrigued to find out more about this interestingly named lady. I headed to her website and, after scrolling though the design gallery, immediately realised that I had come across a kindred spirit.
Nestled among a delectable display of unique and modern baked goods, which have filled the stomachs of such fashion royalty as Lulu Guiness, Alexander McQueen and Henry Holland, lay a true taste of the macabre.
Shattered glass, bloody body parts and rancid roadkill; these are just some of the morbid creations that Lily has crafted for her London-based bakery. When I recognised the zombie bite design, I realised that this was the very same grim genius who had authored one of my highly-coveted baking bibles, A Zombie Ate My Cupcake. A wonderfully chilling combination of the sweet and the truly sickening, these are definitely not cakes for those with a weak stomach, and are a far cry from the sweet fairy cakes we all recall from childhood.
My personal favourite has to be the bleeding heart, featuring an anatomically accurate heart made with red velvet sponge, cream cheese frosting and lashings of blackcurrant and cherry blood. The perfect valentines day gift don't you think?