On a soft balmy day, what remained of last winter’s logs were split and stacked in the outhouse yesterday to make space for the delivery of this year’s firewood. This chore has been the first physical indication of the slow, but implacable, process of season’s change whose subtle footprints become more clearly formed with the passing of each week. That and the annual realisation that the stone floor is starting to feel cold, rather than cool, beneath my bare feet. Stone houses, that in summer are a blissful refuge from the heat of the day, have to be daily coaxed and chivvied to assume the cosiness that is needed during the bleak months to come. At this time of year I have to prevent myself from imagining the nearby forest as a swaying chaos of dripping bare black trees and redirect my thoughts towards the earthy, rich flavours of autumnal and winter dishes made even more tantalising by the anticipation of enjoying them in the enveloping warmth and soft glow emanating from the wood burner whilst the wind and rain do their worst in the black night beyond the thick stone walls.