The Pig Yard

October - No wonder we just love this time of year; the weather is mild, skies are clear and there is every excuse to curl up in front of a log fire in the darkening evenings.

This month has been filled with the excited anticipation, tinged with concerns about or holiday at the end of the month to Australia. We really are looking forward to the holiday but the very long haul flight cooped up in an aluminium cylinder for 28 hours fills us with dread. It's not the flying, it's the sitting still for so long that is the real trial. We're updating the web site a week early prior to our departure however our home will be well looked after by our dear friends Martin and Kate who will be house-sitting while we are away.

The month started well with the opportunity to cut some fallen branches on land owned by Nick Adams at Nether Heyford.

The challenge was to remove the very large branch without it falling onto the wooden field fence. With careful planning and some delicate cutting with the chain saw we managed to topple it in the right direction without doing any damage.

Once on the ground we soon had the branch cut into manageable logs and had the stacked in the back of the trailer. Later we went back for another branch that had been laying in the field for some time.

We both took part in the Cycle for Cynthia charity ride sponsored by Nationwide Building Society. There were 3 different routes - 10, 25 and 50 miles. Jane was keen to do the 50 and Steve volunteered to do the 10 so like all good marriages we compromised and agreed to attempt the 25 miles.

Starting at Moulton outside the Nationwide building in clear sunshine we were amongst about 100 cyclists so we hung back to ensure we didn't get involved with the "serious" cyclists who sped away from the pack very quickly. It took us two and three quarter hours but Steve's knee suffered badly and it took several days before he could walk properly. Between us we raised over £200 for the Cynthia Spencer hospice.

This photograph is a bit of a cheat because we didn't in fact fly in October but this was our last flight in September and didn't make it into last month's web update because it hadn't been downloaded from Jane's Nikon D100 digital camera.

Nick did the take-off and Steve can be seen leaning out of the basket waving to Jane and Val on the ground. They were supposed to be joined by Colin Boyson flying the Naps balloon but unfortunately he had a problem with his burners and had to abort the flight.

Although we didn't manage to fly in October, largely due to wet fields and some strong winds there is still hope for some flights through the winter if we get some hard morning frosts and strong inversions. At least with Winter flights we don't have to get up so early.

The house and garden are closing down for the Autumn but there are still some great colours as shown by the reds and greens of the Virginia Creeper at the front.

Our November holiday means that certain jobs that we normally undertake at this time of year have had to go on hold. Normally Steve would have a pile of logs cut and stacked in the wood barn but in fact there is only enough for 3 weeks to take Martin and Kate through their stay in the house.

Jane hoped to get a lot of the flower beds and vegetable plot tidied up before we left but there has been to much to do and the garden remains largely untouched.

The changing of leaf colour from green to brown takes time as can be seen here with a large number of leaves already blown onto the road with others still green and clinging on for dear life.

The village takes on another tone as autumn proceeds through its annual ritual - it's a joy to see it.

At the end of the month we travelled down to see Jane's sister and her husband, Carol & Frank, in Bristol. They have been living in their current house for 3 years and this was our first visit but certainly not our last. They live not far from the Bristol Rovers football stadium and we could hear the roar of the crowd during the afternoon match. Living in a city is an experience that we last had when we were children and it is not something we yearn to repeat.

Carol took us down to her allotment and we picked some of her late crop of raspberries which we had as a dessert once we returned home that evening. An allotment is an oasis in a city and even though you cannot get away from the traffic noise this was a wonderful, natural haven.

Moan of the month: Nick hates IKEA stores

Why do you have to walk all the way round the store to get to the point of picking your selected items out of the warehouse when you know exactly what you want...?