In praise of... St Luke's October

Weather-wise, this has been the best of Octobers, at least in southern England. And, coming after a summer which has stretched, unbroken, since the end of May, and included an overlong heatwave and a gloriously summery September, it feels somewhat incredible. Incredible that it's something like six months since I last wore anything heavier than a cotton top with a cardigan; incredible that my feet are still bare, with only the occasional need to don socks some evenings. Yes, there is an autumnal chill in the early morning and post-sunset air, but our daytime temperatures have been consistently in the teens or even early twenties, and a warming sun has blazed down from the most brilliant of blue skies.

Brilliant blue is always an excellent backdrop for any colour, but especially so in autumn, when trees transform themselves into burning bushes, ablaze in the sun. As my work takes me to different places in London I've especially enjoyed opportunities to drive down various tree-lined roads, marvelling at the radiance around me... and at the fact that, even this late into autumn, I've rarely had to turn the car heater on. Were it not for those russet leaves I could easily believe that I'm in one of our cooler summers; but trees know which season it's supposed to be, and so autumn colours abound, reminding me exactly where we are in the calendar.

October warmth isn't unknown, and traditionally, a warm, dry spell around the 18th is known as St Luke's little summer, in honour of his feast - but this year, St Luke seems to have awarded himself the entire month!

According to mediaeval wisdom, the glorious full moon we enjoyed on Wednesday night marks the start of winter - and sure enough, temperatures are set to drop considerably this weekend, even with some snow flurries in Scotland. And as I'm set to travel up to Newcastle, where temperatures are usually a few degrees cooler than London anyway, it looks as though I'm definitely about to bid farewell to those last vestiges of summer, such as bare feet, to which I always happily cling for as long as possible. No doubt in a few days' time we'll all be grumbling about how cold it feels; but really, we don't have much ground for any complaints. Weather-wise, this has indeed been a splendid month, the very best of Octobers.