Smart Living | Lifestyle

Lifestyle | 30 Sep 2022

Top 10 DIY activities to help you make the most of Autumn

Looking for ways to get outside and into the crisp, cool Autumn air? From foraging to craft projects, we’ve got just the thing.

How did you celebrate the autumn equinox on 23 September? Whether you danced with the druids at Stonehenge, or forgot and fell asleep in front of the TV, the equinox (when the day and night are the same length and the equator is the closest part of Earth to the sun) marks our official transition from summer into autumn.

The season of warm jumpers, kicking through piles of flame-hued leaves and lighting fires indoors has officially begun. But it is also the season of colds, overtired tots, and for some, Seasonal Affective Disorder. To stay fit, healthy and happy, while making the most of Autumn, try these 10 great ideas to get you out and about having fun with friends and family.


Forage for blackberries…

Juicy, plump and highly nutritious, blackberries can still be found in woodlands and hedgerows across the UK in September and October.

Child holding picked blackberries

Credits: Shutterstock Enterprise

Not only are they are rich in Vitamin C, but a study by the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating wild blackberries may have a protective effect on the brain, thanks to their high levels of a micronutrient called polyphenol.

… and sloes

These plump, dark purple berries grow on spiny blackthorn bushes. The best time to hunt for sloes is between late October and early November. If you want to make sloe gin (more on this later), then tradition dictates you should wait till after the first frost, which will split the skins and ensure the juices run into the spirits. If you can’t wait, just stick your hoard in the freezer for a similar effect.


Make your own jam

If you’ve foraged a frightening amount of blackberries, then turning them into your own home-made jam is a great way to while away a rainy afternoon. And it’s surprisingly easy. The golden rule is to include equal weights of fruit and sugar (fill it with too much fruit and the sugar can’t do its job of preserving them; tip in too much sugar and it could crystallise).

Add lemon juice, boil (watch your fingers) and voila! BBC Good Food has more detailed guidance. If you want even more inspiration, head over to The Woodland Trust’s website where you’ll find a small treasure trove of foraging recipes.

Make sloe gin

You should never eat sloes raw (they’re so intensely sour that your eyes will sting and your mouth will dry up in seconds). Instead, wash them, prick them to release the juice, pop them in a sterilised bottle, add gin, then sugar (the Woodland Trust recommends 450g of sloes, 225g of sugar and a litre of gin). And then… wait.

Glass of sloe gin next to bowl of sloes

Credits: Shutterstock Enterprise

The magic takes about two months; consider this a great exercise in mindful slowing down. The results make fantastic Christmas presents, too


Swing your nuts and play conkers

Otherwise known as obblyonkers, cheggers or (if you find a flat-sided specimen) cheesers, conkers litter the ground beneath horse chestnut trees in September and October.

If you’re looking to play a truly competitive game, pick yours from the ground instead of the branch (it will be harder and stronger). The best will sink when placed in a bowl of water. Then drill a hole through the middle, thread some string through, tie a knot at one end and you’re good to go. The more safety conscious may want the combatants to to wear protective glasses.

Conkers and string on a table

Credits: Shutterstock Enterprise

Just find an opponent, and take turns swinging your conker at theirs, attempting to bash and break it. If you want to go pro, The World Conker Championships are held in Northampton every October…

Bob for apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away! From August until late autumn, gardens and orchards across the UK are awash with apples.

Unripe ones aren’t much use for cooking or eating. They may, however, be perfect for bobbing. Fill a barrel or basin with water, drop in some apples, and try to pluck out as many as possible using just your teeth. Prepare to get soaked!

To make sure people play by the rules, arms can be tied behind backs. Extra points for playing on National Apple Day – 21 October – when events are held across the country to celebrate the many varieties and uses of the humble pipped fruit.


Rainbow garlands

As trees begin to break down the chlorophyll that makes their leaves green, you are looking at a crafting opportunity. Chlorophyll overpowers other chemicals present in the leaves, so some of the shades we start to see are simply the result of it fading to reveal the carotenoids that were always present.

Colourful Autumn leaves in a row on a table

Credits: Shutterstock Enterprise

The red shades, though, are different. They come from a pigment called anthocyanin, which the tree has to generate each autumn. Researchers disagree about why. Does the anthocyanin act as an antioxidant? Does it help to attract birds that disperse fruits? Or is it there to keep the plant warm?

Never mind the reason; these colours look lovely in the home. Wrap up, head outside, and collect your favourites from among those that have fallen to the ground. Then string them along a piece of ribbon to create a seasonal garland. Or…

Leaf lanterns

Alternatively, find a clean, empty jam jar. Select some leaves that are nice and dry, flat and not too waxy. Then slather your jar in glue (Mod Podge works brilliantly) and press your leaves onto its sides. Let it dry, then apply a second coat, leaves and all. Drop a tea light into your jar and it will create a warm and distinctly autumnal glow.

Autumn: Our digital guide to this beautiful, bountiful season

Autumn is a wonderul season for getting out and about, enjoying nature, locally sourced harvest produce, country walks and cosy pubs. Our digital guide will help you plan.


From tiny acorns…

…grow mighty oaks, as the saying goes. And from mid-September onwards, oak trees across the UK are laden with them. Planting one, tending to it, and watching it grow from seedling to sapling is a richly rewarding process. If you’re tempted, check out the Royal Horticultural Society’s simple instructions.

Feed your feathered and fuzzy friends

Early autumn is a time of abundance for birds, but as the weather cools and winter approaches, their food sources dwindle. The RSPB suggests leaving food and water out daily. Sunflower hearts will be gratefully received.

Hedgehogs are preparing for hibernation, so you may want to consider creating some ‘hedgehog highways’ – holes in fences that ensure they can travel the mile and a quarter a night they sometimes cover while foraging for food. The Wildlife Trust has lots of other ideas for helping them out.


If you’re looking for more ideas, The National Trust’s Top 50 things to do in autumn is a great place to start.

The Wildlife Trust has some top tips for seeing wildlife in the Autumn.

The Woodland Trust has some great ideas for the season, too.

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