November is when I finally feel justified in plundering the wood store and lighting fires every night. All that hard work chopping wood is rewarded with mood-lifting flame and heat to warm the bones of the house. Nothing feels better after a brisk walk.
Gathering firewood is a task that never loses its thrill. But this year I’ve been helped by a very special mentor: woodsman Vincent Thurkettle. The Gandalf of wood fires has written a piece for us (page 54) to thrill anyone who has a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
Even though, as Vincent says, wood fires were mankind’s “first television”, we don’t want you to spend all your time indoors this month. So why not revisit Britain’s most popular holiday destination – Cornwall – but this time out of season? It may even be warm enough for a swim, and you can have all the beauty and charm of this maritime county pretty much to yourself (page 18).
Wildlife is on the move this month – from salmon leaping up rivers to spawn to deer rutting in the uplands. In celebration of the BBC’s Autumnwatch, we’re devoting our Great Days Out section to help you find the season’s natural wonders – from the TV show’s HQ in Dumfries and Galloway, to the russets and golds of the New Forest (page 78). And on the subject of wildlife, don’t miss The Hunt – the big blue chip series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit. We asked cameraman John Aitchison to focus on Britain’s bird of prey and the astonishing tactics each species uses to catch its supper (page 36).