There is so much to look forward to when autumn approaches. The crisp, bright mornings with a hint of chilly freshness in the air. The wispy white cobwebs that adorn the fields and cover your shoes or wellies in gossamer. The evenings drawing in, making it feel cosier and less overpowering than the heat of long summer nights.

The trees always look stunning as they change into myriad golds, browns and reds. Walking through woodland, crunching down on the dead leaves, kicking through them and seeing the green-encased horse chestnuts lying on the ground just waiting to be collected for the next game of conkers.

As a child, I loved to collect as many conkers as I could. There were specific collecting places, one of them along the beautiful Undercliff Drive at St Lawrence, when full vehicular access was unlimited. Mum would park up in a layby and I would dash out and get a handful of conkers encased in their green shells, that had dropped on the roadside. I would triumphantly place them in my paper bag, and most would eventually be subjected to a fierce conker competition with my sister; I think we were evenly matched!

Conkers also have another more practical use and, one old wives’ tale states that if you place one in each corner of a room in your home, it will deter house spiders from frightening the living daylights out of you as they appear for their seasonal courtship in the most inopportune places: typically, lurking under the washing up bowl in the kitchen sink or in the bath. I think they love to give us a scare. I am always amazed at how quickly they can run across the floor trying to escape the jaws of one of my terriers! They usually do.  Then it is a race to gently encapsulate them in a glass with a sheaf of paper and carefully dispose of them outside. 

The Island has so many beautiful, unspoilt areas of woodland to explore and enjoy. Why not venture out and take in those breathtaking views of the timeless West Wight and beyond, from Brighstone Forest; these moments of solitude are so precious in our over hectic lives. By Harriot Kent

Or perhaps even re-live your childhood with a game of conkers!