We went to pick pumpkins on Halloween weekend - a long drive out of Portsmouth, through Beaulieu and the New Forest, where we saw a family of donkeys pottering along the road and plenty of horses.
The last time we were here, we were on our way to go strawberry picking - the sun was blazing and the heathland glowed beneath it. It was a little greyer this time, the horses a little shaggier in their winter coats. But it was still beautiful - the light a little lower in the sky, catching the grey bottoms of storm clouds and burnishing them a lovely gold.
It wasn't true pumpkin picking, they were already cut and scattered on the ground for even the smallest toddler to gather up. But it was fun, stomping about in wellies and studying each one to decide which one to take home.
Once settled, we went to pay and just behind us in the queue was a man with a few young children - and a tiny King Charles puppy in his arms. At Rich's insistence, he took the pumpkins to the car while I ran back to ask if he'd mind if I stroked her.
He turned to me, a little wearily, and said, 'Of course not. In fact, would you mind holding her? I've got five pumpkins to buy.' The novelty of the puppy had clearly worn off for the kids, who were discussing whose pumpkin idea would turn out to be the best, instead of paying any attention to the woman who's face had lit up at this request.
I held out my hands eagerly and I cannot tell you how delighted I was when he plonked her in my arms. She was so tiny! She was trembling delicately with the cold, but she immediately squirmed in my grasp to wriggle round into a position where she could plant her tiny feet on my chest and thoroughly lick my face.
As you can imagine, I went home with an enormous grin on my face - and an even more pressing desire for a little furball of my own (sigh).
We carved the pumpkins over the weekend, while re-watching The Lord of the Rings, in all its sumptuous, director's cut glory. My fingernails were soon stuffed with pumpkin flesh, dollops of it drying on my arms as I reached in to scrape out the seeds and stringy ends. The living room began to smell like pumpkins, that particular tang of autumn, with a nostalgic tang of the coming fireworks and cinder toffee.
Perhaps next year I'll try to carve the words on the One Ring...