It is strange how autumn surprises you every year, even though it is as predictable as a birthday. You are conscious of summer stretching itself so thin that it is transparent, hardly any substance to it at all and yet enough colour in the garden, enough fragile heat in the sun to cling to. And then you turn away for a moment and it’s gone, autumn in its place, lumpen, damp and chill. Overnight you can hardly recall what summer was like. Yet something positive – if rather intangible – takes its place. It is the scent of apples and leaves, the amazing sight of cobwebs suddenly strung from branch to branch like a string of delicate seaside illuminations, and a mouthful of tastes that have lain dormant or inappropriate for two long seasons.